Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó returned to his country on Tuesday after a world tour that included stops in America and Europe and was greeted by a mob organized by dictator Nicolás Maduro, which proceeded to pelt him with trash, douse him in water, and attempt to beat his wife.
The mob, many of them wearing t-shirts featuring the face of late dictator Hugo Chávez or other socialist insignia, organized outside of the gate where Guaidó arrived in the Maiquetía airport Tuesday afternoon, making it difficult for him and his team to pass through the airport.
The mob also assaulted several independent journalists who had congregated at the gate to record their attack on Guaidó and first lady Fabiana Rosales. Guaidó’s team later reported that his uncle Juan José Márquez, who had accompanied the president on his flight back from Portugal, went missing in the ensuing chaos.
Videos by Venezuelan journalists and onlookers reveal that Guaidó managed to pass through customs with minimal incident, but a woman attacked him as he left, dousing him in a liquid apparently from a can. One video shows the woman shouting unintelligibly while doing so as others shout “disgrace!” at Guaidó. Guaidó, resigned, mumbles, “This is the show today, this is the little show.”
— ela ferris (@ElaFerris) February 11, 2020
Following the initial attack, the mob formed around Guaidó, Rosales, and their friends and family who had arrived at the airport. The mob managed to shove Guaidó and throw rocks and other objects at him but did not cause any significant harm. Others in the scrum do appear to come to blows.
ÚLTIMO MINUTO | Juan Guaidó y su esposa fueron agredidos por grupos vinculados al régimen de Nicolás Maduro, tras su llegada a Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/62uxT551Dp
— Yusnaby Pérez (@Yusnaby) February 11, 2020
— EFE Noticias (@EFEnoticias) February 11, 2020
Momento en que simpatizantes de Maduro agreden físicamente a quienes acompañaban a Juan Guaidó pic.twitter.com/9kHu5ON288
— Yusnaby Pérez (@Yusnaby) February 11, 2020
Venezuelan journalists later identified many of the members of the mob to be employees of the airline Conviasa, one of the few businesses Maduro’s regime continues to run, which the United States recently sanctioned for enriching the illegitimate socialist regime. The woman who initially attacked Guaidó was identified as Dubraska Padrón, the airline’s “political coordinator.” Videos surfacing of the event later showed that a senior officer at the Maiquetía airport deliberately allowed Padrón into the restricted area where Guaidó was concluding his registration with customs upon arriving to facilitate the attack.
Many of the members of the mob were also identified as Maduro’s socialist agitators and leveled their ire at the press as well as the president’s team. According to the Venezuelan network NTN24, the mob assaulted at least four independent journalists, stealing their shoes, punching them, and trying to destroy their equipment. The outlet identifies one of those journalists, Maiker Yriarte, as having received a “brutal beating.” The mob shouted insults at journalists tying them with the United States, calling them “paid off by the Empire,” the generic term leftist regimes use for America.
After safely escaping the melee, Guaidó posted a photo on Twitter of his processing at the airport with the caption, “HOME.”
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 11, 2020
Guaidó became president of Venezuela in January 2019, after Maduro’s last legal term expired. Maduro claims legitimacy as head of state through a fraudulent election that occurred in May 2018, in which he banned all non-Marxist candidates from running and the opposition led a boycott resulting in record-low turnout. The Venezuelan constitution allows the federal legislature, the National Assembly, to replace a president in the event of a “rupture in the democratic order,” meaning if a president refuses to leave when his term ends. The National Assembly chose its president, Guaidó, to fill the interim presidency, tasked with organizing free and fair elections as soon as possible.
Guaidó is legally the president of Venezuela and has used his power to appoint envoys in the dozens of countries that recognize his legitimacy, but has not been able to exercise his power as commander-in-chief, as Maduro refuses to yield control of the military. Under Chávez and, later, Maduro, much of the Venezuelan military is believed to be involved in cocaine trafficking, a lucrative industry in a nation where millions struggle to find sources of food for three meals a day.
The National Assembly published an alert on Tuesday about the disappearance of Márquez, Guaidó’s uncle. Márquez was apparently with the president and his family upon walking out of the plane and into the gate. Those with him did not see him at any time leave, but could not find him once they overcame the socialist mob. The Assembly warned that the Maduro regime had likely abducted him.
Guaidó appeared before the National Assembly building on Wednesday denouncing the “savage” aggression against himself and his family and directly accusing Maduro of having organized it.
“It is a clear escalation on the part of the dictatorship,” Guaidó asserted on Wednesday. “It is the permissiveness of the armed forces that allows this. Just because they don’t want to be involved or they leave the repression to third parties does not mean they are not responsible.”
El presidente encargado de Venezuela Juan Guaidó responsabilizó a la Fuerza Armada Nacional de la “salvaje” agresión de la que fueron víctimas diputados a la Asamblea Nacional y periodistas tras su llegada a Venezuela https://t.co/4mVJB2tzOi #12Feb pic.twitter.com/785AFt1M3V
— NTN24 Venezuela (@NTN24ve) February 12, 2020
Guaidó then once again demanded the Venezuelan people take to the streets for peaceful protests, which have been happening on and off since 2013 and have failed to remove Maduro.
Maduro himself has not responded to Guaidó’s arrival at press time, but deployed his socialist party leader and television pundit Diosdado Cabello to do the honors.
“He mess with the wrong people, the people will wait for him anywhere he goes,” Cabello said before the “national constituent assembly,” an illegal parallel legislature Maduro created to siphon power away from the National Assembly. “They are so immoral that they said there were people disguised as Conviasa workers.”
The videos of the incident clearly show people dressed in Conviasa uniforms.
Cabello also threatened that Guaidó could be hurt or killed at any given moment.
“He hangs out with delinquents, with drug traffickers, and with paramilitaries … who can say what will happen? Nobody,” Cabello said, adding that “sooner or later” he would “face justice.”
The U.S. government has identified Cabello as one of Venezuela’s most prominent drug traffickers and sanctioned him for profiting from the narcotics trade. Law enforcement sources have identified Cabello as the head of the Cartel de los Soles, a cocaine trafficking operation run by members of the Venezuelan military.