In what has been labeled a new “Keystone Kops Bay of Pigs,” the latest attempt to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro failed spectacularly, as both American and Venezuelan paramilitaries were immediately overwhelmed when they came into contact with the navy, or even with armed local fishermen’s collectives. Last Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that his plans for “restoring democracy” in Venezuela were “gaining momentum” and that he had already made plans to reopen the American embassy in Caracas. The next day, Washington’s regime change specialist John Bolton cryptically announced that “morning is coming to Venezuela again” soon.
By Sunday, the coup plotters were lying face down on the concrete, zip-tied, some appearing to have wet themselves in terror when coming into contact with the employees of the “house of socialist fisherman” in the sleepy coastal village of Chuao. The Trump administration immediately denied all involvement, “it has nothing to do with our government,” the president said yesterday. But as the dust settled, the mercenaries immediately began implicating each other – and the U.S.
Asked why there were two “gringos” with him, one detainee responded that they were the “security chiefs of the president of the United States; of Donald Trump.” The “gringos” were later confirmed as former Special Forces operators Luke Denman and Aaron Berry, who helpfully brought their passports and even their VA discount cards to the insurrection. The mastermind behind the plan, John Goudreau, also confirmed their identities. Goudreau is a former Green Beret who founded private Florida-based mercenary force Silvercorp in 2018. Silvercorp’s Instagram page even featured now-deleted posts showing Goudreau and his men posing with MAGA hats and running private security for Trump at campaign events. C-SPAN footage of a Trump rally in October 2018 does indeed show them close to the president, patrolling the event. The company’s (since deleted) twitter account was even live-tweeting their secret mission, tagging Trump in a post.
— Jeb Sprague (@JebSprague) May 5, 2020
Apparently unaware he was confessing to a capital offense, Goudreau appeared on a Venezuelan show from his home in Florida, insisting that the mission was “still ongoing, absolutely,” even as his employees were being overpowered by disgruntled lobstermen. “These guys want to fight!” he added. Goudreau also shared an eight-page document signed by Juan Guaidó, where the self-declared “interim president” promised to pay him $212 million to overthrow Maduro, seemingly oblivious to how bad it made them both look. He claims that Guaidó, notorious for fraud, had refused to pay even the $1.5 million retainer fee. “I’m out a lot of money. A LOT. But the bottom line is a lot of us came together to do this. I’ve been a freedom fighter my whole life,” he said, as an explanation as to why he continued with the plan.
Silvercorp describes itself as “providing governments and corporations with realistic and timely solutions to irregular problems.” Apart from coup services, they also offer school shooting seminars ($2,499 for six hours), “motivation and mindset” talks ($3,999 for six hours) and a $4,999 course on what they call “advanced urban sniper tactics,” Goudrau claiming that he has “hunted the most dangerous game my entire adult life. I’m going to teach you the tools of the trade.” Thus, Silvercorp promises to teach anyone with enough money how to survive – or commit – mass shootings.
A February poll found that American actions are highly unpopular inside Venezuela, with 83 percent of respondents opposed to an invasion and over 80 percent against the current sanctions. Why, then, did Silvercorp and others believe it could overthrow the entire country with 300 poorly trained volunteers? One reason could be the decades of pop culture propaganda aimed at the country. Parks and Recreation presented the country as a joke dictatorship where virtually anything results in an arrest, the plot of The Expendables revolves around a crack team of mercenaries easily taking out a corrupt South American dictator, while a whole series of Jack Ryan follows the CIA agent helping to bring democracy to Venezuela. Unfortunately for Washington, reality bit and Goudreau was less Jack Ryan and more Jim from The Office.
Social media has also played its part, deleting hundreds of accounts belonging to or supporting the Venezuelan left. Indeed, Twitter deleted the accounts of Venezuela’s state-owned electricity company just before an attack on the power grid on Monday.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Washington is prioritizing punishing its enemies and pursuing regime change around the world, at the expense of saving its own citizens’ lives. However, due to the enormous power imbalance and the long history of demonizing Venezuela, it is unlikely that there will be serious consequences for the administration for overseeing a second Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Feature photo | Employees of Silvercorp are arrested by Venezuelan authorities after a failed coup attempt. Photo | Twitter
Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.