Operational Analysis of Venezuelan Coup Attempt

Updated: May 8

On May 3, 2020, an attempted coup attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ended in failure with the capture of former United States Army Green Berets and Venezuelan expatriates during an amphibious landing. The United States government has denied any involvement in the operation, dubbed by the plotters as Operation Gideon, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bluntly observing, "If we had been involved, it would have turned out differently."


Current details regarding the funding and sponsorship of the coup remain scant and inconclusive. As a result, the Intelligence Ledger has chosen to focus on the operational details of the attempt in this article. Reporting on the background behind the coup will be made public in the days to come.


On May 1, 2020, two boats containing a total of 60 men departed Colombia and set a course towards La Guaira, a city near the capital of Venezuela, Caracas. Composed of 58 Venezuelan expats and two former Green Berets, the force's stated objective was the abduction of President Maduro and the transfer of power to Juan Guido, leader of the national assembly and internationally recognized leader of Venezuela. Their plan, however, quickly went awry.



According to Captain Victor Pimenta, a deserter from the Venezuelan military and captured member of the coup attempt, one of the boats suffered engine trouble, and thus was forced to abort the landing. However, the vessel, which contained both retired Green Berets, did not have enough fuel and was forced to turn back towards Venezuela.


Within minutes of approaching the shore, both boats were engaged by Venezuelan security forces, resulting in the deaths of six coup members. Upon landing, 13 individuals, including both former Green Berets, were brought into custody. The status of the other 41 men is unknown.



It appears as though the Venezuelan government may have been warned about the operation, although who exactly warned them remains unknown. On April 25, for example, both Caracas Highway and the Panamericana, highways that lead to Caracas, were blocked by the Guardia Nacional Bolivariana de Venezuela (Venezuelan National Guard) with no explanation, seemingly cutting off Caracas from the rest of Venezuela. Furthermore, on April 29, the Venezuelan Coast Guard moved two interceptor vessels to La Guaria, Vargas from Güiria, Sucre, a deployment that made little tactical sense at the time.



Venezuela's President has been quick to use the press coverage to bash the United States, taking the opportunity to stage a virtual town hall, most likely staged, on the situation. Further, one of the interrogations of a Green Beret, Luke Denman, was released to the public.



In the coming days, a report regarding the sponsorship and funding of the operation will be released. We encourage you to check back regularly for updates.

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