Above: Venezuelan coup plotters under arrest. Washington and the Venezuelan opposition both knew about this botched, clumsy coup attempt. Image from VTV.
We said from the very beginning that the Venezuelan opposition and the US administration were responsible for the attempted mercenary coup foiled in Venezuela on 3 May. As days go by, more details emerge which confirm that assessment.
Yesterday, 6 May, Venezuela announced the arrest of more members of the mercenary expeditionary force that was to carry out the coup. In a press conference with the attendance of the international media, president Maduro gave more details about the attempted coup. During the press conference, Maduro showed a video clip featuring US mercenary and former Special Forces soldier Luke Denman: one of two US mercenaries arrested as part of the mercenary force.
A key aspect of this saga is the contract signed by Guaidó and his representatives with US mercenary agency Silvercorp USA, headed by former Special Forces soldier Jordan Goudreau. The contract was for carrying out a military coup, as well as capturing Maduro and other high-ranking Venezuelan officials and handing them over to the US.
The first one to mention the contract was Cliver Alcalá Cordones: a former Venezuelan officer who was based in Colombia when he issued a video statement citing it. Alcalá was part of the same military coup attempt to be carried out by mercenaries being trained in camps in Colombia by US mercenaries. When the Colombian police seized a cache of weapons on 24 March, destined for these camps, Alcalá’s position became very fragile. In order to protect himself, he released a video explaining the role played in the plot by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He then handed himself over to the authorities and was taken by the DEA to the US where he has been indicted on charges of narcotrafficking. He has probably cut himself a deal in which he will testify against president Maduro and other Venezuelan officials.
In his video statement, Luke Denman confirmed the existence of the training camps in Colombia, and gave their precise location in Rioacha, on the Caribbean coast, less than 100km from the Venezuelan border in Zulia.
Opposition and Washington implicated
The existence of the contract was also confirmed by Jordan Goudreau, head of Silvercorp, on Monday, as the operation was floundering. He showed several pages from the main document, which had the signatures of himself for Silvercorp, of Venezuelan reactionary lobbyist JJ. Rendón, Venezuelan lawmaker Sergio Vergara and Juan Guaidó, as well as that of Miguel J. Retureta, a reactionary Cuban-American lawyer who specializes in defending narco-traffickers (including the son of Honduran former dictator Lobo, and the brother of Honduran illegitimate president Juan Orlando Hernandez).
After a while, Juan Guaidó and his spokespersons declared that the contract was false and that he had never signed one. However, now JJ. Rendón has admitted in an interview on CNN that the contract exists and that he signed it. Although he says Juan Guaidó never signed the contract, the fact remains that Rendón and Vergara did and they were acting on behalf of Guaidó, who had appointed Rendón as the head of a “Strategic Planning Committee” to deal with, precisely, the organization of plots to remove Maduro from power. Rendón repeated his version of the Washington Post, adding that he paid Goudreau $50,000 for expenses, from his own pocket.
Although Rendón tries to play down the meaning of the contract, which he describes as a “test” of what was possible, the contract itself is very specific and talks about “An operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolás Maduro… remove the current Regime and install the recognized Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó.”
Rendón claims that, after signing the contract, they got cold feet and started to doubt the ability of Goudreau to carry out the plan, so they broke the agreement at a meeting in his Miami apartment on 11 November. Even if you believe this version of the story, the fact remains that the Venezuelan opposition did sign a contract with a mercenary agency to carry out a coup and that if they broke the contract, this was only because they were not sure this group of mercenaries was capable of carrying it out!
There is no doubt that Guaidó was fully aware of the contract and in fact, Goudreau has provided an audio recording of a conversation with Guaidó, which the Washington Post accepts as veridic.
The WP story also confirms that Goudreau had been in touch with Schiller, the long-time Trump bodyguard, something which was already known. Furthermore, Goudreau boasted that he had worked security for Trump at several rallies. There are pictures of Goudreau doing that at a Trump rally in Charlotte on 28 October 2018:
Here’s Jordan Goudreau, the former US Special Forces mercenary working security at a Trump rally in Charlotte on Octuber 28, 2018. Goudreau and his @silvercorpUSA agency trained the Venezuelan deserters of #OperacionGedeon pic.twitter.com/ees1nTdpxq
— Jorge Martin (@marxistJorge) May 6, 2020
Goudreau and his Silvercorp mercenary agency were in charge of security at the so-called “humanitarian aid” concert in Cúcuta, Colombia, in February 2019, organized and attended by Guaidó. That’s where Goudreau made contact with several deserters from the Venezuelan army who had been encouraged by Guaidó to cross the border. It is possible that he got the job at the concert as a result of his links with Schiller and his security agency.
