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'We Know the Risks': Guaido Returns to Venezuela

Opposition leader had ignored official ban on foreign travel, is now back home
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2019 2:15 PM CST
Anti-government protesters start to gather for a rally to demand the resignation of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, March 4, 2019.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
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(Newser) – Declaring he knows he is at risk, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido returned Monday to his homeland to renew his campaign to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido landed at the country's main airport, about 25 miles from Caracas, the capital, the AP reports. He said in a tweet that he successfully passed through immigration checks. "We know the risks that we face, that's never stopped us," the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela's National Assembly said as he moved through a crowd that included several Western ambassadors. The United States and about 50 other countries have recognized Guaido, who has declared himself interim president of Venezuela, as the country's legitimate leader, arguing that last year's re-election of Maduro was illegitimate because popular opposition candidates were barred from running.

"The regime must understand, the dictatorship must understand ... that we're stronger than ever. We'll continue protesting, we'll continue mobilizing," said Guaido, who had ignored an official ban on foreign travel to leave Venezuela, first for Colombia and then Brazil, Argentina, and Ecuador, all countries that support him. Guaido has called for nationwide demonstrations coinciding with his arrival. Thousands of supporters heeded the call, peacefully gathering at a Caracas plaza and in other locations around the country. Some people carried national flags. Guaido said the goal of his return is to intensify internal pressure on Maduro. US National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted that threats or action by Maduro's government against Guaido "will be met with a strong and significant response from the United States and the international community."

(Read more Venezuela stories.)

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