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Airport clashes as Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido returns home

Scuffles: Juan Guaido is grabbed by Maduro supporters as he arrives in Caracas PICTURE: EPA

SCUFFLES broke out as Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido returned from a tour abroad after defying a travel ban.

Mr Guaido, who is trying to oust president Nicolas Maduro, told cheering supporters in Caracas he was armed with the backing of the ‘free world’ to reclaim the nation.

But earlier, a woman in the city’s airport had thrown what appeared to be a soft drink can, soaking Mr Guaido, and outside critics shouted, ‘dirty traitor’ and ‘get out’.

Some threw traffic cones and others pounded the hood of an SUV that whisked him away. Supporters shouted Mr Guaido’s name as clashes broke out. Mr Guaido launched the trip to redouble backing in Washington and Europe for the opposition’s effort to remove Mr Maduro, who the West considers to have rigged his re-election in 2018.

His trip included a meeting in the Oval Office with US president Donald Trump who has recognised him as the ‘legitimate president of Venezuela’.

In a TV appearance Mr Maduro did not mention his rival by name, saying he was concentrating ‘on defending Venezuela’, but told supporters not to be distracted by ‘idiots’ and ‘traitors’.