Two senior members of the Venezuelan opposition quit on Monday after admitting they signed an agreement with a US security firm proposing an armed invasion of the country to topple president Nicolás Maduro.
The US-based aides said they had nothing to do with the recent botched seaborne incursions into Venezuela, carried out by two former US soldiers and a group of Venezuelans.
One of the aides described it as a “suicide operation” and offered his condolences to “the families of those Venezuelans who fell into this trap and died in recent days”. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is under intense pressure over the issue, accepted the resignations of political strategist Juan José Rendón and former Venezuelan congressman Sergio Vergara.
The two have acknowledged signing a preliminary agreement last October on behalf of the opposition with Jordan Goudreau, a former US special forces veteran and founder of Silvercorp, a Florida-based private security firm.
The agreement outlines a potential “operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolás Maduro and remove the current regime and install the recognised Venezuelan president Juan Guaidó”.
The aides said it was just one of many options they considered and that the plan fell apart within weeks because Goudreau proved unreliable. Conversations with Silvercorp “ended on November 8, 2019,” Vergara said in his resignation letter. Despite that, Goudreau pressed ahead. On May 3, when the first of two boats carrying armed men tried to land on Venezuelan beaches, he said he was behind what he described as “a daring amphibious raid”. Venezuelan security forces killed eight men in the first attempted landing, describing them as “terrorist mercenaries”.
Since then nearly 50 people have been arrested in Venezuela for their alleged connection to the plot, including the two former US soldiers who were aboard the second boat. Maduro said the US and Colombian governments are behind the plot, in collusion with Guaidó. They have all strenuously denied involvement. The two aides did not give reasons for their resignations. Rendón said it was never their intention “to get involved in violent, much less illegal, activities”.