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Venezuelan opposition seeks to sensitize voters in unusual campaign

The Venezuelan opposition is running an unusual presidential campaign, starring two figures, as the winner of the primaries, María Corina Machado – who is barred from holding office – is campaigning on behalf of her replacement, the previously discreet Edmundo González.

Both leaders are employing emotive rhetoric, asking voters to support changes they say will lead to greater freedom and the possible return of some 7 million migrants who fled Venezuela's recent economic crisis.

The campaign is the first time in a decade that the opposition, which boycotted the 2018 election, has participated in a presidential contest. President Nicolás Maduro, of the Socialist party, is seeking his third term.

Maduro's government reached an agreement with the opposition last year to hold elections, which led to the United States temporarily easing sanctions on Venezuelan oil. In April, Washington reimposed sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector for not doing enough to make the electoral process fair.

Researchers said Machado's nationwide campaign, in which she displays a poster of González, increased voter acceptance of him and that he could attract half of all votes, compared with a third for Maduro.

“On July 28, we will win with our candidate Edmundo, free Venezuela and take our children home,” Machado told a cheering crowd over the weekend at a joint event in La Victoria, González’s hometown in the central province. from Aragua.

Many elderly Venezuelans remained in the country even as their children and grandchildren left to seek opportunities abroad, sending remittances to help family members survive.

Under a scorching sun, Machado, a 56-year-old engineer whose ban from holding public office was upheld by the Supreme Court in January, walked through a crowd of voters.

Saturday's rally (18) did not have a stage, lights or sound system. Instead, Machado, who says his ban is illegal, spoke from the back of a large truck, telling viewers that if they vote for González, the united opposition will win.

Comments by former diplomat González, 74, who was nominated as an opposition candidate in April, were interrupted by chants and applause.

“We have never seen anyone other than the candidate campaigning,” said Heberto Leal, 70, from the oil city of Maracaibo, which suffers from regular blackouts.

“Machado is the leader of the movement that changed Venezuela and that woke up so many people who did not believe,” said Leal, adding that González is “a guarantee for Venezuela’s recovery.”

Maduro, whose government says González is a puppet of the United States, has not emphasized specific policies during his campaign but has instead asserted that the opposition is an oligarchy that is not interested in Venezuela's poor.

There is still a risk that the government, the Supreme Court or another authority will remove González from the ballot, ban him from office or even postpone the election, according to analysts.

There are also doubts about whether González's victory would be recognized by Maduro and whether the opposition candidate could take office in January if he wins.

Source: CNN Brasil

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