St Vincent congratulates Maduro, blasts Venezuela opposition
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Wednesday April 17, 2013 – The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) has congratulated president–elect Nicolas Maduro on his victory and dismissed critics who point to his slim victory in Venezuela.
At least seven people were killed and 61 injured in post-election violence across Venezuela, state media reported Tuesday.
Violence erupted in Venezuela after authorities rejected opposition candidate Henrique Capriles’ demands for a presidential election recount.
Capriles announced that he won the election on Sunday, however officials said that Maduro, who Hugo Chavez handpicked to succeed him before he died last month, won the vote.
Maduro won the election with 50.8 per cent of the ballots to Capriles' 49 per cent.
ULP general secretary, Julian Francis, speaking on his weekly radio programme, noted that Maduro’s “results are not as dazzling as those of Chavez” who won last October’s presidential election by 10 percentage points over Capriles.
“But while Maduro did not do that to that extent, he won the elections. He is the elected president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” Francis said, as he extended congratulations on behalf of the ULP and government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The ULP government, led by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, maintained warm ties with the Chavez government, which the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has criticised as autocratic.
The NDP, led by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, has accused Caracas of drawing Kingstown into its ideological war with the United States.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is among several Caribbean and Latin America countries that have benefitted from PetroCaribe, the oil initiative and the ALBA - the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas – that Chavez championed during his life time as he sought to develop closer links between Caracas and the wider region.
Capriles had vowed to discontinue the Chavez initiatives.
Francis said the ULP was pleased with the outcome of the election.
“We are, naturally, very happy that Nocolas Maduro has won the elections, which means it keeps the party of President Chavez in government in Venezuela much to the -- I don't want to say the wrong word. I better put it the other way. I am sure that the NDP is not very pleased with the results of the elections in Venezuela,” Francis said.
“I haven't heard anything from them; but, I am sure that silently, in their hearts, they were hoping and wishing that Capriles will win the election,” Francis added, noting that Venezuela’s constitution allows Maduro a six-year term as president.
“We are all mortal and all sorts of things can happen, but we go, basically, on the election,” Francis said.
“I know there are a lot of people who say he just scraped through. The margin, by popular vote, is 272, 865. So, he won by just under 300,000 votes. That is about three times the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Francis noted.
He said that 79.8 per cent of the 18.9 million people registered to vote in Venezuela cast ballots.
“The most powerful president of any nation in the world is supposed to be the president of the United States,” Francis said, adding that in 2000, George W. Bush won the election with a minority of the popular vote.
“Their system is a little different from ours, different from Venezuela’s,” Francis said of the United States, where the person who wins the Electoral College, rather than the popular vote, becomes president.
He added that Bush won in 2004 with 50.73 per cent of the popular votes.
“I just want to throw those figures out, because I know you are going to hear this kind of talk and I just want to make sure that when we talk, we know what we are saying. So, I just wanted to prep you as to how things are going.
“President Chavez, there are not many like him. In fact, I am not sure that is another one like him. But, like the NDP here in St. Vincent when we won in 2010, they want to mash up the country,” Francis said of the protest in Venezuela,