President Hugo Chavez told a "red tide" of hundreds of thousands of supporters on Sunday that he will dedicate his expected re-election victory to the communist island of Cuba.
Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, noted that the Dec. 3 vote will be held the same weekend that Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landing of the yacht that carried Castro and his armed band to Cuba to launch their guerrilla war.
"This victory on Dec. 3 ... we're going to dedicate it to the 50 years since the arrival of the revolutionary boat Granma led by Fidel Castro to the coast of Cuba," Chavez said to cheers. "Fidel, applause from Venezuela! Long live Cuba! Long live revolutionary Cuba!"
Chavez considers the ailing Cuban leader a mentor but has often said that the socialism he seeks for Venezuela does not aim to copy Cuba's system. His critics, including leading opposition candidate Manuel Rosales, have accused Chavez of trying to bring Venezuela to Cuba-style authoritarianism.