Venezuela votes

Spain asks for recount in Venezuela’s post-Chávez elections

Interim President Nicolás Maduro awarded narrow victory, but rival Capriles claims there were widespread irregularities

Venezuela's opposition leader Henrique Capriles gestures during a news conference in Caracas on Monday.
Venezuela's opposition leader Henrique Capriles gestures during a news conference in Caracas on Monday. STRINGER/VENEZUELA (REUTERS)

Spain on Monday called on Venezuelan election officials to conduct a rapid recount of Sunday’s presidential vote to find a quick solution to “the severe polarization” that exists in the country.

Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo told journalists that he hopes that there is “an agreement and dialogue” between interim President Nicolás Maduro, who won the elections by a narrow 1.59 percent of the vote, and the leading opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who has said he won’t except the outcome because of alleged irregularities at voting booths across the country.

“Whoever is the winner, we hope that relations between [Venezuela] and the Kingdom of Spain will still remain on good terms in the same way as they are between the Spanish and Venezuelan peoples,” Margallo said before attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Barcelona.

In Madrid, María Dolores de Cospedal, the number-two official in the center-right Popular Party (PP) said the ruling party “was concerned” about the political situation in Venezuela and called on electoral authorities to “clarify as soon as possible the transparency” over the voting process.

With 99.2 percent of the polling stations counted on Sunday night, the Venezuelan Electoral Council (CNE) gave the presidential election to Maduro with 50.66 percent against Capriles’ 49.07 percent.

Venezuelan community leaders in Spain also denounced what they called an unfair process. William Cárdenas, spokesperson for the so-called Democratic Platform group, said voting fraud in his country has always been an issue because it is impossible to verify the results from a system that was set up by the late President Hugo Chávez.

Luis Eduardo Manresa, spokesman for Capriles’ Democratic Unity Committee (MUD) in Spain, said that the Venezuelan opposition has proof that Maduro-backed militants intimidated many voters at polling stations across the nation.

Manresa said that the vote from Venezuelans abroad could sway the elections in Capriles’ favor once all the ballots are counted. Some 20,000 Venezuelan residents in Spain – the majority of them living in the Canary Islands – voted at polling stations across the country.

In Miami, where another large Venezuelan community lives, some 5,000 residents organized a trip to New Orleans to cast their ballots after the consulate was closed in Florida earlier last year following a diplomatic dispute between the Chávez government and Washington. Chávez died of cancer on March 5.

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