Wednesday, 06 May, 2020

Trump denies US role in mercenary incursion attempt into Venezuela

US President Donald Trump has denied any US government involvement in a recent marine incursion attempt into Venezuela.

Trump made the comment after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Caracas had arrested two US citizens working with an American military veteran who had claimed responsibility for the foiled operation by purported terrorist mercenaries into the South American country.

“We’ll find out. We just heard about it,” Trump claimed at a White House briefing on Tuesday. “But it has nothing to do with our government.”

Before dawn on Sunday, a group of US-backed mercenaries tried to intrude into the northern state of La Guaira on boats, but Venezuelan authorities foiled the attack — which was launched from Colombia — killing eight of the armed men and arresting several others.

In a state television address on Monday, Maduro said authorities had detained 13 terrorists involved in the Sunday attack, including two Americans. The two US citizens were identified as Airan Berry and Luke Denman.

Maduro showed the US passports and other identification cards belonging to Berry and Denman, noting that they had been working with Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who leads the Florida-based security firm Silvercorp USA.

Goudreau later admitted that Berry and Denman were working with him in the operation.

Maduro said the Venezuelan authorities had been aware of the plot — which he said was coordinated with Washington and aimed to oust him — before its execution.

Separately on Tuesday, the Pentagon also denied any involvement in the “failed armed incursion.”

“The United States government had nothing to do with what’s happened in Venezuela in the last few days,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told a news briefing.

The US State Department also denied any US role in the incursion, without providing any immediate comment on the arrests.

Washington has been openly calling for the ouster of Maduro, increasing pressure on Caracas in recent months by indicting the leftist leader as a “narco-trafficker” and offering a 15-million-dollar “reward” for his arrest.

Washington has also slapped harsh sanctions on Venezuela.

Opposition figure Juan Guaido, propped up by the US, declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January last year and later launched an abortive coup with help from a small number of rogue soldiers. There was also an attempt at assassinating Maduro with a drone in 2018.

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