Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, returned to his nation Monday to cheers from supporters and uncertainty about whether Nicolas Maduro’s government would have him arrested, Los Angeles Times reported.
Guaido arrived at the main airport in Caracas, the capital, just after noon local time and was greeted by hundreds of supporters. “We continue to mobilize, showing our faces to the people. We are strong and we continue to go forward. We will end this usurpation very soon,” Guaido told reporters at the airport.
At a downtown rally soon afterward, he told followers he would continue to agitate for Maduro’s removal from the presidency and that he would not be intimidated by the socialist leader’s threats.
“There is only one thing that defeats hate and that is love, and that is what we are doing, serving all the people of Venezuela,” Guaido told thousands of supporters at Sadel Square in the capital.
Guaido, who declared himself interim president on Jan. 23, was returning from a nine-day tour of Latin American countries that included a meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Bogota, Colombia. He left his home country despite a travel ban imposed by Maduro, who has continued to threaten the young leader with imprisonment, Los Angeles Times added.
Maduro has said Guaido “will have to face justice.” He told ABC in a February 25 interview, “He can’t come and go, and the law has prohibited him from leaving the country.”
Guaido said he had no problem reentering the country. He said immigration authorities at Maiquetia “Simon Bolivar” International Airport did not seize his passport but greeted him with “welcome, president.”
He said his welcome at the airport showed that the “chain of command is broken…. The great majority, more than 80%, are in favor of a change,” calling on Venezuelans to participate in another mass demonstration on Saturday.