COLOMBIA        -         Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has defied a travel ban to head to Colombia, where he is expected to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as he seeks to boost support amid a power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro.

Recognised as Venezuela’s legitimate president by more than 50 countries, including the United States, Guaido had not left the country since February 2019, when he also defied the court-imposed ban to travel to Colombia.

Maduro accuses Guaido of being a coup-mongering puppet controlled by the White House.

Pompeo, who is scheduled to arrive in the Colombian capital, Bogota, on Monday at the start of a Latin American tour, said Guaido was “the duly elected leader of Venezuela”.

“I look forward to having a meeting with him,” Pompeo told reporters on a flight from Germany to Colombia. “Maduro has been destructive ... Our mission set is to deliver a set of free and fair elections to the Venezuelan people.” Pompeo and Guaido are reportedly expected to meet on Monday.

According to the Washington Post, Guaido plans to travel from Colombia to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he will urge European officials to increase pressure on Maduro.

Senior figures in Venezuela’s opposition hope that Guaido will also get to meet US President Donald Trump in Davos, the newspaper said.