Critics decried a failed attempt Sunday by a group of mercenaries, including two Americans, to invade Venezuela as an "unacceptable" act of aggression by the U.S. and Colombia in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
"This type of coup operation, reminiscent of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba decades ago, is not only a clear violation of international law, but is simply unconscionable during a worldwide pandemic," human rights attorney Dan Kovalik said in a statement Tuesday.
The attempted coup was foiled early Sunday morning. The two Americans, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, are reportedly employees of Florida security firm Silvercorp—which has ties to President Donald Trump. Silvercorp founder Jordan Goudreau claimed responsibility for the disastrous operation in a series of interviews on Sunday and Monday.
These dudes thought they were gonna boat into Venezuela & start a revolution like Fidel & Che on the Granma. A coup on MAGA brain https://t.co/e28qdk5FZN— Mike Prysner (@MikePrysner) May 5, 2020
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday assailed the joint U.S.-Colombian operation as an example of President Donald Trump's efforts to divert attention from the White House's mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak.
"These are Washington's strategic actions to divert attention," said Maduro. "It is criminal to do this amid a pandemic."
"The U.S. is looking for excuses to invade Venezuela, and that is why it uses mercenaries," Maduro added.
This is how members of the eight-man #OperationGedeon terror cell went down today in Chuao, Aragua state, in a civic-military-police takedown led by local fishermen. Courtesy: Luis Hugas. pic.twitter.com/N7U6IKlaCn— Camila (@camilateleSUR) May 5, 2020
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The failed operation comes in the context of increased U.S. aggression against Venezuela in recent months, explained the People's Dispatch:
As Covid-19 moved toward South America, the U.S. government increased pressure on the Venezuelan government. In February 2020, at the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. seeks to "oust Maduro." In March, the U.S. tightened sanctions against Venezuela, and then the U.S. Treasury Department put pressure on the International Monetary Fund not to allow Venezuela access to emergency finances to tackle the global pandemic. None of this worked. The Venezuelan government mobilized the people to break the chain of infection with international assistance from China, Cuba, and Russia as well as the World Health Organization.
At this point, the U.S. government shifted its focus. It suggested that President Maduro and his senior leadership are involved in narco-trafficking. No evidence was offered for this hallucinatory claim, although there is substantial evidence of the culpability of senior Colombian politicians in the drug trade. Trump authorized a naval detachment to sit off the coast of Venezuela, threaten its government, and intimidate its population. On April 30, to increase pressure on Venezuela, the Trump administration activated parts of the Selected Reserve forces to assist the U.S. armed forces in a mission named "Enhanced Department of Defense Counternarcotic Operation in the Western Hemisphere." All signs point to mischief by the U.S. and its Colombian allies against the Venezuelan people.
Venezuelan authorities said they had been tracing the mercenaries since at least Friday and were well prepared for the attack.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. is not taking responsibility for the operation and is avoiding being tied to the failed effort:
U.S. officials—who have indicted Maduro on narcoterrorism charges, offered a $15 million bounty for information leading to his capture or conviction, and imposed severe sanctions on his government—would not comment on the alleged arrests. U.S. officials have distanced themselves from Sunday's operation and questioned its veracity and legality.
Attorney Kovalik, in his remarks on the attack, said that the attack was part of an ongoing aggressive stance against Venezuela by the U.S. government.
"The U.N. and Pope Francis have quite reasonably called for the lifting of sanctions and the end of hostilities during this time to allow countries to fight this pandemic," said Kovalik. "Instead of heeding such calls, the U.S. is doing the opposite—increasing sanctions against and hostilities with countries like Venezuela. This is simply unacceptable."