Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela presidential election


A coalition of 14 nations from throughout the Americas, including Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, pledged to scale back diplomatic relations with Venezuela and urge global organizations not to issue Venezuela any new credit.

Most Venezuelans gave up long ago on "elections" as the way to restore their rights.

To be sure, there are other steps the democratic worldwide community can take to increase pressure on Maduro and his allies.

Opposition leader Omar Barboza said Monday that the Broad Front and the United Democratic Roundtable will push for a "free, transparent" election with worldwide observers in the last trimester of 2018.

It said Diosdado Cabello Rondón has abused his government positions "in furtherance of his illicit and corrupt activities to control and direct government agencies and military officials in Venezuela". "It's evident those who are in power can't mobilize and don't have the support they once enjoyed".

"Let's go, Nico!" his supporters chanted until after midnight during party scenes in downtown Caracas.

Falcon, a 56-year-old former army officer who failed to gain the endorsement of the main opposition, accused the government of coercing voters.

"They do not recognize the legitimacy of the electoral process carried out in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that ended on May 20, for not complying with the worldwide standards of a democratic, free, fair and transparent process", a translation of the statement issued by the Lima Group reads.

Falcon was joined in his call for a new election by third-place finisher Javier Bertucci, who got around 11 percent of the vote. Turnout in the three previous presidential elections averaged 79 percent. Maduro said he had never seen a candidate dispute results even before they were announced.

Venezuela's socialist leader Nicolas Maduro faced fresh global censure on May 21 after re-election in a vote foes denounced as a farce cementing autocracy in the crisis-stricken OPEC nation.

A social crisis years in the making has worsened as Venezuela's oil production - the source of nearly all of its foreign income - has collapsed to the lowest level in decades and financial sanctions by the Trump administration have made it impossible for the government to renegotiate its debts.

Because of the deteriorating situation, an estimated 1.6 million people fled the country between 2015 and 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Venezuela's opposition rallied thousands to the streets in protest of President Nicolas Maduro's increasingly autocratic rule past year but the movement has since fizzled.

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But he showed no sign of replaying Sunday's vote.

"They underestimated me", said a triumphant Maduro to cheers from his supporters as fireworks sounded and confetti fell at the presidential palace in Caracas.

"I came voluntarily", he said.

He promised to spend the next two years before scheduled congressional elections repairing an economy he says has been badly damaged by mafias backed by Colombia and the U.S.

Maduro immediately called for dialogue with his presidential opponents.

The government has set up so-called red point zones near polling stations so Venezuelans can scan their state-issued "fatherland cards" used to receive benefits including food boxes and money transfers.

If Maduro presses forward, he said, Venezuela would explode from a social crisis marked by widespread food shortages and hyperinflation before his new six-year term starts next January. "We do not recognize this electoral process as valid", he told local media. National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena acknowledged a handful of complaints, but insisted they were minor compared to past elections.

In response, many opposition leaders called for an election boycott.

He said Venezuelans would provide an example of democracy to the world and brushed back suggestions he was taking the country down an authoritarian path.

The main opposition coalition boycotted the election, but Maduro was not without challengers.

With the election behind him, Maduro may choose to deepen a purge of critics within the ruling "Chavismo" movement.

Nayra Martinez, a city employee and opposition activist, bucked her party's call to abstain from casting her ballot, saying it's no time to stop fighting.