Venezuela Weekly: Opposition Implicated in Armed Incursion

Just hours after the National Communication Center of Juan Guaidó’s interim government released a statement saying that Guaidó had no relation to Jordan Goudreau and Silvercorp, the organizers of the failed attack on Venezuela on Sunday, the Washington Post released a block buster article showing the opposition had actually entered into a contract with him.

Based on first hand interviews, the article suggests that an opposition “strategy committee” received proposals in September from various private contractors for an operation to capture Maduro officials, bring him to justice and allow Juan Guaidó to be installed as president. The article includes a scanned version of the agreement signed by Juan Guaidó, as well as the 42 page addendum providing details.

The AP’s Joshua Goodman first broke the story of Silvercorp U.S.A in a series of pieces starting last weekend (see here, here, and here). The documents and video surfaced in an interview of Goudreau by Miami-based, Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo. The Washington Post said it had confirmed not only the signature but the audio Gouderau had provided.

It turns out that at $212 million Goudreau was the discount option among the proposals the strategy committee reviewed, as some of the other contractors wanted up to $500 million. Part of that money was to come from supposed warehouses full of dollars that Goudreau would be able to keep 14% of.

It is especially notable that the “strategy committee’s” meetings with contractors took place on September 7, a week before Guaidó announced the opposition was pulling out of the Oslo/Barbados negotiations process.

So far there has been no official response from Guaidó. He first had said the incursion was a staged fake, then acknowledged it was real but said they had no part in it. Now he will have to calm widespread discontent within the opposition and its allies, as well as calls for accountability.

  • Three Senate Democrats sent a letter to the White House demanding explanations. Other legislators have sent similar queries privately.
  • WOLA released a statement (in English and Spanish) saying the Trump Administration’s continual suggestions that “all options are on the table” and that the Venezuelan armed forces are about to turn on Maduro, and more recently a $15 million reward, provide the context for reckless actions such as this.

It is not clear that the mercenary attack is over as both Jordan Goudreau and Minister of Communications Jorge Rodriguez said it involved sixty men and less than half of them had been accounted for. The second boat arrived to the coastal town of Chuao, which is not far from Caracas but is only reachable by sea or by foot path through densely forested mountains. As a result some towns in the area have been on lockdown as the Armed Forces look for others involved in the attack.

The Maduro government accuses the U.S. and Colombia of being behind the raid. both governments deny it (see U.S. and Colombia statements).

Coronavirus

  • The Maduro government, in its desperate effort to find financial resources, asked the Bank of England to sell part of the country’s gold reserves held in London and give the funds to the United Nations to administer in Venezuela.
  • Before the “Operation Gideon,” Maduro had called the Venezuelan opposition to declare a ceasefire and a humanitarian agreement to help face the coronavirus.

Civil Society Repercussions

  • Nicolás Maduro accused human rights organizaiton PROVEA of providing cover to “terrorists” for suggesting that Maduro was ultimately responsible for such desperate actions. He also claimed the CIA finances the organization.
  • Provea rejected the accusations and reiterated their commitment to fighting for better conditions and justice for the Venezuelans as they have for the last 31 years.

Prison Massacre

  • At least 46 prisoners were killed and more than 75 injured during violent upheavals in a prison in the city of Guanare in the west of the country. The government says the prisoners tried to escape. Family members say that the prisoners were demanding the lifting of restrictions on relatives bringing food to them, imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • The United Nations Commission on Human Rights called on the government to investigate what happened, to resolve prisons’ overcrowding, and to guarantee basic rights for inmates.
  • Amnesty International said “the authorities’ lethal response must be thoroughly investigated and analyzed so that these international crimes do not go unpunished”
  • Over 60 Venezuelan NGOs demanded the government respect prisoners’ human dignity, give clear information about what happened in prison, investigate the situation thoroughly, and permit access for inmates families.
  • The government has sent the director of Venezuela’s investigative police (CICPC) to investigate the upheaval.

Violence

  • Early Friday morning, Venezuelan troops sought to take control of parts of Petare, the massive area of popular barrios at the eastern end of Caracas. Local gangs have been fighting for control over the past week.

Sanctions

  • The U.S. State Department, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico are investigating at least two Mexican companies involved in an oil-for-food agreement with the government of Maduro.
  • The two companies have replaced Rosneft as the largest intermediaries of Venezuelan crude and have managed to slightly increase Venezuela’s oil export over the last month.

Migration

  • The latest opinion poll of the Editorial group Semana (their portal: migravenezuela.com) shows that Colombian society is souring on Venezuelan migration. 64% of the Colombians consider that migrants are a burden for the social services (last year it was 48%). Just 28% think that the migration is positive for Colombia’s development (37% last year),
  • A survey carried out in Peru in April shows that the economic situation of migrants and their ability to access essential food and products is dire.
  • Dozens of Venezuelan migrants confronted the Colombian police in the border with Ecuador. The Venezuelan migrants are demanding passage to return to their country. All Colombia’s borders are closed until May 30.