BOGOTA, April 25 (Reuters) – Former Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido arrived in Miami on Tuesday following a surprise visit to Colombia the previous day, where he had hoped to meet with participants at an international summit.

Guaido unexpectedly arrived in Colombia on the eve of the summit, organized by the government of leftist President Gustavo Petro with the aim of restarting stalled negotiations between Venezuela’s government and opposition politicians.

He boarded a plane in Colombia’s capital Bogota on Monday, just hours after saying on Twitter he had crossed into Colombia on foot.

“After 70 hours or more of travel, I’m still very worried about my family and team,” Guaido told journalists after arriving in Miami, referring to threats he said they had received.

Guaido’s visit drew criticism from Colombian officials, with Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva saying on Monday that Guaido had entered the country inappropriately.

Colombia’s migration agency accompanied Guaido to Bogota’s airport to ensure his departure to the United States, the ministry said on Monday.

“Just enter with your passport and ask for asylum. With pleasure it would have been offered. You don’t need to enter illegally,” Petro tweeted on Tuesday, adding that Guaido was offered transit permissions.

Leyva told journalists on Tuesday that Guaido was accompanied by U.S. officials at the airport and his ticket was provided by the United States.

“Juan Guaido believes he is under threat and departed Venezuela for Colombia. We assisted his onward departure to the United States,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

Guaido had said he hoped to meet delegations in Bogota for the summit. He urged participants to speak for Venezuelans in exile, serving as “the voice (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro wanted to take from me.”

The Tuesday conference, set to be attended by representatives of 19 countries and the European Union, is meant to help restart the stalled talks in Mexico.

Guaido, a 39-year-old engineer, headed an interim government for nearly three years before being replaced as head of the opposition legislature at the end of 2022.

Guaido’s Popular Will party in a statement said it rejected his treatment by Colombia’s government.

Reporting by Oliver Griffin, Deisy Buitrago, Mayela Armas y Vivian Sequera, Writing by Natalia Siniawski;
Editing by Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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