Venezuela's Guaido faces credible threats to his life: Lima Group

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler speaks during a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota, Colombia, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The Lima Group regional bloc said on Monday that threats have been made against the life of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and the group finds them credible, adding that President Nicolas Maduro was responsible for Guaido’s safety.

The bloc in a statement demanded Maduro immediately leave his post in favor of a democratic transition that includes free elections. Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, speaking on behalf of the group, said there was information about credible threats to Guaido and his family.

Trujillo did not immediately provide evidence for the claims. Guaido has been placed under investigation by Venezuela’s chief prosecutor but unlike some other opposition figures has not been jailed. He was briefly detained by security forces in January.

“We want to hold the usurper Maduro responsible for any violent action against Guaido, against his wife and against their relatives,” Trujillo told reporters.

The United States has targeted Venezuela’s government with new sanctions and called on allies to freeze assets of its state-owned oil company after violence blocked humanitarian aid from the country.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Guaido, recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, met in Bogota with members of the 12 Lima Group nations dedicated to peaceful resolution of the crisis. The United States is not a member and the Trump administration has declined to rule out military force.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb, writing by Meredith Mazzilli; editing by Cynthia Osterman and James Dalgleish