Venezuelan so-called opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is on a tour of Latin American nations to drum up support for his regime change efforts, has said he will call for new rounds of protests against President Nicolas Maduro upon his return.
Speaking in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on Friday, Guaido insisted that he would soon return home.
“Today we also announce that we will persist in our return home. And we will arrive there in a few days. And, we ask all the Venezuelan people that they join us in the streets, we will be calling for new protests and mobilizations,” he said.
The 35-year-old, who calls himself the “interim president” of Venezuela, faces possible arrest upon return after he slipped out of the country in violation of a Supreme Court order to stay within the country’s borders.
Guaido left Venezuela last week to join “aid” convoys in Colombia and then met with US Vice President Mike Pence as well as other regional leaders to step up pressure on Maduro to resign.
Maduro’s government has closed borders with Brazil and Colombia in order to block what he says is an attempt by the US to proceed with its regime change plans.
He has repeatedly denounced the so-called humanitarian assistance as a US plot to disguise a military intervention in his country and promised that Guaido will eventually “face justice” for supporting a US-backed coup.
Russia, which supports Maduro, has warned that Washington is using the aid scenario as a cover to arm Guaido and his supporters and lay the foundation for a coup.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday said the US was planning to buy small arms, mortar launchers, and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from an “Eastern European country” and station them “close to Venezuela.”
He voiced hope that international pressure would “cool hotheads in Washington” where President Donald Trump has not ruled out military intervention, although even close US allies have said they would not support the use of force.
Seeking to empower Guaido, Washington has also targeted Caracas with sanctions, including state-owned oil company PDVSA.
On Friday, the US Treasury Department imposed fresh sanctions targeting six Venezuelan government officials allegedly affiliated with Maduro, accusing them of blocking aid from reaching the Latin American country.
The United States has slapped sanctions on six Venezuelan security officials for blocking US aid to the Latin American country.
Venezuela has been in political turmoil over the past year amid an ailing economy, hyperinflation, and shortage of basic items which has worsened by US sanctions.
The country Venezuela plunged further into chaos in January after Guaido, the head of the country’s National Assembly, proclaimed himself president and urged Maduro and his legitimate government to resign.
The challenge came after Maduro just began his second six-year term in office following a decisive election victory over the US-backed opposition.
Russia and China vetoed on Thursday a US and European-backed resolution at the United Nations that would have called for new presidential elections in Venezuela and unimpeded deliveries of humanitarian aid.
Besides Russia and China, countries like Iran and Turkey have also backed Maduro.