Venezuelan Version of the Bay of Pigs: Anatomy of “Operation Gideon”

Misión Verdad Jorge Rodriguez presented details of Operation Gideon,which is aimed at the capture and assassination of Chavista leaders, including President Nicolas Maduro. Photo: Presidential Press

As the hours pass, the volume of arrests of mercenaries who are part of a plan to capture and assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and other leaders of Venezuela’s political institutions increases. “Operación Negro Primero” has countered a transnational operation of which we have the details that we will present in this report.

The operatives arrested on the Venezuelan coast have provided further information that the Bolivarian Government transmitted to the population in order to expose the plot, the perpetrators, their composition and the protagonists behind the so-called “Operation Gideon”.

Not surprisingly, this operation was outsourced in an attempt to erase the traces of its intellectual actors. Seth McFane, author of The Modern Mercenary (2014), admits that the United States Department of Defense has increased the contracting of military corporations and private armies over the years. In 2010 alone, the US government had issued 366 billion dollars in such contracts (54% of its financial commitments in the military area), an amount seven times greater than the UK’s defence budget.

McFane reveals in his book that mercenary contractors make up half of the United States military forces in war zones over the last decade, and that these private companies are part of the combat structure of the Pentagon’s de facto operations.

The first to admit that there was a contract to carry out “Operation Gideon” was Cliver Alcala Cordones, who added that officials from Donald Trump’s administration and Juan Guaidó’s team were involved. We have now discovered who signed that contract and the operators involved, thanks to the results of “Operación Negro Primero”, which we will now summarize.

On Sunday, May 3, in the early morning hours, the first maritime incursion of “Operation Gideon” was neutralized. The boat set sail from La Guajira, in Colombia, heading for La Guaira state and was carrying 12 paramilitaries, under the direction of Robert Colina, alias “Pantera,” who was killed by Venezuelan military forces in the early hours of that day.

In his address on Monday, May 4, President Nicolás Maduro said that he had received information that some of the operatives of “Gideon” were on the coast of Chuao and in Petaquire (La Guaira), referring to the second boat that was intercepted in Chuao.

There, Antonio Sequea (former captain of the Bolivarian National Guard -GNB- who participated in the takeover of the Distribuidor Altamira on April 30, 2019) was captured. Jorge Rodriguez announced that he was the leader of the incursion on the Venezuelan coast, during a statement made on Tuesday, May 5.

The failure of the first launch in La Guaira caused the second one, which had been delayed due to a technical defect and had been informed of the confrontation in Macuto by a satellite radio, to abort the maritime incursion and try to flee to Bonaire, Dutch Antilles, but due to lack of fuel they could not follow that plan.

Being a larger vessel, it is estimated that about 50 mercenaries were there. It sailed towards the surroundings of Puerto Cruz (Aragua) and there a first group disembarked. It then continued on to Chuao, a town on the Araguanan coast, where it was captured by local fishermen.

At the end of March, the Venezuelan authorities denounced the Sequea brothers for coordinating, together with alias “Pantera” and the deserter Félix Adonai Mata Sanguinetti, mercenary camps in the Colombian Guajira.

The groups trained there reportedly went to Elkin Javier López Torres’ hacienda, alias “Doble Rueda”, to draw up a road map for entering the country by sea.

This conspiratorial plot, as he and other participants in the operation have stated, has Clíver Alcalá Cordones as one of its main operators. The management of the government of Donald Trump and Ivan Duque in their higher levels and Juan Guaidó are also part of the organization.

Equipment seized by “Operación Negro Primero” from the invaders. Photo: Presidential Press

A new internal fight

One of the elements highlighted by Minister Rodríguez in the failure of the operation was the power conflicts between the leaders in charge, a recurrent situation among members of anti-Chavism.

Iván Simonovis (a collaborator of Guaidó and the United States), one of those captured, said that he had agreed with Sequea to remove Clíver Alcalá from the operation and to put Sequea in charge. “He (Clíver Alcalá) suffered a coup within the coup he was planning,” said Minister Rodríguez.

