Diosdado Cabello
Diosdado Cabello, a senior figure in the Maduro government AFP

Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia was recently revealed as the opposition's candidate in Venezuela's upcoming presidential elections, and the Maduro government has recognized him as such by criticizing him.

Diosdado Cabello, a senior figure of the administration, called Gonzalez Urrutia "the candidate of imperialism," saying 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.

"I don't doubt the Venezuelan people will vote for peace, against the sanctions and the blockade," Cabello said.

Gonzalez Urrutia was anointed by the opposition after Maria Corina Machado, who won a broad primary election, was banned from doing so, and so was her stand-in replacement Corina Yoris. The current candidate was among the few allowed to sign up and elevated to the position last Friday.

Edmundo Gonzalez
The diplomat is the opposition coalition's candidate to challenge Maduro Edmundo Gonzalez

In his first public address, he thanked political leaders for their support and conveying a 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.

Urrutia added that he won't be touring the country to campaign, leaving that role to Machado, the better-known figure and with a high approval rate. Machado has been doing exactly that, calling for Venezuelans to vote for Gonzalez Urrutia.

"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.

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.

Polls are an encouragement to do so. A study from mid-April shows that 81% of respondents do not want Maduro to remain in power while 10% want him to do so, and 9% said they do not know.

Four in ten Venezuelans would consider leaving the country if Maduro were to be reelected, with only 16% expressing their desire to remain in the country in that scenario.

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