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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. 

“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.

“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.

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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