Opposition leader Juan Guaido continues to deny any link to a failed armed incursion into Venezuela, despite his own allies handing over a lengthy contract to American media naming him as the commander of the operation.
The oppo figurehead and self-declared “interim president” of Venezuela denied again on Friday that he had anything to do with the ill-fated mission, which by most accounts was set up by a Florida-based security company, Silvercorp USA, and its American CEO, Jordan Goudreau.
“We reiterate once again that the interim government has no link, commitment or responsibility to Silvercorp or its actions, as well as deny that President Guaido has signed an assumption contract with [the company],” Guaido’s office said in a statement.
Earlier this week, however, the Washington Post published a 41-page document it alleged to be the full multi-million-dollar contract between Silvercorp and Guaido, even noting the document was “provided by Venezuelan opposition officials on the condition that one of the attachments be redacted.” Among its many revelations, the leaked contract clearly lists Guaido as the operation’s “Commander in Chief,” directly at odds with his repeated claims to the contrary.
While the complete contract does not contain Guaido’s signature, top adviser Juan Rendon has admitted to Reuters that he negotiated the deal, and his name does appear on the contract alongside other senior opposition members. Guaido did apparently sign a shorter “general services agreement,” though that document does not specify what the deal was for.
The failed mission, launched on May 3, saw several dozen armed mercenaries attempt to storm the Venezuelan coast from Colombia in speedboats. The operation fell apart before it could get off the ground, with security forces intercepting the boats and killing eight of the fighters before arresting some 13 more – two of them US citizens and employees of Silvercorp. One of those Americans, Luke Denman, has since stated the mission sought to capture Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and bring him back to the US, where he is wanted on “narco terrorism” charges.
Guaido has offered a very different version of events, however, insisting Maduro fabricated the entire story while calling the leaked contract a fake, meant to generate a “false positive” justification to “kidnap and arrest” members of the opposition. The alternative account, if true, would mean the Washington Post is either working hand-in-glove with Maduro, or was fooled by his operatives posing as opposition figures. Goudreau and Rendon – Guaido’s own adviser – would also have to be in on the conspiracy, as both have corroborated that there was, in fact, a deal with Silvercorp.
US President Donald Trump has rejected claims of American involvement in the incursion plot, stating he would have sent in the military had he wanted to carry out such a mission, though Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of ordering the operation. Other critics have also voiced suspicions about the timing of the attempted mercenary raid, which came only weeks after the US indicted Maduro on drug trafficking and launched a militarized anti-narcotics mission in the Caribbean Sea – on Venezuela’s doorstep.
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