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Venezuela’s Juan Guaido returns home, risk arrest


Television cameras were at Simon Bolivar airport to broadcast the Venezuelan opposition leader’s return after his trip round Latin America. The US has warned of a “swift response” to any threats against Juan Guaido.

Speaking to a crowd who
had come to the airport to greet him, Guaido said: “We are here in
Venezuela and will continue moving forward.”

Guaido traveled
despite a court-imposed travel ban ordering him not to leave the country.

The United States warned
Monday of a “swift response” if Guaido was subjected to any threats
or violence. “@jguaido’s safe return to Venezuela is of the highest
importance to the US,” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted as Guaido arrived
in Caracas. 

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“Any threats,
violence, or intimidation against him will not be tolerated & will be met
with swift response. The world is watching – Interim President Guaido must be
allowed to re-enter Venezuela safely,” Pence wrote.

Guaido had announced his
departure from a naval air base in the Ecuadorian coastal town of Salinas on
Twitter on Sunday, thanking Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno.  

Guaido visited the
leaders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina over the past week to rally support
and build pressure on Venezuela’s acting president, Nicolas Maduro, to
resign.

Guaido called
on Venezuelans to gather for protests during the crisis-ridden South
American country’s Carnival celebrations.

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“If the usurper
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his accomplices dare to arrest me,
we’ve drawn a clear plan, with clear instructions to follow for our
international allies and brothers in Parliament,” he wrote on
Twitter.

Several hundred
supporters had gathered at a Caracas plaza, some carrying national flags, in
anticipation of his arrival.

Guaido has declared himself
Venezuela’s interim president
 and is recognised as
such by the US and 60 other nations.

Should he be arrested,
the move could be used by the opposition to highlight how Maduro’s government
represses political foes and could lead to further sanctions by the United
States.

His detention, however,
could see the opposition lose its key public figurehead who has helped bring
unity after years of infighting between Venezuela’s opposition parties.

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On Saturday, the
European Union warned Maduro’s government against arresting Guaido, saying
such a move would “represent a major escalation of tensions and meet the
firm condemnation of the international community.” –dw.com

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