Opposition supporters in Venezuela
Supporters of the Venezuelan opposition AFP

The Venezuelan opposition denounced that three political activists were detained over the weekend in the state of Portuguesa following a visit by one of its leaders, María Corina Machado.

According to local officials, they are Ámbar Márquez, Víctor Castillo and Óscar Castañeda. Castillo was taken to a compound belonging to the intelligence service Sebin, while the whereabouts of the other two activists is still unknown.

The parties the activists were part of, Machado's Vente Venezuela and Primero Justicia, called the measures "extremely grave" and illustrative of the Maduro government's "oppressive and violent" nature and demanded they be released immediately.

According to Infobae, other seven regional campaign leaders have also been detained over the past weeks. All of them have been accused of being involved in plots against the Maduro government.

The opposition has intensified its campaign over the past weeks and coalesced around Edmundo González Urrutia as its presidential candidate for the July elections.

María Corina Machado, the opposition's most visible figure, has taken charge of campaign efforts on behalf of González Urrutia. She won a broad primary last year and was set to take on Nicolas Maduro, but was banned from doing so by the Supreme Court. So was her stand-in candidate, Corina Yoris.

Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado speaks to supporters in
Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado speaks to supporters in Caracas' Altamira Square in January 2024 Gabriela Oraa/AFP

In this context, and seeking to present a united front at the polls, opposition parties anointed González Urrutia, a little-known diplomat who was among the few allowed to sign up as a candidate.

The opposition coalition is seemingly determined to compete at the polls despite the government's maneuvers, which have led the U.S. government to reinstate its sanctions on the oil industry as it determined there was no substantial progress toward freer and fairer elections.

"I want this message to reach all Venezuelans. Edmundo is going to be president and so will I," said Machado in a political rally in the state of Portuguesa last week.

The government has already recognized him as such by criticizing him and labeling him the "the candidate of imperialism." Diosdado Cabello, a senior figure of the administration, said last week that his proposals revolve around "asking for more sanctions and blockades" against Venezuela.

"The people are not dumb anymore, they know who the enemy is, who is behind or alongside the enemy," he said during a public appearance. He added that the PSUV, the government's party, will "carry out a series of rallies around Venezuela" to prepare a "great victory" in the elections.

Urrutia, on his end, thanked political leaders for their support and conveyed hopeful message ahead of the country's July elections.

"We face the challenge of betting for Venezuela's recovery. No one can be indifferent to the situation millions of fellow Venezuelans are living. It's an expanding state of poverty with persisting inflation and a currency that's losing value," he said.

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