Opposition Leader of Venezuela Juan Guaido was greeted by a huge crowd of cheering supporters upon his return to Venezuela.
Mr Guaido said to the crowd that “hope has been born and it will not die – things are going well,” and that “we are going to celebrate this small victory today.”
He had returned from a secret trip to Colombia where he helped organise humanitarian aid to Venezuela in spite of a Supreme Court order banning him from travel. From Columbia he visited several other Latin American nations in order to generate support for a transitional government he would lead until free and fair elections can be held.
Ignoring the court-imposed travel ban, Mr Guaido, who has been recognised by the majority of western nations as Venezuela’s interim head of state, was not met with any resistance or opposition from the camp of incumbent President Nicola Maduro. The lack of swift action from Mr Maduro signals that he has declined arresting the Opposition Leader for the time being.
Mr Guaido has led weeks of demonstrations and unified opposition against Mr Maduro who much of the country blames for plunging it into its current economic crisis. The civil unrest in Venezuela has gotten so extreme that US President Donald Trump expressed being open to deploying US troops there.
Mr Maduro said that “He can’t just come and go. He will have to face justice, and justice prohibited him from leaving the country,”
However, instead of being stopped from entering Venezuela by immigration authorities, Mr Guaido was instead greeted as “president”.
Supporters of Mr Guaido said that any attempt by Mr Maduro to arrest the Opposition Leader upon his return would have sparked more civil unrest. It also comes after the US, who has imposed strict sanctions on top Venezuelan military brass, warned there would be further consequences if Mr Guaido was arrested.