At least eight people were killed during the overnight hours in the town of Macuto, just west of La Guaira on Venezuela’s north coast.
According to the Maduro government, a group of armed men attempted to make landfall near Macuto. Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol called the men “terrorist mercenaries who came from Colombia”, and said that eight of them they were killed while trying to invade Venezuela.
PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello said that one of the eight fatalities was a Venezuelan soldier nicknamed “Pantera” who had connections to Cliver Alcala. Once a loyal chavista, Alcala fled Venezuela after Maduro became president and attempted to coordinate military operations in Venezuela from Colombia. He was arrested by US authorities in April after he was charged with drug trafficking.
A local journalist named Cesar Guardiola shared images from the aftermath of the operation, including weapons and equipment that the authorities claim belonged to the failed invaders. Below, the images:
Cabello Claims One of the Captured is DEA Agent
PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello spoke about the operation, and claimed that one of the two people that it had captured in connection to the event is a DEA agent.
One of the people that we detained said that he was a DEA agent. He participated in operations by the DEA in America. He’s Venezuelan. That’s what he said.
He did not provide any more details or evidence for his claim.
Cabello said that the DEA connection was “clear” evidence that the United States government was behind this event.
Armed Group Releases Video, Claims “Pantera” is Alive
A Twitter account that shares anti-government images and other messages posted a video this afternoon showing a group of armed individuals, one of whom claims to be “Pantera”. While it is not clear when the video was filmed, the account claims that Pantera was not killed.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Soldier: Venezuelan people: it is I, National Guard Captain Colina Parra, Robert. National ID Number: 17 024 933, a.k.a. “Pantera”. I am the commander of Capture Team 3 from Operacion Gedeon. My main mission is to capture those who are in power illegitimately.
Fellow Venezuelans, fellow soldiers and police officers: join us. Let us restore peace, liberty and the constitution. As [the Bible] says, the horse makes ready for war, but it is Jehova who delivers victory.
God and freedom!
Operacion Gedeon refers to the El Junquito raid on January 15 2018, which saw rebel figure Oscar Perez and six of his companions killed. During his approximately six months in the public eye, Perez, who was a former police officer, called on Venezuelans to join his insurrection against the Maduro government. Since his death, Perez has become a cult figure among militant sectors of the opposition.
Former Special Forces Soldier Claims Incursion is Ongoing
Jordan Goudreau, a former US special forces soldier named in an AP article as the “ringleader” of a mercenary army that planned to invade Venezuela to arrest Maduro, said in a Twitter video published late this afternoon that the operation was ongoing.
In the video, Goudreau speaks in English beside a former Venezuelan soldier. Goudreau appears to claim responsibility for the failed raid in Macuto this morning, and says that other teams are still engaged in fighting in other parts of the country.
As of 7:20 PM Caracas time, there is no indication that any such events are taking place in Venezuela.
Below, the video:
Two days ago, AP published an article in which it claimed that Goudreau became interested in Venezuela in February 2019, and that he began to look for ways to “capitalize on the Trump administration’s growing interest in toppling Maduro.”
Goudreau eventually made contact with Cliver Alcala, and subsequently offered his services to help train an army of mercenaries for a “rapid strike operation”:
Goudreau told Alcalá his company could prepare the men for battle, according to the three sources. The two sides discussed weapons and equipment for the volunteer army, with Goudreau estimating a budget of around $1.5 million for a rapid strike operation.
Goudreau told participants at the meeting that he had high-level contacts in the Trump administration who could assist the effort, although he offered few details, the three people said. Over time, many of the people involved in the plan to overthrow Maduro would come to doubt his word.
According to the article, while representatives of opposition leader Juan Guaido were at one point in contact with Goudreau, they eventually severed him because they believed he was planning “a suicide mission”.
The AP article includes the account of one individual who visited a training camp that Goudreau had set up as part of this initiative:
Mattos said he was surprised by the barren conditions. There was no running water and men were sleeping on the floors, skipping meals and training with sawed-off broomsticks in place of assault rifles. Five Belgian shepherds trained to sniff out explosives were as poorly fed as their handlers and had to be given away.
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