FILE PHOTO: The winner of Guatemala’s presidential election, Alejandro Giammattei, talks during an interview with Reuters in Guatemala City, Guatemala, August 11, 2019. Picture taken August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
CARACAS (Reuters) – Guatemala’s president-elect on Saturday was denied entry to Venezuela, where he was scheduled to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to Venezuela’s opposition.
Guaido’s office said on Twitter that Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative who won the Central American country’s presidency in August, landed at the Simon Bolivar international airport near capital Caracas, but “regime officials are impeding his entry.”
Guaido, who leads Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, was recognized as the country’s rightful leader by dozens of other nations in January after invoking the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing President Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
“This is a message for president Guaido: we are with you. Even though they have not let us enter, we will make our voice heard today across the whole continent,” Giammattei said in a video filmed on an airplane and posted by Guaido on Twitter.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Maduro, a socialist, calls Guaido a U.S.-backed puppet seeking to oust him in a coup.
Maduro has overseen an economic collapse in the once-prosperous OPEC nation, and is accused of corruption and human rights violations.
In a tweet before Giammattei was denied entry, Guaido’s office called their planned meeting “historic and without precedent.”
Reporting by Luc Cohen and Deisy Buitrago; Editing by Clelia Oziel