A Venezuelan human rights activist is accusing National Guard troops of beating opposition protesters who refused to recognize the election of Hugo Chavez's heir as president.

Alfredo Romero says the beatings happened in the western city of Barquisimeto after at least 300 protesters were arrested across Venezuela for backing the opposition's demand for a recount of the votes cast in Sunday's election.

Romero represents a network of more than 200 lawyers and calls the crackdown Venezuela's worst political persecution in seven years.

He says National Guard interrogators in Barquisimeto put a hat with a government insignia on detainees' heads and demanded they recognize Nicolas Maduro's election victory. He says detainees who didn't were struck.

Romero says more than 120 detainees were released Thursday, but many face criminal charges.