Indirect Invasion? U.S Denies Venezuelan Coup Involvement


The Issue At Hand

While the global community continues to face the unprecedented ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of international espionage and military incursions continues to functional as normal. Today, President Donald Trump denied official U.S involvement in the failed coup plot against his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro. Tensions have heightened after the Venezuelan government foiled the amphibious raid attempted by a group of mercenaries led by two U.S special forces veterans, whom it has labeled as “terrorists”. Trump’s denial is the latest development as both nations slowly come to terms with the possible overextension of political sovereignty. The situation is simply a messy one. If the U.S military did not sanction the coup attempt, then it could be argued that sovereignty was still respected. However, considering the current state of Venezuela and the legitimacy of Maduro’s rule or lack thereof, one might argue that any attempt at a coup or rebellion is in line with international law. If Maduro is an illegitimate leader, then legitimacy exits the equation when it comes to a military incursion. The only question that remains is whether it is the U.S’s job to be the global watchdog.

An Official Denial, But No More

“If I wanted to go into Venezuela, I wouldn’t make a secret about it,” Trump told Fox News on Friday. According to NPR, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed similar sentiment, stating “there was no U.S. Government direct involvement in this operation.” He asserted that “If we had been involved, it would have gone differently. As for who bankrolled it, we’re not prepared to share any more information about what we know took place. We’ll unpack that at an appropriate time.” Meanwhile, Maduro maintains that Trump is the “direct chief of the invasion”, as reported by the BBC. The deflection from both parties only highlights the disparity between the two nations, but it is important to note that there is currently no evidence of a sanctioned U.S operation against Venezuela.

Non-State Actors, Or Rogue Agents?

Luke Denman and Airan Berry are the two U.S citizens currently under arrest in Venezuela. Earlier in the week, the government aired a video of Denman confessing to the plot to overthrow Maduro and extract him back to the U.S. He and Berry are decorated U.S army veterans, having both served in the Iraq War. According to the BBC, Denman attested that he and Berry were contracted by Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who leads the Florida-based firm Silvercorp USA, to carry out the operation. On Friday, Venezuela said that it is seeking the extradition of ex-Green Beret Goudreau after Goudreau himself claimed responsibility for the operation this past Sunday. Silvercorp USA has been linked to the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaido, whom the international community recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Considering the U.S’s retraction from any involvement but the State Department’s affirmation that it will get Denman and Berry back from Venezuela, it seems that Goudreau’s extradition is an unlikely one.

Whom To Believe, What To Believe And The Way Forward

What makes this confusing situation all the more perplexing is the fact that the U.S. government has offered a $15 million reward for Maduro’s capture, according to NPR. Most people would argue that if you are providing post-action funding and thus propagating such activity, then you are responsible for the action committed, especially if it is committed by members of your nation. If you tell a dog to sit as you hold a treat out in front of him, then it would be reasonable to say that the dog did not act independently to your request and reward. You are responsible for the dog sitting, especially since it’s your dog. The issue for the U.S is that it can’t seem to decide whether it is the dog or the owner.

Venezuela is certainly in need of assistance. Maduro is an oppressive leader whose actions and negligence have received widespread condemnation from the international community. He is an illegitimate leader. But the U.S is not the policeman of the world, and in the wake of a pandemic, it is not a role most would want the country to fulfill. The incursion that occurred this past week will likely pass as a mistake. The unofficial and unauthorized acts of several U.S citizens do not reflect the interests of the nation, but as long as the bounty floats above Maduro’s head, the hunt will certainly continue.