New York —

The so-called “Operation Gideon”, which sought to overthrow Maduro, was commanded by a private security company Silvercorp

They called it a “private coup”: a plan to kidnap Nicolás Maduro and hand him over to the United States authorities, who offer $ 15 million for the President of Venezuela.

The plan, commanded by the US security company Silvercorp, began with months of training for Venezuelan ex-military personnel in the deserted Colombian Guajira. They had weapons, vests, communications.

Silvercorp had even had contacts with the Venezuelan opposition, open to explore “all options” to overthrow Maduro.

And this is how the so-called “Operation Gideon” was born, whose leader was Jordan Goudreau, an eccentric former US military man who participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the Army’s special forces. Several other former soldiers from that country accompanied him.

On May 3, fifty men embarked two boats from Colombia with the ambitious objective of occupying the Miraflores presidential palace, removing Maduro and taking him to the northern country.

But before reaching even his landing point, a town on the Venezuelan north coast called Macuto, were intercepted by the Venezuelan security forces. According to the government, eight people died in the confrontation and two Americans were arrested.

Since then, what began as a heroic operation to overthrow Chavismo has become a source of ridicule and, according to Venezuelan experts, a new argument for Maduro’s rhetoric against imperialism.

Goudreau, now investigated by the Justice of his country, is the protagonist of a story worthy of a film; for some not of action, but of comedy.

Even if the Donald Trump government has denied any ties to Goudreau and the operation, the plan reflects the motto of the Washington government that “all options are on the table” to provoke a change of government in Venezuela.

A Miami company

Goudreau’s name – 43 years old and born in Canada – rose to stardom on May 1. An investigation by the Associated Press revealed the operation led by the former military man, forged in 2018 from Colombia in alliance with members of the opposition and a former ally of Chavismo, former general Clíver Alcalá, who for weeks has been in the hands of US justice

Goudreau, a decorated member of an Army Special Forces team also known as the “Green Berets,” not only participated in opposition meetings in Bogotá and Miami, but was part of the security deployment of the concert “Venezuela Aid Live”, on the border with Colombia, hosted by millionaire Richard Branson in February 2019.

After fighting in the wars, Goudreau created Silvercorp a Miami in March 2018. His main offer, according to his extravagant social networks and official website, was to train the police and teachers in the attacks on schools in the United States. .

Part of his strategy, he says in a video, was “to infiltrate anti-terror agents into schools disguised as teachers.”.

.Silvercorp participated in the security deployment of Venezuela Live Aid.

In a detailed tour of the Goudreau networks, criminologist Giancarlo Fiorella showed evidence on the Bellingcat portal that the agent had participated in and provided security at Trump political rallies.

“All this does not mean that Goudreau is part of the Secret Service. Trump famously employs private security for himself and during his rallies, and Silvercorp was probably hired “for these events, explains the expert, who later published another report detailing theories that relate Operation Gideon to members of the radical American right.

BBC Mundo contacted Goudreau but received no response. In an interview with Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo, Goudreau says that, despite the fact that his plan was already known and that the opposition “did not pay him” for what he promised, he launched the operation because he is a “freedom fighter”.

Based on a controversial contract revealed by the former military man, Goudreau hoped to finance his operation with payments made by the opposition, which obtains its funds from the dividends of Venezuelan state companies seized by the United States.

Whatever their purpose, in any case, Goudreau and Silvercorp reflect a long tradition of private US companies providing military services to governments and private entities in Latin America and the world.

“We are not retired military,” says Goudreau in another video on networks. “We are an active risk mitigation service.”

The business of geopolitics and drug trafficking

“The outsourcing of Defense policy in the United States, as well as in Colombia, has grown a lot in recent decades, especially in the fight against drug trafficking,” Adam Isacson, security expert at the Washington for Latin American Affairs (WOLA), a think tank.

In Latin America this type of company has been used more for intelligence support, while in places like Iraq or Africa they carried out military operations more similar to what Goudreau seemed to be trying to do, “he adds.

Regardless of whether or not the US government had anything to do with Operation Gideon, US experts and opponents have said that developments like these are the result of putting a figure on Maduro’s head.

In March, the State Department offered a $ 15 million reward for Maduro, to whom US justice accused of drug trafficking.

DEACartel of the Administration for Drug Control (DEA) of the United States offering US $ 15 million in exchange for information leading to the capture of Nicolás Maduro.

Isacson has documented the role that dozens of US companies have played in schemes such as Plan Colombia, a millionaire bilateral drug-fighting agreement.

Other US security companies provide services to Colombian mining companies. Its presence in the country is old and entrenched.

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an emergency in the United States of security companies that responded to government initiatives to intervene in complex but small-scale conflicts, especially in Africa, without the political cost – although yes economic – of sacrificing American troops.

According to a 2011 report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Between 2005 and 2009 the federal government spent US $ 3.1 billion on private contracts for counternarcotics policies in Latin America, an increase of 32% in four years.

The reward for Maduro is presented in terms of the war on drug trafficking, a charge that the Chavista president is accused of.

An argument, according to US mercenaries like Goudreau who say they fight for freedom, to deliver a “private coup”.

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