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Guaido Rallies Venezuelan Expats in Miami at End of Tour 

Venezuela's Juan Guaido waves at audience members before speaking at a rally in Miami, Feb. 1, 2020.
Venezuela's Juan Guaido waves at audience members before speaking at a rally in Miami, Feb. 1, 2020.

Venezuela's Juan Guaido told a large crowd of cheering expatriates in Miami on Saturday that he will soon make his return to Caracas from an international tour, bringing with him the "world's backing" to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

"We have a plan. We have a strategy," Guaido said. "We're not alone, and we're going to restore democracy."

The opposition leader bent on unseating the socialist president, however, presented few details for executing this plan upon returning, saying additional sanctions are "the only strategy" available.

Guaido's visit to Miami rounds out a two-week world tour that took him first to Colombia, then across Europe and Canada, where he held meetings with a list of world leaders. He delivered a message that Venezuelans are pressing for freedom from a "dictator," but they need help.

A key meeting absent from Guaido's trip was with his most important ally, President Donald Trump, who earlier in the day tweeted a picture of himself golfing at his Florida Mar-a-Lago club, saying he was "Getting a little exercise."

Meeting with president?

When asked about a possible meeting with Trump, Guaido said, "Stay tuned," but he also said he was already preparing his return to Venezuela.

An estimated 3,500 people crowded into a Miami convention center to hear Guaido, the most promising opposition political figure to surface in years with the chance of ending two decades of rule launched by the late President Hugo Chavez. Guaido urged the crowd to remain unified and to resist, despite living away from Venezuela.

"All options are on the table, but also under the table," Guaido said. "There are things that are not talked about. All necessary actions will be used to finally liberate Venezuela."

Venezuela was once an energy powerhouse with the world's largest oil reserves, but crude production has plummeted over the last two decades, which critics blame on corruption and mismanagement.

Today, an estimated 4.5 million Venezuelans have emigrated from the country of 30 million, leaving behind crumbling infrastructure, broken hospitals, power failures and gasoline shortages with mile-long lines at filling stations across much of the South American nation.

Guaido, 36, rose a year ago to prominence, named leader of the opposition-led National Assembly. In this position he claimed presidential powers, vowing to oust Maduro and reverse the political and social crisis.

He won backing from the U.S. and nearly 60 nations that considered Maduro's 2018 election a fraud and blamed his socialist policies for the crisis that's driving mass migration and threatening the region's stability.

Maduro holds on

Maduro, however, has maintained power with firm backing of the military and key foreign allies, including China, Cuba and Turkey. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to visit Caracas in the coming days.

Before the rally, Guaido met with James Story, charge d' affaires for the Venezuela Affairs Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. The opposition leader also mingled with Venezuelans who have fled their homeland for the United States over the last two decades.

Many at the rally wore baseball hats with bright yellow, blue and red, representing the colors of Venezuela's flag. When Guaido stepped on stage, they cheered and held up their phones for photos.

"We want him to tell us what's going to happen," said Gloria Bejaramo, 65, who traveled from Venezuela to South Florida to visit a daughter. "I've always supported him, and everyone is looking for a way out of this situation to achieve democracy."