Venezuela’s self-declared president Juan Guaido flew back to Caracas on Monday, defying the threat of arrest.
He arrived at Caracas international airport on Monday afternoon, surrounded by a massive crowd.
Adressing his supporters, he called for a new demonstration on Saturday to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.
On Saturday we’ll continue in the streets, all of Venezuela will return to the streets.
We will not rest one second until freedom is achieved,” said Guaido, speaking to thousands of supporters in Caracas.
Just before his arrival, US Vice President Mike Pence sent a warning to Maduro to ensure Guaido’s safety.
“Any threats, violence, or intimidation against him will not be tolerated and will be met with swift response,” Pence wrote
Earlier on, the self-declared acting president had said on Twitter that should he be detained, he has left “clear instructions to our international allies and parliamentary brothers.
Thousands of flag-waving Venezuelans had turned out to the streets of Caracas on Monday, answering Guaido’s call for mass demonstrations, holding crosses and portraits of their young leader.
Guaido left Venezuela 10 days ago in an unsuccessful bid to force through desperately needed humanitarian aid stockpiled in Colombia.
He then went on a tour of neighboring allies Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador before asking his supporters onto the streets for his return on Monday.
Guaido’s reappearance in Venezuela poses a direct challenge to Maduro, who must decide whether to arrest him for defying a travel ban, risking to provoke international condemnation, or allow him to enter unharmed, which may undermine his own authority.
“Any threats or acts against (Guaido’s) safe return will be met with a strong and significant response from the United States and the international community,” said US National Security Advisor John Bolton in a tweet.
Guaido, has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president.
Venezuela is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis with poverty on the increase after four years of recession.