Spanish – In the last several hours, there was an attempt to overthrow the regime of Nicolás Maduro. It included a former U.S. army officer and 300 “heavily armed” Venezuelan volunteers. This is Operation Gideon.
This weekend, Maduro’s regime reportedly succeeded in blocking a maritime incursion with mercenaries. The operation reportedly left eight dead and a couple of military personnel in custody.
According to journalist Sebastiana Barráez, an expert in military sources, “there was no invasion, but rather the transfer of a group of retired military personnel who were trying to join the liberation movement announced by other uniformed personnel.”
According to Chavista Interior Minister Néstor Reverol, from the group of ten people who tried to enter the country in a boat, one member died. The regime claimed that they had identity documents- some with Peru’s Temporary Residence Permit (PTP), bank debit cards, an expired medical certificate, a packet of wheat flour tortillas, and even a man’s wallet with a dollar for good luck.
“A group of retired military personnel from the National Guard tried to enter the country through Macuto to take their position because they are part of a movement of small groups that planned to enter Venezuelan territory to conduct a military rebellion. The regime waited for them, they confronted them, they detained some of them, and others were supposedly killed in the confrontation,” Barráez said.
Several hours later, names and versions of what happened began to emerge. Jordan Goudreau, an American, three-time recipient of the Bronze Star for his bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the operation and assured that it all happened after an agreement with the interim government of Juan Guaidó. The president, however, denied any involvement.
Claro que hay militares patriotas dispuestos a luchar por Venezuela, pero es evidente que lo ocurrido en Vargas es una nueva olla de la dictadura.
Mientras ignoran la masacre de Guanare y el enfrentamiento en Petare, pasa lo de Macuto. Buscan confundir y sembrar evidencias. https://t.co/wq7BrUwU9O
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) May 3, 2020
Maduro’s regime blamed the United States and Colombia. Meanwhile, alleged evidence has emerged that would implicate Guaidó with a supposed contract with a private security company aimed at overthrowing the tyrant. The evidence would implicate Guaidó as well as Clíver Alcalá Cordones, the former Chavista military officer currently detained in the United States on charges of drug trafficking.
Alcalá claimed ownership of some seized weapons, shortly before surrendering to face drug trafficking charges, and said they belonged to the “Venezuelan people.” He also attacked Guaidó, accusing him of betraying a contract signed between his “American advisors” and J.J. Rendón, a political strategist in Miami appointed by Guaidó to help force Maduro out of power.
Mis declaraciones ante las noticias que circulan el día de hoy 1/4 pic.twitter.com/NacAnfa7gx
— Cliver A. Alcalá C. (@cliver2013) March 26, 2020
What we know so far
“Some 300 heavily armed volunteers planned to sneak into Venezuela from the northern tip of South America and ignite a popular rebellion that would end in President Nicolas Maduro’s arrest,” AP reported.
Articles from various publications reveal the presence of secret training camps in Colombia from where the latest attempts to overthrow Maduro are emerging.
According to AP, the recent plan failed because of “poor planning, disputes between opposition politicians, and an ill-trained force that had little chance of defeating the Venezuelan army.”
AP further reported that Goudreau and Clíver Alcalá Cordones agreed on a rebellion plan that included weapons and an army of volunteers, all for an alleged budget of $1.5 million that former Green Beret did not eventually receive.
On March 29, before turning himself to the U.S. justice system, Alcalá recorded a video, claiming that there was a document- an agreement signed by President Guaidó, which stipulated the purchase of arms for a supposed military action against Maduro.
Guaido’s alleged support is one of the contradictions that appear here. Because although Goudreau assures that the interim president did not pay the agreed amount, AP reports that the interim government never gave him its support because “it believed it was a suicide mission.” According to the news agency, the agreement was only between Alcalá Cordones and the U.S. military.
“Goudreau told the volunteers that —once challenged in battle— Maduro’s demoralized troops would collapse like dominoes,” several of the soldiers told AP, revealing the so-called “Operation Gideon.”
Although Maduro claims to have dismantled the operation, Goudreau says this is just the beginning, and that he still has men infiltrating the Venezuelan military.
— PanAm Post Español (@PanAmPost_es) May 3, 2020
Training camps in Colombia
All indications suggest that secret training camps in Colombia do exist. In fact, Ephraim Mattos, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, told AP that he visited them and allegedly trained some of the potential fighters.
Mattos said he was surprised by the shortages. There was no running water, and the men slept on the floor, skipped meals, and trained with broomsticks instead of assault rifles. Five Belgian sheepdogs trained to sniff out explosives were as poorly fed as their trainers and had to be given away.
Is Goudreau a charlatan?
Mattos told AP he was skeptical when the men training to overthrow Maduro recalled that Goudreau had boasted of protecting Trump, and had also told them he was preparing a shipment of weapons and aerial support for an eventual assault on Maduro’s compound.
“Unfortunately, there are many truants in this business, who try to sell their military credentials in exchange for a large payment,” Mattos said.
Goudreau was born in Canada. He was under investigation in 2013 for allegedly embezzling $62,000 in housing stipends from the U.S. Army.
After retiring in 2016, he worked as a private security contractor in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In 2018, he established Silvercorp USA, a private security company. The company’s website features photos and videos of Goudreau firing machine guns in combat, running shirtless up a pyramid, flying in a private jet, and sporting a military backpack with a rolled-up U.S. flag.
The Silvercorp website offers operations in more than 50 countries, with a team of advisors consisting of former diplomats, experienced military strategists, and directors of multinational corporations, none of whom are identified by name. It claims to have “led international security teams” for the president of the United States.
The ex-Green Beret also claimed, according to AP, that he was a CIA agent. However, Colombian officials found out that this claim was a lie.
Juan Guaidó, interim president of Venezuela, also denied any relationship with the Silvercorp company.
Gobierno de Guaidó niega vinculación con la empresa SilverCorp y su representante, Jordan Goudreau (COMUNICADO) https://t.co/Or3ouuuHfl
— Alberto Ravell (@AlbertoRavell) May 4, 2020
Journalist Patricia Poleo interviewed Goudreau, who proudly claimed responsibility for the rebellion against Maduro. Poleo also published what appears to be the document supposedly signed by President Guaidó.
Aquí se demuestra que si existía un contrato firmado por Juan Guaido, JJ Rendon y Sergio Vergara con un contratista para salir militarmente de Maduro. Juan Guaido no cumplio. pic.twitter.com/1fyCSuLEyu
— Patricia Poleo (@PattyPoleo) May 3, 2020
“After Alcalá’s arrest, the alleged insurrection seems to have collapsed. As the coronavirus is spreading, several of the remaining fighters have fled the camps and have scattered all over Colombia, reconnecting with their loved ones, and trying to figure out what their next steps will be. Most of them are bankrupt, facing an investigation by the Colombian police, and are frustrated with Goudreau, whom they blame for leading them in the wrong direction,” AP said.