Thousands of opposition supporters honked horns, cheered, and waved flags on Saturday, vowing to defeat President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela's upcoming presidential elections. The gathering took place in Barinas, the birthplace of the late Hugo Chavez, the longtime socialist leader who governed Venezuela for over a decade until his death in 2013. Chavez was Maduro's political mentor and handpicked him as his successor. Maduro, who is accused of overseeing the economic collapse of Venezuela and running a repressive government, is seeking a third consecutive term in the July 28 election. Barinas state, traditionally a Chavez stronghold, saw the opposition win in the 2021 and 2022 elections.

A large banner near the stage where opposition leader Maria Corina Machado and opposition presidential candidate Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia spoke proclaimed, "If Barinas could do it, so can Venezuela." Gonzalez Urrutia, a 74-year-old diplomat with little public recognition, is standing in for Machado in the election due to her disqualification by courts loyal to Maduro on alleged corruption charges. Machado, who claims the charges are false, has endorsed Gonzalez Urrutia. Addressing the enthusiastic crowd, Machado, 56, said, "They believed they were going to break us. What we are experiencing today is magical, it is exceptional." Spectators watched from balconies and rooftops, voicing their support for Machado and Gonzalez Urrutia.

One banner in the crowd declared, "You are gone, Maduro." Venezuelan police were present, filming both the attendees and the journalists covering the event. Gonzalez Urrutia, in his speech, affirmed, "Yes, change can be achieved. With your support, I am committed to fighting from day one to end this situation arising from indolence and corruption." The opposition has reported a government program of persecution, with 46 individuals linked to the movement arrested as of June 28. These include opposition activists and businesspeople who have supported the campaign, such as providing hotel rooms or restaurant services. Opposition parties reported five additional arrests on Saturday, including an opposition activist named Rafael Marin in the central state of Miranda and an unidentified truck driver.