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At least seven people are dead and 61 injured in attacks by supporters of Henrique Capriles, according to the Venezuelan government. The U.S. role in contributing to instability is described.

According to the Venezuelan government, seven people are dead and 61 injured as a result of attacks by supporters of right-wing candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski of the MUD (Roundtable of Democratic Unity) [update: see here for English-language version; thanks to One Pissed Off Liberal]. Unfortunately, the United States may bear some responsibility for instability in Venezuela, with State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell refusing to refer to the victorious PSUV (Socialist Party) candidate, Nicolas Maduro, as president-elect, repeatedly referring to him as " the governing party candidate." The State Department is also inserting itself into the process by actively calling for a recount. Fortunately, Maduro has responded favorably to the MUD's demand for a recount. But there could be a problem. According to legal experts interviewed by La Jornada, the law does not provide for a 100% recount, only an extensive (54.5%) audit of the votes.

The election was not all that close, with Maduro's margin now up to 1.8%. The margin in the 1960 election of John Kennedy was 0.1%, the 1968 margin of Richard Nixon was 0.7%, the 1976 margin of Jimmy Carter was 2.1%, and most famously the 2000 margin of George W. Bush was 5 votes (-0.5% in the popular vote). In none of those elections did we find it necessary to have a recount, even though Venezuela's voting system is far more accurate and secure than that of the U.S. (A full report on the 2012 presidential election is here). Yet U.S. media acts as though a recount is the expected thing-- a position 180 degrees around from the one they adopted in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

The Venezuelan government is blaming Capriles for the violence. Indeed, his rhetoric has been reckless. He has indicated that the election is fraudulent and claimed to have defeated Maduro (see here for a printed summary). He said he would regard the result as illegitimate until a 100% recount is done, and has called for the election not to be certified. As mentioned above, this might be impossible even if Maduro wants it. The president of the electoral commission, Tubisay Lucero, has rejected a 100% recount.

The US had advance knowledge and applauded, or perhaps directed, the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez. It has poured money in to influence the elections since then, and may have played a direct role in manipulating public opinion in this election. Therefore, the motives of the U.S. in refusing to call Maduro "president-elect" and insisting on a recount when it may not be legally possible to do one are suspect.  

This story is in its early days, and it's still unclear exactly who killed who and why. We may hope that Henrique Capriles will be shocked by the violence that has been unleashed and will tone down his rhetoric. We may hope that the PSUV does not also use force. But there is a clear lesson. If the U.S. wants to regain its historical position of leadership in the hemisphere, it will have to do so from the moral high ground. It cannot take sides, it cannot funnel money into democracy-promotion efforts that benefit one political party, and--above all--it must not condone or participate in coups, as it has done in at least three countries in the hemisphere in the last 15 years or so. If the U.S. presses ahead in a manner that destabilizes president-elect Maduro, it will be remembered by generations to come. We do not prove our commitment to democracy by supporting the election of leaders who we like. We prove it by supporting the election of leaders we do not like.

Update 1:  Here are some of the specific allegations of violence by chavista Tamara Pearson:

Last night seven people were killed as a result of opposition violence; two in Caracas, three in Ojeda, Zulia, one in Cumana, and one person in San Cristobal.

The opposition set fire to 18 Central Diagnostic Centres (CDIs – part of the Barrio Adentro health mission), and 3 subsidised food markets (Mercals). They also attacked the director of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena’s house, and the Telesur and VTV offices.

There are also unconfirmed reports of four attacks on housing mission buildings in Miranda, with seven people killed and ten injured.

The governor of Carabobo state, Francisco Ameliach, reported that 8 CDIs were “besieged” and Cuban doctors were attacked in his state. He said 64 people were detained inside the CDI, and “should go to jail, because we’re not going to tolerate a coup d’état here”.

In Merida, around 700 mostly young opposition students protested outside the CNE, as well as in four other places in the city. observed that police presence was light, and most police unarmed.  Many of the students armed themselves with rocks and glass bottles however, as though hoping something would happen. There were similar such protests outside most of the country’s main CNE headquarters.

