Puede leer este artículo en español haciendo clic aquí
«Do you know Alexander The Great? The battle of Gaugamela. Completely outnumbered, he hit the heart of the enemy and won».
Based in this argument, Jordan Goudreau, a former operative of the United States Army Special Forces, also known as Green Berets, justified an unusual armed raid on May 3rd in a densely populated area on the coast near Caracas. The raid was aimed to overthrow Nicolás Maduro and the plan, at least at the beginning, had the approval of the Venezuelan opposition.
Goudreau spoke with the controversial Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo in an interview, who asked him to explain why he launched «Operation Gideon» in open water, instead of trying to infiltrate through the Colombian border.
Goudreau has a military company called Silvercorp USA, located in Florida, which was established in March, 2018, just weeks after the Parkland school shooting. Since then, he has published videos where he talks about how his company can train teachers to respond to active school shooters, and he even proposes «to embed counter-terrorism agents in schools disguised as teachers.»
In the strange conversation with Poleo, the former military officer also stated that he had signed a contract with the opposition led by Juan Guaidó, but «they hurt us more than they helped us», because, according to him, they never paid the agreed upon fee, including a retainer of US$ 1.5 million that he had requested for the operation.
Even tough Goudreau said that there are active groups on Venezuelan ground, he decided to continue providing the services of his company because he is a «freedom fighter» and «this is what they do».
The raid resulted in eight people killed, apparently in combat with the Maduro’s regime security forces. Also, there were at least 20 detainees in two attempts to enter the Venezuelan coast; the second one was executed on May 4th in Chuao, a Venezuelan cocoa-producing town in the coast of Aragua’s state, that can only be reached by maritime ships.
In this second attempt, Raúl Isaías Baduel’s son, a political prisoner, founder of the Bolivarian Revolution and commander of Hugo Chavez’s rescue mission after the brief coup on April 2002, was captured. His capture gave legitimacy to an unusual operation that at first, was not taken seriously by thousands of citizens who often doubt this type of armed uprisings, because the Venezuelan regime always ended up benefiting and taking advantage of its propagandistic apparatus.
The absurd operation evokes other failed attempts, such as the Captain’s Juan Carlos Caguaripano Scott operation, who commanded in 2017 an assault on the Paracamay fort in Valencia and who was detained and tortured until both of his testicles were detached with the application of electrical shock; or Óscar Pérez’s, an uprising policeman who was murdered alongside with his group on January 2018, even though he had surrendered.
However, the Gideon raid presents a question that no one knows how to answer clearly: why is it so difficult to upraise against the Chavista regime, even after losing popularity and plunging Venezuela into an unprecedented crisis, only comparable to countries at war?
To try to answer the question, it is essential to look back to December 2007, when the first electoral defeat of Hugo Chávez took place, on a referendum that would have allowed him to run for reelection indefinitely.
Chávez, being worried, decided to call his politician father and leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, who did not hesitate to tell him that if he wanted to stay in power, he should guarantee absolute control of the military.
According to declassified documents by Reuters, there were signed agreements to give Cuba a wide freedom to spy on and renew the Venezuelan Army. Then, began the imposition of strict surveillance of the Venezuelan army through the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), who spread fear and paranoia to destroy the dissent and any attempt at rebellion. Nowadays, according to independent organizations, there are more than 300 military prisoners.
More than a decade after the support of the Cuban army began – which US Vice President Mike Pence classified as «evil influence» – experts consider that this has been essential for Maduro’s survival as president, in the middle of an economic crisis that has generated widespread hunger and the migration of more than ten percent of the population in recent years.
The methods of the DCGIM agents are terrifying: according to United Nations reports, they carry out torture – many times while wearing skull masks – including electric shock, suffocation, water boarding, sexual violence, and food and water deprivation.
One of the most emblematic cases is Igbert Marín Chaparro’s, an Army colonel with an outstanding career and an “uncomfortable” leadership, who was detained, isolated and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment due to, among other things, denouncing that during a month he had to distribute four watermelons among 500 soldiers.
