Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says there is evidence his American counterpart Donald Trump “personally ordered” the recent military raid on the Latin American country, arguing that Washington swiftly cut remaining ties with Caracas thereafter.
Maduro made the comments in an interview with a Uruguayan news outlet on Thursday evening, saying the evidence would soon reveal the US president himself was behind the “covert operation” last weekend, during which two US security contractors were arrested and eight armed locals killed.
Maduro also asserted that the newly-appointed Ambassador James Story – the first formal US envoy to Venezuela in some 10 years – and other senior American officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were to blame for the failed mercenary attack.
“James Story has his feet, his hands and his whole body in this armed incursion,” the Venezuelan president said, adding that confidential documents would soon be released proving their complicity.
Maduro went on to say that there had always been communication channels between Caracas and Washington, even when bilateral ties hit their lowest points, however, the US administration has been “silent” since the botched incursion attempt last weekend.
“They do not answer WhatsApp, phone, they are silent,” he said. “We had three communications channels with three officials from the Trump administration; we have sent messages to them but gained no answer.”
Maduro stressed that it was impossible that after 48 hours, Washington had declined to share information about the mercenary attack, directed by the US against Venezuela.
Trump has so far offered few comments on the failed marine incursion, telling reporters at a White House briefing that his administration was aware of the situation, but claimed “it has nothing to do with our government.”
Before dawn on Sunday, a group of US-backed mercenaries tried to intrude into the northern state of La Guaira on boats, but Venezuelan authorities foiled the attack – which was launched from Colombia – killing eight of the armed men and arresting several others.
In a state television address on Monday, Maduro said authorities had detained 13 terrorists involved in the attack, including two Americans. The two US citizens were identified as Airan Berry and Luke Denman.
Maduro showed the US passports and other identification cards belonging to Berry and Denman, noting that they had been working with Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who leads the Florida-based security firm Silvercorp USA.
Goudreau later admitted that Berry and Denman were working with him in the operation.
Denman said in a public interrogation on Venezuelan state TV on Wednesday that the purpose of the military operation was to seize an airport in Caracas and whisk Maduro back to the US, where he is accused of narco-terrorism charges.
Maduro said the Venezuelan authorities had been aware of the plot – which he said was coordinated with Washington and aimed to oust him – before its execution.
Military coup contract signed by Guaido
Goudreau has claimed Washington played no role in the military raid, which he says he undertook on his own after a deal fell through with Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido.
While Guaido had previously denied any involvement with the Florida-based security firm Silvercorp USA, a partial copy of the contract Goudreau says he signed with the opposition leader has circulated online, and the Washington Post has since obtained the full 41-page document from the opposition itself, clearly listing Guaido as the operation’s “Commander in Chief.”
Guaido’s signature doesn’t appear on the complete contract, however he did apparently sign a shorter “service agreement” with Goudreau, which has also been leaked and published.
“All of the above is conclusive evidence that Guaido was fully aware and part of this plot, even if he might have withdrawn from it at the last minute,” the Washington Post said.
Guaido plunged the oil-rich Latin American country into utter chaos after he abruptly declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January last year, challenging the outcome of the 2018 presidential election, which Maduro had won. Guaido later launched an abortive coup against the elected government.
Guaido’s self-proclamation as president and his coup received full support from Washington. Since then, the Trump administration has been escalating tensions against Caracas, and has not ruled out the military option to take out Maduro’s government.