Venezuela: US involvement in failed coup attempt

By Mario Vettell

THE efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan government continue. At the beginning of this month a group of mercenaries piloted speedboats from Colombia to Venezuela. Their plan was to capture or kill Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Instead, half of them were killed and captured by Venezuelan security forces immediately upon landing, while the other half surrendered to local police and militia the next day. Thirty-nine attackers were captured so far, including two Americans, both former Special Forces soldiers.

According to multiple sources, self-proclaimed Head of Venezuelan state Guaidó signed a $212 million contract with Jordan Goudreau, an ex-Green Beret, for Goudreau’s private security firm to overthrow President Maduro. Copies of a general services agreement with the signatures of Guaidó and Goudreau have been leaked online. Furthermore, several of the Venezuelans who took part in the raid have links to Guaidó, including two who participated in the April 30 2019, coup attempt.

The Venezuelan government accused the United States of being involved. Though the Trump administration has denied any involvement, there is a reason to suspect otherwise. Secretary of State Pompeo left open the possibility that the U.S. knew “who bankrolled” the operation, while refusing to “share any more information about what we know took place.” Moreover, the Associated Press reported that the DEA had informed Homeland Security of Goudreau’s plans to smuggle weapons into Colombia. Goudreau met twice with Keith Schiller, a long-time bodyguard and advisor to President Trump and worked security at a Trump campaign rally in 2018. In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported the  CIA was aware of the plan.

The plan involved kidnapping President Maduro, taking control of an airport and flying him to the United States, ostensibly to collect on the $15 million bounty offered by the Department of Justice. Had the mercenaries been successful, it is hard to believe that the Trump administration, with the US Navy floating right outside Venezuela’s maritime border, would not have seized the opportunity to grab President Maduro.

Yet whether the United States government was involved in this particular raid, the Trump administration has been openly and directly supporting violent regime change in Venezuela since April 30 2019. That is the date Guaidó launched his failed military uprising, in which he tried to take over a Caracas airbase. Given Guaidó’s involvement, it is impossible for Washington to wash its hands of the plot. The Trump administration is responsible for his actions.

The capture of two Americans may change the political landscape, as they are poised to become a point of contention between the Trump and Maduro administrations. Secretary Pompeo said the United States will “use every tool” to secure the release of the two Americans. The worst-case scenario is that the Trump administration will retaliate with military action.

The prevailing situation around Venezuela indicates that the US Government continues violating international laws by interfering shamelessly in internal affairs of sovereign states. Washington uses its financial, economic and military supremacy in the world to pursue its own political interests ignoring the interests of other States. It may conduct similar policy towards any other “unwelcome” Government, including Africans. Accordingly, the international community including African Union will have to show solidarity with Venezuelan Government and protest in strong words against aggressive policies of the US. Otherwise we Africans, risk to be colonised one day by the Americans.