In the early hours of Sunday 3 May, Venezuelan police and armed forces foiled an attempt by armed men to disembark in Macuto, La Guaira, 35km from the capital Caracas. In the ensuing clashes eight mercenaries were killed and weapons were seized, both from speedboats and stored on land. According to the authorities, the attack had the aim of kidnapping Venezuelan officials and sparking a military coup.
Armed clashes started at 3.50 am in Macuto, a coastal city in the state of La Guaira. Venezuelan Minister of Interior Nestor Reverol described it as an attempt “to invade the country by sea”. Venezuelan Armed Forces and FAES Bolivarian Police operatives were involved in repelling the attack. Reverol also explained that according to the boat’s GPS system, it had come from Colombia.
Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly president Diosdado Cabello in a press conference at 11am reported that eight assailants had been killed and two others arrested. A cache of weapons had been seized, including 10 assault rifles, a Glock 9mm handgun, two AFAG machine guns, six pickup vehicles on which the machine guns were mounted, a boat with two overboard engines; as well as military uniforms, satellite phones, and ammunition.
It is clear that Venezuelan intelligence had prior warning of the operation, revealing many of the paramilitary mercenary groups linked to the opposition are heavily infiltrated. While Venezuelan opposition leader and Trump puppet Juan Guaidó described the events as a “regime smokescreen”, it is clear that many of those involved have direct links to Guaidó himself. Some participated in the 30 April 2019 botched military coup which was led directly by Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo Lopez.
Others were part of another planned military incursion from Colombian territory, which was planned for 23 March, but which was aborted after Colombian police seized a cache of weapons. The leader of that operation, involving 300 armed men, was coup-plotting army officer Cliver Alcalá Cordones, who then handed himself over to the US authorities, which had issued an arrest warrant against him for drug trafficking.
Links to Guaidó
Before his arrest, Alcalá Cordones released a video alleging that his operation was the result of a contract signed between himself, reactionary political lobbyist JJ Rendón and Juan Guaidó himself. One of the key elements in the aborted 23 March military incursion was US mercenary and former US green beret, Jordan Goudreau. Together with two other former US Navy SEALs, Goudreau was in charge of training the Venezuelan army deserters who were to enter Venezuelan territory. Two days before the 3 May attack, AP published a detailed investigation into Goudreau’s role in the aborted 23 March plot.
Goudreau, who runs mercenary agency Silvercorp US, based in Florida, also has close links to Guaidó. According to the AP report, in February 2019 Goudreau worked organising security at the “humanitarian aid” concert on the Colombian side of the Venezuelan border. The concert, promoted by Guaidó and funded by British multimillionaire Richard Branson, was meant to serve as a cover for a provocation on the Venezuelan border, which also failed. At that time, Guaidó crossed the Venezuela-Colombia border illegally, with the help of Colombian paramilitary narco-trafficking gang Los Rastrojos.
Yesterday, it was Goudreau who issued a video message from Florida, flanked by another Venezuelan coup-plotting army deserter, claiming responsibility for the attempted landing in Macuto. In a follow up interview with Venezuelan reactionary opposition activist Patricia Poleo, Goudreau showed a copy of the contract signed between Alcalá Cordones, Guaidó, JJ Rendón and his own company for services including “strategic planning,” “equipment procuring” and “project execution advisement.” The document was backed up by an audio recording of a conversation between Guaidó, his associates and US mercenary Goudreau discussing the terms of the agreement.
Just days before the 3 May attack, both US special envoy for Venezuela Elliot Abrams and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stepped up their provocative statements against Maduro. Abrams declared that “Maduro’s days are counted”, while Pompeo, in a press conference on 29 April, assured journalists that the “multilateral effort to restore democracy (sic) is continuing to build momentum” and that he had “updated plans to reopen the US embassy in Caracas”. A coincidence? I don’t think so...
From this whole sordid affair, several conclusions can be drawn. The first is that, for all his denials, Juan Guaidó is closely linked to the different attempts to remove Maduro from office. Even if you leave the famous contract to one side, Guaido’s pawprints are everywhere, as we have detailed above. The military deserters involved participated in his April 2019 botched coup. The main US mercenary involved provided security for the “humanitarian aid” concert. He also participated in a meeting between Trump advisors and Guaidó’s agents in Miami.
Of course, as the attempt failed, he claims to have nothing to do with it. The question we really need to ask is, why is Guaidó still free? Why has he not been arrested? He has attempted to usurp an office to which he has no claim. He has called for a foreign military intervention against his own country. He has appealed for a military coup. He has actually led a military coup. What more is required for him to be arrested and put on trial? This level of impunity is infuriating, particularly at a time when revolutionary activists like Alfredo Chirinos and Aryenis Torrealba have been arrested and had their rights violated, when their only “crime” was to denounce corruption in state-owned oil company PDVSA.
The role of imperialism
What is the role of the United States in these plots? It should be clear to every informed observer that nothing moves in the Venezuelan reactionary opposition without the US secret services knowing about it. Mercenary Goudreau in his statements yesterday and the AP report complained that they approached the US but found no support for their paramilitary plans. That, at the very least, indicates that the US had prior knowledge of these plans – remember, plans of a mercenary invasion of a third country – and did nothing about it. But the US implication goes beyond knowledge. Washington is openly and publicly encouraging such activity, when the Department of State offered a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the capture of Maduro and other Venezuelan officials. Not to mention the fact that, for over a year now, Trump has been actively encouraging Venezuelan army officials to rise up against the Maduro government.
Clearly, both the so-called Venezuelan “democratic” opposition and US imperialism are responsible for attacks like that of yesterday. For all the talk about restoring democracy, the Venezuelan opposition, Trump and all the other countries that recognised Guaidó have their hands dirtied by all sorts of paramilitary plots involving mercenaries, drug lords, terrorists, etc. It is to be noted that Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was the other leader of the 30 April 2019 coup is being harboured in the Spanish embassy in Caracas and this arrangement has not been repudiated by the new PSOE-UP, left-wing government in Madrid.
All consistent democrats, all socialists, must reject these scandalous acts of imperialist aggression against Venezuela and denounce all the governments which, by supporting Guaidó’s “legitimacy”, are complicit in them. At the same time we must point out that imperialist aggression can only be fought off by revolutionary means: the arrest and trial of Guaidó and his fellow coup plotters, the expropriation of all property of US multinationals in Venezuela to be run under workers’ control, the expropriation of the Venezuelan oligarchy (capitalists, bankers and landowners), which funds and supports these counter-revolutionary plots, and the raising of a genuine revolutionary militia of workers and peasants.