Opposition Leader’s Escape From Venezuela Is a Headache for Colombian Government.

The arrival of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in Bogotá on Monday is undermining the Colombian government’s efforts to unblock the political stalemate in its neighbor, according to officials in both countries. 
Guaidó has called for a protest in Bogotá’s main plaza on Tuesday, to demand that Venezuelans overseas be allowed to participate in upcoming elections, just as Colombian President Gustavo Petro is kicking off a summit of international leaders two blocks away. 
“For the Petro administration it’s a liability to have Guaidó in its territory,” said Geoff Ramsey, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “It complicates Bogotá’s strategy of trying to advance a democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela while maintaining diplomatic relations” with the government of President Nicolás Maduro. 
Guaidó, an enemy of Maduro, won’t be invited to the summit, according to Colombia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alvaro Leyva. Petro is not even expected to publicly welcome him to the country, according to officials from both countries, who asked not to be named talking about internal policy. 
Petro had been aware of Guaidó’s plans to flee to Colombia since about two weeks ago, the people said. 
Political Prisoners 
In a meeting on Saturday, Petro told members of Venezuela’s opposition that he hoped his summit could secure the release of political prisoners and set possible dates for presidential elections next year, the people said. 
Maduro’s government wants an easing of US sanctions in exchange, including the US Treasury allowing some foreign oil companies that still have a presence in Venezuela to resume oil production there. Petro, who also maintains cordial relations with US President Joe Biden, has become an unofficial conduit between Caracas and Washington. 
Guaidó’s decision to leave Venezuela means he may abandon his bid to participate in the opposition’s primaries later this year, likely throwing his support behind another candidate.
Since taking office last year, Petro has become a key ally of Maduro’s, meeting with him four times and reestablishing diplomatic ties between the two countries. 
Although Petro has pledged to guarantee asylum to Venezuelans, Guaidó is considering a swift move to a third country, possibly the US, for fear that he might be extradited, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. 
“He came into Colombia in an inappropriate manner, and in Colombia we comply with the law,” Leyva told reporters on Monday. 
A spokesperson for Guaidó, and the US Department of State, declined to comment. 
Guaidó was banned from leaving the country by Venezuela’s Supreme Court in 2019, shortly after he was recognized as the nation’s legitimate ruler by the US and dozens of its allies. 
While he has flouted the ban several times in the past, it’s the first time he’s left the country since he voted out as the head of the opposition’s national assembly this year.
“Guaidó no longer has the massive support he received in 2019 and I think he is looking for opportunities to have impact in the international community,” Ramsey said. 

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