Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido, who the US backed in a failed coup attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, landed in Miami on Monday night and is seeking “refuge” in the US, The Washington Post reported.
The US recognized Guaido as the “interim president” in 2019, the same year of the attempted coup. The Trump administration’s backing of Guaido and imposition of crippling sanctions on Venezuela were part of a failed regime change effort.
Over the years, Guaido lost what little support he had. The US-backed Venezuelan opposition recently removed him as interim president and dissolved the interim government, which never had power besides the ability to access some of Venezuela’s offshore assets and foreign embassies.
Guaido flew to the US after entering Colombia, where Colombian President Gustavo Petro is hosting an international conference on Venezuela that includes diplomats from 20 countries. Guaido made it to the capital Bogota and claimed he was expelled from Colombia.
“The persecution of the dictatorship, unfortunately, spread to Colombia today,” Guaido said in a video recorded on the plane. But Colombian officials, including Petro, denied that Guaido was expelled. “Mr. Guaido was not expelled and it is better that this lie does not appear in politics,” Petro wrote on Twitter.
Colombian authorities said Guaido entered Colombia “irregularly” and escorted him to the airport for a flight to the US, where Guaido’s mother and brother live. The State Department said American diplomats in Colombia helped bring Guaido to the US.
Guaido later told AP that he is not seeking political asylum in the US and is considering running in Venezuela’s presidential primary that will be held in October.
The Biden administration has kept Venezuela under crippling economic sanctions and has only issued a limited license to Chevron, allowing the company to resume pumping oil in Venezuela.
An envoy for Venezuela’s opposition recently called on the US to lift sanctions on Venezuela. The position is a significant departure from Guaido, who favored sanctions and foreign military intervention to put him in power in Caracas.