[WSMDiscuss] The great games of empire continue : Venezuela 'failed coup plot' - What we know so far

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Wed May 6 20:22:04 CEST 2020

 Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Imperialism in movement…, Venezuela in movement…, Resistance in movement…

·      Venezuela 'failed coup plot' : What we know so far (al-Jazeera)

·      A Canadian-American military man, a failed Venezuela coup, and a Twitter video : Former Green Beret from Canada says he was behind failed coup attempt to oust Venezuela’s Maduro (The Globe and Mail)

[The great games of empire continue, unfazed, unashamed – and farcical, if they did not also involve death and contain great danger, for escalation :

Venezuela 'failed coup plot' : What we know so far

Caracas blames Washington for incursion aimed at removing President Nicolas Maduro but the US denies involvement

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-failed-coup-plot-200506073924677.html <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-failed-coup-plot-200506073924677.html>

Venezuela claims that Airan Berry, 41, and Luke Denman, 34, were involved in the plot [Reuters]

The Venezuelan government said this week it foiled an armed incursion from the sea, killing a group of alleged mercenaries who sought to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and spark a coup.

Authorities blamed the alleged plot on the United States and said a number of "terrorists", including two former US soldiers, had been arrested. 

The incident came at a time of high tensions between the US and Venezuela.

The US is among nearly 60 countries that back opposition politician Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader. It has also imposed tough economic sanctions against Caracas in an effort to force Maduro, whom it accuses of having rigged elections in 2018, to step down.

Here is what we know so far about the events of recent days:

What happened?

Maduro's government initially said eight people were killed <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-killed-foiled-invasion-sea-200503162349161.html> as they tried to enter the country on May 3 via the Caribbean coast to topple the president. The Associated Press news agency said officials later revised the number of the suspects killed to six.

Venezuela says eight killed in foiled 'invasion by sea' <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-killed-foiled-invasion-sea-200503162349161.html>
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the attackers tried to land on speedboats before dawn on a beach at Macuto, about an hour north of Caracas, but were intercepted by the military and special police units.

According to Reverol, the group, which departed from neighbouring Colombia, planned to carry out "terrorist attacks", including assassinating officials.

He added the plan aimed "to increase the spiral of violence, generate chaos and confusion ... and with that lead to a new attempt at a coup d'etat".

Venezuelan soldiers move a suspect from a helicopter after what Venezuelan authorities described was a 'mercenary incursion' [Handout via Reuters]
Who was involved?

Venezuelan authorities said they had arrested 13 "terrorists" involved in the incident, including the son of a prominent imprisoned general.

In a televised address on Monday night, Maduro also showed <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-americans-nabbed-failed-coup-plot-200505025057889.html> what he said were the passports and other identification papers belonging to two former US army members: Airan Berry, 41 and Luke Denman, 34.

Venezuela's Maduro: Americans captured in failed coup plot <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-americans-nabbed-failed-coup-plot-200505025057889.html>
According to The Associated Press, military records showed both were decorated soldiers who served in Iraq.

Maduro described the pair as "members of Donald Trump's security" and said they were captured in a boat west of Caracas along with six other "terrorists".

Equipment shown by Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a meeting with the Bolivarian armed forces a day after Venezuela's government said it foiled the attempted incursion by 'terrorist mercenaries' [Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters]
Who was behind the alleged incursion?

On Sunday night, Jordan Goudreau, a US military veteran who leads a Florida-based security company, SilverCorp USA, claimed responsibility for the incursion.

He said he was working with two US citizens in an operation designed to capture, not kill, Maduro and "liberate" Venezuela.

Goudreau said he had organised the raid on a "shoestring budget" after signing an agreement with the US-backed Guaido, whom Goudreau accuses of failing to pay him.

Maduro tied the alleged plot to Guaido and Colombia's right-wing President Ivan Duque.

Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab shared on social media a video in which Goudreau says an operation against Maduro involving hired mercenaries was under way.

Saab also showed an alleged contract that said SilverCorp USA had a $212m agreement with Guaido using funds "stolen" from state oil company PDVSA, whose US subsidiary, Citgo, was put under the opposition leader's control.

Venezuelan security forces boats after Venezuela's government announced the failed 'mercenary' incursion, in Macuto [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

Guaido denied having any relationship with Goudreau and any involvement in the incursion.

He also cast doubt on the Maduro government's version of the events.

Venezuela's Maduro: Americans captured in failed coup plot <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-americans-nabbed-failed-coup-plot-200505025057889.html>
"They're trying to create a state of apparent confusion, an effort to hide what's happening in Venezuela," Guaido said, citing local issues - such as petrol shortages, a deadly prison riot and a violent gang battle - in a country that has been gripped by deepening social, political and economic crises.

President Donald Trump said <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/venezuela-americans-nabbed-failed-coup-plot-200505025057889.html> the US had no part in the incident.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, echoing Trump, said: "The United States government had nothing to do with what's happened in Venezuela in the last few days."

The State Department accused the Maduro government of a "highly questionable representation of the details", saying it did not accept the account at face value and was seeking more information.

Reacting to Trump's denial, Venezuela's Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez showed a photograph of Goudreau next to Trump.

