VENEZUELA: WHO BOTCHED THE COUP?


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On Sunday, 3 May, Venezuelan security arrested dozens of people involved in a plot to abduct President Nicolás Maduro. The pre-dawn incursion included an attempted beach landing led by two former American special force members at the port city of La Guaira. Eight of the invaders were killed.
Later that Sunday, Jordan Goudreau, a U.S. citizen and former Green Beret who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, uploaded a video online in which he claimed to be the organizer of the invasion along with a Venezuelan military officer seeking to overthrow President Maduro.
The plan consisted of two boats with 60 men. They intended to raid the capital, capture President Maduro, and fly him back to the U.S.
The next day, President Maduro held a press conference announcing the arrests of the two former American special service members along with six others he described as “mercenaries.” He stated, “They were playing Rambo. They were playing hero.”
Mr. Maduro displayed two U.S. passports of the captured Americans and read off their names: Luke Denman and Airan Berry. He then showed images of the fishing boats involved in the landing as well as confiscated equipment including walkie-talkies and night-vision glasses. Maduro proclaimed, “The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid.”
President Maduro also cited neighboring Columbia as being complicit. The two fishing boats, which were intercepted on the Venezuelan coast, were launched from Columbia.
On Tuesday, the U.S. government officially responded. President Trump categorically asserted that the attempted abduction “has nothing to do with our government.” The Pentagon later backed up Mr. Trump’s assertion.
The next day, as additional facts started coming in, Venezuela released a video showing Luke Denman, one of the two captured Americans, looking into the camera and admitting he signed off on the mission with a Florida company called Silvercorp USA.
Silvercorp was run by ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, the man claiming responsibility the previous Sunday. Denman confirmed he had a contract with Goudreau to pay him $100,000 and stated, “I was helping Venezuelans take back control of their country.”
Also last Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly commented on the failed mission: “If we’d have been involved, it would have gone differently.” He added the U.S. would employ “every tool” to get the two captured Americans returned.
As we reported, on 26 March, the U.S. Department of Justice officially charged President Maduro, along with other Venezuelan officials, with narco-terrorism, and Secretary of State Pompeo publicly announced a $15 million reward to anyone providing information that led to Maduro’s arrest.
Also last Wednesday, the Venezuelan government disclosed it had arrested 114 people it suspected of being complicit in the mercenary mission and were seeking out nearly 100 more.
As the week unfolded, additional information emerged about the shadowy Jordan Goudreau, a security expert claiming to be the organizer of the failed abduction.
Goudreau said he was hired last year by Juan Guaidó, the former head of the Venezuelan assembly, who claims President Maduro rigged the 2018 national election and that he was the legitimate leader.
Mr. Guaidó has been strongly backed by the U.S. and dozens of countries, despite the fact that Maduro’s election was reported to be legitimate by international observers. He denied any involvement in the attempted abduction of President Maduro. As of yet, Guaidó has not answered Jason Goudreau’s claim that they met previously to discuss ways to ouster Maduro.
Also last Wednesday, the Washington Post published a 42-page document showing that Venezuelan forces opposed to President Maduro and allied with Guaidó met with Jordan Goudreau at Silvercorp USA offices to secure a $213 million deal to abduct Maduro. The document includes the details of the plan, which included where to set explosives and what specific riot gear would be most effective.
Included in the document was a statement by J.J. Rendón, a member of the Venezuelan opposition group, confirming he was representing Juan Guaidó, who had instructed him to say, “All options were on the table and under the table.”
The Washington Post also reported the document detailing the plan to abduct President Maduro was signed by Juan Guaidó, but opposition leaders deny it was actually Guaidó’s signature. Mr. Rendón stated that while the meeting with Goudreau took place, the document he signed was an “exploratory agreement” with Silvercorp, but that neither he nor Juan Guaidó actually supported the botched mission.
While no source specifically has connected Goudreau’s plan to kidnap Maduro to the U.S. government, the Associated Press reported that Goudreau had been introduced to Keith Schiller, President Trump’s longtime bodyguard, and he had accompanied him to a Miami meeting with Juan Guaidó envoys in May 2019.
Last Friday, President Trump reconfirmed the U.S. had no hand in the kidnapping plot, stating, “If I wanted to go into Venezuela, I wouldn’t make a secret about it… I’d go in and they would do nothing about it. They would roll over. I wouldn’t send a small little group. No, no, no. It would be called an army… It would be called an invasion.”
TRENDPOST: While no direct evidence has emerged linking the failed coup to the U.S. government, there is direct evidence that for decades the United States has sought regime change in Venezuela.
In 2002, the George W. Bush administration tried to claim it wasn’t involved in an attempted coup against then socialist leader Hugo Chávez. But it was revealed that Elliot Abrams, special advisor to President Bush, had agreed to the coup. (Yes, the same Elliot Abrams appointed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to be special envoy to Venezuela on 20 January 2019.)
Officials at the Organization of American States (OAS) confirmed Abrams and the Bush administration sanctioned the attempted coup.
In 2015, the Obama administration officially declared Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to national security, officially declaring: “We are committed to advancing respect for human rights, safeguarding democratic institutions, and protecting the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela.”
In addition to the Trump administration putting a $15 million bounty on President Maduro and accusing him of being a narco-terrorist, as recently as 1 April, President Trump announced that U.S. Navy ships were ordered to the coast of Venezuela to prevent drugs from leaving the country bound for the U.S.
 Again ignoring the economic terrorist sanctions imposed by Washington, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated at that time, “The Venezuelan people continue to suffer tremendously due to Maduro and his criminal control over the country, and drug traffickers are seizing on this lawlessness.”
TREND FORECAST: As economic conditions continue to deteriorate in Venezuela, exacerbated by plunging oil prices, social unrest will escalate. Also, we forecast the U.S. will continue in its stated objective to facilitate regime change in Venezuela.

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