In his victory speech on Sunday night, Venezuelan president Nicholás Maduro promised a recount of the votes in his surprisingly thin 51 to 49 percent defeat of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. After one of the five members of the National Electoral Council called for a recount, Maduro agreed and told suporters “We’re going to do it.” He continued “We’re not afraid. Let the [voting] boxes talk — that the truth be told.”
That was then. Now, after Capriles has assembled affadavits and anecdotes documenting 3,200 irregularities in the vote count and claimed that his count indicates that Maduro lost, suddenly there will be no recount. In a ceremony in central Caracas, the National Electoral Council declared Maduro the winner on Monday. He will be inaugurated as president on an accedlerated timetable this Friday.
Even for a government known for its deceit and broken promises, the Maduro backflip was stunning. The Organization of American States, in addition to the Obama administration and the European Union, had called for a recount. Those calls were echoes by several foreign observers. “After what we lived through and saw yesterday — all the complicated and delicate situations that we witnessed — we cannot say, objectively and categorically, that this was a clean and purely democratic process,’’ said Gustavo Palomares, the Spanish president of the Institute of Higher European Studies.
Circumstantial evidence is important. All of it points to the Chavista government making a sudden decision that they couldn’t afford a recount for what it might reveal. They appear to know they committed vote fraud; they just don’t want the rest of the world to know.