Venezuelan opposition leader Henri Falcon received a visit from the United States Charge d'Affaires in Venezuela, Todd Robinson, in which he tried to convince him not to run in the May 20 presidential elections, according to sources close to the candidate.
The United States has been threatening President Nicolas Maduro's government with increasing sanctions if they go ahead with the elections, which the US have called fraudulent, and are carrying out an international diplomatic campaign to isolate Maduro and discredit the democratic process.
With Falcon, an important opposition figure in Venezuela, running for the presidency, the Venezuelan elections gain credibility in the international community which goes against Washington’s attempts to discredit the government in Caracas and lay the groundwork for a military coup which has been publicly suggested by multiple senior U.S. officials in the past few months.
Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela's Minister of Communications and Information, said Sunday that the U.S. Charge d'Affairs in Venezuela was “knocking on the doors” of the opposition to convince Henry Ramos Allup, Manuel Rosales and Falcon of not running in the elections.
“What was the extortion, the blackmail they used so Ramos Allup wouldn't take part?” asked Rodriguez. “They know the opposition will most certainly be defeated on May 20.”
Leaders of the U.S.-backed main opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), refused to take part in the elections, claiming the government is not providing the minimum democratic standards to guarantee a free and just process.
When Falcon announced his decision to participate in the process last month, the MUD refused to support his candidacy and decided to expel him from the coalition.
But Falcon thinks the MUD's position is counterproductive, and that they should support the vote instead of boycotting the elections.
“If we really unite, get organized, construct a single narrative, and instead of discouraging people by asking them to abstain, we call them to vote, there’s no way this government can beat us,” said Falcon.
Falcon has also unveiled key policy pledges of his campaign, including dollarising the Venezuelan economy and appealing to the IMF and World Bank for funding to supposedly kick-start the economy.