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

The Venezuelan opposition has shown its determination to compete in the July presidential regardless of the obstacles the Maduro government might put in front of it, and the latest figures are an encouragement to continue down that path.

According to a new poll by Datincorp, candidate Edmundo González Urrutia holds a commanding 40-point lead over Nicolas Maduro less than two weeks after being announced as the coalition representative.

Concretely, González has 62% of the support compared to Maduro's 20%. Other candidates got a combined 12%. And the lead could continue growing, as only 55% of the 1,200 people surveyed knew who the opposition candidate was. The Miami Herald reported that another poll from last week already showed González already had a 20-point lead.

González has delegated the campaigning to opposition leader María Corina Machado, who was set to be the presidential candidate after winning a broad primary election but was prevented from doing so by the government.

After her stand-in candidate Corina Yoris was banned too, the opposition coalesced around González, a little-known diplomat who was allowed to sign up. 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.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro addresses the media in Caracas
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro addresses the media in Caracas Reuters / LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA

The government has already acknowledged González as a candidate, with Diosdado Cabello, a senior figure of the administration, calling him "the candidate of imperialism" and 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.

The poll's figures are consistent with another mid-April study showing that four in ten Venezuelans would consider leaving the country if Nicolás Maduro were to be reelected. Moreover, 45% of respondents claimed they did not know what they would decide while should Maduro win and only 16% expressed their desire to stay in the country if such an outcome were to take place.

On the flip side of the survey, 81% of those polled do not want Maduro to remain in power while 10% want him to do so, and 9% said they do not know.

Likely acknowledging the chance of victory, a high-ranking opposition member in Venezuela said the Maduro government will need "guarantees" if it were to ever consider leaving power. According to Infobae, Manuel Rosales said that "guarantees after the elections for both sides is the way for Venezuela to recover peace."

Rosales added that he expects an "asymmetrical war, a dirty one" from the government, but claimed it can "definitely be defeated." "We'll get an important victory because the political, economic and social situation in the country cannot be hidden."

Nonetheless, he went back to emphasizing the need for dialogue in the case of a Gonzalez win. "Dreams of an army coming to save us have not served us. That's why I like our candidates' message about going through a path of peace, of reunion and away from persecution, vengeance and violence," he added.

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