Venezuela’s Maduro Parades Captured Ex-U.S. Soldier On TV; Pompeo: Will Use ‘Every Tool’ To Get Americans Back

A failed attempt to capture Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro has resulted in an escalation of tensions between the U.S. and the embattled Venezuelan regime. Maduro says that two former U.S. special forces soldiers were among a group of mercenaries who were part of a foiled coup on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó and supposedly backed by the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has scoffed at the dictator’s claim, saying ‘”if we’d have been involved, it would have gone differently,” and is vowing to use “every tool” available to get any Americans captured by the regime back.

“We will start the process of trying to figure a way if, in fact, these are Americans that are there, that we can figure out a path forward,” Pompeo said Wednesday, as reported by the New York Post. “We want to get every American back,” Pompeo underscored. “If the Maduro regime decides to hold them, we will use every tool that we have available to try and get them back.”

But while the U.S. is committed to getting any Americans allegedly involved in the plot back on our soil, Pompeo made clear that the U.S. had nothing to do with the failed coup. “If we had been involved, it would have gone differently,” he said, echoing Trump’s statement that the attempt to topple Maduro “has nothing to do with our government.”

Maduro, meanwhile, insists that the U.S. “is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid” and paraded one of the two captured former American soldiers on national television Wednesday, airing video of Luke Denman, 34, admitting to being involved in the coup attempt.

In the video, Denman says he was part of a team, which allegedly included American Airan Berry, 41, and six Venezuelan mercenaries, with orders from former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, 43.

“The only instructions I received from Jordan were that I should make sure to take control of the airport for safe passage transfer of Maduro and receiving airplanes,” said Denman. “‘Take Maduro back to the United States’,” were his alleged orders.

As reported by The Daily Mail, Denman is shown holding up “a document that he says is the contract with Goudreau’s company Silvercorp outlining his job for the mission.” The document, said Denman, is signed by Goudreau, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his advisor Juan Rendón, and that he was supposed to receive between $50,000 and $100,000 for his role in the mission.

During an interview with an exiled Venezuelan journalist this week, Goudreau openly claimed credit for directing the raid. “A daring amphibious raid was launched from the border of Colombia deep into the heart of Caracas,” said Goudreau, as reported by The Associated Press. “Our units have been activated in the south, west and east of Venezuela.” Sixty men were still fighting inside the country, he claimed. In the video aired Wednesday, Denman suggested Goudreau’s numbers are inflated.

In a later interview with Miami-based journalist Patricia Poleo, Goudreau “presented a contradictory account of his activities and the support he claims to have once had — and then lost — from Juan Guaidó,” AP reports. As evidence of his claims, Goudreau provided Poleo with a contract signed by Guaidó in Miami in October for $213 million, though AP notes that the “general services” contract “doesn’t specify what work his company, Silvercorp USA, was to undertake.”

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