Although, the most media and disturbing case was Rafael Acosta Arévalo’s, a 50 year-old Navy captain who died in DGCIM custody on June 29th, 2019, eight days after the agents arrested him.
The murder of Acosta Arévalo, result of multiple and horrifying tortures, marked a before and after, because it occurred after the visit to the country by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet: even with the world’s eyes on it, the DCGIM did not hesitate to show its most cruel side, in what seemed a direct message to those soldiers who wanted to rise up.
Fantasy of foreign force
Miguel Ángel Martínez Meucci, doctor on Political Conflict and Pacification Processes, thinks that there are two types of extreme evil: the one that is carried out by isolated psychopaths and that one of totalitarian regimes.
Regarding the latter, Martínez Meucci states: “in this second case the magnitude of the task (neutralizing extreme evil) is huge, due to those who, at the beginning, are capable of shaping institutions, making the law and exercising violence, they are precisely the agents of extreme evil”.
Therefore, the necessary force usually comes from: 1) “antisystemic” instances, 2) building its legitimacy in open opposition to the instituted order, and 3) working outside of existing institutions. In other words, it will almost necessarily be an exogenous force to the system, foundational or re-foundational, a force which political character will have to be radically new, built from the most basic instances and capable of rearticulating society from its most essential roots.» He says.
According to the concept of «extreme evil» of the Venezuelan political analyst, Nicolás Maduro’s regime meets the requirements to be considered as such.
With the swearing-in of Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela on January, 2019 and his subsequent recognition by more than 50 nations, it makes way for a dangerous option – desired by many – to overthrow Maduro: a military intervention.
On January 23rd, 2019, the opposition leader Juan Guaidó was sworn in before thousands of followers as acting President of Venezuela and was recognized by more than 50 countries.
This option has gained strength thanks to the Donald Trump Administration, which immediately recognized Guaidó. He did not stop repeating that «all the options were on the table» to remove Maduro.
From there, opinion leaders in Venezuela and the rest of the world began pushing in that direction: demanding Guaidó «authorize» a military intervention by the US Army, which, according to many of them, would carry out a «surgical» operation without much collateral damage to overthrow Maduro, supported by other governments such as Colombia and Brazil, countries that also suffer from the regional crisis caused by Chavismo.
But neither Guaidó has the power to order the largest military power in history to enter in Venezuelan territory, nor does Trump seems to be serious when he says all options are on the table. And Trump’s reason may have a simple explanation: it is not so easy to overthrow Maduro.
Venezuela is not Panama, where the United States carried out a military operation in 1989 that ended the Manuel Noriega dictatorship in a few weeks. And it is not because both of Chávez and Maduro invested many resources in weapons and transnational strategies to sell expensive his defeat. Nowadays, the regime is nothing more than a criminal organization consisting of many criminal organizations. To believe that only the Venezuelan Armed Forces support Maduro is actually, pretty naive.
In Venezuela there is currently a dangerous presence of international armed groups, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) –which is located in at least 12 states according to independent organizations–; or the terrorist group Hezbollah, which, according to an article in Foreign Policy, «has long worked to establish an infrastructure and platform for its criminal activities in Venezuela, including drug trafficking, money laundering and illegal smuggling.»
To this we could add armed collectives and paramilitaries financed by Maduro, without forgetting that besides Cuba, Venezuela also has military support from Russia.
Not for nothing but there are reports affirming a possible American intervention would exceed US $ 80 billion. As a precedent, in the book “The three trillion dollar war”, written by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, it is explained how the expense of the invasion of Iraq was initially affected by the minimum and later unimaginable additional expenses.
Even more heartbreaking is to know that the invasion of Iraq ended with a bad end only to start another. About this, Stiglitz and Bilmes explain: “Although the Saddam Hussein’s regime is vile, the fact is that life for the Iraqi people is even worse today. The country’s roads, schools, hospitals, homes, and museums have been destroyed, and their citizens’ access to electricity and water is less than before the war. Sectarian violence abounds. The chaos of the Iraq war has turned the country into a magnet for terrorists of all colors. Nowadays, the idea that the invasion of Iraq would bring democracy and serve as a catalyst for change in the Middle East seems like a fantasy.»