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Venezuelan President says two U.S. citizens are being detained for "playing Rambo"

4 years 1 month 2 weeks ago Tuesday, May 05 2020 May 5, 2020 May 05, 2020 9:24 AM May 05, 2020 in News
Source: BBC
Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela Photo: The Indian Express

The President of Venezuela is detaining two Americans and accusing them of acting as mercenaries who were involved in a terrorist plot against his government.

According to the BBC, President Nicolás Maduro says Venezuelan authorities have arrested 13 people, including two US citizens named Airan Berry and Luke Denman.

The announcement of their arrest was made a day after Venezuelan security forces claimed to have foiled an incursion by men in speedboats from Colombia.

Officials in Washington denied any U.S. government involvement.

Maduro has often accused the U.S. of trying to overthrow him.

Venezuelan authorities said eight armed men were killed during Sunday's alleged coup attempt.

In a live broadcast on Monday, Maduro displayed what he said were the passports belonging to Berry and Denman - U.S. citizens who work for a Florida-based security company.

President Maduro told viewers: "They were playing Rambo, they were playing hero."

Jordan Goudreau, a former member of the US Army special forces who leads a Florida-based private security firm called Silvercorp USA, has since told Reuters news agency he was one of the plot's organizers.

When asked about the arrests of Berry and Denman, Goudreau said: "They're working with me. Those are my guys."

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press news agency, Goudreau had planned a cross-border incursion, but it failed to get off the ground. The investigation revealed that he'd worked alongside retired Venezuelan military men, who have allegedly been training deserters from Venezuela's security forces at secret camps in Colombia.

The Associated Press said it had found no evidence of US government involvement.

The news agency says Goudreau turned his focus to Venezuela in February 2019, after he worked on security at a benefit concert on the Colombian-Venezuelan border arranged by UK billionaire Richard Branson and supported by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Goudreau has also repeatedly made claims about past associations with Guaidó, who is recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

On Monday,Guaidó denied having anything to do with the ex-Green Beret. In a statement, he said he had "no relationship nor responsibility for any actions" taken by the US war veteran.

He also accused President Maduro's administration of trying to divert teh public's attention away from recent outbreaks of violence - including a deadly prison riot on Friday and a gang battle in Caracas on Saturday night.

Guaidó has the backing of Washington, which has vowed to use tough sanctions to force President Maduro and the Socialist Party out of office.

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