The president-elect of Guatemala said he was blocked Saturday from entering Venezuela where he planned to meet opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is seeking to oust socialist President Nicolás Maduro. The commercial flight carrying Alejandro Giammattei, who takes office in Guatemala on January 14, made an early morning landing at the airport near Caracas, but his visit ended there.
"They didn't allow our entry into Venezuela," Giammattei said in a video posted on Twitter. "They escorted us to the gate and put us on the returning plane." Giammattei expresses his support for Guaido in the video shot from the plane about to depart.
Guaidó, who traveled to the airport to greet the foreign leader, launched a campaign early this year with backing from more than 50 nations to unseat Maduro. Critics accuse Maduro of claiming a second term following a fraudulent election in 2018 while overseeing the once-wealthy oil nation's economic and social collapse.
Giammattei said in another video that in Caracas he planned to invite Guaidó to his inauguration in Guatemala and press for Venezuela's return to democracy, including the release of political prisoners and the immediate call to elections. Guaidó later spoke at a private university where he was to meet with Giammattei, saying Maduro's government used "unprecedented, unnecessary diplomatic aggression" by refusing the Guatemalan leader.
Maduro's government didn't immediately comment on turning away Giammattei. Maduro maintains control of Venezuela with the backing of the military and international support from Cuba, Russia and China, among other nations.
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