The Tragicomedy of Venezuela Continues


What appeared to be another unsubstantiated accusation of an invasion to overthrow Nicolás Maduro turned out to be true. It is important that Colombia clarify the confusion about an intervention that occurred in Venezuela last week.

Last weekend, Venezuela experienced another painful chapter in its recent history. What appeared to be another unsubstantiated accusation of an invasion to overthrow Nicolas Maduro turned out to be true. Operation Gideon left eight dead people and 15 more captured, including two mercenaries from the United States, and there is a search for more. Although details are closely guarded, this reminds us of the Bay of Pigs. Maduro described it as a “narcoterrorist” operation organized with the support of the United States and Colombia, which both governments have denied.

This military action is another failed attempt by the opposition pushing to remove Maduro’s from power and return to a democracy. Last year, there were two important attempts to mobilize the population enough to destabilize the dictatorship. Those moves, which took place in February in Cucuta with humanitarian aid, and in April with the liberation of opposition leader Leopoldo López, were major fiascos. Far from weakening the illegitimate occupant of Miraflores, the pressure they added allowed him to increase repressive efforts with the support of Cuba. Although presumptive President Juan Guaido has tried to distance himself from what transpired over the weekend, there are signs that he was not only aware of what was going to happen, but that he likely provided financial support for the military action.

As for what is known of the failed armed invasion, A command of 60 people that had been previously infiltrated, tried to enter the country by sea in two locations along the Venezuelan coast. Speaking before the National Assembly which he chairs, Guaido said, “They were waiting for them to massacre them … They knew about this, and they waited for them to massacre them.” The person responsible for the operation is a former American Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau, who, speaking by video and in various interviews gave details of the operation and of his active participation. He confirmed that the two captured mercenaries, Luke Alexander Denman and Airan Berry, were part of the operation, as Maduro had previously reported. There is a connection to Colombia in this story that should be clarified. A few weeks ago, a former Venezuelan general, Clíver Alcalá Cordones, was arrested in Barranquilla and charged with drug trafficking. Alcalá was linked to the seizure of a shipment of weapons on the Atlantic coast. He claimed it was for a group of Venezuelan ex-military men who were going to act against the Maduro regime.

It is important that authorities explain the extent of their actual participation in this sort of event, even if they only looked the other way. According to media reports in the United States, the failed military attempt in Venezuela originated from somewhere in Colombia. Maduro insists that it originated in La Guajira, without clarifying whether it took place on the Colombian or Venezuelan side. Given the priority of responding to a pandemic and a scandal that is shaking military intelligence, this seems to be a lesser event; but it is no less important.

The true intention of the military action varies, depending on the source. According to Maduro, there is no doubt that it the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supported a maritime invasion to overthrow his government − according to confessions he took from those who were captured.

Some opponents, allege that it was more closely connected to certain people with an interest in capturing the occupant of Miraflores and collecting a $15 million ransom offered by the United States government in exchange for handing him over. Time will help clarify what really happened.

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About Patricia Simoni 78 Articles
I first edited and translated for Watching America from 2009 through 2011, recently returning and rediscovering the pleasure of working with dedicated translators and editors. Latin America is of special interest to me. In the mid-60’s, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, and later lived for three years in Mexico, in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán and in Mexico City. During those years, my work included interviewing in anthropology research, teaching at a bilingual school in the federal district, and conducting workshops in home nursing care for disadvantaged inner city women. I earned a BS degree from Wagner College, masters and doctoral degrees from WVU, and was a faculty member of the WVU School of Nursing for 27 years. In that position, I coordinated a two-year federal grant (FIPSE) at WVU for an exchange of nursing students with the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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