Opposition Leader Says He Left Venezuela After Being Threatened


Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, said late Monday that he had been forced out of Colombia, hours after crossing the border into the country after receiving threats from the Venezuelan government.

Speaking in a video posted on Twitter, Mr. Guaidó said he had entered Colombia with plans to meet with political representatives who had gathered to discuss the future of Venezuela. But rather than welcome him, he said, the Colombians had kicked him out.

“The persecution of the dictatorship has extended, unfortunately, to Colombia today,” he said, speaking from what appeared to be an airplane. He said he was on his way to the United States.

Late Monday, Colombia’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Mr. Guaidó was in Bogotá “irregularly,” and that migration officials had taken him to the airport “with the intention of verifying his departure on a commercial airline to the United States.”

A representative from the government of Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, did not respond to a request for more information.

In 2019, Mr. Guaidó rose from little-known Venezuelan lawmaker to national hero after declaring Mr. Maduro an illegitimate ruler and himself the interim head of state. At the time, he posed the most significant threat to a deeply undemocratic and unpopular president, who had helped plunge Venezuela into an economic and humanitarian crisis.

Dozens of nations recognized Mr. Guaidó as the nation’s new leader, most prominently the United States. But Mr. Guaidó ultimately failed to oust Mr. Maduro, and late last year, his own colleagues in the opposition voted to dissolve his interim government and remove his title as interim president. Their assessment was that the parallel-government strategy would not be able to create political change, and that a new path was needed.

Mr. Maduro has jailed hundreds of political opponents over the years, and many have already fled for other countries, including Colombia. But Mr. Guaidó remained in Caracas with his family, under the assumption that arresting such a prominent leader would make Mr. Maduro even less popular at home and abroad.



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