Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is warning Friday that the arrest of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has the backing of the U.S. and nearly 60 other nations, “will come.”
Maduro made the remark in a meeting with media three days after Guaidó returned from a tour to the U.S. and Europe, in defiance of a court order prohibiting him from leaving the country.
Despite the order, migration officials let Guaidó into the country after he arrived on a commercial flight at Venezuela’s main international airport. Pro-government protesters there doused him with a liquid and grabbed at his shirt as he made his way through a crowd.
Maduro said Friday that Guaidó will be jailed the day Venezuela’s justice system decides he should be imprisoned “for all the crimes he’s committed.”
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“That day hasn’t come yet,” he said in response to a question from The Associated Press. “But it will come.”
Yet analysts and opponents of Maduro say Venezuela’s judicial system cannot be seen as independent from the executive branch and that it effectively acts as an arm of state power.
Guaidó’s trip marked the second time he has traveled outside Venezuela despite the ban. On both occasions, he was allowed back into the country.
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The 36-year-old opposition leader has been in a tense power struggle with Maduro since declaring himself the country’s rightful president last year. Guaidó’s latest international trip, during which he met President Trump at the White House, was an attempt to shore up support as his anti-government movement struggles to regain momentum and Maduro consolidates his power.
Guaidó has won backing from the U.S. and dozens of 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.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly, Danielle Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.