Events in Venezuela are rapidly coming to a head. Following a flurry of recriminations, a showdown is looming between President Nicolás Maduro, the erratic heir to Hugo Chávez, and Henrique Capriles, the leader of the united opposition and a man facing some very difficult decisions.
This current crisis stems from a dispute over the outcome of a special presidential election held Sunday to pick a successor to the late President Chávez. Following a process characterized by numerous oddities, Maduro was declared to have just narrowly eked out a win by less than 235,000 votes (or 1.5 percent of the electorate.) And that was before some 150,000 votes cast by Venezuelan expatriates were counted -- a group of people who have, in the past, voted against Chávez at a rate of over 90 percent in recent years.
In the wake of the official announcement, Vicente Diaz, himself a member of the five-person Central Electoral Commission (CNE), publicly requested that his colleagues allow for a full manual recount. Capriles himself soon echoed the recount request, stating that he would not concede the election until each vote has been accounted for. At first, Maduro used a rambling victory speech to assure Capriles that he would be happy to allow a recount, since it would only prove a greater margin of victory for the government. Yet by the next morning the revolutionary dauphin had changed his mind. Since then the "Madurista" regime has rejected the possibility of any additional scrutiny of the vote.
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