International

U.S. Calls On Venezuela 'To Respect ... Free Speech' Of Its Citizens

A woman walks past a message painted on a wall in the streets of Caracas reading "Fraud. Maduro Illegitimate." i i

hide captionA woman walks past a message painted on a wall in the streets of Caracas reading "Fraud. Maduro Illegitimate."

Raul Arboleda /AFP/Getty Images
A woman walks past a message painted on a wall in the streets of Caracas reading "Fraud. Maduro Illegitimate."

A woman walks past a message painted on a wall in the streets of Caracas reading "Fraud. Maduro Illegitimate."

Raul Arboleda /AFP/Getty Images

The United States called on the Venezuelan government to be transparent in its effort to "audit the ballots" of the presidential election held this weekend.

If you missed it, the news that Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro had won by a razor-thin margin unleashed protests in the streets of Caracas.

The New York Times reports that Maduro and his opponent blamed each other for violence that left seven people dead on Tuesday. The Times adds:

"The new president vowed to crack down on protests and said he would block a march called by his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski, to demand a recount of the vote. Mr. Capriles claims he is the real winner of the extremely close election on Sunday and has refused to recognize the result.

"Mr. Capriles responded to Mr. Maduro on Tuesday by calling off the march to the headquarters of the National Electoral Council, which had been planned for Wednesday, saying he had received information that the government planned to infiltrate the march and cause violence. He called on his followers instead to bang pots at their homes in a traditional Venezuelan protest."

Today, the White House put out a statement on the situation.

"We call on the Venezuelan government to respect the rights of Venezuelan citizens to peaceful assembly and free speech," Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "We also urge everyone to refrain from violence and other measure that could raise tensions at this difficult moment."

The statement went on:

"The United States notes the acceptance by both candidates for an audit of the ballots and supports calls for a credible and transparent process to reassure the Venezuelan people regarding the results. Such a process would contribute to political dialogue and help advance the country's democracy."

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