A separate report by AP gives other significant details. First, it links the weapons cache seized by the Colombian police in March to Goudreau: “The stockpile, worth around $150,000, included spotting scopes, night vision goggles, two-way radios and 26 American-made assault rifles with the serial numbers rubbed off.” Part of the equipment was sold by High-End Defense Solutions, based in Miami. According to AP, this is “the same company that Goudreau visited in November and December, allegedly to source weapons, according to two former Venezuelan soldiers who claim to have helped the American select the gear.”
Second, AP quotes “two former law enforcement officers” who claim that “an informant approached the Drug Enforcement Administration in Colombia prior to the weapons’ seizure with an unsubstantiated tip about Goudreau’s alleged involvement in weapons smuggling.”
So, here you have it, in black and white: the DEA knew, at least in March or perhaps earlier, that Goudreau was smuggling weapons to Colombia. What did they do about it? According to the former agents quoted by AP: “The anti-narcotics agency, not knowing who Goudreau was at the time, didn’t open a formal probe.” We find this difficult to believe. In fact, the same AP report adds a few sentences later: “One of the officials said the information was later passed on to the Department of Homeland Security.” This is confirmation that the US administration knew Goudreau was smuggling weapons to Colombia. It is very difficult to believe that they did not look deeper into it.
There is another aspect of this whole story, which has not been fully discussed. Alcalá Cordones gave himself up to the Colombian police and the DEA at the end of March. Did they not ask him about the Venezuelan mercenary training camps he talked about in a videotape? Did they not investigate this further? Again, this is very difficult to believe. Both the US and Colombian authorities must have known what was happening under their own noses. They are reactionary, sometimes clumsy, but not completely stupid.
Third, the AP story adds further detail to the plot. According to AP’s sources: “Silvercorp in December bought a 41-foot fiberglass boat, Florida vessel registration records show, and proceeded in February to obtain a license to install maritime navigation equipment. On his application to the Federal Communications Commission, he said the boat would travel to foreign ports.”
The same sources then mention that the mercenary agency’s boat was seen in Jamaica, “where Goudreau had gathered with a few of his special forces buddies looking to participate in the raid” but that “as they were readying their assault, the boat broke down at sea on 28 March and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon was activated, alerting naval authorities on the island of Curacao. Goudreau had to return to Florida, prevented from rejoining his troops prior to the landing because of travel restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
This story about Jamaica shows the haphazard nature of this mercenary gang, which seems to have been inspired by watching Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan series. But it also confirms a separate report about Jamaica published by ConnectingVets.com website in the US: “A U.S. military source who also spoke to Connecting Vets on the condition of anonymity said that the CIA had caught wind of the coup plot in Jamaica and warned Silvercorp not to go through with it on numerous occasions.” Whatever you want to make of the claim that the CIA had tried to stop them from going ahead, the salient point is that this would indicate that the CIA knew about the plot. Perhaps seeing how badly organized they were, they tried to convince them not to go ahead. Whatever the case, the CIA knew and did nothing to actually stop them, other than, perhaps, trying to talk them out of it over a few beers.
All of the above is conclusive evidence that Guaidó was fully aware and part of this plot, even if he might have withdrawn from it at the last minute. The Venezuelan opposition is fraught with factionalism and power struggles between different cliques. It is quite possible that this played a role in the unraveling of this operation, which was infiltrated by the Venezuelan government. Venezuelan communication minister Jorge Rodriguez claimed that there had been a power struggle within the mercenary coup plot between Alcalá Cordones and Ivan Simonovis (a former police officer who was arrested for his part in the April 2002 coup against Chavez and then released from jail by Guaidó’s failed coup on 30 April 2019).
