A former Green Beret has taken responsibility for what he claimed was a failed attack Sunday aimed at overthrowing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and that the socialist government said ended with eight dead, the AP reports. Jordan Goudreau’s comments in an interview with an exiled Venezuelan journalist capped a bizarre day that started with reports of a pre-dawn amphibious raid near the South American country's heavily guarded capital. More:
- Both Goudreau and retired Venezuelan Capt. Javier Nieto declined to speak to the AP on Sunday when contacted after posting a video from an undisclosed location saying they had launched an anti-Maduro putsch called “Operation Gideon.” Both men live in Florida. “A daring amphibious raid was launched from the border of Colombia deep into the heart of Caracas,” Goudreau, in a New York Yankees ball cap, said in the video standing next to Nieto, who was dressed in an armored vest with a rolled-up Venezuelan flag pinned to his shoulder. “Our units have been activated in the south, west, and east of Venezuela.”
- An AP investigation published Friday found that Goudreau had been working with Ret. Maj. Gen. Cliver Alcala, a retired Venezuelan army general now facing US narcotics charges, to train dozens of deserting Venezuelan soldiers at secret camps inside neighboring Colombia. The goal was to mount a cross border raid that would end in Maduro’s arrest. But from the outset the ragtag army lacked funding and US government support, all but guaranteeing defeat against Maduro’s sizable if demoralized armed forces. It also appears to have been penetrated by Maduro's extensive Cuban-backed intelligence network.
- On Sunday, Goudreau said cells of his men were still on the ground and activating inside Venezuela, some of them fighting under the command of Venezuelan National Guardsman Capt. Antonio Sequea, who participated in a barracks revolt against Maduro a year ago. He said he hoped to join the rebels soon and invited Venezuelans and Maduro's troops to join the would-be insurgency, although there was no sign of fighting in the capital or elsewhere as night fell.
- In an interview later with Miami-based journalist Patricia Poleo, he provided a contradictory account of his activities and the support he claims to have once had—and then lost—from Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by the US and some 60 countries. He provided to Poleo what he said was an 8-page contract signed by Guaidó and two political advisers in Miami in October for $213 million. The alleged “general services” contract doesn’t specify what work his company, Silvercorp USA, was to undertake.
- He also released via Poleo a four-minute audio recording, made on a hidden cellphone, in the moment when he purportedly signed the contract as Guaidó participated via videoconference. In the recording, a person he claims is Guaido can be heard giving vague encouragement in broken English but not discussing any military plans. “Let’s get to work!,” said the man who is purportedly Guaido. The AP was unable to confirm the veracity of the recording.
- There was no immediate comment from Guaidó on Goudreau’s claim that the two had signed a contract. Previously, Guaidó has said he hadn’t signed any contract for a military incursion. Goudreau said he never received a penny from the Guaidó team and instead the Venezuelan soldiers he was advising had to scrounge for donations from Venezuelan migrants driving for Uber in Colombia. “It’s almost like crowdfunded the liberating of a country," he said.
- Goudreau said everything he did was legal but in any case he's prepared to pay the cost for anything he did if it saves the lives of Venezuelans trying to restore their democracy. “I’ve been a freedom fighter my whole life. This is all I know,” said Goudreau, who is a decorated three-time Bronze Star recipient for courage in deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a special forces medic.
- Asked about why his troops would land at one of Venezuela's most fortified coastlines—some 20 miles from Caracas next to the country's biggest airport—he cited the example set by Alexander the Great, who had “struck deep into the heart of the enemy” at the Battle of Guagamela.
The government’s claims that it had foiled a beach landing Sunday triggered a frenzy of confusing claims and counterclaims about the alleged plot. While Maduro's allies said it had been backed by Guaidó, Colombia, and the US, the opposition accused Maduro of fabricating the whole episode to distract attention from the country's ongoing humanitarian crisis.
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