Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido looks for backing in Canada

Canada’s foreign minister welcomed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido for meetings in Ottawa on Monday as part of an international push to reignite international support for his flagging movement.

The man recognized by the U.S. and nearly 60 other nations as Venezuela’s rightful leader started the day with a meeting with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to meet with Guaido later Monday.

Guaido stood before packed crowds of cheering Venezuelans one year ago and proclaimed that his status as head of congress made him the nation’s legitimate president because President Nicolas Maduro’s reelection was invalid.

But his effort to drive Maduro from power has thus far proven unsuccessful.

Leaving Venezuela was a risky move for the opposition leader, who is under a travel ban imposed by the pro-Maduro Supreme Court.

“He’s demonstrated a lot of courage and leadership,” Champagne said as he welcomed Guaido to his office.

Guaido thanked Canada for its continuing support.

“This is a great opportunity for Venezuelans and for the region to be able to solve the crisis in our country through free elections,” he said through a translator.

The once-wealthy nation is gripped by crisis, which critics blame on years of failed socialist rule, while Maduro frequently blames right-wing forces backed by the United States set on overthrowing him to steal Venezuela’s vast oil reserves.

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