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Venezuela crackdown deemed worst in years

April 18, 2013 • World News


A “Chavista” demonstrator, and supporter of President-elect Nicolas Maduro, holds a photo of the late President Hugo Chavez during a march in front of the National Electoral Council (CNE) in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has presented a series of allegations of vote fraud and other irregularities to back up his demand for a vote-by-vote recount for the presidential election. Maduro, the hand-picked successor of the late Hugo Chavez, was declared the winner by 262,000 votes out of 14.9 million cast, and Capriles contends the purported abuses add up to more than Maduro’s winning margin. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — National Guard troops beat dozens of opposition supporters inside a barracks for refusing to accept the government-certified electoral victory of Hugo Chavez’s heir, a leading human rights lawyer charged Thursday in what he called Venezuela’s worst political repression in six years.

Alfredo Romero said his group’s lawyers also compiled evidence supporting opposition activists’ claims that National Guard troops had used excessive force against protesters, including shooting some point-blank with plastic shotgun pellets.

As details of the crackdown emerged, Nicolas Maduro prepared to be sworn in as president and the speaker of the National Assembly again threatened to bar the opposition from its only remaining political platform, the legislature, unless it recognized Maduro’s legitimacy.

Romero said the beatings occurred at National Guard barracks No. 47 in the western city of Barquisimeto after at least 300 protesters were arrested across Venezuela for backing opposition candidate Henrique Capriles’ demand for a recount of all the votes cast Sunday.

Interrogators “put baseball caps on these kids’ heads with a pro-government insignia … and made them say they recognized the Maduro government, and if they said ‘No’ they were beaten,” Romero said, adding that most of the detainees ranged in age from 15 to Login to read more

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