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Donald Trump would've taken credit for failed Venezuela coup had it succeeded, says ex-Green Beret behind plot

Jordan Goudreau's mission met a disastrous end like the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and the Trump administration distanced itself from it
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Fifty-nine years ago, the then JF Kennedy administration was left embarrassed by a failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba. The futile Bay of Pigs invasion mission of 1961 marked a remarkable shift in international relations involving the US and its ideological opponents -- Cuba and the former Soviet Union.

It seems history has come back to haunt the US once again. In May 2020, the US tried to back Venezuelan dissidents to overthrow the regime of Nicolas Maduro but like in 1961, it also backfired. A former Green Beret, who was behind the failed plot, has recently revealed that a number of missteps saw the mission getting leaked prematurely and killings or capture of many of its participants.

Juan Guaido (Getty Images)

Operation Gideon

Jordan Goudreau, a former army paratrooper and chief of Silvercorp USA, a Florida-based private security company, has identified himself as the leader of what is known as Operation Gideon. The 43-year-old made the plan with Cliver Alcala, a dissident former Venezuelan army general, to secretly train the Latin American nation’s military deserters in clandestine camps in Colombia to conduct the operation to oust the Venezuelan president.

Goudreau, who still feels he had a good chance of making the mission a success, considers a plethora of factors that worked against it. He blames provocateurs -- ranging from double agents to former Silvercorp employees and the Drug Enforcement Agency as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- for causing challenges. According to Goudreau, if he had a chance again to go at it, he would pick a small circle of people on whom he has trust.

The man also has another observation. He says that had the mission succeeded in toppling Maduro, President Donald Trump would not have spent a minute to claim the credit. He has also claimed that he was roped in last year by opposition leader Juan Guaido, something the latter has denied.

Goudreau takes a dig at Guaido, Trump

A piece published in Rolling Stone that quoted Goudreau as saying in an interview: “Had we succeeded, you really think that the Guaidó administration would have said, ‘That’s not us, we want nothing to do with this’? Do you think that Donald Trump would have said, ‘That wasn’t us’? Every motherfucker that I talked to would have said, ‘That was us! U.S.A., baby!’ They would have taken credit for all of it. And if you say it’s not true, you’re pretty naive.”

Planning for the mission started following the barracks revolt on April 30, 2019, by soldiers who swore loyalty to Guaido, who is backed by the US and recognized by Washington and 60 other nations as the rightful leader in Caracas, the Associated Press reported. It also said that unlike what the US had expected, key aides of Maduro never joined the opposition and the uprising was quickly overpowered. A few weeks later, some soldiers and politicians who were involved in the failed uprising retreated to a hotel in Bogota, Colombia, and it became a center of plotting among the Venezuelan exiles. Among those involved in the planning was Groudea, a Canadian-born American who is also a three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Artillery shells scattered on the beach at the holiday resort of Playa de Giron, Cuba, after the ill-fated 'Bay of Pigs' invasion of April 1961 (Getty Images)

The failed incursion led by Goudreau saw the detention of two of his former special forces colleagues -- Airan Berry and Luke Denman. Eleven Venezuelans were also arrested as Maduro revealed that they had knowledge about the plots after infiltrating the group in Colombia and waited to capture them. Things went ahead as per plans. Locals raised an alert as the group tried to enter Venezuela on fishing boats and the authorities arrested the infiltrators. There were also reports of the mercenaries falling sea sick during the voyage and threw up over the side of the boat for most of the time. There were also instances of Goudreau losing connection over the phone with the boats, one of which even broke down while fuel became low. Coronavirus restrictions also minimized the movements of Goudreau, who got stuck in Florida.

Ephraim Mattos, a former US Navy SEAL, was quoted by saying by AP after the incursion failed: “You’re not going to take out Maduro with 300 hungry, untrained men." The plan was to take over a TV station and commandeer an airport. Another group wanted to capture President Maduro and put him on a plane to the US where a reward worth $15 million would wait, the Rolling Stone article said.

While the Trump administration used sanctions and backed Maduro’s political opponents to force him to step down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US never had a ‘direct’ involvement in the attempted coup. Goudreau, however, insisted that both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had personal knowledge about Operation Gideon aiming to liberate the people of Venezuela.