Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognised as the country's rightful interim ruler, reacts during a rally held by his supporters against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela on Monday.
Speaking at an event marking the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor and political mentor, Hugo Chavez, Maduro said: "While a crazed minority continues with their hatred, with their bitterness, it's their problem".
Hours earlier, Guaido said police officials were among those at a meeting that he held with leaders of public employee unions, which rely heavily on subsidies from Maduro's government to get by in a country suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and other necessities.
Just before his arrival, USA vice president Mike Pence sent a warning to Maduro to ensure Guaido's safety, and secretary of state Mike Pompeo later hailed his 'safe return'.
"That's never stopped us", Guaido said.
The U.S. -backed opposition figure has also planned to bring in foreign humanitarian aid, including those from the U.S. through the Colombian border, to allegedly alleviate the country's economic crisis.
His call for marches on Saturday sets the stage for more confrontation with Guaido.
Guaido's homecoming Monday followed warnings by the United States and other countries to Maduro not to move against his adversary, and he possibly realized arresting his foe could generate more street protests.
Guaido flouted a travel ban to tour Latin American countries to muster support for his plan for a transition government ahead of free and fair elections.
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Venezuela is wracked by a humanitarian crisis that has seen poverty soar, with an estimated 2.7 million people leaving the country since 2015. "They better know that the pressure has barely begun".
The US is already trying to cripple Maduro's access to finances via sanctions on state oil company PDVSA and handing control to Guaido of Venezuelan bank accounts in the United States.
"That's ultimately a decision for Venezuelans to make", Abrams said.
Venezuela has been rocked by protests since January 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.
Abrams also said that imposing US secondary sanctions against non-U.S. citizens or entities tied to the Maduro government was "clearly a possibility", although he said a decision had not been made on taking such a step.
Guaido and his backers say Maduro's re-election previous year was invalid, making the legislative leader interim president.
He urged state workers to prepare for a strike, though no date was given and he said an immediate priority would be to promote a law guaranteeing rights for public workers.
But troops blocked convoys of aid trucks sent from Colombia and Brazil, leading to clashes that killed at least six people along the Brazilian border, rights groups say.
Guaido says Maduro's presidency is illegitimate after he secured re-election previous year in a vote widely considered a sham.