CARACAS, March 5 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido received a hero’s welcome from thousands of flag-waving supporters chanting “Yes, you can!” as he returned to Caracas, defying the threat of arrest from embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
“We know the risks we face, that’s never stopped us. The regime, the dictatorship must understand,” a defiant Guaido, who has been recognised as acting president by more than 50 countries, told a delirious crowd.
“We’re stronger than ever, let’s carry on in the streets, mobilised.”
Supporters, media, and diplomats from allied countries mobbed Guaido on his arrival at the international airport in Caracas before he headed into the city for a tumultuous homecoming by thousands of supporters.
There, Guaido announced a new protest march for Saturday to ramp up the pressure on Maduro.
“All of Venezuela will return to the streets. We will not rest one second until freedom is achieved,” he said.
Venezuelans holding aloft flags, crosses and portraits of their young leader chanted: “Guaido! Guaido!” and “Yes you can!”
Just before his arrival, US Vice President Mike Pence sent a warning to Maduro to ensure Guaido’s safety, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later hailed his “safe return.”
Guaido left Venezuela 10 days ago in an unsuccessful bid to force through desperately needed humanitarian aid stockpiled in Colombia.
He then went on a tour of regional allies Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador.
Venezuela is in the midst of an economic upheaval after four years of recession that have plunged many into poverty.
Hyperinflation has obliterated salaries and savings, while 2.7 million people have fled the country since 2015, according to a UN estimate. — NNN-AGENCIES