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April 17, 2013

Capriles Calls Off Protests in Venezuela to Avoid Violence

by Brian Padden

To ease political tensions in Venezuela, opposition leader Henrique Capriles Tuesday cancelled a march in Caracas to demand a vote recount after Sunday's close presidential election. After the ruling socialist party candidate, Nicolas Maduro, was declared the winner, there have been opposition demonstrations and incidents of violence throughout the country.

In Caracas's Bolivar Plaza, supporters of President Maduro held an event to celebrate his victory.

But there were few supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles out in Caracas. He is demanding a vote recount after losing the presidential election by less than one percent of the vote.

Since Sunday's disputed election, there have been a number of opposition demonstrations. Some of the protests turned violent and a number of people were reported to have been killed.

To avoid further violence, Capriles Tuesday canceled a planned march and asked his supporters to stay home.

"This claim is peaceful and if someone departs from this peaceful theme, he is not with me. Even more he is doing damage to me," he said.

President Maduro previously prohibited the march and said opposition leaders are using these protests to incite unrest in an attempt to overthrow the government.

"They do it with hate and whoever hates will have the hate returned to him," he said.

Capriles says this political crisis will not end soon and undermines public confidence in President Maduro.

"And this is precisely what I said to Maduro, 'Maduro you are not Chavez. Don't believe you are what you are not. You have to, in the moment, resolve this very grave problem in the country,'" he said.

The close election has  increasingly polarized the political situation in this oil rich country.

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