Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Maduro Declared President Amid Protests

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Nicolás Maduro’s election victory was certified by the National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral—CNE) on Monday in the midst of claims by the Venezuelan opposition of electoral fraud during Sunday’s presidential election. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has refused to recognize the outcome of the election and thousands of opposition members are protesting the results.

CNE President Tibisay Lucena declared the outcome of Sunday’s election “irreversible,” but opposition leaders, led by Capriles, have called on their followers to protest peacefully and demand the electoral authority’s total recount of the votes. “This is the moment of reason, not of emotion,” Capriles said, after Maduro accused the opposition of trying to undo the will of the country’s democratic majority.

Sunday’s elections gave Maduro—Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor—a victory by a slim margin of 234,935 votes. On Monday, the CNE released a second report which revealed a slight increase in the number of votes obtained by Maduro—from 7,505,338 to 7,559,349 votes. This raises his margin of victory to 262,473 votes.

The international community has also weighed in on the results of Sunday’s election, and several prominent public figures have called for a recount. Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza expressed concern for the deep political polarization in Venezuela and offered the OAS’ institutional support to conduct a recount process. Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo also called on Venezuelan election officials to conduct a rapid recount

On Monday afternoon, thousands of young protesters clashed with National Guard troops, who blocked them from marching in the streets of Caracas.  Protests are continuing today with rival rallies expected to take place in Caracas and other provincial cities. Tomorrow, Capriles’ followers are planning to march to the CNE headquarters in the capital to demand a recount.

A petition on whitehouse.gov was started on Monday to “call upon the International Community to urge that a full recount of votes be done in Venezuela’s presidential elections.” It has collected 72,000 signatures of the 100,000 required before the Obama administration is required to produce a formal response. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that a recount is “an important, prudent and necessary step.”

Tags: 2013 Presidential Elections, Venezuela
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