Seven Die In Venezuela Post-Election Protests

Caracas, Venezuela — Seven people died on Tuesday as tensions mounted over Venezuela’s presidential election results. Supporters set off fireworks in Caracas, while opponents clanked together pots and pans.

The official vote tally declared Nicolas Maduro, former right-hand man to late President Hugo Chavez, the winner. But opposition candidate Henrique Capriles demanded a recount, claiming his campaign’s results were a completely different story.

Despite calls by both Maduro and Capriles, the government refused to do a recount. Since then, protests have been seen all over the South American country. Venezuela’s top prosecutor reported that seven people were killed and 61 were injured in post-election violence.

AVN, the state-run news agency, added that 135 people were arrested under charges of political violence. It was not clear where the arrests took place. The government’s news agency attributed the deaths on Tuesday to opposition protests, saying that the victims were all supporters of Maduro.

The former vice president secured 50.8 percent of the vote on Sunday night, while Capriles won 49 percent. Both politicians have urged supporters to remain peaceful since the results were announced. However, both leaders also accused each other of inciting the violence.

Later on Tuesday president-elect Nicolas Maduro accused his opposition of attempting a coup against him. He cited the seven deaths as proof of the supposed coup. Authorities stated that two of the deaths were people shot by opposition sympathizers while they celebrated Maduro’s win.

Maduro addressed the nation about the violence after the contentious presidential election, saying, “This is the responsibility of those who have called for violence, who have ignored the constitution and the institutions. Their plan is a coup d’etat.” Maduro added that an opposition march scheduled for Wednesday in Caracas would not be allowed.

Capriles later called the rally off after accusing the government of plotting to “infiltrate” the gathering. There is a prospect of prolonged instability in the country, which was rocked by the death of Chavez early last month. The long-time Venezuelan president was recovering from cancer surgery he had in December when he passed away on March 5, 2013.

[Image via Asambleadebomberos]