Imperialist-backed mercenary incursions foiled – jail the coup plotters!

We publish here three articles by Jorge Martín and Venezuelanalysis about the attempt by mercenaries (including two former US Special Forces operatives) to carry out an armed disembark in Venezuela. The fingerprints of Guaidó and Washington are all over this new aggression.

Venezuela foils mercenary incursion: Guaidó and Washington responsible

In the early hours of Sunday 3 May, Venezuelan police and armed forces foiled an attempt by armed men to disembark in Macuto, La Guaira, 35km from the capital Caracas. In the ensuing clashes eight mercenaries were killed and weapons were seized, both from speedboats and stored on land. According to the authorities, the attack had the aim of kidnapping Venezuelan officials and sparking a military coup.

Armed clashes started at 3.50 am in Macuto, a coastal city in the state of La Guaira. Venezuelan Minister of Interior Nestor Reverol described it as an attempt “to invade the country by sea”. Venezuelan Armed Forces and FAES Bolivarian Police operatives were involved in repelling the attack. Reverol also explained that according to the boat’s GPS system, it had come from Colombia.

Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly president Diosdado Cabello in a press conference at 11am reported that eight assailants had been killed and two others arrested. A cache of weapons had been seized, including 10 assault rifles, a Glock 9mm handgun, two AFAG machine guns, six pickup vehicles on which the machine guns were mounted, a boat with two overboard engines; as well as military uniforms, satellite phones, and ammunition.

It is clear that Venezuelan intelligence had prior warning of the operation, revealing many of the paramilitary mercenary groups linked to the opposition are heavily infiltrated. While Venezuelan opposition leader and Trump puppet Juan Guaidó described the events as a “regime smokescreen”, it is clear that many of those involved have direct links to Guaidó himself. Some participated in the 30 April 2019 botched military coup which was led directly by Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo Lopez.

Others were part of another planned military incursion from Colombian territory, which was planned for 23 March, but which was aborted after Colombian police seized a cache of weapons. The leader of that operation, involving 300 armed men, was coup-plotting army officer Cliver Alcalá Cordones, who then handed himself over to the US authorities, which had issued an arrest warrant against him for drug trafficking.

Links to Guaidó

Before his arrest, Alcalá Cordones released a video alleging that his operation was the result of a contract signed between himself, reactionary political lobbyist JJ Rendón and Juan Guaidó himself. One of the key elements in the aborted 23 March military incursion was US mercenary and former US green beret, Jordan Goudreau. Together with two other former US Navy SEALs, Goudreau was in charge of training the Venezuelan army deserters who were to enter Venezuelan territory. Two days before the 3 May attack, AP published a detailed investigation into Goudreau’s role in the aborted 23 March plot.

Goudreau, who runs mercenary agency Silvercorp US, based in Florida, also has close links to Guaidó. According to the AP report, in February 2019 Goudreau worked organising security at the “humanitarian aid” concert on the Colombian side of the Venezuelan border. The concert, promoted by Guaidó and funded by British multimillionaire Richard Branson, was meant to serve as a cover for a provocation on the Venezuelan border, which also failed. At that time, Guaidó crossed the Venezuela-Colombia border illegally, with the help of Colombian paramilitary narco-trafficking gang Los Rastrojos.

guaido goudreau Image FactoresdePoder

Yesterday, it was Goudreau who issued a video message from Florida, flanked by another Venezuelan coup-plotting army deserter, claiming responsibility for the attempted landing in Macuto. In a follow up interview with Venezuelan reactionary opposition activist Patricia Poleo, Goudreau showed a copy of the contract signed between Alcalá Cordones, Guaidó, JJ Rendón and his own company for services including “strategic planning,” “equipment procuring” and “project execution advisement.” The document was backed up by an audio recording of a conversation between Guaidó, his associates and US mercenary Goudreau discussing the terms of the agreement.

Just days before the 3 May attack, both US special envoy for Venezuela Elliot Abrams and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stepped up their provocative statements against Maduro. Abrams declared that “Maduro’s days are counted”, while Pompeo, in a press conference on 29 April, assured journalists that the “multilateral effort to restore democracy (sic) is continuing to build momentum” and that he had “updated plans to reopen the US embassy in Caracas”. A coincidence? I don’t think so...

