Venezuela's Guaido to Return to Caracas in Days Despite Threats

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s National Assembly President Juan Guaido said that he would return to Caracas in the next few days despite threats from the government of Nicolas Maduro.

The purpose of his whirlwind tour of the region was not only to defeat the dictatorship but also to prepare for the country’s reconstruction, he said after meeting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Asked whether he was concerned for his safety on his return to Caracas, Guaido responded, "Of course it’s a risk, even life threatening, but that’s how politics in Venezuela are."

Venezuela's Guaido to Return to Caracas in Days Despite Threats

Last week the 35-year old lawmaker defied a foreign-travel ban and slipped into neighboring Colombia to lead a drive to bring humanitarian aid across Venezuela’s borders. The Maduro regime has exiled and thrown hundreds of dissidents behind bars and Guaido could either be blocked from re-entering Venezuela or be tossed into jail.

During a press conference, Guaido insisted that the push for free elections, monitored by international observers, would be in accordance with Venezuela’s constitution. A free and prosperous Venezuela would benefit the region as a whole, he said, confirming earlier reports that he would travel to Paraguay on Friday.

Both Guaido and Bolsonaro appeared to play down the prospect of any kind of military intervention in Venezuela. Brazil would spare no effort to help Guaido -- within the law, Bolsonaro said.

While Brazil was swift to recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader after suspect elections last year, Bolsonaro’s administration has ruled out direct intervention, insisting instead on diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime of Nicolas Maduro.

The country did not provide the usual honors warranted during a state visit. In fact it wasn’t even on Bolsonaro’s official agenda. On the eve of the meeting, presidential aides called it a personal visit.

The U.S. has threatened severe repercussions if Maduro takes direct action against his chief rival. Washington is also seeking a United Nations Security Council vote on a new resolution that would facilitate delivery of aid call on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to ensure free elections.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.