South America’s leaders rally around Venezuela’s Maduro

Post-election crisis over contested result

Venezuela’s president-elect Nicolas Maduro holds up a photograph of Jose Luis Ponce, a supporter killed on Monday's post-election street violence. Photograph: Marcelo Garcia/Reuters

Venezuela’s president-elect Nicolas Maduro holds up a photograph of Jose Luis Ponce, a supporter killed on Monday's post-election street violence. Photograph: Marcelo Garcia/Reuters

Fri, Apr 19, 2013, 05:20


With Venezuela’s opposition still refusing to recognise the results of Sunday’s presidential election, South American leaders were actively rallying around declared victor Nicolás Maduro ahead of his inauguration today.

Presidents and ministers from the Union of South American Nations were due to meet in Lima yesterday to discuss the crisis. Led by Argentina and Brazil, most member states have already recognised Mr Maduro’s victory and the bloc was expected to endorse the result.

Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner and her Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, were to attend the Lima summit and then fly with other leaders to Caracas for Mr Maduro’s inauguration in a show of regional solidarity for the new president.

Even Colombia, which often had tense relations with its neighbour during Hugo Chávez’s presidency, has endorsed the victory of his anointed successor.

A left-wing union leader, Mr Maduro defeated Henrique Capriles by 1.78 per cent, or just 265,000 votes out of 15 million cast in Sunday’s contest. The close result shocked a regime that had won last October’s election by 1.6 million votes with Chávez as its candidate.

Chávez, who in 14 years as president headed a leftist “Bolivarian revolution” in his oil-rich country, died following a long battle with cancer last month.

Mr Capriles has refused to recognise his defeat, alleging his opposition alliance registered thousands of irregularities during Sunday’s vote. It claims the electoral role contained more than 600,000 dead people and its observers were removed by force from 286 voting centres.


Call for recount
The opposition is demanding a full recount of every vote cast in the hope it can prove that Mr Capriles was the legitimate winner. The electoral commission has promised to respond to the request “as quickly as possible”.

Venezuela’s voting system is one of the most respected in Latin America, in which an electronic voting system leaves a paper trail.

The US government has so far refused to recognise the result and backed Mr Capriles’s call for a recount.

The opposition abandoned plans for more protests against the result following at least eight deaths earlier this week during protests.