The Chavista leader explained that there was a “confrontation” between Sequea and alias “Pantera” over this situation, as the latter was a close link to Clíver Alcalá. He added that, after questioning the mercenaries, several of them mentioned that Sequea had “left” alias “Pantera” to his fate upon arriving at the Macuto coast.

Such a disjunction would have precipitated the death and capture of the mercenaries in the state of La Guaira.

Connections to the DEA and Colombian drug trafficking

According to the information issued by Jorge Rodríguez, prior to the boat trip, the groups were reportedly stationed on the farm of drug trafficker Elkin Javier López Torres, located in Uribia, in the north of the department of La Guajira.

López Torres, who goes by the alias “Doble Rueda,” also known as “La Silla” in Colombia, is a capo in La Guajira who was prosecuted in Panama in 2012 for drug trafficking and arrested in Colombia in November 2019. He is related to the wife of Clíver Alcalá Cordones.

The capo, according to one of the terrorists, is related to Marta González, Alcalá’s wife, who also has ties to other drug traffickers, including José “Ñeñe” Hernández, a trafficker who died in 2019 with close political and financial ties to Iván Duque and Álvaro Uribe.

Alias “Doble Rueda” had not only offered his hacienda as a base of operations in Colombia, but had also provided financing for “Operation Gideon”.

All of this information was given by an agent of the DEA, the U.S. drug enforcement agency, involved in the invasion and who was arrested on Sunday the 3rd in Macuto.

He is José Alberto Socorro Hernández, alias “Pepero,” a drug trafficker with whom the two boats, after setting sail from Colombia, apparently made contact on Venezuelan soil and provided them with vehicles seized in La Guaira, eight vans, two of them with machine gun mounts, and military equipment for their attempt. Socorro Hernández was captured by the Special Action Forces (FAES) before he could meet the boats.

For his collaboration, alias “Pepero” was to receive $2 million from alias “Doble Rueda”, as he himself made known in his confessions.

Mercenary actors involved

The Venezuelan security agencies, deployed in the area, in coordination with the inhabitants of Chuao, apprehended eight members on board a vessel in the vicinity, including Americans Luke Alexander Denman and Airan Seth Barry of SilverCorp USA, Jordan Goudreau’s military contractor.

A former Green Beret told Connecting Vets, on condition of anonymity, that Goudreau had made Jamaica his center of operations where he planned “Operation Gideon,” in addition to serving as a recruitment point where Denman and Barry were also seen.
Identifications of the American mercenaries. Photo: Presidential Press

From the documents seized (passports, driver’s licenses and SilverCorp cards) it was learned that Denman and Barry, 34 and 41 years old respectively, are war veterans and serve as coaches at SilverCorp.

In addition, the Americans claim to have worked in Donald Trump’s personal security, according to data revealed by Nicolas Maduro from the confessions made by the detainees. Photos of them and Goudreau working for the security of the US president confirm the historical link between the current White House administration and the SilverCorp company.

The U.S. president has denied any link to the plot and to the U.S. mercenaries captured in Chuao.

A publication by the investigative journal La Tabla indicates that both U.S. military men come from the state of Texas, although apparently they had no social or work ties with each other there.

Upon completion of his military service in 2013, Barry moved to Schweinfurt, a German city that was home to one of the main military bases of the United States European Command (EUCOM).

On the other hand, La Tabla’s investigations indicate that Denman moved from Austin, Texas, to Palm Beach, Florida. He has a license to drive private planes.

As of the night of Monday, May 4, the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) and the Special Action Force (FAES) of the Bolivarian National Police had tracked down and captured five other terrorists who arrived on the coast.

In total, there are 13 captured out of an estimated 52 involved, according to the numbers handled by the official investigations, disclosed by the national president yesterday and later confirmed by Minister Jorge Rodriguez.