He claimed the photograph was taken on October 18, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it appeared on Goudreau's Instagram account.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

A Canadian-American military man, a failed Venezuela coup, and a Twitter video

Former Green Beret from Canada says he was behind failed coup attempt to oust Venezuela’s Maduro

Colin Freeze <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/colin-freeze/> and Janice Dickson <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/janice-dickson/>
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-a-canadian-american-military-man-a-failed-venezuela-coup-and-a/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-a-canadian-american-military-man-a-failed-venezuela-coup-and-a/>
A Canadian who served with the U.S. Army Special Forces says he was at the centre of a thwarted coup attempt in Venezuela this past weekend – and described his role in the plot on Twitter.

Before fighting with the Green Berets in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jordan Goudreau, 43, has said he enlisted with the Canadian Forces in the 1990s and studied computer science at the University of Calgary.

Mr. Goudreau, now a U.S. citizen, retired from the U.S. military a few years ago to start a Florida-based security contractor called Silvercorp USA. Mr. Goudreau showed up on social media on the weekend saying he had helped arrange the coup attempt and regretted he was unable to join two fellow former members of the Green Berets who were captured trying to infiltrate Venezuela by boat with a group of others.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro presides over a country in economic free fall, and the West has criticized his autocratic rule. Early this week, he said his officials detained two Americans among a group of “mercenaries” that were part of a plot co-ordinated by the U.S. government and backed by Colombia.

U.S. President Donald Trump has denied any involvement. “It has nothing to do with our government,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday.

In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday Mr. Goudreau spoke about plotting a “daring, amphibious raid” launched from Colombia.

“Our men are continuing to fight right now. Our units have been activated in the south, west and in the east of Venezuela,” said Mr. Goudreau, wearing a ball cap and golf shirt.

Drew White, who served with Mr. Goudreau in the Green Berets in Iraq, said he was a single-minded force of nature as a soldier. “He was incredible. He was who you wanted in the trenches with you," Mr. White said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

He described Mr. Goudreau as a decorated U.S. commando – and the best man at his wedding. Mr. White said he and Mr. Goudreau served with Airan Berry and Luke Denman, the two former U.S. soldiers captured in Venezuela.

"It’s sad,” Mr. White said. “Honestly, they were exceptional guys with exceptional service and then they just blow it up over this.”

On Monday in a nationwide televised address, Mr. Maduro said his authorities arrested 13 “terrorists” and several people were killed in the attempt. Officials said Tuesday that six suspected attackers died.

Mr. Maduro showed what he said were the U.S. passports and other identification cards of Mr. Berry and Mr. Denman. Venezuela’s Attorney-General has said the government has arrested 114 people in connection with the attempted attack.

Mr. Goudreau did not respond to requests from The Globe for comment. But he has told other newspapers in recent days the landing in Venezuela was part of a mission he called Operation Gideon, and that he had been in close communication with the two captured Americans.

The U.S. government “should engage and try to get these guys back,” Mr. Goudreau told The Washington Post.

The Associated Press quoted Mr. Goudreau as saying he reached an agreement with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to overthrow Mr. Maduro’s regime. Mr. Guaido has denied any involvement.

The United States is waging a sanctions campaign against Mr. Maduro’s government. Canada and the U.S. support Mr. Guaido as interim leader of Venezuela. Canada has played an active role in the Lima Group, a block of countries working to find a peaceful solution to the situation in the South American country.

Observers say opposition to the Maduro regime is growing. “There have been other militant opposition groups that have popped up and disappeared,” said Giancarlo Fiorella, a researcher for Bellingcat, a digital investigation organization.

But, he added, nothing about this weekend’s coup attempt makes sense. “We’ve been scratching our heads at every step of it," he said.

According to his biography on LinkedIn, Mr. Goudreau served as a Canadian Forces soldier while he studied computer science at the University of Calgary between 1994 and 1998. (The University of Calgary confirms he attended the school, while the Department of National Defence did not respond to queries about his status.)

His LinkedIn profile says he worked for a few years in Washington before enlisting with the U.S. army several months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a sergeant first class with the 10th Special Forces Group in Germany – which is part of the Green Berets.

“We were essentially carrying out strike missions against high-level terrorist leaders,” Mr. White said. He said his friend had spent time in the Canadian Forces. "He told me ‘I’m from Canada, I got my degree in Canada, and then I moved to D.C.’ ”

Mr. White said Mr. Goudreau’s military career ended when he was nearing the age of 40, after he suffered back injuries and a concussion in a parachuting accident.

In 2018, Silvercorp USA was founded in Florida by Mr. Goudreau.

Mr. White said the corporate plan was to sell the services of former commandos to guard schoolchildren from potential threats such as shootings. “It was set up in order to place transitioning  special-operations soldiers into schools,” Mr. White said.

Mr. White said he gave some advice to help set Silvercorp up, but broke ties with the company more than a year ago, when Mr. Goudreau started talking about launching an operation in Venezuela.

He wanted no part of it.

“I used to be an assaulter. I used to kick in doors to the left and right of him,” Mr. White said. “But that’s a chapter of my life that’s done.”

With reports from Mike Hager, Rick Cash, Reuters and Associated Press


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

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