Venezuela thwarts invasion attempts by mercenaries

Venezuelan security forces seized weaponry including assault rifles and ammunition as well as satellite phones, uniforms and helmets with the US flag from the mercenaries on May 3

The Venezuelan Armed Forces and the National Bolivarian Police repelled two attempted invasions by mercenaries on May 3 and 4.

Peoples Dispatch reported the first group of mercenaries attempted to enter Venezuela on May 3 via the coast in La Guaira, in the state of Vargas, arriving in speed boats from Colombia, according to the boats’ GPS systems. 

Eight mercenaries were killed and two detained in the confrontation, one of whom has confessed to being a United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent. Venezuelan security forces also seized large amounts of weaponry, including assault rifles and ammunition, as well as satellite phones, uniforms and helmets emblazoned with the US flag.

The following day, according to TeleSUR, local fisherpeople detected a second armed incursion in Chuao, Aragua, and alerted the Venezuelan armed forces. Venezuelan authorities reported that eight armed mercenaries were arrested.

Among those detained on May 4 was Antonio Jose Sequea, who was photographed in April last year, alongside opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, during the failed coup attempt in Caracas. Also arrested was Adolfo Baduel, son of retired general Raul Baduel, the former defence minister under Hugo Chavez, as well as two alleged US citizens.

Venezuelan authorities denounced the attack and declared it was clearly coordinated between the US and Colombian governments, with the support of and financing by drug traffickers, according to PD.

Venezuela's interior minster Néstor Luis Reverol Torres said the terrorist group had sought to carry out selective assassinations to “unleash a spiral of violence and generate chaos in the population”.

National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello strongly criticised the Venezuelan opposition for having resorted to more and more desperate measures to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.

“We have defeated them in the streets, electorally, and militarily… That is why they have put their hope in a high level military operation,” Cabello said.

Defence minister Vladimir Padrino López said: “The National Bolivarian Armed Forces rejects from its heart, its soul, this imperialist attack.”

Venezuela Analysis reports that the Bolivarian National Armed Forces said intelligence work, as well as defence exercises, allowed armed forces and police units to respond immediately.

The operation also resulted in the apprehension of military gear and weapons, allegedly matching equipment stolen in the failed April 30, 2019 military putsch, led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Guaido declared himself “interim president” in January 2019 with US backing but has since faded from the spotlight following repeated failed attempts to oust Maduro.

Cabello also revealed weapons had been seized on land, including vehicles fitted with machine guns.

According to VA, the failed incursion came on the heels of an Associated Press report revealing that a former US Special Operations soldier, Jordan Goudreau, had played a leading role in a plan to invade Venezuela led by retired Venezuelan Major General Cliver Alcala.

Goudreau was responsible for training a contingent of 300 Venezuelan army deserters who were to enter Venezuela in a heavily armed caravan and take over the capital.

Both the Venezuelan opposition and Colombian government were reportedly aware of the plot, according to VA.

In a video released on social media, Goudreau confirmed the amphibious landing attempt had been launched from Colombia as part of “Operation Gedeon” and that “other units” were active in the “south, west and east of Venezuela”. He appeared alongside retired National Guard Captain Javier Nieto Quintero, who claimed the operation aimed to “capture” high-ranking officials and “liberate” the Venezuelan people.

According to VA, Nieto spent 18 months in prison from 2004 for alleged connections to Colombian paramilitary groups before leaving the country. In a press conference in Florida in October, he announced the creation of a “Military Command” made up of former officials, with the stated goal of setting up an armed force to back a “transitional government”.

A video of purported participants in “Operation Gedeon” released on May 3 shows a man identifying himself as Antonio Jose Sequea, whom Goudreau identifies as the commander of the operation. Sequea appears on a beach flanked by heavily armed soldiers, wearing a blue armband similar to those worn by mutinous Venezuelan Armed Forces soldiers who took part in last year’s failed April 30 putsch.

According to VA, Guaido issued a statement on May 3 dismissing the operation as a “false flag”, allegedly perpetrated by the Maduro government.

Guaido has yet to comment on Goudreau and Nieto’s video announcing the military operation, according to VA.

Guaido had previously denied any connection to Alcala and Goudreau.

However, Alcala claimed that a contract had been signed with Guaido, opposition strategist J J Rendon and “US advisors”.

VA reported that Miami-based Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo published a document on May 3, purported to be a copy of the contract. Poleo interviewed Goudreau, who produced a document with Guaido’s signature, which contracts Goudreau’s company Silvercorp to provide services, including “strategic planning”, “equipment procuring” and “project execution advisement”, for a fee of US$212 million.

Poleo also released several audio recordings of an alleged conference call between Guiado, Goudreau and senior Guaido envoy Sergio Vergara, in which they agreed to sign the contract.

During the interview, Goudreau accused the Venezuelan opposition of not fulfilling their end of the contract, but confirmed that Operation Gedeon had gone ahead.

According to TeleSUR, Maduro said on May 4 that, in the face of the humanitarian tragedy caused in the US by COVID-19, the US government was trying to divert public attention by attacking Venezuela: "These are Washington's strategic actions to divert attention. It is criminal to do this amid a pandemic.

"The US is looking for excuses to invade Venezuela, and that is why it uses mercenaries. The operation started from Colombia, Cliver Alcalá confessed that he signed a contract. This investigation had been going on for some time, and we have had good sources of information," said Maduro.

[Compiled from Venezuela Analysis, TeleSUR English and People’s Dispatch.]

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