Venezuela President-Elect Warns Opposition Protests Are A Death Wish

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President-elect Nicolas Maduro has stern words for his opposition, Henrique Capriles, who lost by an apparent 1.8% of the vote (the closest margin in 45 years) and is demanding a recount. Capriles is urging his supporters to take to the street tomorrow to push for the recount, but Maduro warned doing so is a "death wish," as Bloomberg reports, he added, "going to downtown Caracas will fill it with blood and death." With little to lose in this zero-sum game, the protests have already turned deadly with 61 injured and 7 dead. The government's refusal to complete the recount is polarizing the country, "if supporters lose faith in formal politics, the violence will become unpredictable." The images and clips below suggest things are escalating rapidly as Maduro has called the election a choice between capitalism and socialism warning Spanish corporations such as Repsol that they could face 'exemplary action' from his government. The violence of the 2002 coup against Chavez is fresh in people's mind, but today's situation is far more worrisome since the relative legitimacy of Maduro is less clear.

 

 

 

 


 

Via Bloomberg,

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Maduro, who was proclaimed the winner by the electoral council yesterday, said he’ll come down with a “hard hand” to prevent violence.

 

Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost by 1.8 percentage points, urged supporters to take to the streets with him tomorrow to press the electoral council in Caracas to manually recount all ballots.

 

You won’t go to downtown Caracas to fill it with blood and death,” Maduro, 50, said today in comments broadcast on state television. “This is a chronicle of a coup foretold.”

 

The closest margin of victory in 45 years may lead to an environment of distrust and institutional collapse,

 

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Maduro, who had 50.8 percent of the votes, said today that the electoral council has carried out a 54 percent audit of the election results and found no evidence of irregularity. ...

 

Protests across the country have also left 61 injured and led to the arrest of 135 people, Public Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz said. Opposition protesters have attacked health centers and local offices of the ruling socialist party, Maduro said.

Capriles, who had 49 percent support, said he had evidence of irregularities, including videos of voters being watched by Maduro supporters while they cast their ballots, that affected about 300,000 votes.

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The government’s rejection of a reasonable request to recount the vote has polarized the country even further, driving people into the streets,” Ciurlizza said in a phone interview from Bogota. “If opposition supporters lose faith in formal politics, the outbreaks of violence will become unpredictable.”

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“We’re not afraid of violence, and that’s why we’re here in the middle of the street protesting this fraud,” said Danny Guzman, 32, an accountant who marched to support Capriles. “We refuse to live in fear under this regime, which is trying to put pressure on us all.”

 

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I am the son of Chavez,” Maduro said yesterday. “I am the first Chavista president after Hugo Chavez and I am going to fulfill in full his legacy to protect the humble, the poor, the fatherland.”

 

Maduro called the election a choice between capitalism and socialism. He warned Spain and Madrid-based energy company Repsol SA (REP) to “be careful” about their relationship with Venezuela, saying they could face “exemplary actions” from his government. Repsol has stakes in Venezuela’s Carabobo 1 heavy oil project and Perla natural gas field.

 

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“The situation could escalate to levels of political violence not seen in Venezuela since the coup against Chavez in April 2002,” Webb-Vidal said in an e-mailed response to questions. “In 2002, Chavez’s legitimacy as president was never really in doubt, but now it’s quite different: half of the country sees Maduro as the legitimate heir of Chavez, but the other half sees him as the illegitimate son.”