Guaido returns to Venezuela as protests planned across country

US Criticizes Guaido for Failed Coup in Venezuela

Maduro removes tonnes of gold from central bank

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler, talks to supporters during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela March 4, 2019.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Sunday he would return home to lead new protests against President Nicolas Maduro on Monday, running the risk authorities arrest him given that he flouted a travel ban to leave the country last week.

Earlier on Friday in Paraguay, he said 600 members of Venezuela's armed forces had already abandoned Maduro's government following the clashes over the aid.

After the military blocked the aid convoys, Guaido proposed that "all options be kept open" to topple Maduro, but foreign military intervention is seen as unlikely and his global backers are instead using a mix of sanctions and diplomacy.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted that threats or action by Maduro's government against Guaido "will be met with a strong and significant response from the United States and the global community".

At the rally, Guaido called for massive protests on Saturday and said he would meet Tuesday with public employee unions controlled by the government of Maduro, who retains the support of military generals despite the desertion of hundreds of lower-ranking military personnel. Meanwhile, the USA has doubled down on financial and oil sanctions that will crimp Maduro's access to hard currency.

The list includes National Guard Commander Richard Lopez and five other police and military officials based near the Colombian or Brazilian borders.

Dujarric said United Nations officials "obviously remain very concerned about the situation in Venezuela".

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Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment. There, he met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and other regional leaders and later traveled to Brazil. In recent messages to his supporters, Guaido has appealed for huge demonstrations coinciding with his arrival as a way to pressure Maduro to resign. If Guaido makes his first public appearance following his return at a rally involving tens of thousands of his supporters, it would be nearly impossible to arrest him.

On Thursday, Guaido told reporters in Brazil that he had received threats against himself and his family, including prison.

Maduro, who denies there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, has said Guaido's arrest depends on the justice system.

Governments around the region have called on Maduro to let aid in as inflation above 2 million percent per year and chronic shortages of food have left some eating from garbage bins in order to ward off malnutrition.

Maduro says he is the target of a US-backed plot to overthrow him.

Russia is ready to take part in bilateral talks with the United States over the issue of Venezuela, Russia's foreign minister told his us counterpart late on Saturday.

He had flown to the Ecuadorean port city of Guayaquil after meeting with Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno in the coastal town of Salinas on Saturday.

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