Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader and legitimate President recognized by more than 60 nations, accused the former Mayor of Bogotá and Senator, Gustavo Petro, as “an accomplice of the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.” Guaidó’s remarks were made after a wreath-laying ceremony inside Colombia’s largest police academy, Escuela de Cadetes General Santander, scene of a car bomb attack by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla on January 17, 2019, that killed 22 cadets.
Within the framework of a three-day anti-terrorism conference taking place in the Colombian capital, attended by 25 foreign ministers including U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Guaidó accused Petro of “ignoring what happens in Venezuela,” and in doing so, is “an accomplice of the dictatorship, accomplice of terrorist groups, of hunger.” Guaidó added that the situation inside Venezuela “is not an ideology,” and by backing a “dictatorship financed by Venezuelan corruption,” Petro backs “misery and profound human tragedies.”
Guaidó is attending the III Hemispheric Conference for the Fight against Terrorism, despite a travel ban imposed on him since last year by Maduro. “What happens in Venezuela can only be compared with deep tragedies such as that of Haiti or Syria,” he said.
Gustavo Petro quickly accused Guaidó of slander and rebuked the Venezuelan President’s statements by attacking Colombian President Iván Duque on Twitter: “I am not an accomplice of dictators, nor an accomplice of Rastrojos.” The Rastrojos is a Colombian drug cartel with ties to paramilitary groups.
Guaido met with U.S Secretary of State Pompeo on Monday who reiterated the U.S government’s position to “continue to support President Guaidó and the Venezuelan people.” Guaido leaves Bogotá to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is expected to meet U.S President Donald Trump and shore up further international support to oust Maduro from power. “We will have important meetings in Europe, in the European Union and specifically in Davos,” Guaido told journalists.
President Iván Duque called on foreign ministers attending the anti-terrorism conference to adopt a hard-line against terrorism given evidence that Hezbollah operatives have cells in Venezuela, “with the consent and connivance of the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.” Duque also accused the regime of sheltering terrorist organizations, among them, ELN and FARC dissidents. Duque added that “is not a lie to anyone here in the hemisphere that we are clearly seeing violations [to Resolution 1373 of the United Nations Security Council] which are very clear and forceful in that no country can be allowed to promote, house, sponsor or facilitate terrorists.”
Guaidó’s statement came a day before the first National Strike day of 2020 in which thousands are expected to take part in anti-government protests. Gustavo Petro is a staunch supporter of the Paro Nacional rallying demonstrators via social media.