Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó briefly detained

President of the National Congress, Juan Guaido.
The president of Venezuela's National Congress, Juan Guaidó. Photo: Roman Camacho/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Venezuelan authorities released opposition leader and congressman Juan Guaidó after briefly detaining him on Sunday while he was en route to an anti-government political rally, per AP.

Why it matters: His brief detention comes just days after President Nicolás Maduro assumed power for a second six-year term, which the U.S. government said it will not recognize. Guaidó has been mounting a campaign to oust Maduro, and White House national security adviser John Bolton highlighted his work in a statement Friday: "We support the courageous decision of the National Assembly President, Juan Guaidó, to invoke protections under Venezuela’s constitution and declare that Maduro does not legitimately hold the country’s presidency."

Go deeper: The grim list of problems Venezuela faces in Maduro's 2nd term

John Bolton calls Venezuela's Maduro an "illegitimate" leader

John Bolton
Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton issued a statement Friday saying the U.S. "does not recognize Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s illegitimate claim to power."

"We hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for the safety of all Venezuelans who cry out demanding to freely choose their leaders. We will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of a Venezuelan democracy that reverses the current constitutional crisis."

The big picture: Maduro began his second six-year term Thursday after winning a sham election in which he deposed or intimidated all of his legitimate challengers. His government has contributed to a massive humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, with nearly 90% of population in poverty and 3 million citizens fleeing the country as economic refugees. The U.S. joins 14 Latin American countries that have labeled Maduro's presidency "illegitimate."

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