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Venezuela election: Maduro wins second term amid poor voter turnout

Venezuela's record-low voter turnout is the latest chapter in the death of its democracy

"A big democratic fiesta is taking place!" Echoing the views of Venezuela's tattered opposition movement, the United States, European Union and many Latin American countries have said they won't recognize the results. "In the United States there has been a fierce pressure to try to besmirch the Venezuelan elections - and they couldn't", Maduro said earlier Sunday.

The White House on Monday announced it would block the Venezuelan government from selling off the nation's assets in exchange for cash in response to what it called an illegitimate and "sham" election Sunday that gave leader Nicolas Maduro another term.

Turnout in Sunday's election was drastically low, with half of the voters not casting ballots.

Venezuelan presidential candidate Henri Falcon said he would not recognize Sunday's election because of irregularities including the placing of almost 13,000 pro-government stands close to polling stations.

A woman waiting outside a polling station in a Caracas slum, La Vega, said she worked for a government agency and feared losing her job if she did not vote and report afterward at the Red Spot.

"In the opposition, personal desires weighed more than a real desire to get Maduro out and that's what the people see".

"In such circumstances we have serious, serious questions on our part and in addition to the questioning that we may have about the process, without any doubt it lacks legitimacy and in this sense, we do not recognize this electoral process", Falcon said. "The opposition must leave us alone to govern", said government supporter Ingrid Sequera, 51, wearing a T-shirt with a logo of Chavez's eyes.

Venezuela's record-low voter turnout is the latest chapter in the death of its democracy
The Latest: After defeat, Venezuela opposition vows to unite

Falcon called on election officials to shut them down, calling it a "pressure mechanism, an element of political and social blackmail" directed at a poorer sector of the population. Despite energetic campaigning, his overall vote haul slipped by 1.6 million from 2013, when he was first elected after Hugo Chavez's death from cancer.

"It's offensive when they say the Venezuelan people are falling under dictatorship", he said after voting.

The government has set up so-called red point zones near polling stations so Venezuelans can scan their state-issued "fatherland cards" used to receive benefits including food boxes and money transfers.

Bertucci, a TV evangelist, stopped short of challenging the results, saying what he called a mistaken opposition boycott that led to the lowest voter turnout in two decades of socialist rule also boosted Maduro.

Venezuelan opposition leaders are hopeful for additional worldwide action and looking to the United States and other countries to help extricate them from the calamity their government has imposed. "Thank you for giving me 68% of those votes". I want this nightmare to stop, ' said teacher Luisa Marquez, 56, in Valencia.

Maduro has attacked the democratic institutions of Venezuela over the past several years and worked to stamp out opposition to his government, which is facing intense condemnation over its handling of rampant inflation and economic decline. "Venezuela is very sick and we the people are the medicine".

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