Venezuelans hopeful about political changes in their country

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former diplomat Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia was named as the final opposition candidate in the Venezuelan presidential elections on July 28. –

After the Democratic Unity Platform (PUD), which brings together the main Venezuelan opposition political parties, announced Edmundo González Urrutia as its presidential candidate, Venezuelans in TT were optimistic about political change in their country.

On Friday night, González Urrutia was announced as the coalition’s candidate to face Nicolas Maduro in the July 28 election.

This followed the disqualification of leader María Corina Machado, who won the opposition primary elections in October 2023.

The social media of Venezuelans in TT were filled with comments. Newsday corroborated the opinions with direct messages to several Venezuelans.

Carlos Perez said: “It was time for the true opposition leaders to reach agreements for the future of Venezuela. Having a single candidate, we are sure there may be changes in the presidency.”

Perez believes if González Urrutia has the support of the entire opposition, he will be able to defeat Maduro, who is seeking his third term as president after the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013.

“We are facing a great opportunity to change government. It is necessary.”

Marina Sanchez said with Machado supporting Gonzalez Urrutia, Venezuelans will vote for him.

“We expected the candidate to be Maria Corina Machado, but they did not let her participate. People will support whoever she support.”

Machado said on Saturday night on social media that Gonzalez Urrutia had her full support.

Other Venezuelans in TT are thinking beyond an opposition victory in the presidential election of July 28.

Javier Espinoza said if Gonzalez Urritia wins, a large part of the more than five million Venezuelans who migrated owing to the socio-economic crisis would return home.

“At family gatherings, with friends, acquaintances or wherever we meet another Venezuelan, there is the hope of returning to our country if there is a change of government.”

However, some comments suggest Gonzalez Urritia is an unknown in Venezuelan politics and this could generate distrust among voters.

Eliza Mendez said: “Maria Corina Machado seemed to have a chance of winning, but people are disappointed in the opposition. I believe president Maduro will win again.”

The elections will take place on Chavez’s birthday, a nostalgic date for Maduro’s followers.

Last week, the deadline for updating the electoral registry expired. It allowed Venezuelans abroad to make changes to be able to vote where they were.

However, for Venezuelans in TT, it was not an option, because one of the requirements for electoral updates is established residence in this country.

Until the end of 2023, there were just over 7,000 Venezuelans in TT with work permits, but the Venezuelan authorities did not allow that status as evidence of a change of residence.

In the 2018 Venezuelan presidential election, only about 350 official residents of TT were able to participate.