U.S.-Venezuelan relations took a turn for the worse Thursday, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry called for a recount in the presidential election that Nicolas Maduro just narrowly won — and the president-elect responded that Mr. Kerry should just mind his own business.
“It’s obscene, the U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Mr. Marduro said, as United Press International reported. “Take your eyes off Venezuela, John Kerry. Get out of here. Enough interventionism.”
Mr. Kerry called for a recount during remarks to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill and also hinted that the U.S. might not recognize Mr. Maduro as the rightful leader.
“We think there ought to be a recount,” he said in the UPI report. “I don’t know whether it’s going to happen. … [But] obviously, if there are huge irregularities, we are going to have serious questions about the viability of that government.”
Mr. Maduro’s response was blunt.
“We don’t care about your recognition,” he said, as UPI reported. “We have decided to be free and we will be free and independent, with or without you.”
On Monday, Mr. Maduro — the late President Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor — was declared winner of the special election, with 50.8 percent of the vote, UPI said. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles won 49 percent, only 262,000 votes behind.
The president of the country’s highest court, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, affirmed Mr. Maduro as the winner on Wednesday.