The attempted armed incursion into Venezuela, called “Operation Gideon,” came to light between Sunday and Monday. The attempted coup has ties to both Colombia and the United States. Two of the mercenaries are reportedly U.S. military veterans contracted with private security firm, Silvercorp USA, which has connections to President Trump. This is a blatant act of U.S imperialism at work.
We repudiate and condemn the incursion of U.S. mercenaries and dissident soldiers.
In the early morning of May 3, a boat was intercepted in La Guaira by the Venezuelan national government, resulting in the death of eight of its crew members, who were deserters from the Venezuelan army. On May 4, another boat was intercepted off the coast of Aragua state and its crew, also consisting of eight people, was captured. It included two U.S. mercenaries, euphemistically called “contractors,” who are former Green Berets now working for Silvercorp, a U.S. mercenary company.
Among those arrested in Chuao (Aragua) was Josnar Adolfo Baduel, son of General Raúl Baduel, who was a key figure in the military who fought for Chávez’s return to the presidency after the coup of September 11, 2002. But he fell from grace years later, accused of corruption and then of conspiring against the government, having been imprisoned for several years.
A video came to light on Sunday night in which a dissident soldier named Javier Nieto Quintero, along with Jordan Goudreau, presented as a “member of the United States Army’s special forces” and owner of Silvercorp, address the Venezuelan military and the country, take responsibility for the incursions, and request support for what they call an action “for liberation.” According to Nieto Quintero, this action is based on “the national Constitution and international courts,” that is to say, the courts of the United States and their political use as an extraterritorial system of “justice” at the service of imperialism’s neocolonial aspirations.
We of the League of Workers for Socialism fully and absolutely condemn this military action financed by the United States and organized under the protection of U.S. interventionist policy in our country. As revolutionary socialists struggling against the anti-worker and repressive policies of the Maduro government and the Armed Forces, we also fiercely defend national sovereignty against the attacks of U.S. imperialism, the prime representative of capitalist reaction, imperialist plunder, and attempted subjugation of entire nations and peoples.
Maduro’s government reported that they had seized assault rifles and tactical equipment. One of the attackers killed in the first raid was known as “Pantera,” a collaborator of retired major general Cliver Alcalá, who had been accused of participating in previous failed attempts to overthrow the government and who had been imprisoned months ago in Colombia by the United States, after having been protected there for a long time by the Colombian and U.S. governments.
According to press reports, previous statements by some of those involved and videos that were allegedly recorded by the attackers yesterday at the time of the raid, the attack was carried out by 60 defectors of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, who had been trained in camps on the Colombian border with Venezuela under the leadership of Cliver Alcalá and with the support of Goudreau and his company.
In an interview on a show hosted by Patricia Poleo, a right-wing journalist based in the United States, Goudreau disclosed a contract signed with Juan Guaidó and his main political adviser, J. J. Rendón, for financing and support for the incursion. He claims that Guaidó and the Colombian government breached the contract and failed to pay them the millions of dollars that they had promised to disburse. Everything indicates that it is the same contract that Clíver Alcalá alluded to the day after he was included on the “wanted” list for which the Trump administration offered millions and which included Maduro.
Goudreau claims that the operation “for the liberation of Venezuela” is still underway and that he already has men in Venezuelan territory. The same claim had been made by 2002 coup leader Molina Tamayo, who was interviewed by Napoleón Bravo, another openly pro-coup journalist, in April 2002.
This is not the first coup attempt led by the Alcalá group and organized from Colombia. Military deserters in Colombia have claimed responsibility for the 2018 drone assassination attempt against Maduro, as well as other attempted coups that were undone by the national government. These allegedly were not endorsed or expressly supported by the United States or the Venezuelan opposition as a whole.
On February 23, 2019, amid the provocation launched by the entry of “humanitarian aid” across the borders of Colombia and Brazil, with which they sought the “break” the Armed Forces to overthrow Maduro, Alcalá led a group of 200 deserters in an attempt to provoke an armed skirmish with Venezuelan forces on the border with Colombia. Colombian police put a halt to the operation, fearing that it would trigger a larger conflict between the two countries.
The most recent instance of U.S. aggression against Venezuela was the announcement of a broad deployment of ships and planes in the Caribbean, near the Venezuelan coasts, with the excuse of fighting drug traffickers. These kinds of measures embolden actions like those of this group. In fact, one of the arguments put forth by supporters of “Operation Gideon” are the “drug trafficking” accusations against Maduro and other high government officials made in U.S. courts.
