Juan Guaido reportedly returned to Venezuela today after he defied a court-ordered travel ban to tour across South America, visiting countries that included Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Argentina.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Guaido landed at an airport near Caracas and was greeted by a crowd of cheering supporters.
While meeting with officials in each country, the opposition leader claimed he is seeking a peaceful transition to power. He also pushed to increase the international pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to resign. Guaido’s trip directly violates the travel ban that was imposed by Venezuela’s Supreme Court after he declared himself as the interim president of the country in January.
While Guaido runs the risk of being arrested for violating the travel ban and leaving the country, his actions have the full support of the United States. National Security Advisor John Bolton took to Twitter to claim that any threats or acts against Guaido’s safe return to Venezuela will be met with a strong and significant response from both the U.S. and its allies.
Bolton is also pushing for the United States to follow in the same pattern it has used in countries such as Iraq and Libya. He told CNN that he is now calling for a broad coalition to form, in an attempt to oust Maduro.
“A lot of people, especially on the political left in the hemisphere and around the world, now understand that the failed experiment of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro needs to end. So I’d like to see as broad a coalition as we can put together to replace Maduro,” Bolton said.
The Trump administration announced a new round of sanctions against six high-ranking Venezuelan security officials on Friday. And U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, criticized Russia and China for going against the U.S. and continuing to support Maduro.
“Clearly the support of Russia and China for the Maduro regime helps the regime. I don’t think you’re going to see large amounts of additional money put in by either Russia or China but their, their political support, their diplomatic support helps the regime,” Abrams said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that he spoke to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and he said that Russia is open to dialogue about Venezuela, as long as the U.S. stops threatening Maduro’s government and puts an end to its blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs.
Maduro has responded by calling the sanctions illegal coercive measures that were imposed by Washington in a failed attempt to launch a coup in Venezuela. He also wrote on Twitter that despite the media campaign against his country, he will continue to face what he called the “perverse abuses of the U.S. empire” with courage and rebellion.
With the report that Guaido has returned to Venezuela, it remains to be seen how Maduro’s government will respond, and if the U.S. will follow through on the promise to provide a strong and significant response if Guaido is arrested.