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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido attends Trump’s 2020 State of the Union

State of the Union 2020: Venezuela’s Juan Guaido receives standing ovation
WATCH ABOVE: State of the Union 2020: Venezuela's Juan Guaido receives standing ovation

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido drew a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats in a rare moment of political unity as President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union speech Tuesday.

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Trump called Guaido the “true and legitimate” leader of Venezuela and said President Nicolas Maduro is a “tyrant” as lawmakers applauded.

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“Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland,” Trump said to Guaido. “All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom.”

Guaido’s attendance as a surprise, last-minuted guest of the president came as he has been trying to win face time with Trump, his most important international ally. Guaido’s visit to Miami on Saturday rounded out a two-week world tour that took him first to Colombia, then across Europe and Canada, where he held meetings seeking more international help to oust Maduro.

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Venezuela has been a top priority in Latin America for the Trump administration, which a year ago was the first among a coalition of governments to recognize Guaido as president.

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The U.S. and nearly 60 other governments say Maduro’s 2018 re-election was not legitimate and that Guaido, as leader of the National Assembly, should be named interim president under the Venezuelan constitution.

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Maduro, however, remains in control, having faced down a failed military uprising, a brief renewal of mass anti-government protests and U.S. sanctions.

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Earlier, the White House said Ivan Simonovis, the former police chief in Caracas who was imprisoned in 2004 and held in captivity for nearly 15 years, also would be a guest. Simonovis was sentenced to 30 years in prison on what he considered trumped-up charges of ordering police to fire on pro-government demonstrators during a coup against then-President Hugo Chavez.

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Simonovis, Venezuela’s most famous SWAT cop, escaped last year and was brought to the United States, His detention has been a rallying cry of the opposition that considered Maduro’s 2018 election to a second term a fraud and blamed his socialist policies for the nation’s crisis, which is driving mass migration and threatening the region’s stability.