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Dirty Tricks Again? Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Coup Plot After Deadly Post-Election Protests

Venezuelan President-elect Nicolás Maduro has accused the United States and the opposition of planning a coup against him.

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HENRIQUE CAPRILES: [translated] Our path is a democratic one. I’ve taken the decision that tomorrow we are not going to mobilize ourselves, and I call upon all of my supporters to pick themselves up. Tomorrow, nobody goes out. Whoever goes out to march is on the side of violence and is doing the bidding of the government. The government wants there to be deaths in this country. The government does things itself, because it is not a secret to anyone that the person who is fronting the government is not a leader.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the situation in Venezuela, we’re joined by Democracy Now!video stream by  Alex Main in Caracas. Alex is senior associate for international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, served as an election monitor in Venezuela.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Alex Main. Talk about what has happened so far in these post-election days, with a number of people killed, and the U.S. position on the election.

ALEX MAIN: Yeah, thanks, Amy.

So, yeah, as we’ve heard in your news summary just now, it’s been a rocky couple of days, very noisy, as well. The last couple of nights, the Capriles campaign has called on the population to carry out a cacerolazo, which, as you may know, is a banging of pots and pans that comes from some of the protests that harken back to the 1970s in some of the dictatorships in South America. So, they’ve been trying to revive this form of protest here in Venezuela, and they’ve been doing this really for the last 12 years. But the last time we had serious cacerolazos here were—was in the 2002-to-2004 period, where there were constant street demonstrations, there were constant rumors of a coup. There was, of course, a coup in 2002 and so on.

And so there’s been a real atmosphere of tension here, and I think a lot of the country breathed a huge sigh of relief when Capriles called off the march on the CNE tomorrow. Many people saw it as something very similar to the call for a march that occurred back in April 2002, on April 11th, a march that of course turned violent and created a pretext for a  military coup.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Alex Main, how have people in Venezuela responded to the U.S. support for the opposition’s call for a recount?

ALEX MAIN: Well, I think, you know, there’s no real surprise. I mean, the U.S. State Department has been pretty consistent in its treatment of Venezuela really nearly since Chávez was elected, certainly since 2001, 2002. There’s, I think, been kind of a constant campaign that the U.S. has quite deliberately fed into to try to undermine the government, to destabilize it. Of course, they did openly support the coup in 2002.

I think one of the big differences we’re seeing with 2002 now in the U.S.'s position is that [inaudible] very, very isolated. It's only the U.S. and the very right-wing government of  Spain that have backed the opposition position to call for a full recount and to not recognize Maduro as president until that recount occurs. We’re not seeing that anywhere else in the world at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: Alex, I just want to ask—I mean, this interaction between Matthew Lee of AP and Mr. Ventrell of the State Department was quite astounding. It was Mr. Ventrell of the State Department who said, "It’s ultimately up to the CNE to certify [the] election results, which they’ve done." And so, the reporter said, "So are you going to congratulate Mr. Maduro?" And he said, "We’re not there yet. Our position is that it would engender more confidence in the Venezuelan people if they would do this recount." I think back to 2000 in the United States, a very close race between  Bush and Gore. They never had a full recount, that the United States is demanding of Venezuela right now.

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