By Hallum Cowell
The Venezuelan government has claimed that they foiled a United States backed coup d’état after the country’s armed forces killed a group of alleged mercenaries. This group included two US army veterans, who tried to cross into Venezuela on Monday night. Nicolás Maduro’s government claims that between six and eight people were killed trying to enter the country via speedboats.
The group allegedly left Colombia and were attempting to assassinate government officials in an attempt to spark a coup which likely would have left opposition leader Juan Guaidó in power.
The United States and Venezuela have been at odds since the election of the country’s recent president Nicolás Maduro. Including recently the United States has accused Maduro of being a drug trafficker and offered a $15 million reward for his arrest.The United States seem to have a key interest in the region for two reasons. The first reason being that since the Cold War, the United States of America have been suspicious of Communism. Often, countries which practice more left-wing politics can be perceived to be threats, with an example being the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. The second factor is the vast oil reserves within Venezuela’s territory and a friendly regime would make trading that oil much easier.
Since 2017 the United States has also placed Venezuela under an economic embargo.
Venezuelan authorities have claimed that there are 13 “terrorists” currently in their custody including the son of an imprisoned general. On the 3rd of May Mr Maduro held a televised address where he showed what he claimed to be the passports and identification papers belonging to two ex-US army personnel. The Associated Press has since reported that both these men served in Iraq and were decorated soldiers.
The leader of a Florida-based security company called SilverCorp USA has claimed responsibility for the incident which, he claims was an attempt to capture President Maduro and “liberate” the country. Jordan Goudreau, the leader of the security company, claims that Colombia’s President had hired his company and as of now refused to pay him.
Mr Goudreau also claimed that 60 men were part of the operation and stated that he had enlisted the aid of Antonio Sequea who led a barracks revolt against the Venezuelan leader a year ago and who is alleged to have been working as a “commander” in the operation.
Columbia’s President who is practicing more right-wing politics and is alleged to be the US’s preferred candidate for the country.
Venezuela’s Attorney General has since shown a contract he claims is proof that SilverCorp had a $212 million agreement with the leader of the Venezuelan opposition Juan Guaidó for the operation. The Attorney General Tarek William Saab also alleged that the money used for the contract was “stolen” from the state oil company PDVSA whose US subsidiary, Citgo, was also placed under the control of the opposition leader. Goudreau also claims to have signed this contract with the opposition leader.
President Maduro has been the centre of international criticism since his election in 2018. His election was declared unlawful by the Lima Group (a grouping of South American countries) as well as the European Union soon after. Countries such as Russia, Finland, Cuba, South Africa, and Belarus however, have shown support for Maduro. Opposition leader Guaidó invoked the constitution last year and declared himself Interim President, citing the alleged electoral fraud. However, as Maduro still holds the loyalty of most of the country’s institutions – including the military – he continues to hold onto power.
American President Trump has said that the United States Government is not involved in the Alleged Coup.
Opposition leader Guaidó has also said he has “no relationship nor responsibility for any actions” taken by the alleged mercenaries.
In the coming days and weeks we may see tensions escalate over the American nationals imprisoned by Venezuela. However, it is unlikely that we will find out what has really happened, and who is telling the truth, for many years to come.