The US government has insisted, in statements by Trump and Mike Pompeo, that it was not involved in the coup. Of course, this is the old story. When you get involved in a foreign military adventure, you always need to have deniability. If the plot works out, then you reveal publicly your role and claim the credit. If it fails, then you deny any knowledge of it.
However, if you listen carefully to Pompeo’s denial, you are able to come closer to the truth. What he actually said was that the US had had “no direct involvement”, which obviously means that they knew and were involved indirectly. He boasts that if Washington had been involved “things would have turned out differently”, and then when asked about what they know about the funding of the operation, he hints that they know and that information will be revealed in due course. This is a clear admission that the US government had prior knowledge of this plot and did nothing to stop it nor to warn the Venezuelan government about it.
Scandalously, Pompeo says the US government will use all tools available to get the two arrested US mercenaries back but does not offer a word of condemnation of the attempt. We are talking here about a group of mercenaries attempting a coup in a sovereign country, trained and organized by a US mercenary agency, but Pompeo does not think it is necessary to say that his government “rejects such methods” or words to that effect. In fact, the US government does not reject such methods, it has used them many times in the past and he is clear in saying that in fact what he regrets is that the plot has failed, “if we had been involved it would have turned out differently”.
Of course, when the US Justice Department offers a $15 million reward for “information leading to the capture of Nicolás Maduro,” you do expect someone will try and claim the ransom. That’s the aim of offering a bounty.
It is also worth noting that none of the 50-odd governments around the world that recognized Guaidó as “president” have uttered a word of condemnation of this plot, nor Guaidó’s part in it. So much for “the restoration of democracy” that they talked about.
The Washington Post has also published the attachments to the contract: a very illuminating 41-page document, which the Post says “was provided by Venezuelan opposition officials.” This confirms the veracity of the document and the Venezuelan opposition’s official involvement in the plot.
The document is extremely detailed and goes into all the different aspects of the planned mercenary coup. The aim of the contract is clear: to remove Maduro from power and install Guaidó:
The initial phase of the project is said to cost $50 million and the total project on completion $212 million.
The contract goes into all sorts of details about payment schedules, recovery of assets, targets that should be taken out, collateral damage, crowd control techniques (including the use of lethal force), damage to infrastructure, etc. There is a section about insurance for the “members of the task force” in case they are killed or maimed in carrying out their murderous activities. There is even a section about “property rights”, as if there was something unique about this military coup! Bizarrely, the contract includes an equal rights clause:
It is always to be commended that mercenaries carrying out a military coup have such concern for inclusiveness! How touching… I am sure Venezuelan workers and peasants would really appreciate being shot dead by a “diverse and inclusive project team.” The only thing that seems to be missing is the provision of labor and trade union rights for the mercenaries!
At the end of the contract, however, there is a bit that has been redacted on instructions of the Venezuelan opposition officials who gave the document to the Washington Post:
This is very significant. The redacted part is in the section dealing with the chain of command. That section includes “President Juan Guaidó” as “Commander in Chief” (he does like to proclaim himself to hold various offices…), so the redaction cannot be to protect him. The only logical explanation is that the part redacted out makes mention of the role played by the US, through some agent or another appointed to this position.
Once again, it is worth noting that the attachments to the agreement are signed by Sergio Vergara as “High Presidential Commissioner for Crisis Management” on behalf of Gauidó’s “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”:
The coup-plotters roam free
Over the next few days and weeks, the full story behind this mercenary attack will come to light and we are certain that it will reveal the responsibility of both Guaidó and his puppet master Trump.
Some, in Venezuela and abroad, including President Maduro, has likened this mercenary attack to the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) disembarkment of counter-revolutionaries in Cuba in 1961. All that needs to be said about that is that Playa Girón marked a turning point in the radicalization of the Cuban Revolution: the general arming of workers and peasants to fight the counter-revolution, the declaration of the socialist character of the revolution, and the beginning of the expropriation of capitalists, landlords, and imperialist property, which would lead within the space of a few months to the abolition of capitalism on the island.
Unfortunately, the course followed by Venezuela’s President Maduro is the opposite: the arrest of revolutionary activists and agrarian revolution fighters, the return of land to the landowners, privatization of nationalized companies, and offers of talks, concessions and national unity to the reactionary coup-plotting opposition and the capitalists. And Guaidó remains free to continue to plot.