The mercenaries were transferred to the naval base in La Guaira. In addition to U.S. citizens and Antonio Sequea, the apprehension of Josnars Adolfo Baduel (son of former coup general Raul Baduel who was involved in other conspiracy plots) and of Victor Alejandro Pimienta Salazar, former captain of the GNB and an official of the DGCIM, who was appointed head of logistics for the operation, are noteworthy.

In another publication, La Tabla shows that Pimienta Salazar “helped (in October 2017) with the escape of the former mayor of Guanta, Jhonathan Marín, from Paraguachón,” in La Guajira, Colombia.

Of the rest of those captured, the majority are FANB deserters who were in Colombia: Raúl Eduardo Manzanilla, former Army lieutenant; Paiva Soto, former FANB lieutenant; Rojas Tapia, former FANB sergeant; Ruwin Magallanes, former FANB sergeant.

Also identified were two former members of the Baruta Police and Miranda Police, Jefferson Díaz Vasquez and Rodolfo Jesús Rodríguez Orellana respectively; a former member of the National Police, Enderson Rios Marín; as well as the participation of civilians Fernando Andrés Noya (boatswain) and Cosme Rafael Alcalá.
Equipment and weapons seized by the Venezuelan security forces from the mercenaries. Photo: With El Mazo Dando

Operación Negro Primero had been deployed in the areas linked to Operation Gideon to capture the rest of the armed groups that had managed to enter the national territory.

Associated with this, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López reported this Tuesday afternoon that a paramilitary center in the north of Zulia state, on the El Toro farm, was dismantled and five men were detained at the site. Among the military equipment that was confiscated were weapons of different calibers, ammunition, vehicles and communications equipment.

Information warfare between opposition spokespersons

During the afternoon of Sunday, March 3, Jordan Goudreau appeared in a video broadcast on social networks to confirm the plan as part of the agreements made previously with Congressman Juan Guaidó, those that the Venezuelan state denounced at the time of learning of the arrest of a vehicle in Riohacha, Colombia, on March 23, that was moving an arsenal of weapons to equip the mercenary camps in La Guajira, Colombia, where mercenaries were being trained under the leadership of Clíver Alcalá Cordones.

The contract came to light on Sunday the 3rd in Goudreau’s interview with opposition journalist Patricia Poleo. The signatures of Juan Guaidó, publicist J.J. Rendón and parliamentarian Sergio Vergara appear there. At first, Juan Guaidó rejected his authorship of the maritime incursion in La Guaira, saying that it was a “new dictatorship pot” while dismissing the first evidence produced by the investigations during the day.

Some opposition figures, such as Ivan Simonovis, agreed with Guaidó that the attacks on the coast of Macuto had been a false positive prepared by the Bolivarian Government.

Starting with Poleo, and as the investigations and arrests carried out by the Venezuelan state advanced, very obvious contradictions began to emerge among the representatives of anti-Chavism that undermined Guaidó’s efforts to present a uniform account against the evidence implicating him in the plan to remove the president from office.

In an interview conducted by Napoleon Bravo, Javier Nieto Quintero (an escaped captain involved in the Daktari case), who was in the Goudreau video sharing the authorship of “Operation Gideon,” responded to the discredits of some opposition sectors by saying that it was no “show” and rejected the idea that it was a montage orchestrated by Chavismo.

On the other hand, José Antonio Colina, a former Venezuelan military man, conspirator based in Miami and founder of the association Venezolanos Perseguidos Políticos en el Exilio (Veppex), corroborated in an interview with Bravo that most of the defectors in Gideon’s groups belong to the groups that deserted from GNB when Juan Guaidó summoned them to the operation on February 23 in Cúcuta.

The same is true of another military coup leader, former Rear Admiral Carlos Molina Tamayo. Both confirmed that they do not belong to “Operation Gideon,” however they claimed to know detailed information about its composition and purposes.

From the Twitter account of the “Coalición Activa de la Reserva Internacional Venezolana” (CANVE), which disseminates the videos and other content of the mercenary groups in question, contradictions have also arisen, beginning with the dissemination of the false story that alias “Pantera”, killed in the early morning confrontations of May 3, was still alive. A photo of his body published by an opposition journalist on social networks contradicted what was broadcast by CANVE.

