Venezuela’s Extreme Post-Election Events Playing Out on Twitter

Just minutes after being declared the winner in a close race separated by less than 300,000 votes, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro went on television Sunday night to celebrate his victory, but to also say that if a recount to confirm his victory over Henrique Capriles had to happen, he would be agree to having the election boxes opened up.

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Here is the video of what he said in Spanish (and is consistent to our initial report from Sunday, where we quoted Maduro’s desire to have a recount and settle the controversy once and for all).

Maduro has changed his position since then, and it is leading to major tensions in Venezuela. The struggle has been public on Twitter as well. Maduro’s supporters believe that it is all being driven by the United States and an extreme right-wight conspiracy being executed by the opposition, while the opposition believes that Maduro is just a puppet of Havana. The accusations and rhetoric are on full speed. It is a story of extremes in a country where 7 million voters chose one candidates and 7 million voters chose another candidate.

Meanwhile, news of an alleged arrest order against Capriles and other opposition leaders continues to make international outlets. Today El País reported the news that opposition leader Leopoldo López had tweeted news that such an order was being presented to him. It is consistent to our report, where we cite articles and information that reported the news of an alleged arrest order. It was also clear that Maduro and his supporters were suggesting legal action against opposition leaders for inciting violence at protests that led to the deaths of seven people. So far, at least according to updates by Capriles’ and López’s Twitter profile, such an order has not be carried out.

Capriles’ profile just began to tweet again early this afternoon. Here are his tweets from oldest to newest.

“Don’t pay attention to those echoes of rumors from those who want violence. Our official campaign will sign a petition to the national electoral commissions.”

“To be the Governor of Miranda [Capriles is the governor], you arrive with votes from the people and you leave with votes from the people as well.”

“Everyone stay calm, don’t fall into provocations from official sectors, which are littered with infiltrators who are promoting conflicts!”

López’s Twitter profile started tweeting earlier today before Capriles’ profile. These tweets are from oldest to newest.

“I am at party headquarters. We keep working. We are not stopping! We will not stop in our efforts for a better Venezuela.”

“Last night they wanted to send armed groups with our colors to incite violence and then blame us. The orders were ready!”

“Thanks to everyone for the messages of support and solidarity. All this intimidation and persecution is to distract the country from what we are asking for.”

“We ask that they compare the ballots with the voting registers and records!”

“We will not be distracted by our fight to return stability and peace to our country. Strength and faith!!!” Meanwhile, Maduro’s profile, which was hacked two days ago, has begun to tweet again. Last night, the profile shared the following tweets:

“I am a man of peace and a man of my word. I ordered (state intelligence agency) Sebin to maintain protection of the ex-candidate of the right wing.”

Maduro’s profile also tweeted this:

“I call on the Country to isolate all the fascists y the violent ones wherever they are, and for our justice system to punish those who have committed crimes and damage.”

Reuters also published an update this afternoon:

The razor-thin victory by Maduro in Sunday’s presidential vote has been rejected by his rival, Henrique Capriles, who is alleging thousands of irregularities at polling centers and wants a full audit of the ballots.

Seven people have died in opposition-led protests, and the government has vowed legal action against Capriles and others whom they accuse of stirring violence against its backers.

The Washington Post also published an editorial about the situation in Venezuela, saying the following:

THE ATTEMPT by the followers of Hugo Chavez to install a successor to the dead caudillo through a one-sided election is faltering. Now the Venezuelan regime appears to be preparing to maintain itself in power through brute force — and the oil-producing country is headed for a crisis that demands the attention of the United States and Latin America’s democracies.

On Tuesday, Nicolas Maduro, the former bus driver and Cuban protege who was designated as Mr. Chavez’s successor, went on national television to announce that he would “not permit” a march Wednesday called by the opposition to support its call for a recount of votes in Sunday’s election. Promising to use “a strong hand” — a hoary phrase from Latin America’s history of dictatorship — Mr. Maduro spoke of protesters “filling [Caracas] with death and blood,” words that rang like a threat. The government said that seven people already had been killed in post-election clashes and claimed that a coup was being prepared.

In fact, if anyone is preparing a coup, it is Mr. Maduro and his Cuban advisers. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski has put forward a peaceful and reasonable demand: that an audit be undertaken of the suspect presidential vote count. Mr. Maduro himself said Sunday that he would agree to a recount — but on Monday the electoral commission he controls abruptly ratified a result that gave him a margin of 260,000 votes out of 14.8 million cast. The narrow outcome clearly shocked the Chavistas, who had already installed Mr. Maduro in the presidency by unconstitutional means; they expected that their domination of the media and orchestration of voting by state employees would produce an easy “victory” and legitimize the regime’s continuation.

With so many competing interests, it is hard to tell where the truth begins and where it ends. However, social media is playing a role, whether it is for the right intentions is still too early to tell. Yet, few can argue that there is tension in Venezuela right now, and there is a massive struggle for power that hopefully will not lead to any more bloodshed.

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