U.S. May Not Recognize New Venezuelan Government Without Recount

The prospects for a thawing of relations between the United States and Venezuela with the election of a new President aren’t looking so good at the moment:

WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for a recount of Venezuelan President-elect Nicolas Maduro’s narrow win, but Maduro told Kerry to mind his business.

“We think there ought to be a recount,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, but added, “I don’t know whether it’s going to happen.”

Kerry also told the House panel he had not yet determined if Washington would recognize Maduro’s victory as legitimate.

“That evaluation has to be made and I haven’t made it,” he said.

“Obviously, if there are huge irregularities, we are going to have serious questions about the viability of that government,” Kerry said.

Quite obviously, Maduro is rejecting those calls and calling Kerry’s comments an example of U.S. interference in Venezuelan affairs. The head of the nation’s, Chavez-appointed of course, has also preemptively ruled out the idea of a recount:

CARACAS, Venezuela — Even before any legal motion was filed, the pro-government head of Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Wednesday slapped down demands for a recount of the hotly contested presidential election that gave a narrow victory to Hugo Chavez’s acolyte, Nicolas Maduro.

It was another blow to efforts to challenge Maduro’s win and comes as opposition members say they also fear a wave of political and legal repression


Luisa Estela Morales, president of the Venezuela Supreme Court, said during a news conference Wednesday that it was impossible to conduct a ballot-by-ballot recount because the voting system is automated. “Those who have been thinking this could happen were fooling themselves,” she said.

She made her comments even though the opposition had not formally filed a petition for a recount.

It was Morales who issued a perplexing ruling last month that allowed Maduro to assume the presidency immediately upon Chavez’s death, a controversial decision that critics said sidestepped the constitution and was aimed at making his election a fait accompli.

The days since the election have been marked with controversy as Maduro’s opponent has alleged widespread voting irregularities and his supporters have taken to the streets across the country. Indeed eight people have died in protests since the election, and at least 61 have been injured. For the moment, the post election tensions show no signs of cooling down, but, as Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez notes, it’s hard to tell where the things go from here:

Will noisemaking and appeals for international support really be sufficiently powerful tools to sway the regime into opening up its electoral books? Should Capriles call for massive protests or civil disobedience, almost certainly leading to his own arrest and increased bloodshed? When does the need for political justice override the need for societal peace? Venezuelans are about to confront these questions head-on.

We may be about to find out. Some have asked if we’re about to see a Venezuelan Spring. Perhaps, this will all be as successful as 2009’s Green Movement in Iran.

FILED UNDER: Latin America, The Presidency, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. rudderpedals says:

    I vaguely recall the Venezuelans bought the same type if not the same voting machines banned by referendum in Sarasota County Fla because among other things the machines left no paper trail.

  2. wr says:

    And if some nations had refused to recognize the Bush administration in 2000, I’m sure we would have done everything in our power to recount the votes…

    …or maybe just bombed them.

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