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Guaido says he is on his way home to Venezuela

Published:Monday | March 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Anti-government protesters start to gather for a rally to demand the resignation of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, today.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said today he is on his way home.

Guaido tweeted that he was heading back to Venezuela, though details about his exact whereabouts remained a mystery as rumours swept Caracas ahead of planned anti-government protests.

The leader of the National Assembly, who has declared himself interim president of Venezuela, said the goal of his return is to intensify internal pressure on the government of President Nicolas Maduro. In the last week, Guaido visited several Latin American countries that support his campaign against Maduro, who was re-elected last year in a vote that the opposition and dozens of foreign nations say was invalid.

"I'm heading home," Guaido tweeted this morning. In recent messages to his supporters, Guaido has appealed for huge demonstrations coinciding with his arrival as a way to pressure Maduro to resign. Workers set up a stage in a Caracas plaza where demonstrators plan to gather, and protests were planned elsewhere in the country.

U.S. 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."

The United States and about 50 other countries recognise Guaido as the rightful president of Venezuela, which is in the midst of a political and humanitarian crisis. Maduro says he is the target of a U.S.-backed coup plot.

Venezuela's vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, did not directly address a question about whether Guaido faces arrest during a recent interview with Russian state-owned TV channel RT. But she left open the possibility, saying Guaido had broken the law and is "a Venezuelan who conspires with foreign governments to overthrow a constitutional government."

Maduro, meanwhile, has urged Venezuelans to enjoy the carnival season slated for Monday and Tuesday, even though many people don't have the resources to travel to beaches and other holiday spots.

Maduro yesterday tweeted that Venezuelans nationwide are enjoying the carnival "in peace and happiness."