CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan authorities suspended a Portuguese airline on Monday days after it carried opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his uncle home from an international tour aimed at ousting President Nicolás Maduro.
Guaidó's flight to Caracas on TAP Air Portugal ended his three-week tour through Europe and into the Trump White House. Venezuelan authorities arrested Guaidó's uncle upon landing, accusing him of trying to bring a small amount of explosives into the nation.
Vice President Delcy Rodríguez said the carrier's flights into and out of the country had been suspended for 90 days, hours of the transportation minister said they had opened an investigation into “serious violation” of local regulations.
Guaidó, 36, rose to prominence a year ago, claiming presidential powers and vowing to end Maduro's rule amid a historic economic crisis. Guaidó says Maduro's government has targeted his uncle, Juan José Márquez, as a means to attack him.
Venezuela also issued a letter of protest to the French government on Monday, saying its ambassador in Caracas, Romain Nadal, interfered in the nation's internal affairs when he went to greet Guaidó upon his arrival at the airport.
France and the European Union recognize Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president until fresh elections can be held.
A small delegation of foreign diplomats went to greet Guaidó, who violated a travel ban by Maduro's government, risking the possibility of arrest upon his return.
Venezuelan authorities said in their letter that the French ambassador employed a “provocative strategy” by going to greet Guaidó, abusing his “privileges” and “violated international conventions and customs."
Guaidó visited the French President Emmanuel Macron on his trip, which also included a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.
Backers of Guaidó consider Maduro's 2018 election fraudulent because the most popular opposition leaders were banned.