From this whole sordid affair, several conclusions can be drawn. The first is that, for all his denials, Juan Guaidó is closely linked to the different attempts to remove Maduro from office. Even if you leave the famous contract to one side, Guaido’s pawprints are everywhere, as we have detailed above. The military deserters involved participated in his April 2019 botched coup. The main US mercenary involved provided security for the “humanitarian aid” concert. He also participated in a meeting between Trump advisors and Guaidó’s agents in Miami.

Of course, as the attempt failed, he claims to have nothing to do with it. The question we really need to ask is, why is Guaidó still free? Why has he not been arrested? He has attempted to usurp an office to which he has no claim. He has called for a foreign military intervention against his own country. He has appealed for a military coup. He has actually led a military coup. What more is required for him to be arrested and put on trial? This level of impunity is infuriating, particularly at a time when revolutionary activists like Alfredo Chirinos and Aryenis Torrealba have been arrested and had their rights violated, when their only “crime” was to denounce corruption in state-owned oil company PDVSA.

The role of imperialism

What is the role of the United States in these plots? It should be clear to every informed observer that nothing moves in the Venezuelan reactionary opposition without the US secret services knowing about it. Mercenary Goudreau in his statements yesterday and the AP report complained that they approached the US but found no support for their paramilitary plans. That, at the very least, indicates that the US had prior knowledge of these plans – remember, plans of a mercenary invasion of a third country – and did nothing about it. But the US implication goes beyond knowledge. Washington is openly and publicly encouraging such activity, when the Department of State offered a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the capture of Maduro and other Venezuelan officials. Not to mention the fact that, for over a year now, Trump has been actively encouraging Venezuelan army officials to rise up against the Maduro government.

Clearly, both the so-called Venezuelan “democratic” opposition and US imperialism are responsible for attacks like that of yesterday. For all the talk about restoring democracy, the Venezuelan opposition, Trump and all the other countries that recognised Guaidó have their hands dirtied by all sorts of paramilitary plots involving mercenaries, drug lords, terrorists, etc. It is to be noted that Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was the other leader of the 30 April 2019 coup is being harboured in the Spanish embassy in Caracas and this arrangement has not been repudiated by the new PSOE-UP, left-wing government in Madrid.

All consistent democrats, all socialists, must reject these scandalous acts of imperialist aggression against Venezuela and denounce all the governments which, by supporting Guaidó’s “legitimacy”, are complicit in them. At the same time we must point out that imperialist aggression can only be fought off by revolutionary means: the arrest and trial of Guaidó and his fellow coup plotters, the expropriation of all property of US multinationals in Venezuela to be run under workers’ control, the expropriation of the Venezuelan oligarchy (capitalists, bankers and landowners), which funds and supports these counter-revolutionary plots, and the raising of a genuine revolutionary militia of workers and peasants. Read the original here.

4 May 2020, Jorge Martin

Venezuela: more mercenaries arrested including two US special forces veterans

A number of mercenaries had been killed and others arrested in La Guaira on 3 May while trying to disembark in Venezuela as part of a plot against the Maduro government. On 4 May, another eight mercenaries were arrested in the coastal town of Chuao in Aragua state, amongst them two former US special forces veterans.

As we explained yesterday, one of the organisers of the plot is US mercenary and former US Army Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who claims to have signed a contract with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to organise the military incursion. Goudreau claims that Guaidó reneged on the contract and that he was never paid but decided to go ahead with the plan regardless. According to Goudreau, who is currently in Florida where he runs mercenary agency Silvercorp US, those detained or killed on Sunday in Macuto, La Guaira, were part of a larger group of 60 mercenaries, mainly Venezuelan army deserters. They had infiltrated the country in an attempt to kidnap Maduro and trigger a military coup, in what has become known as Operación Gedeón - after the biblical military leader who led a troop of 300 men to defeat a much-larger Midianite army.

Part of the group that was intercepted in La Guaira on Sunday managed to escape and they were seized in Chuao, Aragua on Monday 4 May. Local fishermen organised in the Bolivarian Militia alerted the authorities to the presence of the men in a boat and the eight mercenaries were captured. Amongst them were two US special forces veterans who had been mentioned by Goudreau: Luke Denman and Airan Berry.

VEHÍCULOS INCAUTADOS 4 Image Ultimas Noticias

A third group of mercenaries was arrested in the secluded beach of Puerto Cruz, in La Guaira state, not far from Chuao. They had a large cache of weapons, bulletproof vests and communications equipment, which had been stored on land ready for the disembarking forces.

