Guaido returns to Venezuela, calls for street protests

U.S. warns Venezuela to allow Juan Guaido a safe return today

U.S. warns Venezuela to allow Juan Guaido a safe return today

Speaking to supporters gathered in Alfredo Sadel Plaza in Caracas' upper middle class Las Mercedes district, Guaido announced meetings on Tuesday with unions representing public sector employees, whom he said were "kidnapped" by the Maduro government. Addressing his supporters, Juan Guaido said the opposition won't be held back through threats.

Still, Maduro was defiant during a ceremony marking the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, belittling a "minority of opportunists and cowards".

Guaido did not, however, offer specific details regarding when and how he plans to oust President Nicolas Maduro and take up office in Miraflores Presidential Palace.

His return could become the next flashpoint in his duel with Maduro as he seeks to keep up momentum and spur his global backers to further isolate the socialist government. As the crisis continues with no end in sight, opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido has emphasized the need to "keep all options open" in order to overthrow Maduro's government, appealing directly to the White House which has been openly mulling military intervention. "We are going to celebrate this small victory today".

El Nacional reported Guaido arrived at Simon Bolivar International Airport, where diplomatic representatives from Germany, Netherlands, the United States, Chile, France and Romania waited for him.

'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.

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"We continue moving closer to getting our country back and ending the suffering of the Venezuelan people", Carlos Vecchio, Guaido's envoy to the United States, wrote on Twitter, posting a letter to the IADB's board dated February 28 naming Hausmann governor.

There were concerns that Guaido might be detained upon his return.

Meanwhile, U-S Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has hailed Guaido's QUOTE safe return to Venezuela.

Guaido's return is a moment of reckoning not only for the opposition leader, whose presence in Venezuela was essential for his movement to regain momentum, but also for Maduro, analysts said.

The Trump administration has said the use of US military force remains a possible option, but some USA allies in the region and in Europe oppose any military intervention in Venezuela.

"In every democratic transition in Latin America there are negotiations, but I just would say it is extremely hard to see how he could play a positive role in a democratic election", Abrams said. Many Venezuelans say the election should not be recognized because Maduro barred his opponents from running against him. They also denounced Maduro's re-election previous year as illegitimate after the socialist and increasingly authoritarian leader banned major opposition parties from running. It's unclear whether Maduro's security forces will arrest Guaido in coming days for ignoring the travel ban, which he violated last month when he secretly crossed the border into Colombia to oversee a delivery of aid provided by the U.S. The effort failed, and sparked vicious fighting at border crossings.

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