US Mercenaries Captured in Failed Venezuelan Invasion

By Sandra Harris

Earlier this week, an invasion into Venezuela by mercenaries hired on behalf of Juan Guaidó-aligned forces, including a United States military company, was thwarted.

The US press monopoly has effectively blacked out any reports on the invasion, devoting little space to covering the overt act of war. What little coverage there is has attempted to cast it as nothing more than a bizarre plot and distance the US from the failed mission. Some outlets have portrayed the detailed plot as concocted by Venezuela itself. Guaidó, the right-wing politician who proclaimed himself “interim president” at the beginning of last year and was immediately recognized by President Trump, has denied any involvement.

Mercenaries arrested by the Venezuelan Armed Forces

The failed invasion, known as “Operation Gideon,” was a plot to capture Venezuelan President Maduro and his allies to extract them out of the country. The two-day operation led to several people being intercepted and killed. Two veterans from Texas, Luke Denman of Austin and Aaron Barry of Ft. Worth, were on a fishing boat on the second day of the operation along with other Venezuelan citizens where they were intercepted by Venezuelan security forces. Denman and Barry were hired as mercenaries by Silvercorp USA, a military company commanded by Jordan Goudreau, a former Special Forces soldier.

Other mercenaries intercepted had previously attempted to overthrow Maduro in 2019. Of the group that was taken into custody, one confessed to being an agent of the USA Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and another claimed to be close to retired Venezuelan general Clíver Alcalá.

Alcalá set up three camps along the Colombia-Venezuelan border that received more than 300 military personnel, including Venezuelan dissidents and mercenaries from the US, as a part of the Gideon operation. Alcalá claimed to be responsible for a March plot where a truck loaded with weapons and tactical equipment was seized in Colombia before surrendering to the DEA to face drug charges. He was accused, along with other current and former members of the Venezuelan government, of participating in a narcoterrorism scheme. 

Alcalá has since lashed out against Guaidó, accusing him of betraying a contract signed between his “American advisers” and J.J. Rendón, a political strategist in Miami appointed by Guaidó to help force out Maduro. Rendón helped arrange the deal to pay Silvercorp USA’s Goudraeu.

Goudreau had worked with the security of a Guaidó support festival organized by British billionaire Richard Branson on the border between Venezuela and Colombia, where he met Keith Schiller, a former bodyguard and Deputy Assistant for Trump. In May 2019, Goudreau accompanied Schiller to a meeting in Miami with Guaidó supporters and representatives.

On May 1, journalist Patricia Poleo published a contract for $213 million between Guaidó and Goudreau for Silvercorp to provide services such as “strategic planning,” “equipment acquisition,” and “project execution consultancy.” Audio recordings of a conference call between Guaidó, his chief of staff Sergio Vergara, and Goudreau were also leaked in which they agreed to sign a contract. In the recording, a voice that Goudreau claims to be Guaidó’s can be heard saying in English: “Let’s get to work!”

Goudreau claims he had not been paid for his company’s work in Venezuela, in which he recently told bourgeois media outlet the Associated Press “It’s almost like crowdfunded the liberating of a country.”

Goudreau retired as a green beret from the US Army in 2016 after participating in imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Silvercorp USA is a private security company based in Florida; their website states they provide “complex project leadership,” and “disaster mitigation.” The promotional video on their website showcases a montage of military combat b-roll, as well as working behind the stage at a Trump rally where they provided security at an October 26, 2018 event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Venezuelan state television released a 10 minute video of an interrogation of Silvercorp USA mercenary Luke Alexander Denman in which he details the mission and preparations for Operation Gideon. Denman readily answers every question, showing a weak loyalty to his purported mission, which was to help overthrow a foreign state. In the detailed interrogation, he admits that Trump himself commands Jordan Goudreau.

Silvercorp USA mercenary Luke Denman

“[Goudreau] contacted me for the job in early December, but he didn’t give me a lot of details about exactly what it was,” he tells the interrogator.

He shares that that they flew into Colombia in mid January of this year, accompanied by other members of his mercenary squad, where they drove to the coastal city of Riohacha, near the Venezuela border. He expected between $50,000 to $100,000 for his role. While in Riohacha, he and the mercenaries trained others in tactical building attacks. He said they trained three small groups of Venezuelan military deserters, numbering 60-70 men total.

Denman states, “The only instructions that I received from [Goudreau] was to ensure that we took control of the airport for safe passage for Maduro, and receiving of airplanes.”

The interrogator asks Denman, “Why did you train irregular groups as special forces to invade Venezuela?” Denman responds, “I believed that it was helping their cause.” The interrogator asks what his reaction would be to the same plan happening in the US to assassinate the president,“I wouldn’t like it…that would probably be mean more war.”

The interrogator asks Denman why he continued operating if he knew that Venezuela was a free country. “Because I didn’t feel that that was the case, I was helping Venezuelans take back control of their country.” When directly asked “Who commands [Goudreau]?” Denman immediately replied, “President Donald Trump.”

Venezuela remains in conflict with US imperialism, as it lives under the influence of Russia imperialism and Chinese social-imperialism. Trump and US imperialists have taken advantage of the coronavirus as a distraction while they employ a variety of military strategies available to further destabilize Venezuela amidst the worldwide capitalist economic crisis.

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