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Ex-Green Beret Says Attempt to Oust Maduro Ongoing After Setback

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 5/4/2020 Alex Vasquez

(Bloomberg) -- A former Green Beret said an effort he’s been running to overthrow Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro -- which the government in Caracas said it stopped in its tracks -- is ongoing, with 52 men, including two Americans, on the ground.

Speaking by phone, Jordan Goudreau acknowledged that some of the soldiers working with him were captured or killed by security forces on Sunday and Monday as they tried to enter the country from Colombia.

“The main mission was to liberate Venezuela, to capture Maduro, but the mission in Caracas failed,” he said. “The secondary mission is to set up insurgency camps against Maduro. They are already in camps, they are recruiting and we are going to start attacking tactical targets.”

He offered no evidence to back up his assertions.

Goudreau was a decorated soldier who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and runs a Florida-based security company called Silvercorp USA. When the company’s main number was called this afternoon, the person who answered said Goudreau was unavailable. Fifteen minutes later, eager to draw attention to his group’s undertaking, Goudreau returned the call and began providing details of the operation.

Maduro’s government said it killed eight and captured more than a dozen over two days. Eight of the 14 held, including their alleged leader Antonio Sequea, an army captain, were detained when they tried to enter the country by boat on the coast of Aragua state on Monday. Others were captured Sunday in La Guaira state.

Videos of Prisoners

Late Monday, Venezuelan authorities started releasing videos of some of those captured, including Josnars Adolfo Baduel, son of the detained General Raul Baduel, former defense minister of Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor.

Venezuela, with more oil than Saudi Arabia and once one of the world’s richest nations, has been rapidly disintegrating into chaos and hunger under Maduro’s mismanagement and corruption as oil prices have collapsed.

There have been a number of small-scale attempts like this one at ousting Maduro in the past two years and all were stopped handily by government forces.

Goudreau said his plan had been coordinated with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido who signed a contract on October 16, 2019, for $212 million. He said he only got $50,000 through political consultant Juan Jose Rendon and the opposition kept promising to get him the rest but didn’t deliver.

Goudreau produced a recording of a conversation that seemed to be between him and Guaido although neither the topic of the discussion nor its date was clear. Guaido’s office said the opposition leader and interim president never spoke with Goudreau or signed any kind of contract with him.

“They’re lying,” Goudreau said in the phone conversation on Monday. “I’m fighting an information war against those who hired me. They have money in the U.S. from a Citgo account, they had the money to pay me, but they did not pay me.” He was working closely with retired Maj. General Cliver Alcala, who is now in U.S. custody on charges of drug trafficking. Citgo is the U.S. arm of the Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA.

Goudreau said he tried to talk to President Donald Trump about his operation but failed.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said the government has evidence linking the attack to the U.S. and Colombia. Diosdado Cabello, president of the powerful Constituent Assembly that oversees Venezuelan government bodies, said a big cache of weapons had been seized along with vehicles. Both the U.S. and Colombia denied any involvement.

(Adds context in 9th paragraph)

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