Anti-chavista blogger Francisco Toro makes a very good point about Capriles's comments:
What worries me is that Capriles isn’t really alleging numerical fraud. Just the opposite, Capriles is being quite careful not to say “I am the rightful winner because I can prove, through my actas, that I got more votes.”

He’s calling for a recount of all paper ballots, but if there was reason to believe that a 100% recount would show he had won more votes on the day, he would have the evidence for that. So far that evidence has been forthcoming only in tiny fragments, fragments that seem tangential to his central case. I cannot believe that if the comando had systematic evidence of audit tallies that failed to match the machine tallies they would have “forgotten” to show it by now.

The father of one of the dead claims that his son was actually marching in opposition to Maduro.

Originally posted to CharlesII on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 02:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Anti-Capitalist Chat.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Do you have a link to some independent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    reports of these attacks? The reporting I found doesn't indicate that opposition is to blame.

  •  What if they held a (color)revolution (5+ / 0-)

    and no one (in the US media) showed up?

    If it weren't for yesterday's bombing tragedy, I'm sure there would be plenty of pro-Capriles spin, in every US media outlet. So much we'd need boots.

    •  I fully expect (5+ / 0-)

      that if we look deep enough we'll find that US funding of Venezuelan "Contras" has already begun.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 03:44:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maduro already lobbed that CT himself a few (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        days ago, claiming that hit men in El Salvador were being hired by the US to go after him.

        •  Conpiracism is everywhere in Lat. Am. (5+ / 0-)

          And they have plenty of reason to be paranoid. As I said, the US has been pouring money into the election, and may even have been coaching Capriles:

          The opposition has historic ties with the United States. An employee of American Airlines in Caracas, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional reprisal, said Capriles usually flies to Washington a few weeks before each election to plan strategies with US officials. The claim could not be independently verified.

          A translator responsible for guiding a Capriles focus group - organised by Washington political consultants - in rural Venezuela said the opposition's message and even the body language of its candidate are carefully choreographed by high-priced Beltway strategists. Again, the translator asked to remain nameless because of the issue's sensitivity, and claim could not be independently confirmed.

          In recently released diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks reports the US strategy in Venezuela involves: "Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez' Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally."

          The US has spent millions of dollars interfering in Venezuela's political process with the "desired effect of pulling them [government supporters] slowly away from Chavismo", the diplomatic cables reveal.

          So do not blame Maduro for the atmosphere in Venezuela. He's just part of a relationship between Venezuela and the US that has been deeply poisoned.  
        •  Sort of like Putin calling the US #1 Enemy just... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG, erush1345

          ...before his recent election.

          Pols do whatever they need to in order to win.

          That's true in the US.

          And it's true in Venezuela.

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

          by PatriciaVa on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:16:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Considering the results of the 2012 election, (0+ / 0-)

    this one is far closer and illustrates just how polarized Venezuela has become.  I listened to part of Maduro's victory speech on Sunday night, and he sounded pretty half-hearted about the victory and did little but hollowly invoke Chavez's name 50 times.  And based on his additional remarks it appears that Maduro intends to do just like W did in 2000/2004 and govern as if he won a huge mandate.

    •  I don't really agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PatriciaVa, corvo, protectspice

      The results from this election represent a 5% swing of voters from the chavistas to MUD from 2012 to 2013. That's hardly titanic.

      The result was certainly a disappointment for the PSUV--polls had been showing a roughly 15% victory--but it may be that some people who had been planning to vote chavista because they don't like Capriles decided to vote for MUD to show the PSUV that it shouldn't take them for granted. But a win is a win. What will matter is whether Maduro proves to be a better leader than he was a campaigner.

      Capriles is deeply unpopular, even on the right. His irresponsible statements refusing to recognize the election show that people had good reason not to trust him.

      I think he's lucky not to have won. Venezuela's problems of corruption, violence, inflation, and dependence on oil have been going on for 20 years or more. No one seems to know how to solve them. Had Capriles been elected, he would have very quickly been shown to be a hollow man.

    •  In 2006, the RightWing Calderon in Mexico.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...stole the election.

