Venezuela smashes U.S.-based mercenary coup attempt

In the early morning hours of May 3, sixty trained mercenaries in speedboats left Colombia and motored toward the northern coast of Venezuela, north of Caracas. 

Their plan was to inspire a counterrevolutionary mutiny among Venezuelan soldiers and kidnap President Nicolás Maduro to take him to the U.S. But there was no mutiny.

The Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) were waiting for them. Six mercenaries were killed in the encounter, and so far 23 have been arrested, including two U.S. Green Berets who spent months in Colombia training the right-wing assassins. 

A statement issued by FANB on Sunday indicated that they had infiltrated the plot and, as the speedboats attempted their amphibious landing, FANB forces attacked and vanquished them. Interior Minister Nestor Reverol and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said that defensive operations were continuing. 

National Constituent Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello said that weapons had also been seized at a safehouse that had been set up inside the country, and that much of the weaponry matched what was stolen in a failed coup attempt in April 2019. It included three vehicles fitted with machine guns, AR-15/M16-type rifles, Glock pistols, ammunition belts, night vision goggles, handheld radios, tablet computers and body armor.

On May 6, President Maduro announced the capture of four more mercenaries. One of them was captured by the people of the town of Cepe in Aragua state. Maduro thanked the FANB and offered a special thanks to the Bolivarian people of Cepe, Puerto Maya and Chuao, in the state of Aragua and Carayaca in La Guaira state for their assistance in the subsequent arrests of the mercenaries.

Coup planned for a year

It was a coup plan that was a year in the making. The training took place in camps in Colombia, and there was an agreement that the forces aligned with Juan Guaidó would pay more than $200 million for the operation. 

One of the leading figures was a former U.S. Special Forces soldier named Jordan Goudreau, who, according to a lengthy Associated Press article that came out two days before the raid, was charged with stealing $62,000 in housing stipends from the military before he retired. Goudreau later founded a private mercenary outfit called Silvercorp and has provided bodyguard services for Trump. The Silvercorp website boasts being active in 50 countries.

Goudreau initially collaborated with a former Venezuelan general, Cliver Alcalá, who has since surrendered to the U.S. after having been indicted on drug trafficking charges. Goudreau continued organizing the plot along with former Venezuelan National Guard Capt. Javier Nieto and a handful of other traitors to the Bolivarian revolution. Together, they trained a group of defectors who had fled to Colombia after being defeated in an earlier coup attempt a year ago. The firefight was over quickly and Goudreau’s mercenaries were crushed.

$213 million contract signed by Guaidó 

Now that the attempted putsch was defeated, the Guaidó forces deny any connection with the raid at all. But Goudreau, who stayed at home in Miami during the raid, has since produced a contract, dated in October 2019 and signed by Guaidó and two of his cronies. 

The contract details the payment of $213 million. Guaidó apparently attracted investors to finance the operation by paying 55 percent interest on loans and preferential treatment regarding contracts in the energy industry in his intended new government. Since the raid was defeated, members of Primero Justicia, one of the main political parties in Guaidó’s G-4 coalition, condemned “Operation Gedeón” as the raid is called, and called on Guaidó to denounce it.

The White House also denies any connection. “Whatever it is, we’ll let you know, but it has nothing to do with our government,” said Trump. Defense Secretary Mark Esper denied Pentagon involvement, and the CIA said that they tried to talk the coup plotters out of it. In another denial that was also a threat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “If we had been involved, it would have turned out differently.”

But Guaidó’s chief strategist, Juan José Rendón, inadvertently revealed U.S. involvement in a CNN interview. When he was questioned about the nature of the contract — being one of the signers — he described the document as “an exploration to see the possibility of capture and delivery of justice for members of the regime who have an arrest warrant.” The contract was signed in October 2019, but the bogus arrest warrants issued by the U.S. against President Maduro and others didn’t happen until mid-March 2020. In other words, the plan was hatched knowing the arrest warrants would be issued by the U.S. five months before they were issued.

Once again, would-be coup plotters greatly underestimated the commitment of the people to the Bolivarian political process. They thought they could inspire an uprising amongst soldiers who have shown again and again that they are with the revolution. But we can’t take this victory by the Venezuelan people for granted. The fact that another attempt happened, shows that U.S. imperialism is always a threat, and that the threat is even greater due to the crisis the billionaires find themselves in.

The people’s movement has to be ready to respond against the possibility of a direct U.S. intervention and to strengthen the fight against the deadly sanctions.

U.S. hands off Venezuela!