Hugo Pérez Hernáíz
In a press conference today, former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles insisted on asking the National Electoral Council (CNE) for a full recount of the ballots. He asked his supporters to stay calm and allow him to “handle this crisis in a responsible way.” But he also said that he would not concede defeat until a 100% of ballots had been recounted.
Although he has so far stopped short of using the word “fraud” to describe the situation, he is asking his supporters to hold a cacerolazo (pot banging) protest tonight. Furthermore, in a sign that he might radicalize the protest, he asked “the people of Caracas” to go to the CNE this Wednesday with him. He also said that from tomorrow on people in the provinces should go to their local CNE offices to protest. At the time of the press conference Leopoldo López, of the opposition party Voluntad Popular, tweeted: “ATTENTION: here are the addresses of all the offices of the CNE in the country. Share this with everyone!”
During the day the petition to recount all the ballots sparked reactions from both camps. Early in the morning Julio Borges, leader of Primero Justicia, announced that what was needed was opening all the boxes and counting all the ballots, “we should go forward on a process not only of auditing all the votes, but also of challenging all the issues we think affected the results. We are talking of more than 3,000 instances that were documented yesterday and of more the 200 denunciations filed before the elections.”
Later Jorge Rodriguez, head of Maduro´s campaign, reaffirmed that Maduro in his speech yesterday had agreed to count 100% of the boxes, not the actual ballots. He explained that the opposition could certainly ask for an auditing of the process, but that would only mean the opening of all the boxes to check if the votes inside the box coincide with what was transmitted electronically to the CNE. He declared “They have ways to appeal the elections. The can ask for an auditing, and I am sure that the auditing will show the results that we already know. There is no way to manipulate the election.”
After Capriles’ declarations, Jorge Rodriguez appeared again on Telesur. He argued that opposition petitions were “a conspiracy strategy with foreign support.”
Rumors on social media sites have been predictably strong. Particularly active on Twitter and Facebook are posts by opposition supporters reporting the destruction of electoral boxes by military personnel. After Capriles´s latest press conference there were unconfirmed reports on twitter of crowds protesting in front of CNE offices in Carabobo, Barinas, and Lara. There are also tweets informing that opposition protesters have closed a main highway in Eastern Caracas.