Venezuela’s barred opposition candidate is now the fiery surrogate of her lesser-known replacement

SABANA DE MENDOZA, Venezuela — At an intersection packed in four directions, rallygoers scream and light up cellphones in the evening as Venezuelan opposition figure María Corina Machado climbs onto a flatbed truck like a presidential candidate.

She has been barred from the July 28 election. Still, she crisscrosses the country, shaking hands, taking selfies, blowing kisses and promising the defeat of President Nicolas Maduro — all as a surrogate for a quiet former diplomat who has not yet begun to campaign.

“María Corina! María Corina!” the people yell, sometimes in unison, in the small Andean foothill town of Sabana de Mendoza. Their cheers are deafening.

Machado’s challenge is whether she can translate her fame and charisma into votes for Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia, who was chosen by the chief opposition coalition after Machado was unable to overcome a ruling blocking her candidacy.

“I don’t remember what his name is,” seamstress Danis Cegarra, 48, said of Gonzalez while she waited with her two children for Machado. “Although we don’t know much about him, we are going to support him. Well, I am going to support him, because I want a change above all because I have children.”

Gonzalez 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 an administrative decision to ban her from office. She appointed a substitute in March, former academic Corina Yoris, who also was barred. Four days later, the coalition picked Gonzalez.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today