Americans captured in failed Venezuelan coup plot

Multiple people, including two Americans, have been arrested by Venezuelan security forces after a beach invasion, reportedly said to be a failed coup. The intention of the assault was allegedly to overthrow the current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and is thought to have involved US-backed opposition leader Juan Guiado.

Mr Maduro claimed in a press conference that the two US citizens were part of a group of “mercenaries” and has often accused the United States of trying to overthrow him. However, US President Donald Trump has said the situation in Venezuela is “nothing to do with our government”. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has said the US government will use “every tool” to ensure the safe return of the two detained American citizens.

According to Venezuelan authorities, eight armed men were killed in the assault. The two Americans, named Airan Berry and Luke Denman, were detained, followed by Mr Maduro holding what looked to be two US passports in a live stream broadcast. He said: “They were playing Rambo, they were playing hero”. They are thought to work for a Florida-based security company. Despite Mr Trump’s denial of any US state involvement, Mr Maduro has blamed the attacks on the Trump administration and neighbouring Colombia, who have also denied any involvement. He said: “The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid”.

A group of people reportedly launched the attempted coup on fishing boats with equipment such as walkie-talkies and night-vision goggles.    

Mr Denman, a former US special forces member, claimed in a video that he and Mr Berry were hired by Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran that leads a Florida-based Silvercorp USA firm, to carry out the alleged coup. “I was helping Venezuelans take back control of their country”, he said. Mr Goodreau has confessed his involvement in the plan with the Venezuelan government saying they will now look to extradite the former Green Beret.

However, controversial news emerged from the Washington Post after the failed assault that claims Mr Goodreau sent a text, saying “Washington [was] fully aware” of the operation. According to the paper, Mr Goodreau said on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader, “Washington is fully aware of your direct participation in the project, and I don’t want them to lose faith”. The Trump administration has not yet commented on such reports.

The situation in Venezuela has been one of turmoil after the country’s economy collapsed under Mr Maduro’s socialist PSUV leadership. 4.5 million people left the country after shortages of basic supplies emerged. After Mr Maduro was re-elected in 2018, his opposition claimed the results were rigged and National Assembly leader, Juan Guaidó, declared himself interim president in January 2019. Over 50 countries, including the US, recognise Mr Guaidó as the leader but the Venezuelan military remains loyal to Mr Maduro. This leaves Venezuela with two men who see themselves as the leader of a nation now wrought in despair and poverty.

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William Warnes

Global Editor - 2019/20

Co-Deputy Editor - 2020/21

July 2021
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