Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido left Colombia on Thursday and left for Brazil in an ongoing international attempt to oust the disputed president of his country, Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido, who has been recognized as the president of Venezuela by more than 50 countries including Colombia, will meet far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro as all sides continue to look for a solution to the ongoing social and political crisis in the country.
Guaido’s departure releases pressure on Colombia that has been at the vanguard of an international effort to Maduro, who Colombia’s government calls a dictator.
The opposition leader’s stay in Colombia made the country a potential target for Venezuela’s military, which remains loyal to the authoritarian president.
A Venezuelan lawmaker said last year his government would attack Colombia if the neighboring country or it’s ally, the United States, would attempt a military intervention. Venezuela’s foreign minister accused Colombia’s government of “aggression” at the United Nations in New York earlier this week.
This weekend there was a well-organized operation to violate Venezuela’s sovereignty. Do you know where the aggression came from? From Colombia.
Guaido and US Vice-President Mike Pence attended a meeting of the Lima Group, a coalition of countries that do not recognize the Venezuelan government, this week.
While the opposition leader has called on the international community to “keep all options open,” and US Vice-President Mike Pence said that his government continues to “keep all options on the table,”the Lima Group continues to reject war.
Guaido’s meetings with Brazil’s president may temporarily shift the attention away from Colombia, who could possibly face airstrikes from Venezuela in the event of a US-led military intervention.
After clashes on the Colombian border last weekend, Venezuela’s President Maduro cut all diplomatic ties with Duque and Colombia and closed the border between the countries.
The two countries have a history of thorny relations, but tensions like the current ones have not been seen since a major spat between Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez and former President Alvaro Uribe after Colombia’s an air force carried out an attack against guerrillas across the border with Ecuador in 2008.
Maduro has long been in a war of words with Colombia, calling Duque “the devil in person” last year and his government “fascist” this month.
The crisis in Venezuela has already caused violence on the Colombian side of the border. Scores of Venezuelan and Colombian protesters were injured in clashes with Venezuelan border guards on Saturday amid a failed attempt to force American food supplies and medicine across the border.