BOGOTA: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido will meet members of a multinational support group in Bogota on Monday to hammer out a strategy to remove his rival Nicolas Maduro from office.

The trip comes after two people were killed and hundreds wounded as Guaido supporters clashed with Venezuelan security forces in a failed attempt to cross in truckloads of humanitarian aid from Colombia and Brazil.

The European Union condemned Venezuela’s use of violence and armed civilians to block the aid entry, while United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked and saddened” by the civilian deaths.

Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself acting president in January after the opposition controlled legislature concluded that Maduro was fraudulently re-elected.

Some 50 countries recognise him as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Guaido flew to the Colombian capital on Sunday for the meeting with members of the Lima Group — 13 Latin American countries plus Canada that are seeking to resolve Venezuela’s political impasse.

Vice President Mike Pence will represent Washington at the event.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was confident that “Maduro’s days are numbered”, blaming the border violence on armed civilian loyalists known as “colectivos”.

“We’re aimed at a singular mission — ensuring the Venezuelan people get the democracy they so richly deserve,” Pompeo said on CNN’s “State of the Union”. President Donald Trump has said the United States is not ruling out armed action.

Upon landing in Bogota, Guaido called on the international community to consider “all measures to free” Venezuela.

This is the first time that the Lima Group, which first met in the Peruvian capital in 2017, will speak directly to Guaido.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2019