Juan Guaido says it is his 'duty' to return to Venezuela despite 'risks'

Guaido (centre) and Colombiam President Ivan Duque gesture after a meeting in Bogota, Colombia.
Guaido (centre) and Colombiam President Ivan Duque gesture after a meeting in Bogota, Colombia.PHOTO: REUTERS

BOGOTA (AFP) - Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview published on Tuesday (Feb 26) that he must return to Venezuela despite receiving threats as it is his "duty."

Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela's National Assembly, declared himself acting president in January after the opposition-controlled legislature concluded that Nicolas Maduro was fraudulently re-elected last year and thus was usurping power.

Some 50 countries recognise him as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela, which is mired in a humanitarian crisis marked by shortages of food and medicines.

"A prisoner is no use to anyone. Neither is a president in exile," said Guaido, who crossed into Colombia on Friday in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to organize the entry of desperately needed aid.

"My role and my duty is to be in Caracas, despite the risks and regardless of what that implies," he told NTN24 television channel.

While in Colombia, Guaido met with US Vice-President Mike Pence while attending a Lima Group meeting of regional allies to debate how to resolve Venezuela's crisis.

On Monday, the Lima Group hit out at "serious and credible threats" made against Guaido.

 
 

Colombia's Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said "any violent actions against Guaido, his wife or family" would be met with a collective response from the Lima Group through "legal and political mechanisms."

Pence sent out a warning to Maduro's regime, reiterating President Donald Trump's stance that "all options are on the table."

Guaido claimed to have traveled to Colombia with the help of Venezuela's military despite a government ban on him leaving the country.