Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro alleged Wednesday that opposition leader Juan Guaido met with a former member of the US Army special forces at the White House to plan a failed sea invasion of the Caribbean country.
Maduro claimed the meeting occurred when Guaido, the legislative leader who is supported by the US and around fifty other countries as the interim president of Venezuela, visited the US president in Washington in February.
“It was at the White House on February 4 of this year, 2020, that Juan Guaido met with Jordan Goudreau” the leftist leader said, referring to the former special forces member who Venezuela has alleged organized and trained a mercenary force to carry out the invasion.
The meeting, Maduro said, was “at the order of Donald Trump to come up with the plan of attack.”
According to Maduro, “it would be very easy to verify” Goudreau’s presence at the White House between 2019 and 2020 and “in which room he met with Mr Guaido.”
The White House did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.
But Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Tuesday it would have been at that meeting that Goudreau was “ratified as the military leader” of an “invasion” along the country’s northern coast that the Venezuelan government says it thwarted between May 3 and 4.
The allegations are based on a video in which a dissident captain detained in the raid talks about a supposed meeting at the White House.
Maduro claims Guaido signed a contract with Slivercorp USA, a private security and defense company founded by Goudreau, to carry out the coup, seeking the Venezuelan president’s “capture, detention and removal” and the opposition leader’s “installation.”
Guaido has called the contract “false” and says that the Venezuelan government was looking for “excuses” to arrest him.
Trump has denied that the US was involved.
“If I wanted to go into Venezuela I wouldn’t make a secret about it,” he said.
Venezuela detained 52 “mercenaries” in the operation, including retired US military members Luke Alexander Denman and Airan Berry, who have been charged with terrorism, said Diosdado Cabello, deputy leader of the ruling Socialist Party.