US mercenaries’ Venezuelan invasion and coup attempt foiled
Written by: (Contributed) on 11 May 2020
The recent attempt to remove Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro from office with a US-led group of mercenaries and others associated with the Florida-based Silvercorp USA private security company forms part of a classic return to previous Cold War positions.
The US has a long history of similar operations, in Latin America and elsewhere.
Declassified documents and military manuals from the previous Cold War provide a chilling picture of state power, used by the US in the name of viable foreign policy to serve 'US interests'.
In early May a group of nearly sixty combatants left Colombia in two boats to stage Operation Gideon, a covert operation in neighbouring Venezuela. They were led by Operation Commander Antonio Sequea and two US citizens. Organised by the Florida-based Silvercorp private security company, the group had trained in rebel camps in Colombia. (1) It was commonly thought the group had the specific aim of assassinating President Nicholas Maduro as a prelude to halting the Bolivarian Revolution.
The US has long aimed hostilities toward the Bolivarian Revolution which they regard as a threat to 'US interests' in the southern half of the Americas and elsewhere.
Following problems with one of the boats carrying the combatants, a number were captured by Venezuelan security forces together with eight being killed. The two US citizens, Luke Denman and Airan Berry were also captured and their identification materials shown on Venezuelan television as proof of their involvement with the para-military operation. They were both associated with US special forces. Despite a quick denial from the Trump administration in Washington of any official US involvement, the whole covert operation has carried hallmarks typical of US military complicity.
Declassified documents and military manuals from the previous Cold War contain highly incriminating information together with an official statement from the Pentagon two months after President Trump took office in the White House, that they were studying 'old army jungle manuals', with the intention of having to 're-learn everything' and seeking to 're-acquire long lost skills'. (2) The incoming Trump administration had been quick to rally forces loyal to their far-right political standpoint and new Cold War position with China. In what may now be the final months of the Trump administration those concerned appear to have been trying to put their long-lost skills into operation in Caracas as an act of desperation while opportunities still exist.
During the 1990s the US imperialists were quick to discard what they regarded as embarrassments from the previous Cold War. The so-called New World Order in the 1990s had created new opportunities: the US had no need for the diplomatic positions of the past period, they were able to rely upon globalisation as a more effective method of control. With economic problems arising in recent years, however, the Trump administration has returned to the past methods of operations.
Declassified documents from the previous period include the notorious TESEO material from the Third Phase of Operation Condor in Latin America. The shadowy core parts of the intelligence co-ordinated networks were subsequently linked to those of European counterparts to 'liquidate selected individuals abroad'. (3) Coinciding with the rise of both Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in Washington, the specific intention was for 'the creation of a continental data-base similar to Interpol in Paris, but specialising in subversion'. (4)
Another US military document, Army Regulation 381-20, The Army Counter-Intelligence Program, declassified 15 November 1993, provided a clear definition of what the Pentagon regarded as subversive behaviour, which was defined as 'those who oppose the US Defence Department during peacetime and all levels of conflict'. (5)
The subsequent revelations about Pentagon Project X, likewise, show how military manuals which were part of the US-funded Joint Foreign Intelligence Program, were designed for 'a guide for the conduct of clandestine operations'. (6) They were primarily concerned with the promotion of 'US interests' across the world and clearly utilised criminal methods of 'co-operation'.
Hardly surprisingly, the US sought to distance itself from such behaviour in the 1990s and purged its intelligence services of about a third of their worst offenders and agents. (7) It was noted in official documentation the CIA had used recruitment policies which 'seemed to specialise in hiring murderous thugs and military officers … in an ethical vacuum … (and) … the bad habits of the Cold War'. (8)
And now, using the present Cold War with China as a pretext, the Trump administration has returned to the past.
Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez referred to those from the US being part of 'white supremacist' groups and the far-right closely associated with the Trump administration. (9)
In recent times the far-right have become bolder, using the Trump administration to create opportunities for their political positions and the strategies of tension which they use. They provide a fertile recruiting ground for US agencies for covert operations.
Declassified documents reveal the influence of US military planners on their Australian subordinates: one Australian Defence Force manual from the period, closely following other US directives, actually had reference for commanding officers with civil affairs units to make 'effective use of para-military forces' to prevent operations from being 'hampered by the civil population'. (10)
Another document, linked to official US diplomatic personnel in Argentina two weeks before the beginning of the Dirty War where an estimated 11,000 people were 'disappeared', 20,000 were arrested and at least two million fled the country for their own safety, even contained reference that those supporting US positions were 'the last bastion of Christian civilisation' as a convenient cover for the later state repression. (11) The fact that peaceful political activity and democratic procedures were associated with terrorism remains evidence, in itself, of the US military thinking of the period, then and now. (12)
The fact that Silvercorp USA was founded by former US Green Beret Jordan Goudreau is typical of US military-type operations, being out-sourced to distance the Pentagon from covert operations conducted on their behalf. The further fact that a US Navy SEAL, Ephraim Mattos had visited the training camp in Colombia has provided the necessary proof of high-level US military complicity with Operation Gideon. (13)
While the Operation Gideon covert operation has appeared to have failed, the problem is hardly likely to have disappeared for the Trump administration. Venezuelan authorities have evidence the operation was linked directly to some countries allied with the US, including Australia, diplomatically supporting the rival opposition Juan Guaido grouping as contenders for power in Caracas.
The fact the Trump administration has so quickly denied any involvement with Operation Gideon can be regarded as evidence of them not wanting to be associated with the botched covert operation for fear of compromising opposition groups inside the country which they support. It is unlikely Juan Guaido did not know about the covert operation, given that it was intended to place him in the presidential palace as national leader.
An official statement from Silvercorp USA has also included reference to a signed agreement with Juan Guaido who was supposed to have provided the financial support for Operation Gideon. (14)
Operation Gideon was clearly an attempt by US imperialism to topple the Maduro administration and halt the Bolivarian Revolutio.
We need an independent foreign policy!
1. Maduro parades 'invader' from US, Australian, 8 May 2020.
2. US army gets grip again on jungle warfare, Weekend Australian, 18-19 March 2017.
3. Secret US intelligence files, TESEO, The Nation, 18 November 2019.
4. Operation Condor, Latin America: The Thirty-Year Dirty War, Pierre Abramovici, Global Research; and, Operation Condor: CIA Documents, The Patriot Times, March 2019; and, Operation Condor to Europe, Whitney Webb, Mint Press News, 17-20 April 2019.
5. Website: AR 381-20, Army Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program, Section 1.5, Mission and Policy, page 1.
6. Army's Project X had wider audience, The Washington Post, 6 March 1996.
7. The CIA cleanses itself, The New York Times, 4 March 1997.
9. US denies links to foiled 'kill plot', Australian, 7 May 2020.
10. The Division in Battle, Organisation and Tactics, Army Headquarters, Canberra, 31 December 1967, Section 17, Sub-section 129, a and c, pp. 50-51.
11. The Third World War and Latin America, Department of State, Washington, Margaret P. Grafeld, Director, Argentine Project, (S200000044), 8 March 1976; and, The Disappeared, Voices from a silent war, John Simpson and Jana Bennett, (London, 1985).
12. Washington Post, op.cit., 6 March 1997.
13. Australian, op.cit., 8 May 2020.
14. Australian, op.cit., 7 May 2020.
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