Similarly, the data provided by this Twitter account on the number of commands set up for the operation clashes with Goudreau’s versions. While CANVE refers to “17 assault groups,” the U.S. military contractor told Bloomberg that only 52 people were involved, confirming the version gathered by the Bolivarian government.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the OAS, Roger Noriega, has gone one step further in questioning the frustrated mercenary movement. He told The American Conservative that “if it is true” that Guaidó signed a contract with Goudreau, the credibility of the Popular Will congressman and the State Department would be compromised in the face of U.S. policy towards Venezuela”.

Minister Jorge Rodriguez shows the organization chart of the protagonists in the plot of “Operation Gideon”. Photo: Presidential Press

“The idea that Guaidó’s team would be involved in this and the State Department would be kept in the dark, or worse, that the State Department would be informed before this (the operation), is extremely worrying,” Noriega said.

Faced with the information bombing that was generated from the anti-Chávez ranks to prove the veracity of the terrorist operation, Guaidó had no choice but to change its position and go out in “defense of human rights” of the operatives, once they were apprehended by the Venezuelan military agencies.

The religious component

A couple of comments should be made about the biblical rationale behind the operation name.

Gideon, according to the Old Testament of the Bible, was a warrior chosen by Yahweh to lead a “war of liberation” for Israel that had been invaded and plundered by the people of Midian. The story is found in Judges 6-8.

Legend has it that Gideon led an army of 300 men, divided into three camps, against the Midianites. They attacked them by surprise at night and then, with Yahweh’s help, confused them and produced a “dog war”, meaning “Yahweh caused the Midianites to kill each other throughout the camp”.

The mercenaries hired and trained by SilverCorp wanted to imitate the tactics of the Hebrew Gideon and his warrior symbolism as a moral figure, which did not have the expected success.

Added to this is the religious component of the American politicians, who maintain a very close link with the ecclesiastical hierarchies of the different Christian and evangelical sects (Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal) and have been promoting for centuries the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which affirms a design in their favour granted by a provident god for the expansion and occupation of the United States over other territories and populations. This logic is instrumentalized by the American Empire, evidently in decline, to operate openly or clandestinely in other latitudes in order to attempt the imposition of its agenda.

Nor is it a coincidence that the figure of Gideon, so dear to the American and Israeli-Zionist religious imaginary (not to mention that Gideon’s Bibles are part of the most extensive editorial catalogue in the United States), has been used to call for armed insurrection by mercenaries (mostly former GNBs who defected to the Guaidó side in 2019), taking into account that, according to Old Testament legend, the warrior leader organized, under the protection of Yahweh, to save “Israel from the hand of the Midianites,” who in Venezuelan terms would be the Chavista leaders.

Bay of Pigs, Venezuelan version 2020

The most belligerent sectors of anti-Chavism had been waiting for a “surgical action” such as “Operation Gideon” that would put an end to what they call a “narco-terrorist” regime, a classification used by the U.S. government to refer to the Venezuelan presidency with blatantly flimsy foundations, full of inconsistencies and with no hard evidence.

It is expected that this operation will be totally dismantled in the next few days, with the alacrity of the state security bodies in conjunction with the action of popular intelligence and the highly politicized organization of Chavism, the differential factors that the supposed U.S. military experts did not anticipate when creating the strategy.

Various journalists and analysts have called “Operación Negro Primero” a Venezuelan version of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba in mid-April 1961, in which the participation of the militias that supported the revolution, together with the regular Cuban army, was crucial. The idea of the United States was to create a beachhead from which to establish a “provisional government” seeking international recognition while deposing Fidel Castro from power.

In the Venezuelan scenario, Juan Guaidó’s fictional “interim” was the U.S. puppet that was to occupy the beachhead in Macuto. They failed, and, the way things are going in Venezuela, they never will succeed.

It seems that the historical analogy with the Cuban feat would seem correct as a portrait of this Venezuelan moment, albeit in the midst of a pandemic.