Venezuela's Guaido says he will return home on Monday to lead protests

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Saturday he would return home after a visit to Ecuador and called for new protests next week against President Nicolas Maduro, whose government had banned him from traveling overseas. He delivered a defiant warning to Venezuelan authorities, saying any attempt to detain him "would be without doubt one of the last mistakes" that the government commits.

In Venezuela, anticipation grew ahead of Guaido's expected arrival.

"As for the next steps for Venezuelans, I announce my return home from Ecuador", Guaido told a news conference in the coastal town of Salinas alongside Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno.

He had visited Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay after leaving Venezuela last week for Colombia to coordinate efforts there to send humanitarian aid into his country, though troops loyal to Maduro blocked a convoy of aid trucks and turned them back.

The situation in Venezuela was the main topic in a phone call between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that took place on March 2, Russia's foreign ministry said on its website. Thousands of supporters heeded the call, peacefully gathering at a Caracas plaza and in other locations around the country.

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Maduro, meanwhile, has urged Venezuelans to enjoy the carnival season slated for Monday and Tuesday, even though many people don't have the resources to travel to beaches and other holiday spots.

Rodriguez spoke during a visit to Russian Federation, which backs Maduro and has accused the United States of plotting his downfall.

Guaido was in Ecuador on Saturday as part of a tour of Latin American countries created to increase pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to resign.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted that threats or action by Maduro's government against Guaido "will be met with a strong and significant response from the United States and the worldwide community".

"In this respect any measure that could put at risk Juan Guaido's freedom, safety or personal integrity would represent a major escalation of tensions and meet the firm condemnation of the global community", Mogherini said.

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