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Guaidó advisers quit following bungled Venezuela raid

Opposition leader Juan Guaido listens during a legislative session held March 4, 2020, at a religious, private school in Caracas, Venezuela, an alternative location due to the government's continuous blocking of their access to National Assembly chambers.

ARIANA CUBILLOS/AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: May 11, 2020

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó said Monday that two U.S.-based political advisers have resigned in the fallout from a failed incursion into the Caribbean nation led by a former U.S. Army Green Beret aimed at capturing President Nicolás Maduro.

Guaido said he accepted the resignations of Juan José Rendon and Sergio Vergara, who had signed an agreement for a mission to arrest Maduro with U.S. military veteran Jordan Goudreau. While that deal fell apart, Goudreau has taken responsibility for going ahead with a failed attack launched May 3 on a beach outside the capital, Caracas.

Rendon said he gave Goudreau $50,000 to cover some initial expenses, but both say the contract was never fulfilled and he received no more funds.

The would-be invasion quickly became a publicity coup for Maduro, whose security forces intercepted most of the attackers.

Guaidó’s team said in a statement that he “accepted the resignation of the officials and thanked them for their dedication and commitment to Venezuela.”

Maduro said the objective of the raid was to kill him, but instead, officials said they killed at least six of the accused “mercenaries” and arrested dozens of others, including two former U.S. soldiers associated with Goudreau’s Florida-based firm Silvercorp USA.

Guaidó, who is backed by the Trump administration among nearly 60 other nations as Venezuela’s rightful leader, has denied having anything to do with the alleged attack, but has come under pressure from at least one opposition party in Venezuela to explain what happened.

Goudreau has presented what he said is a secret recording of Guaidó attending, by speakerphone, the meeting at which the deal was signed. Goudreau said he never was paid fully, but went forward with the mission to help liberate Venezuela from Maduro, working with a former Venezuelan Army Gen., Cliver Alcalá, who recently was extradited from Colombia to the U.S. to face drug charges.

Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab recently said Venezuela will seek the capture of Goudreau and the two former Guaidó advisers. Goudreau said about 60 people were involved in the incursion and Venezuelan officials said they have arrested at least 40, including 14 in the past two days.

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