Colombia puts fleeing Venezuelan opposition leader on plane to US
Caracas, Apr 25 (EFE).- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido alleged on Tuesday that he had been forcibly put on a plane to the United States by Colombian authorities, as his “persecution” by the government of Nicolas Maduro had extended to Colombia, where he had arrived without invitation to try and meet delegates attending a conference on the Venezuelan crisis.
“After being on the road for 60 hours to reach Bogota, escaping the persecution of the dictatorship, challenging the Maduro regime, I am being thrown out of Colombia. The dictatorship’s persecution has, unfortunately, spread to Colombia today,” the former lawmaker – who had been banned from leaving Venezuela due to being tried in several cases – said in a video message he posted on Twitter.
Guaido said in the video that he had taken a commercial flight to the US due to the threat to his family from the Maduro regime, adding that he would provide further details in the next few hours.
The leader said that he had arrived in Colombia carrying the voice of “millions of people who seek a better country, who seek a solution.”
Guaido expressed hope that the delegates from 20-odd countries, attending the international conference hosted by Colombian President Gustavo Petro to facilitate dialog between the Maduro government and the opposition, “could speak of democracy, respect for human rights, and the integrity of those being persecuted today.”
The Colombian foreign ministry said in a statement Monday that in the evening hours “Colombia migration authorities drove Mr Juan Guaido, a Venezuelan national who was in Bogota in an irregular manner, to the El Dorado airport to ensure his departure on a commercial airlines to the United States during the night.”
Guaido had already acquired a flight ticket to Miami, so that Bogota – which has been trying to play mediator between the Colombian government and the opposition – denied that they had dispatched an aircraft to transfer the leader.
Although the former Venezuelan lawmaker did not expect to attend Tuesday’s conference – where only third party international meetings were being held without inviting the Maduro regime’s officials or the opposition – he hoped to hold meetings with the invitees from other countries and the Venezuelan diaspora, estimated to be around three million in Colombia according to United Nations figures.
The Colombian foreign ministry reiterated that they had not invited Guaido “to this space,” as it was an encounter with “part of the international community.”
Guaido, who became speaker of the Venezuela National Assembly in January 2019 based on a pact among the opposition parties that then made up the majority, had at the time declared himself the “interim president” claiming that Maduro’s re-election in 2018 had been illegitimate.
Despite being backed in his claim by the United States and several other countries at one point, Guaido has increasingly lost support both internationally and domestically following a failed uprising in April 2019 and repeated failed attempts of dialog with the Maduro regime.
In December 2022, a majority of opposition lawmakers walked out of Guaido’s “interim government” amid talks with Maduro. EFE