Venezuela’s Guaido tells Maduro pressure ‘just beginning’

CARACAS (AFP) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido vowed on Tuesday to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, who in turn promised to crush a “crazed minority” that wants to remove him from power.

The 35-year-old National Assembly leader returned home to a hero’s welcome on Monday, having defied a ban on leaving the country to embark on a 10-day tour of South American allies and remains free after returning despite the threat of arrest by the government.

“They’re drowning in contradictions, they don’t know how to respond to Venezuela’s people,” Guaido told reporters. “They thought the pressure had reached its zenith, but it’s only just beginning.”

On Tuesday, a national holiday, he met public sector union leaders.

“Public sector workers have lost practically all their rights, we have no other option but to call for a civic strike,” said Guaido, without giving further details.

Maduro, meanwhile, pressed his supporters to hold “anti-imperialist” marches on Saturday to counter fresh protests planned by Guaido.

“Today more than ever, we are victorious against the conspiracy, against blackmail, while a crazy minority continues with their hatred,” he said in his first public comments since Guaido’s return.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed Acting President Juan Guaido looks on during a press conference after a meeting with union leaders in Caracas on March 5. – AFP