Guaido calls for protests in Venezuela


Venezuelan National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself president in January, called Sunday on his countrymen to take to the streets this week as he prepares to return home.

“I am calling on the Venezuelan people to protest across the country tomorrow at 11:00 (1500 GMT). Follow official social media, we’ll be informing you of the meeting places,” the opposition leader said in a Twitter post.

The Ecuadorian presidential press office said Sunday that Guaido attended a breakfast on Sunday morning with Venezuelan exiles.

On Saturday, the Venezuelan opposition leader met with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno at the navy base in Salinas, a city in the southern province of Santa Elena.

Moreno told Guaido that his administration backed the return of liberty and democracy to Venezuela.

“We are willing to help Venezuela regain its liberty and democracy,” the Ecuadorian leader said after holding a private meeting with Guaido.

The Venezuelan opposition leader planned to leave Ecuador on Sunday morning and return home after a tour that took him to Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Brazil in search of political support for the movement that is trying to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro .

Venezuela’s political crisis intensified on Jan. 23 when Guaido, the National Assembly’s speaker, proclaimed himself the South American country’s legitimate leader.

Venezuela’s opposition does not recognize Maduro’s May 2018 re-election victory and his new six-year term in office that began on Jan. 10.

The United States is in the vanguard of the roughly 50 countries, including the major European powers, with the exception of Italy, that have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s head of state.

On Feb. 25, Guaido participated in a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota.

Founded in the Peruvian capital in August 2017, the Lima Group is comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana and St. Lucia.

Mexico, however, has distanced itself from the group since the other members recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader over Maduro.

While in Colombia, Guaido led an operation that unsuccessfully attempted to deliver humanitarian aid from the border city of Cucuta into Venezuela, which is suffering from food and medicine shortages, and hyperinflation.

Maduro has rejected the aid, saying it is a Trojan horse and that he would be paving the way for a US-led military intervention if he did not use his army to block it from entering from Colombia and Brazil.

Russia, China and India are among the dozens of nations that still regard Maduro as the legitimate president of the oil-rich South American nation.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which supports Maduro, barred Guaido from leaving the country while he remains under investigation for his attempt to seize power.

Guaido, however, left Venezuela on Feb. 22 and started his tour of South America.