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

Edmundo González Urrutia gave his first public address as the Venezuelan opposition's presidential candidate, thanking 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.

"Health and education services are decadent, harming people in their daily lives and hampering economic development. Families have been separated by mass migration even at the risk of death."

González Urrutia went on to acknowledge that he didn't expect to be anointed as candidate and that was the reason why he didn't speak in public when the news was announced last Friday.

He singled out the support of Maria Corina Machado, who largely won the opposition's primaries but has been prevented from running, as well as her stand-in candidate Corina Yoris (also banned) and Manuel Rosales (who was allowed to sign up but declined his candidacy to present a united front). "They made a unanimous candidacy possible," he said.

"We bet on a country where no one fears being persecuted for their ideas. A just Venezuela where the independence of all branches of government is ensured. We are committed to a transition that guarantees the freedom of political prisoners, the return of exiled people and all Venezuelans who have left and want to come back."

González Urrutia was among the few candidates who were allowed to sign up got the support from the opposition's main actors, who highlighted the need to face Maduro at the polls regardless of who did it.

However, the opposition might face yet a new hurdle in its goal: the government-friendly Supreme Court is set to analyze a suit against the candidate's party, rather than himself.

Infobae reported that the court will review a suit against the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), which González Urrutia is set to represent in the elections.

The court's decision will determine the opposition's next step, as it's 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 continue moving in that direction. 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.

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