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Guaido Calls for Protests in Venezuela Ahead of His Return


Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido (C) poses for a picture with a baby before leaving his hotel in Salinas, Ecuador, March 3, 2019.

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido called on the Venezuelan people to take to the streets Monday to coincide with his planned return after touring Latin American allies.

"I'm announcing my return to the country. I am calling on the Venezuelan people to mobilize all over the country tomorrow at 11:00 am (1500 GMT)," Guaido wrote on Twitter.

The opposition leader is expected to reach Caracas Monday. On Sunday, he left the Ecuadorian coastal town of Salinas aboard an Ecuadorian air force plane after meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno. His travel plans have not been made public, but a spokesman said Guaido would be in Caracas in time for the Carnival season, which begins Monday.

Guaido has said he expects to be arrested upon his return.

Guaido, recognized by the U.S. and 50 other countries as Venezuela's interim leader, heads Venezuela's National Assembly. He used his authority to invoke the constitution to declare President Nicolas Maduro's leadership illegitimate because of election fraud and declare himself interim president.

Last week Guaido met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and other regional leaders in Bogota, Colombia, and later traveled to Brazil and Paraguay.

The United States increased its pressure on Venezuela Friday, imposing sanctions on six high-ranking security officials as well as revoking the visas of dozens of other high officials.

The Trump administration said the sanctions were a response to Venezuelan military officials, who last weekend blocked an opposition-backed effort to bring food into the country. At one border point, aid trucks caught fire and several people died.