Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Gonzalez seeks unity in first rally

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Supporters hold an electoral poster promoting Venezuelan presidential candidate Edmundo González Urrutia during the launch of his campaign for the upcoming election, in La Victoria, Venezuela on May 18. (AP)

LA VICTORIA, Venezuela, May 19, (AP): The presidential candidate of Venezuela’s chief opposition coalition on Saturday sought to cultivate a mood of hope and possibility in a large rally that marked the start of a campaign he admittedly never imagined leading.
Edmundo González Urrutia, the former diplomat chosen by the coalition to replace the fiery leader María Corina Machado on the ballot, drew thousands of supporters to the streets of La Victoria, his hometown.
He urged them to imagine a country where public services are not a luxury, people are not imprisoned for their political beliefs and millions will return after having migrated throughout a decade in search of better economic opportunities.
“I guarantee a peaceful alternation in which all political forces will be able to exercise their rights within the framework of the constitution,” González said, addressing an audience of retirees, young adults and residents of the capital who traveled to see him and locals of the once-thriving industrial city.
“I want to call on all Venezuelans to join me in a peaceful and orderly change of government. We will move from division to unity, from abuse by a few to the rule of law for all, and from this undignified present to a dignified future for all.”
González was joined on stage by Machado, whose candidacy for the July 28 election was barred by the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The crowd cheered for both under sweltering temperatures. Street vendors sold T-shirts and baseball caps promoting the duo for $10. Venezuelan flags were also on sale.
González is the third candidate that the Unitary Platform opposition coalition has promoted as its own this year.
Machado, a former lawmaker, entered 2024 as the group’s candidate after easily winning an October presidential primary, but a top court loyal to Venezuela’s ruling party affirmed in January an administrative decision to ban her from office. She appointed a substitute in March – former academic Corina Yoris – but she, too, was barred from the ballot. Four days later, the coalition picked González.

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