CARACAS, Venezuela — Tensions escalated here Tuesday as the newly elected president, Nicolas Maduro, and his opponent blamed each other for the violence that has left at least seven people dead, and Maduro accused the United States of being behind that violence.
The new president vowed to crack down on protests and said he would block a march called by his opponent, Henrique Capriles, to demand a recount of the vote. Capriles claims he is the real winner of the extremely close election on Sunday and has refused to recognize the result.
Capriles responded to Maduro on Tuesday by calling off the march to the headquarters of the National Electoral Council, which had been planned for today, saying he had received information that the government planned to infiltrate the march and cause violence. He called on his followers instead to bang pots at their homes in a traditional Venezuelan protest.
Maduro was declared the winner of Sunday's election with 50.8 percent of the vote, to 49 percent for Capriles, according to the current government count. The tally has Maduro ahead by about 270,000 votes, out of 14.8 million cast, although not all votes have been counted. Among those outstanding are Venezuelans living in foreign countries, who tend to vote for the opposition. Maduro is to complete the six-year term of former President Hugo Chavez, who had cancer and died March 5. His new term had begun in January.