Two former US Army Green Berets and 60 odd ex-patriots decided to invade Venezuela from Columbia by boat over the weekend. They were detained after a firefight in which 8 members of their group were killed. Now they are in custody and have “confessed” on Venezuelan TV to attempting to overthrow the government of Nicholas Maduro.
The men are employed by Silvercorp USA, a private security company run by Jordan Goudreau also a former Green Beret. He and former Venezuelan Army Capt Javier Nieto declared the invasion and that other cells would activate in Venezuela to begin a popular uprising to overthrow the Socialist government.
None of that happened. There were no reports of fighting in Caracas or elsewhere. If Captain Nieto had contacts in the Army that where going to back this attempt their support didn’t materialize. 60 guys are not going to land unnoticed on a beach, march to the capitol and arrest President Maduro. The Venezuelan military is around 350,000 strong.
If the United States government had anything to do with this ill advised adventure they aren’t admitting it. I would be surprised if they did, but this administration has surprised me more than once. Private contractors have been used extensively by the United States in the last few decades.
Perhaps a review of William Walker’s 1853 invasion of Baja California is appropriate. He decided to take over the peninsula and create his own Republic. After three months he decided to annex the state of Sonora. He eventually ran out of supplies and had to go back to California. Once at home he was arrested and tried for violating the Neutrality Act of 1794 (still in effect today) that makes it illegal to attack a nation the United States is at peace with. He was acquitted by a sympathetic jury. However, the United States is not at war with Venezuela.
This leads us to another problem; these guys just confessed to attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government. Their boss, Mr Goudreau has taken full responsibility for the escapade. Admirable, but it will not save the men detained. They are not prisoners of war, they are being held as criminals. Venezuela will no doubt try to use their detention as political leverage. Hopefully they will tire of it and send the men home. Hopefully the Trump administration will attempt to negotiate on their behalf. Nothing is guaranteed and the US does not have an embassy in Caracas. Even in the US attempting to overthrow the government is a capital offense.
The 60 Venezuelan nationals that made up the bulk of their crew is in even more dire straights. Maduro’s government is not known for having an even hand. They could be pumped for information, indefinitely detained or executed. I’m not sure where this idea originated but doubtless it was not sufficiently vetted to be a viable operation.