A roar of protest envelopes Venezuela as opposition calls for vote recount (+video)
Fireworks and clanging pots and pans are Venezuela's post presidential election soundtrack. Tensions have been steadily rising since the electoral council announced Maduro's slim victory over Capriles.
The sound of bursting fireworks competed with the cacophony of clanging pots and pans here last night, marking the second day of protests over last weekend's presidential election results.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Venezuela after Chavez
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Supporters of President-elect Nicolás Maduro and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles sought to use the fireworks and kitchen utensils to drown each other out peacefully across the city following post-election-related violence that left 61 people injured and seven dead this week.
Tensions have been steadily rising since Sunday when the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that Mr. Maduro's margin of victory over Mr. Capriles was less than 2 percent. Capriles's campaign has publicly contested the election results, citing some 3,200 irregularities in the count and demanding a full audit.
"What are they afraid of?" screamed David Alvarez, a student and one of dozens of protestors in the upscale Plaza Altamira last night demanding a recount. Taking a pause from blowing into a horn, he continued, "We're not afraid of losing, we just want to know the truth."
Although Altamira leans heavily towards Capriles, protests have erupted in some bastions formerly held by the late President Hugo Chávez. And while the government continues to refuse a recount, many believe the prolonged crisis could have serious repercussions for the Maduro presidency, which lacks the same mandate frequently won by Mr. Chávez and faces a clearly split country.
The president of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, refused Capriles's requests on Monday, saying that the electoral system worked perfectly and that some 54 percent of the votes had already been audited. "There they are, we won't deal with harassment, threats, or intimidation. The Constitution or the law are the only routes respected by true democrats," she said.
“It’s a radical, inadequate, clumsy position. Instead of calming [the country] they're inciting national polarization,” says pollster Luis Vicente Leon, president of the polling firm Datanalisis, referring to the Maduro administration's stance. "[The government] is facing off against almost half the population…and if it continues to not recognize its legitimacy, in the midst of an economic crisis, [Maduro] could face losing his [base of] popular support."
Tuesday was filled with a heated exchange of broadcasts. Capriles held two press conferences and Maduro, three. Both sides pinned blame on the other for widespread unrest across the country. At one point, Maduro used the national broadcast system to cut into one of Mr. Capriles conferences.