Amongst those arrested in Chuao is one of the leading figures of this military adventure: Antonio Sequea Torres, a former captain of the Bolivarian National Guard, who played a key role in the 30 April 2019 botched military coup led by Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López. He appeared in a video published on Sunday describing himself as being in charge of Operación Gedeón.

Speaking to Bloomberg by phone, Goudreau admitted his operation had suffered losses, but that it was not over: “The main mission was to liberate Venezuela, to capture Maduro, but the mission in Caracas failed,” he said. “The secondary mission is to set up insurgency camps against Maduro. They are already in camps, they are recruiting and we are going to start attacking tactical targets.”

In the next few hours and days, there might be more arrests related to this mercenary incursion. There are already a few questions that need to be answered. First of all, what’s the implication of the Colombian government? These mercenaries were trained in Colombian territory by their own admission and according to the AP investigation. A cache of arms was seized by Colombian police and the main leader of the operation Alcalá Cordones gave himself up. Why weren’t the rest of the Venezuelan military desterters being trained arrested and their camps dismantled?

Second is the implication of the Venezuelan opposition around Juan Guaidó. Goudreau has shown a copy of the contract he claims was signed between his mercenary company and Juan Guaidó and he has provided audio recordings of discussions about the contract. The main leaders of this mercenary attack were the same military officers who took part in the botched 30 April 2019 military coup fronted by Guaidó and fellow opposition leader Leopoldo López. Goudreau organised security for Guaidó during the “humanitarian aid” concert in Colombia in February 2019. On Sunday, Guaidó claimed that the whole affair was a “regime smokescreen”, a false flag operation to distract attention from other matters and justify repression against the opposition. Now the opposition has issued a statement demanding respect for the “human rights of the members of Operación Gedeón.” However, Guaidó has remained silent about the details of the contract he is claimed to have signed with Silvercorp.

An imperialist plot

Third is the level of implication of US imperialism. It is clear that nothing moves in the different factions of the Venezuelan opposition without Washington knowing about it. The so-called “democratic” opposition is funded and promoted by the US. In the AP report published just before the current mercenary attack, Goudreau is described as boasting about having high-level contacts in the Trump administration, as well as having worked for Trump’s security. The report states that Goudreau “had been introduced to Keith Schiller, President Donald Trump’s longtime bodyguard, through someone who worked in private security,” and it adds that, in May 2019 “Goudreau accompanied Schiller to a meeting in Miami with representatives of Guaidó. There was a lively discussion with Schiller about the need to beef up security for Guaidó and his growing team of advisers inside Venezuela and across the world, according to a person familiar with the meeting.” This points to Goudreau being involved, and linked both to Guaidó and the Trump administration.

It is clear that, if you launch an assault against the government of a sovereign country, threaten military invasion, introduce brutal sanctions and an oil blockade, seize that country’s assets, publicly call on military officers to rise up against the government and offer a 15 million dollar reward for the capture of that country’s president, you can hardly be surprised if a group of military deserters and mercenaries decide to take matters into their own hands.

For the last 48 hours since the “Operación Gedeón” was launched, no US official, usually quick to tweet about Venezuela, has said anything. Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Marco Rubio, Elliot Abrams and the rest have all remained silent, after having promised that “morning is coming to Venezuela - again” two days earlier. They have not denounced the mercenary attack, they have not officially distanced themselves, they have not commented on the arrest of US special forces veterans as part of the attack and they have certainly not taken any measures against Goudreau and his mercenary agency Silvercorp US which is based in Florida.

Finally, from the point of view of the revolutionary movement in Venezuela, the position of those who over a year ago demanded the arrest of Guaidó and revolutionary measures to respond to counter-revolutionary plotting has been vindicated. A statement issued yesterday by Lucha de Clases, the Venezuelan section of the IMT raises the following necessary demands: “Strengthening of the Bolivarian militia! Weapons and supplies for the Bolivarian militias! Creation of soldiers committees within the FANB! Jail Guaidó and all those involved! Enough impunity! Expropriation of the imperialist monopolies under workers control! For a workers' government!” Read the original here.

5 May 2020, Jorge Martin

Venezuelan armed forces: paramilitary incursion neutralized

Venezuelan authorities announced they routed an armed group attempting to land on Venezuelan shores on Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place in the early morning hours, with armed men on speed boats approaching coastal La Guaira State, just north of Caracas.

