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Venezuelan opposition seeks revenge as audits confirm Chavez’s victory

Former President Carlos Andres Perez insisted Chavez should be removed by force. Isolated, Venezuela’s opposition seeks revenge from President Hugo Chavez’s appalling victory over efforts to recall him. In declarations to the local press, former President Carlos Andres Perez called Venezuelans to oust the leftist leader by force, as other members of the opposition called on protest to denounce independently dispelled fraud allegations.

As the opposition does not recognize “fee and fair” Chavez victory, as former US President Jimmy Carter stated in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Venezuela’s constitutional leadership said it would no longer recognize its foes as a legal political force.

The Carter Center monitored the Aug. 15 election, which Chavez won with 59 percent of the vote. In a letter to the Journal, Carter said results from 20,000 voting machines were certified and paper ballots were guarded by the military. Most opinion polls predicted that Chavez would win, Carter wrote. He said an exit poll conducted by opposition leaders showing the government losing by 20 percentage points was “erroneous.''

Carter also called Venezuela’s opposition to accept irrefutable results: “When local citizens and foreigners disapprove of a political decision made in free and fair elections, the only legitimate recourse is to honor the decision, cooperate whenever possible, and promote future leadership changes through democratic means,'' he wrote.

At the same time, reluctant US officials accepted results. "In our view, the results of that audit are consistent with the results announced by (Venezuela's) National Electoral Council," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. Ereli congratulated "the people of Venezuela for their peaceful civic participation in this process and their demonstrated commitment to democracy," as well as the OAS and Carter Center for their "important contribution" to the process.

The White House had also a remark for the conservative opposition: "If it does have concerns, if they do have evidence -- additional evidence that has not been considered, that has not been weighed or taken into account -- then they need to present that”. "Otherwise, it's time to move on," said Ereli.

Washington expects Venezuela’s internal conflicts do not affect oil supplying from world’s fifth crude exporter. President Chavez gave signals he is committed to secure pumping or even to increase it, for which national oils giant, PDVSA, will cooperate with foreign companies as the Spanish Repsol-YPF, and the US Chevron.

Hernan Etchaleco

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