The mercenaries who “invaded” Venezuela last weekend to capture President Nicolás Maduro and topple his disastrous, dictatorial regime called their mission Operation Gideon.
More like Operation Idiot.
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Not just for its military stupidity but for the just as moronic political damage it’s done to Venezuela’s already vulnerable opposition. Which is why it’s time the opposition, especially its more hawkish supporters here in the Venezuelan diaspora, stop encouraging this sort of dangerous nonsense.
The blunderous maritime incursion on Venezuela’s coast – which Maduro says resulted in eight insurgents killed and 15 captured, including two former U.S. special forces members – looked like soldier-of-fortune amateurism at its worst. This despite the fact it was overseen by a decorated ex-U.S. Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau, and ex-Venezuelan National Guard officer Javier Nieto.
Actually, “overseen” gives them too much credit since they don’t appear to have been anywhere near the armed debacle. They were somewhere recording a video announcing the armed debacle – or in Goudreau’s delusional words, “a daring amphibious raid deep into the heart of Caracas.”
The commandos, whom Goudreau trained in a Venezuelan refugee camp inside Colombia, didn’t even make it to the heart of the beach off La Guaira. While he and Nieto were safely bloviating on camera, their men were being mowed down by Maduro’s forces on boats. Hell, even Fidel Castro was alongside his comrades when they were pinned down after landing on Cuba’s coast 64 years ago. Where was Goudreau on Sunday?
But the equally important question is: where was Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in all of this?
Guaidó – whom the U.S. and almost 60 other countries rightly recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate president – allegedly signed a $213 million general services contract back in October with Goudreau and his Florida company, Silvercorp USA. Goudreau showed the document to Venezuelan exile journalist Patricia Poleo over the weekend. According to the Washington Post the services it specified did include armed insurgency like Sunday's fiasco.
Goudreau claims Guaidó backed out of the pact and never paid him. Perhaps that’s because Guaidó found out he’d inked an almost quarter-billion-dollar deal with a suspect character.
In his excellent investigative report on Goudreau last week, the AP’s Joshua Goodman found just about everyone the former Green Beret’s dealt with in recent years considers him a divorced-from-reality swashbuckler who’s convinced he’s Lawrence of Venezuela.
Still, after last Sunday – and after Goudreau produced the alleged October agreement – Guaidó and his camp are finding it deuce difficult (as the British Lawrence might have said) to wash Operation Gideon off their hands. Guaidó denies any association with Goudreau or the raid. But that seems beside the point now.
EL MOMENTO HEROICO
The larger issue is why Guaidó and company over and over again find themselves in credibility-compromising situations like this – which Maduro may use this time as an excuse to jail Guaidó. It was this time last year, don’t forget, that Guaidó stood in Caracas with a handful of rebel soldiers and declared a military uprising would oust Maduro that very day. Nothing of the sort happened; he’d been duped into thinking the colonels and generals were defecting to his side.
It was hardly his first such snafu. And one of the big reasons the snafus keep coming is the incorrigible fantasy Guaidó, the opposition and the diaspora harbor about el momento heroico – the great heroic moment of fire and blood, be it a Venezuelan military insurrection or a U.S. military intervention, that will magically dislodge the Maduro regime.
Any Lawrence wannabe like Goudreau would have heard thousands of angry and impatient Venezuelan expats shouting “Intervención! Intervención!” as Guaidó spoke during his visit to Miami in February. And he certainly would have noticed Guaidó’s reckless promise to them that “all options are on the table” in the struggle against Maduro – including military action.
As a resident of Miami, where Cuban exile militants once trained so unsuccessfully to overthrow Castro – and where many of them trained their martial aggression on anyone here who disagreed with them – the last thing I want is the goofball Goudreaus of the world covertly arming and training Venezuelans in Doral.
Maybe Sunday’s fiasco will finally convince them to exalt the more realistic potential of diplomatic and economic pressure to depose Maduro as passionately as they dream of el momento heroico.
Otherwise, not only misguided mercenaries will get killed on Venezuela’s beaches. The country’s democratic future may get mowed down as well.