Options narrow for Venezuelan opposition when supreme court judge declares no recount will be ordered
CARACAS — Venezuela's opposition watched its options dwindle on Wednesday when the head of the supreme court said there could be no recount of the razor-thin presidential election victory by Hugo Chavez's heir, leaving many government foes feeling the only chance at power is to wait for the ruling socialists to stumble.
Opposition activists and independent observers called the judge's declaration blatant and legally unfounded favoritism from a purportedly independent body that is packed with confederates of President-elect Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's hand-picked successor.
The recount issue has not been put before the court, but its president, Luisa Morales, appeared on television news at midday to declare that the opposition's call for an examination of each and every paper vote receipt had “angered many Venezuelans.”
It was an unsubtle reminder that virtually every level of power in Venezuela sits in the hands of a ruling party unafraid to use almost all means at its disposal to marginalize its opponents.
“In Venezuela, the system is absolutely automatic, in such a way that manual recounts don't exist,” Morales said.
Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles kept silent, shying away from what experts called his only remaining option: public protest.
By late afternoon, the normally vociferous state governor had simply called on Twitter for his followers to remain calm and resist provocations to violence from the government.
A day earlier, Capriles canceled a march in the capital, saying the government planned to react with violence.
That decision was made after Maduro urged his supporters to take to the streets on Wednesday.
With the Capriles march called off, only a small crowd of Chavistas rallied outside the electoral council's offices.
Maduro hectored the opposition during a 45-minute live appearance on state television, calling his opponents “fascists” who are plotting to overthrow the government.
“Superman could not win an election here,” Diego Arria, a former U.N. ambassador and conservative member of the opposition coalition, said resignedly.
“We're left with the option of calling the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, but that won't have any impact here,” Arria said. “If the population stands down, we lose.”
Political scientist Jorge Restrepo of the CERAC think tank in Bogota said Maduro's problem isn't institutional power but “the fragility that will come from the economic side.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Air Algerie flight ‘probably’ crashed in Mali in rough weather
- UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed
- Russia says it will block 13 Americans, including lawmaker, from entering country
- ‘Explosion of evil’ in Europe against Jews condemned
- Suicide bombs in Nigeria kill 82; ex-leader targeted
- Ban of flights to and from Israel feared to bolster Hamas
- Ukraine rebel leader admits they had BUK
- Acetaminophen no better for back pain than placebo, researchers report
- Ukraine denies firing artillery shell across border, killing 1 in Russia
- Passengers hailed from 13 nations
- U.S. drone strike kills 8 in Pakistani tribal region