Update: Tanks in the streets as Venezuelan electoral council declares Hugo Chavez victory

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Update 10:50 p.m.According to the Associated Press, Venezuela’s electoral council has declared that Hugo Chavez beat Henriques Capriles in Sunday’s presidential election with about 54 percent of the vote, despite exit polls showing otherwise.

Venezuela Twitter users have claimed Chavez’s victory was wrought with election fraud, and that the socialist incumbent president sent tanks into the streets of his country as those exit poll reports showed him losing. A picture of the tanks surfaced on Twitter Sunday evening.

The British Guardian newspaper reported that Chavez also sent troops armed with AK-47s into Venezuela’s streets to fight against any protests in case unrest came as a result of the news.

A Spanish news outlet reported earlier on Sunday that exit polls showed Capriles defeated the socialist president by a narrow margin.

According to an English language translation of the local report, based on Google Translate, Chavez is headed for defeat:

The candidate of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), Henrique Capriles, is leading against Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez in the presidential elections held on Sunday … according to exit polls by consultancy Variance prior to the closing of polling stations. The time set for the closing was 12:30 a.m. Spanish time, however, and because of the long lines in some of them, polls have remained open without a definite closure time.

Despite the fact that Venezuelan law expressly prohibits the publication of polls, the Spanish outlet was free to conduct its polls. Its exit surveys indicate that Capriles won 51.3 percent of the vote, compared to Chavez’s 48.06 percent.

Variance director Rafael Delgado explained to Caracol Radio that the exit poll surveys were conducted in the Capital District and in the states of Zulia, Lara, Aragua, Miranda, Carabobo and Anzoategui.

If this data is confirmed in the final vote tally, Delgado said, it would end Chavez’s thirteen year reign as Venezuela’s leader and usher in a new political reality for the country and region.

Official results haven’t yet been announced.

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