      He "won" by 0.56%.

      Yet he governed as if he had a mandate.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:18:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a bizarrely one-sided diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mindful Nature

    The opposition is responsible for today's deaths in Venezuela like the antiwar movement was responsible for the deaths at Kent State.  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:31:39 PM PDT

    •  Yours is a ridiculous comment, Rich (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, Justina, protectspice

      Rich, I have posted an article with numerous links substantiating every statement in the article. I have been careful to label the allegations about the deaths as the government's claims.

      I could add links about how the right-wing coalition has made ridiculous allegations after every one of the elections they have lost, and how respected bodies like the Carter Center have patiently and systematically debunked them.

      In response, you have--what? An accusation against the government substantiated by exactly nothing. That's a conspiracy theory, and is considered trolling. Such comments deserve to be hidden, but I decline to do so at this time. But be aware that this is what I think of your comment.

      If you don't like what I post, either provide a substantive rebuttal or don't post.

    •  uprated (0+ / 0-)

      to counter threatened HR.

      As has been pointed out, CHarles' sources are not independent of the government, and this diary is pretty clearly in one camp.  Whether the opposition is responsible or not is very difficult to know.  CT it isn't, though, to point this issue out.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 10:09:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No HR was threatened (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo, slatsg

        I just said that the making of accusations without evidence is trolling.

        Which it is.  

        And, I should point out, your own action in uprating, is also a violation of community standards.  

        One final note. My sources include The New York Times, Wikipedia, Reuters, an anti-chavista blogger-- really anyone who has something relevant to say. So your comment that "CHarles' sources are not independent of the government" is simply bulls--t.

        That's ok. Just don't ask me to respect it.

        •  Adding... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Oh Mary Oh, corvo, slatsg

          I am deeply insulted that Rich and Mindful Nature would make the claims that  "this diary is pretty clearly in one camp" or that "This is a bizarrely one-sided diary."

          You two are not very good at mind-reading, so stop.

          If anything, I am too pro-American. That means telling the truth when the U.S. is shooting itself in the foot. The people who genuinely hate America are those who serve as cheerleaders and apologists for American stupidity.

          I resent spending valuable time bringing out issues of which most Americans are unaware--even though they are important to our foreign policy success-- and then having little twits who can't be bothered to even provide a link or a reasoned defense of their position tell me what I am thinking.

  •  Contents of a wikileaks cable (6+ / 0-)
    In a secret US cable published online by WikiLeaks, former ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to infiltrate and destabilize former President Hugo Chavez' government.

    Dispatched in November of 2006 by Brownfield -- now an Assistant Secretary of State -- the document outlined his embassy’s five core objectives in Venezuela since 2004, which included: “penetrating Chavez’ political base,” “dividing Chavismo,” “protecting vital US business” and “isolating Chavez internationally.”

    According to Brownfield, who prepared the cable specifically for US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the “majority” of both USAID and OTI activities in Venezuela were concerned with assisting the embassy in accomplishing its core objectives of infiltrating and subduing Chavez’ political party ...

    In total, USAID spent some one million dollars in organizing 3,000 forums that sought to essentially reconcile Chavez supporters and the political opposition, in the hopes of slowly weaning them away from the Bolivarian side.

    More details at this link

    Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

    by truong son traveler on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:02:05 PM PDT

  •  If indeed Obama wants Maduro gone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the best way he can accomplish that is to STFU.

    If indeed george w. bush had anything to do with the Keystone Koup, then Chávez ought to have been grateful for the support that it gained him.  Maduro does not yet have that advantage.

    Quidquid id est, timeo Republicanos et securitatem ferentes.

    by Sura 109 on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:25:20 PM PDT

    •  This is sort of the point, Sura (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, Justina, protectspice, Oh Mary Oh

      When the US attacks a lawfully-elected government, it causes people in that country to rally around their government... just as we rallied around our government when we were attacked by Al Qaeda.

      However, as to gratitude... if you had been kidnapped, held at gunpoint, and threatened with death, exactly how grateful would you be toward your kidnappers?

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