CIA and Colombia have egg on their faces after botched invasion.
The Trump administration is facing blowback from Venezuela and other Latin American and Caribbean countries after its failed mercenary invasion of Venezuela. The mercenary team was led by a former U.S. Army Green Beret and native of Canada, Jordan Goudreau, and his mercenary company, Silvercorp USA of Melbourne, Florida. Silvercorp and Goudreau had previously provided security for Trump campaign rallies and Goudreau has close links to Keith Schiller, the longtime security director and enforcer for the Trump Organization.
Goudreau appears to have answered the March 26 "Most Wanted" call by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the arrest of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his four top government officials on dubious drug trafficking charges brought by Attorney General William Barr's totally-politicized Justice Department. Pompeo offered a bounty of $15 million for Maduro and $10 million each for the other four Venezuelan government officials.
On May 6, in answer to a reporter's question, Trump said of the invasion and coup attempt, during which at least two former U.S. servicemen were arrested, "As for who bankrolled it [the invasion] we’re not prepared to share any more information about what we know took place." Trump, of course, was lying, as is his usual gambit. He knows plenty about the aborted invasion since it involved Schiller and members of south Florida's right-wing Latin American expatriate community of Cubans, Colombians, and Venezuelans, many of whom are top Trump financial supporters.
One of the ex-Green Berets Silvercorp employees arrested in Venezuela, Airan Berry, is reportedly a believer in the Qanon conspiracy drivel that emanates from a fringe group of die-hard Trump supporters. The other mercenary, Luke Denman, speaking on Venezuelan television, revealed that one of their mercenary training camps was located in Rioacha, Colombia, less than 100 miles from the Colombian border with Venezuela's Zulia state.
In February 2019, Silvercorp provided security for a "humanitarian aid” concert in Cúcuta, Colombia that was held on behalf of Guaido and Venezuelan "refugees" in Colombia. The concert was sponsored by British billionaire Richard Branson.
It is now more apparent that the attempted invasion, code named Operation GIDEON by Goudreau and his main clients, opposition Venezuelan National Assembly president Juan Guaido, the self-anointed president of a rival government and a lackey of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Guaido's public relations flack, Miami-based Juan Jose ("J.J.") Rendon. A Venezuelan expatriate and the Latin American "Karl Rove" in ensuring stolen elections south of the border on behalf of right-wing candidates, Rendon has close relations with the U.S. Republican Party.
Following the botched invasion, Guaido fired Rendon and another official of his "Strategic Planning Committee." Guaido approved and Rendon, Venezuelan National Assembly members Sergio Vergara, and Cuban-American attorney Miguel J. Retureta had signed a $212 million contract with Silvercorp for mercenary services aimed at toppling Maduro and his government from power. That phase of the operation is code-named in the contract as PROJECT RESOLUTION OPERATION. Rendon and Vergara resigned from Guaido's committee in the wake of the failed invasion. Venezuela has issued international arrest warrants for Rendon, Vergara, and Goudreau.
If Jamaica or Curacao were not pre-occupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, opposition politicians in both countries would be demanding answers from their respective governments about how much they knew about Silvercorp's activities in the region. Neither Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness nor Curacao Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath have made any statements about Goudreau's previous presence in their nations.
The terms of the contract are very specific in calling for "An operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolás Maduro . . . remove the current Regime and install the recognized Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó.”
There is a widespread belief in Venezuela that the contract was leaked by one of the many rival factions inside Guaido's opposition. One power struggle pits retired Venezuelan Army Major General Cliver Alcalá Cordones, who had a falling out with U.S. Special Representative to Venezuela and Iran-contra felon Elliott Abrams, and Ivan Simonovis, a former Venezuelan police officer.
On March 27, around the time of Goudreau's first attempted invasion of Venezuela, Alcala Cordones was arrested by Colombian authorities, turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and extradited to New York to face trial on charges of drug trafficking, the same Barr Justice Department ruse being employed against Maduro and his government. It is very likely that Venezuelan opposition forces loyal to Alcala Cordones leaked the Silvercorp contract to embarrass Guaido and Simonovis. Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is known to be close to Simonovis and his family and Abrams is known to support the opposition's Simonovis faction against that of the now-imprisoned Alcala Cordones.
On May 3, the Venezuelan Navy intercepted a boatload of mercenaries north of Caracas. A few of the mercenaries who had earlier landed on the coast were rounded up by Venezuelan security forces. Another group of mercenaries who landed on the coast on May 4, the following day, were surrounded and subdued by a group of local fishermen.
Although the two-pronged invasion failed, it is now becoming clear that it not only had the backing of the Trump administration, but also that of far-right wing Colombian President Ivan Duque.
Goudreau's Venezuelan mercenary colleague, former Venezuelan National Guard Captain Javier Nieto issued a communiqué from Florida following the botched invasion: "The operations will be halted given that a number of errors were made." This is when one does a face palm and utters, "No shit, Sherlock!"
Goudreau was involved in another aborted invasion of Venezuela on March 28. He launched it from Jamaica, where the CIA station in Kingston was reported to have been well-aware of Goudreau's intentions. However, when Goudreau's boat transmitted an emergency radio beacon signal after it broke down near Curacao, Dutch naval units in Curacao responded. Goudreau was forced to return for Florida. It can be assumed that the Dutch naval authorities in Willemstad, Curacao were also well-aware of Goudreau's mission since his boat contained weapons.
On May 10, Colombia's military attaché in Washington, Colonel Juan Esteban Zapata, along with Colombia's chief of military intelligence, General Gonzalo Garcia, were fired over Colombia's failure in the aborted invasion of Venezuela and its exposure as complicit in the aftermath of the debacle. The official reason for the sackings was over the roles of Esteban Zapata and Garcia in an ongoing illegal wiretapping scandal in Colombia. However, the timing of the firings in the aftermath of the exposure of Colombia in the failed invasion aroused suspicion that the wiretapping scandal was a cover story.
Colombia laughingly explained three Colombian Navy boats [left] that were discovered in Venezuelan territory during the aborted mercenary invasion had been "dragged" into Venezuelan territory due to a "strong current." Colombia stated on May 9 that "three boats of the Colombian Navy that were in a Fluvial Control Post moored on the banks of the Meta River, in the department of Vichada, on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, and at the time they were unmanned, they were dragged away by the river currents at dawn today." The unmanned boats contained machine guns and ammunition and were seized by Venezuelan patrol boats surveilling the Orinoco River.
The failed operation has been a propaganda windfall for the Maduro government. One of the largest members of Guaido's opposition, Primero Justicia (PJ), which includes such right-wing rivals to Guaido as Henrique Capriles Radonsky, Julio Borges, and Leopoldo Lopez, is demanding an independent National Assembly investigation of Operation GIDEON. The PJ leaders say it is not enough for Guaido to claim that the operation failed because of "infiltration by the intelligence services of the Maduro regime."
As far as the Trump administration trying to distance itself from GIDEON, the fact that the Silvercorp contract calls for the delivery to Venezuelan opposition forces of AC-130 “gunship” aircraft, armed Predator drones and Maverick short-range missiles, none of which are available on the open or black markets, indicates high-level involvement by the CIA and Pentagon.