By Rachel Rochford (’23)
COVID-19 has greatly altered all of our lives. For some, this may mean watching the news at every chance, waiting to see the latest update. For others, it could be avoiding the news at all costs. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, you may be missing some of the stories from around the world purely because of how strongly COVID-19 dominates the news cycle. You may have caught a glimpse though of the latest news from Venezuela. If you did, the words Venezuela, coup, and Florida may look vaguely familiar. But what exactly happened?
On Sunday, May 3rd, the Venezuelan government detained a group of people attempting to reach its shores on speedboats. The Venezuelan government has called this group of approximately fifty people mercenaries and claims that they were there to cause intense harm. The Venezuelan government claims that they were there to kill Mr. Nicolas Maduro who still claims the country’s presidency even though his opposition Juan Guaido has been recognized by over fifty countries including the United States as the true president of Venezuela. The Venezuelan government alleges that this would have started a coup in Caracas which they say was the ultimate goal of the people who showed up on their shores.
This is not the only theory going around. Others have suggested that the real plan was to kidnap Maduro and take him to an unknown location. This stems from a former U.S. soldier who was a part of the event in Venezuela. He says that he was contracted by a security firm in Florida to fly Maduro to the U.S. via a plane from Caracas airport. According to the Washington Post, the firm in Florida, Silvercorp USA, was hired by members of Maduro’s opposition group for 213 million dollars to invade Venezuela and overthrow Maduro.
As you may have guessed, this whole event has Maduro quite angry. He has repeatedly blamed the U.S. and continues to hold the position that the United States government was involved in the plot. In response, president Trump has repeatedly stated the U.S. was not behind the attack at one point saying, “If we ever did anything with Venezuela, it wouldn’t be that way… It would be called an invasion.”
Tarek Saab, Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has stated that his office has requested detention and extradition orders of two Venezuelans Juan Rendon and Sergio Vergara and of American Jordan Goudreau. Rendon is a political strategist in Miami, Vergara an exiled legislator and Goudreau a U.S. military veteran and chief executive of Silvercorp USA. Saab, the prosecutor, has accused them of being behind the plotting of the May 3rd event. Gourdeau has claimed responsibility for the event while Rendon says that he did negotiate an agreement with Silvercorp USA but severed relations with Gourdeau in November. Rendon has said that Gourdeau carried on with the operation without him. So far, Vergara is yet to comment on the matter.
The operation was unsuccessful. It left eight people dead and over a dozen in Venezuelan custody, two of which are U.S. citizens. The question now is what happens next? For the families, things are grim. Those who lost a loved one must now enter the horrible process of grief and those with a loved one in custody will hope to see them again safely. Maduro will cling to power for another day, harming his citizens as he does. And Venezuela? Well, that tale is still untold. With much of the Venezuelan populous as well as activists world wide calling for change, the hope is that the country one day finds the freedom it has been yearning for.