Protests erupt in Venezuela over election

April 24th, 2013

Last Sunday, April 13, in the first elections since the reign of Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan citizens elected a socialist president into office. The long campaign process culminated in the defeat of right-wing candidate Henrique Capriles by socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro. According to BBC World News, Maduro won the election by a razor-thin margin of 1.8 percentage points. This narrow win has garnered international attention as each nation tries to protect its interests abroad.

Venezuela is home to a wealth of oil reserves, and the wider world is anxiously awaiting the political ramifications of having a socialist in office when the oil provided by Venezuela is so vital to the global economy.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Cuban leader Raul Castro were thrilled with the results of the election, but the U.S. has officially refused to acknowledge the victory. According to FOX News Latino, the small margin of victory warrants an official, electronic audit, but Venezuelan officials claim that the recount will not affect the results.

Pope Francis is concerned with the election of Maduro, but is encouraging peaceful dialogue with the new administration. As a native of South America, Pope Francis is greatly concerned that political unrest will ensue in the already unstable region.

According to The Huffington Post, Maduro’s victory is a logical result of his strong political connections with the petroleum industry in Venezuela. He was also appointed to the foreign minister position during Chavez’s term, providing him with strong party loyalists and access to campaign funds.

In contrast, Capriles was the governor of Venezuela’s most populous state and headed the opposition to government intimidation during his governorship. Considered the political underdog, Capriles lost to Chavez in October 2012 by 11 points. Capriles gained most of his support from the private sector. Though he was planning to overhaul many of Chavez’s systems of leadership, he hoped to maintain his anti-poverty programs. Capriles has continued to protest the election results and hopes the Venezuelan Supreme Court will take action to investigate the elections further.

According to ABC News, in his inaugural address on Friday, April 19, Maduro revealed a socialist agenda for Venezuela and spread an aggressive message to any critics of his political victory and policy plans. Maduro painted his antagonists as enemies of national unity and communicated a strong-handed approach to any protestors who claim his victory to be illegitimate.

Maduro’s administration threatened opposing legislatures on the assembly floor and Venezuelan sources are claiming that the Maduro administration is punishing political officials who voted for Capriles or are showing any signs of support for the enemy party. As political unrest increases within Venezuela, waves of discontent have moved upon the international stage, with no end to political frustrations in either sector.

Information from BBC World News, ABC News, and The Huffington Post was used in this report.