“A group of terrorist mercenaries, organized and trained in Colombia, tried to disembark with war material off the coast of La Guaira,” a statement released by the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) read.

us paramilitaries Image VTV

The statement detailed that intelligence work, as well as defense exercises, allowed the FANB and police units to respond immediately. In the ensuing confrontation, eight members of the paramilitary group were killed, the FANB added, and two were arrested. There are no reports of casualties on the Venezuelan side.

The operation also resulted in the apprehension of military gear and weapons, allegedly matching equipment stolen in the failed April 30, 2019 military putsch. The armed forces likewise revealed that divers are currently being deployed to recover additional weapons and that Navy ships are patrolling the coastline in search of other vessels involved in the incursion.

“The Bolivarian National Armed Forces categorically rejects these irrational acts of violence,” the statement went on to say.

Speaking to the press on Sunday, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said that the defensive operation was ongoing and there could be further arrests in the coming days.

Padrino also announced that a new set of “Bolivarian Shield” military exercises will begin immediately on orders of President Nicolas Maduro.

For his part, National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello divulged that weapons had been seized on land, including vehicles fitted with machine guns. The location of the equipment was not disclosed. He also claimed that the boats’ GPS trackers indicated they had departed from Colombia.

Sunday’s failed incursion came on the heels of an Associated Press report revealing that former US Special Operations soldier Jordan Goudreau had played a leading role in a plan to invade Venezuela led by retired Venezuelan Major General Cliver Alcala. Goudreau was responsible for training a contingent of 300 Venezuelan army deserters who were to enter Venezuela in a heavily armed caravan and seize the capital within 96 hours.

Both the Venezuelan opposition and the Colombian government were reportedly aware of the plot.

In a video released on social media, Goudreau confirmed that the amphibious landing attempt had been launched from Colombia as part of “Operation Gedeon” and that “other units” were active in the “south, west, and east of Venezuela.” He appeared alongside retired National Guard Captain Javier Nieto Quintero, who claimed that the operation aimed to “capture” high-ranking officials and “liberate” the Venezuelan people.

Nieto spent 18 months in prison starting in 2004 for alleged connections to Colombian paramilitary groups before leaving the country. In a press conference in Florida in October 2019 he announced the creation of a “Military Command,” made up of former officials, with the stated goal of setting up an armed force to back a “transition government.”

A video of purported participants in “Operation Gedeon” was likewise released on Sunday. A man identifying himself as Antonio Jose Sequea, whom Goudreau identifies as the commander of the operation, appears on a beach flanked by heavily armed soldiers. Sequea is additionally seen with a blue armband similar to those worn by mutinous FANB soldiers who took part in last year’s failed April 30 putsch led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Among the other soldiers cameoed in the video is National Guard Captain Robert Colina, aka “Panther,” who reportedly died in the operation. In March, the Venezuelan government accused Colina of planning the assassination of top Caracas officials as part of Alcala’s Colombia-based paramilitary activites. Sequea was also identified at the time as a participant in the April 30 coup attempt.

For his part, opposition leader Guaido issued a statement Sunday afternoon dismissing the operation as a “false flag” allegedly perpetrated by the Maduro government. Guaido declared himself “interim president” in January 2019 with US backing but has since faded from the spotlight following repeated failed attempts to oust Maduro.

Guaido has yet to comment on Goudreau and Nieto’s video announcing the military operation.

The former National Assembly president had previously denied any connection to Alcala and Goudreau. For his part, Alcala claimed that a contract had been signed with Guaido, opposition strategist J. J. Rendon, and “US advisors.”

However, Miami-based Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo published a document Sunday evening, which she purported to be a copy of the contract. Poleo interviewed Goudreau, who produced a document with Guaido’s signature, which contracts Goudreau’s company Silvercorp to provide services, including “strategic planning,” “equipment procuring” and “project execution advisement,” for a fee of US $213 million.

Poleo also released several recordings of an alleged conference call between Guiado, Goudreau, and senior Guaido envoy Sergio Vergara, in which they agreed to sign the contract.

During the interview, Goudreau accused the Venezuelan opposition of not fulfilling their end of the contract, but that the operation (“Gedeon”) had gone ahead. Read the original here.

3 May 2020, Ricardo "Vaz - Venezuelanalysis"

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