CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said Friday that authorities haven’t detained opposition leader Juan Guaidó because the courts haven’t ordered it, but he warned: “It will come.”
Maduro made the remark in a meeting with the international press three days after Guaidó returned from a tour to the U.S. and Europe, in defiance of a court order prohibiting him from leaving the country.
Despite the order, migration officials let Guaidó into the country after he arrived on a commercial flight at Venezuela’s main international airport.
Maduro said that the day Venezuela’s justice system decides Guaidó should be imprisoned “for all the crimes he’s committed,” he will be jailed.
“That day hasn’t come yet,” he said in response to a question from The Associated Press. “But it will come.”
Analysts and opponents of Maduro say Venezuela’s judicial system cannot be seen as independent from the executive branch and that it effectively acts as an arm of state power.
Guaidó’s trip marked the second time he has traveled outside Venezuela despite the ban. On both occasions, he was allowed back into the country.
The 36-year-old opposition leader has been in a tense power struggle with Maduro since declaring himself Venezuela’s rightful president last year. Guaidó’s latest international trip was an attempt to shore up support as his anti-government movement struggles to regain momentum and Maduro consolidates his power.