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Juan Guaidó Returns to Venezuela, Addresses Thousands at Anti-Government Rally

March 04, 2019

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó made a triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday after a 10-day absence, injecting fresh energy into the U.S.-backed campaign to push out authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro.

Guaidó arrived shortly after noon to wild cheers from supporters gathered at Caracas’ Maiquetia “Simon Bolivar” International Airport. “Guaidó! Guaidó” they screamed. “Yes we can!”

“We are here, Venezuela,” the 35-year-old opposition leader declared, beaming and waving, as he was encircled by television cameras. “We are strong. We are moving forward!”...

He continued his appeals to the military —Maduro’s main line of defense —to switch sides. Guaidó even suggested that he was able to return to the country because of divisions in the armed forces.“Attention, gentlemen of the armed forces, after all the threats, someone didn’t obey their orders. Many didn’t obey,” he said, adding that the “chain of command is broken.”

Brian Winter, a Latin America expert and vice president of the Americas Society, which promotes dialogue in the hemisphere, said it was possible that sectors of the military were sympathetic to Guaidó, and prevented his arrest upon his return. Alternatively, he said, it could be that “the Maduro regime believes they can wait him out,” betting that the protests will subside over time. Whichever explanation is right, he said, “it speaks to Guaidó’s high popularity.”

Guaidó has become the biggest threat to Maduro since the former union leader succeeded Hugo Chávez in 2013 as head of a radical leftist government...

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