CARACAS/SALINAS, Ecuador (Reuters) - 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.
Guaido left Ecuador earlier on Sunday after spending the past few days touring Latin American nations to muster support, but he did not disclose where he had gone next or how he planned to return to Venezuela.
Guaido, who is recognised as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state by most Western countries, left the country last week to coordinate efforts in Colombia to send humanitarian aid into Venezuela.
But troops loyal to Maduro blocked convoys of aid trucks sent from Colombia and Brazil, leading to clashes that left at least five people dead along the Brazilian border.
Guaido said during a broadcast on Twitter on Sunday it would be a “historic challenge” to return. He has called for new protests on Monday and Tuesday during the Carnival holiday period.
“If the regime dares, of course, to kidnap us, it will be the last mistake they make,” he said.
After travelling to Colombia, Guaido visited Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador to shore up Latin American support for a transition government that would precede free and fair elections.
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. To arrive in Caracas by Monday morning, he could take commercial flights from Bogota or Panama City.
The Venezuelan Supreme Court imposed the travel ban after he invoked the country’s constitution on Jan. 23 to assume an interim presidency. Maduro, who retains control of state institutions, says Guaido is trying to foment a U.S.-backed coup against him.
The United States on Friday ramped up its attempt to dislodge Maduro from power by imposing new sanctions and revoking visas.
Reporting by Yury Garcia in Salinas and Angus Berwick in Caracas; Additional reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Quito and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney