Contributed by Joe Montero
In the very early hours of 3 May, an armed group headed towards the shore of Venezuela by boat. They landed at La Guaira, in the country’s north, just 32 kilometres from the capital Caracas. Their intention was to carry out a military coup.
As soon as they hit dry land, everything went pear shaped. The Venezuelan authorities knew they were coming, and the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) and police were waiting to spring a trap.
Video from teleSUR English
In the gunfight that followed, eight of the insurgents died and two were captured, according to Venezuelan authorities.
A cache of weapons and other equipment was captured, and one of the prisoners has confessed to be an agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States.
A second attack in Aragua state was also stopped. It happened on 4 May and more were arrested. Among them are United States military personnel and mercenaries.
The merging picture is that the success in dealing with the plot has been a combination of military action with a force of 25,000 troops and the active involvement of local populations, operating as the eyes and ears and back up. The sea base attack, for example, relied on information passed on by fishermen.
Venezuela immediately denounced the attack.
Néstor Luis Reverol Torres, the Minister of the People’s Power for Interior Relations and Justice of Venezuela, spoke on National TV a couple hours after the attempted invasion, to officially inform the nation about the events. He said that the intention of the invaders, was to carry out selective assassinations and “unleash a spiral of violence and generate chaos in the population.”
President of the National Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, held a press conference at midday, where he criticised the Venezuelan opposition for being in partnership with the United States, and resorting to more and more desperate measures, in order to achieve their ambition of seizing political power.
“We have defeated them in the streets, electorally, and militarily… That is why they have put their hope in a high-level military operation,” he stressed.
So far, Washington has kept quiet. There is enough to point to some level of involvement.
Washington must at least have had knowledge of the planning and execution of the operation. At the very least, a blind eye was turned to it. At worst, there was a direct involvement. The confession by one, about the involvement of the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States, suggests the latter. The other bits and pieces coming in to fill the puzzle confirm it.
According to a report by by Joshua Goodman in Associated Press, the person in charge was a former Green Beret called Jordan Goudreau. After military stint in a number of countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan, he set up a private mercenary company called Silvercorp. In the few years of its existence, Silvercorp has carried out operations in more than 50 countries, many of them for Washington. The company, and therefore Goudreau, is reputed to have established an extensive network of contacts in political, military and business circles.
Associated Press and other media have revealed that sources estimate about 300 volunteers and mercenaries had been trained in 3 camps by Silvercorp, in camps across the border in Colombia.
Joshua Goodman has been criticised for whitewashing United States involvement. He neglected to mention that much of what he presented as breaking news is actually old news. Last September, Venezuelan representatives presented the evidence to the United Nations. They outlined the connection between the organisatisers of the same plan, United States officials. They outlined the the details three training camps and how weapons and other supplies were being sent to them.
Back in 2013, Gaudreau was under investigation in the United States for the misappropriation of $62,000 of the army’s money. The investigation suddenly dropped without explanation.
Another revelation at the United Nations was that of emails between two Guaido aids Humberto Calderon and Yon Goicoechea, revealing their connection to the failed attack.
By neglecting the past, some of the facts could be cherry picked and other burried.
Goudreau hardly kept his involvement with the a secret. He released a video online to announce the beginning of the operation. A second person appearing on the video, Antonio Jose Sequera, was named as the commander. Goudreau boasted that teams has been sent into the south, west and East of Venezuela, in what he dubbed “Operation Gedeon.” He said the aim was to capture Caracas, Maduro, and the government within 96 hours.
Sequa appealed to Venezuelans to welcome his men as liberators. He invited the population to join hid men in an uprising, showing just how out of touch with he is, with reality of the political situation inside Venezuela. There was never a chance of an uprising.
Goudreau and Sequa talk about their invasion
Video from Patricia Poleo
The Silvercorp attack occurred within the context of stepped up aggression of the United States, under a claim of extended action to combat the cocaine trade.
It resulted in an increased military presence in Colombia in early April, which combined with the accusation that President Maduro, Diosdado Cabello, and other political leaders were involved in this trade. A price was put on their heads. A naval armada was added, providing an obvious physical threat and a defacto blockade of trade.
There is no clearer evidence of an association this invasion and the United States than the connection with the Donald Trump backed presidential pretender Juan Guaido.
Guaido has put out a public statement denying any association with Gaudreau and Silvercorp. He also insists that the attack was a fabrication by Maduro and therefore not real.
But there is a smoking gun, it takes the form of a contract handed over by Gaudreau, to Miami based Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo. It turns out that Gaudreau has fallen out with Guaido over payment nd decided to hand over the evidence to havce it released to the public. Poleo is no supporter of Maduro, which makes the evidence she has presented more compelling.
The contract shows Guaido’s signature to an agreement employing Silvercorp to provide services, including providing “strategic planning,” “equipment procuring” and “project execution advisement,” for a fee of US $212 million. It is backed by a mobile phone recording of the signing.
Further evidence of the involvement of some opposition figures was presented by Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab, in the form of twitter account comments of Humberto Calderon and Yon Goicoechea, revealing their association with the failed attack.
Fallout from the spectacular failure has encouraged some individuals initially involved to come out and distance themselves. A few are starting to speak, and a more detailed pattern of what went on is starting to come together.
Washington is trying to distance itself as well. Failure is a rather awkward problem to deal with.
The plan always had a fatal flaw. This was, that those doing the planning on the ground, accepted the political spin as the truth. So they went ahead on the assumption that the attackers would be welcomed as liberators by the people of Venezuela, and would therefore rise to support them.
The plan couldn’t win without an uprising. What they got was a population standing behind their government and against them. When they landed, they were alone, up against the population and and army, which is united, loyal, disciplined, well trained, and as events have shown, well informed.
The only chance would have been for the United States to follow up immediately with a major invasion force.
This was not going to happen. Washington is not so stupid that it would contemplate making this move at this time. The political risk is too high. The Coronavirus has created a health crisis at home and a new war in these conditions would not go down well; and there is the prospect of getting caught a Vietnam style quagmire.
This is not the end of the story by any means. This episode may be. But the United States has not given up its dream to overthrow the Venezuelan government and take control. There will be more attacks in one form or another.