CARACAS (AP) – The arrests rose to 23 because of the frustrated armed incursion into Venezuelan coasts that has sparked intense controversy after the emergence of new evidence and statements that compromise the opposition in the incident.
In the framework of the search and capture operations of those allegedly involved, the Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, announced on Thursday that the number of arrests already reached “23 terrorists”, but did not offer details.
Until Wednesday, authorities had confirmed that 20 people were captured by the failed armed raid last Sunday in La Guaria state, including Americans Luke Denman and Airan Berry, who were associated with ex-green beret Jordan Goudreau, director of the firm. SilverCorp., which admitted that it coordinated Operation Gideon against the Venezuelan government.
During a broadcast on the state television, Rodríguez broadcast alleged statements that Berry offered to the authorities in which he admitted his participation and said that his role was to train between 50 and 60 people in the Colombian town of Riohacha, near the border with Colombia. , and that he was later transferred to Venezuela to advise the rebel group and take a capital airport through which several planes would enter. He added that among the objectives was the assassination of President Nicolás Maduro.
In his statement the detained American showed a copy of the operation contract that Goudreau released days ago, who assured that the agreement was signed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, opposition congressman Sergio Vergara, who fled the country last year after he They opened a process, and the Venezuelan political adviser Juan José Rendón.
The same Thursday night, the Colombian Foreign Ministry reiterated in a statement that it rejects the Maduro government’s accusations about any participation of the country in alleged actions against Venezuela. “We call the attention of the International Community to the insistence of that regime for involving the Colombian authorities in actions that are foreign to international law. Colombia is a country that respects international law and will never support activities outside of it, ”adds the note.
Maduro told the Telesur regional network on Thursday that the two Americans “are convicted, confessed” facing trial, adding that he hopes “there will be justice in this case of this mercenary armed incursion that was intended to assassinate me.”
The president affirmed that President Donald Trump’s reaction on the case is “incredible” and “nervous” and reiterated that “it is impossible that he did not know.” He added that after the failed operation last weekend, the few communication links with Washington “were cut” and the phones and messages are not answered.
Regarding the nomination of the diplomat James Story as the United States ambassador to Venezuela, Maduro said that he hopes that when the documents of the failed operation are declassified it will be revealed that this official, who currently serves as the American charge d’affaires, is “responsible for the failure of this armed raid of mercenaries ”.
The frustrated maritime raid and the arrest of the two Americans has generated new tensions between Caracas and Washington, which since last year severed relations and closed their embassies after Donald Trump supported Guaidó when he declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January 2019.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated Trump’s claims yesterday that Washington did not participate in the operation and jokingly told the press that if they had been involved “it would have been different.” Pompeo indicated that “they will do what they can” to achieve the repatriation of the two detained Americans and stated that if the Venezuelan authorities decide to retain them, “we will use all the tools we have available to try to bring them back.”
Maduro attacked Guaidó harshly on Thursday, calling him a “criminal” for ordering “to kill his political opponent.”
The Venezuelan Minister of Communication insisted on holding the opposition leader responsible for the operation, assuring that there was “clear evidence” against him, and he referred to the statements Rendón offered to the US newspaper The Washington Post and CNN en Español in which he claimed that he had paid $ 50,000 to Goudreau for a preliminary agreement, which did not cash, and which involved the exploration of the possible capture and delivery to the US authorities of some figures of the Venezuelan government. The political adviser denied that Guaidó has signed the contract.
The opposition leader ruled on Wednesday, through a statement from his press office, having any link or commitment to the SilverCorp company, and denied that an alleged contract has been signed with the representative of that firm. Also, the government was accused of infiltrating Operation Gideon with the “intention of massacring its members” and generating a “false positive” to “increase political persecution and use a false document as justification to try to kidnap and arrest” the head of the National Assembly adds the brief.
The main opposition parties denied in a statement that they promote or finance guerrillas and paramilitary groups, and accused the Maduro government of misrepresenting the facts to “continue to sow confusion, discouragement and terror.”
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