Guaidó and the opposition claim that the mercenaries’ action was a government ploy. They deny the existence of the contract with the mercenaries and the statements made by Goudreau and Alcalá. An extreme right-wing and interventionist sector, however, supports the incursions. Beyond the rifts, nuances, and clashes between Guaidó, the Colombian government, the Trump administration, and the pro-coup force previously led by Alcalá, they are all part of the same pro-imperialist and pro-coup political alliance. Colombia has offered itself as a platform for all of the coup attempts that have been made (the “official” and “irregular” ones); Alcalá supported Guaidó after his self-proclamation and joined his call to the Armed Forces to overthrow Maduro. He was a key figure in this attempt, a soldier who had defended Chavez against the 2002 coup but turned pro-imperialist. All this occurred in the context of the United States’ imperial extortion.
The mercenary contractors provided their “services” to the “interim government” from February 2019, managing the security of the “Venezuela Live Aid” concert in Cúcuta, a “cultural” facade for a pro-coup and interventionist provocation. It should be noted that much of the money used by Guaidó for this kind of contract comes from the resources that the Trump government has confiscated from the country and has placed in the hands of his allies in the right-wing opposition. These same resources have been the subject of many scandals of embezzlement, cronyism, and corruption.
Everything indicates that the attack was perpetrated by a group of military deserters, both on their own account and as a result of their collaboration with the United States and the latter’s extortion of and offers to the Venezuelan Armed Forces. Together with this private mercenary company, after having spent a long time under the protection of the U.S. government and its allies (like the Colombian government) and having had close ties with Guaidó and supported his plans, even going so far as to sign contracts for their operations, this group appears to have distanced itself from them and continued the plans on its own. Regardless of these frictions and differences between them, they are reactionaries who share the common goal of furthering a policy of imperialist interference in Venezuela.
It cannot, however, be ruled out that the military and intelligence agencies of the U.S. government, even without an official commitment, let these plans run their course to await the results and take action if their results were satisfactory.
As we have maintained on similar occasions, the rejection of these imperialist actions and attempts does not imply any political support for the quasi-dictatorial government of Maduro. On the contrary, it is based on the certainty that the right-wing coup opposition and the Trump government are in no way friends of the Venezuelan people, that their interests are diametrically opposed to those of the working class and popular sectors of the country and that, therefore, they are in no way a progressive or desirable alternative. They are, on the contrary, our enemies. It is based on the certainty that struggling against the Maduro government must go hand in hand with confronting the neocolonial aspirations of the United States.
The necessary settling of scores with the Maduro regime and the Armed Forces is the exclusive task of the Venezuelan working people, not of Trump, his imperial government or his mercenaries. Scores will also have to be settled with Guaidó and his people, who have promoted the attacks against the country, like the confiscation of companies, the withholding of payments and resources, the oil embargo and, in general, the sanctions that increase the suffering of the people.
This kind of action and the government’s responses tend to heighten the role of the military as “arbitrators” of the national situation. It is quite likely that Maduro and the Armed Forces will capitalize on these events to intensify their attack on the democratic rights of working people, such as the freedom of protest, of assembly in the workplace, the right to denounce irregularities, etc., which we reject. The most recent of these actions have been protests and small uprisings triggered by the growing hunger among the population. They have been met with fierce government repression, as a result of which one person has died and dozens of people have been incarcerated. We previously pointed out that they can be used as an excuse to give more freedom of action to the parapolice groups that, under the guise of “confronting imperialist threats,” actually are used to intimidate the people.
In the face of these incursions, we fully reject the country’s subjection to the actions of these by-products of U.S. imperialist policy, such as the “contractors,” which are nothing more than private companies that profit from the United States’ wars of invasion and from the blood of the peoples on which U.S. imperialism sets its sights. It is in the context of the invasions and wars waged by the United States against other peoples, causing mass devastation and deaths, that these war dogs are trained.
We call on the working class and the Venezuelan people, who suffer under and repudiate Maduro’s government and who endure the consequences of imperialist aggression and sanctions, to also fully reject the plunder of our country in an imperialist war and the exploitation of the lives and blood of the Venezuelan people as simple business opportunities for this class of mercenaries and those who support them in Venezuela. Furthermore, beyond the borders of Venezuela, it is in the interest of all Latin American workers and peoples to repudiate and defeat any attempts at imperialist interference and attacks against any of our countries.
Monday May 4, 2020
League of Workers for Socialism (LTS)