World, Americas

Maduro: No contact with US since failed raids on May 3

Venezuelan president says his administration tried to get in touch via 3 different channels but bore no fruit

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 08.05.2020
Maduro: No contact with US since failed raids on May 3

ANKARA

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said the talks between the South American nation and the US are in mute since failed raids on May 3, although Venezuela tried to make contact.

Maduro's remarks came late Thursday during a live interview with local news channel TeleSur.

"Not at this time. There have always been communication links, but after May 3 they were cut ..." he responded to a question on possible contact between the authorities of both sides following the incident.

Maduro added that his administration "used three different routes with three different officials from the [US President] Donald Trump government and they were completely silent."

He reiterated his criticism on Washington's 48-hour late response to the aggression, saying that Trump's reaction was "incredible and nervous".

Trump said Tuesday that Washington has "nothing to do" with Sunday's raids in Venezuela in a quick response to a question before he departed for the state of Arizona.

"I just got information on that. Nothing to with our government," he said.

Maduro said Trump was "well aware" of the operation since Venezuela is "a focal issue of first interest" and "it is one of Donald Trump's obsessions".

The armed incursion "is a covert operation, which was ordered by Donald Trump, outsourced to Silvercorp USA, supported by [Colombia's President] Ivan Duque, and with a contract signed by [Venezuelan opposition leader] Juan Guaido, that aimed to assassinate the president," he reiterated.

Maduro told TeleSur that he advised US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to stop his "arrogance" and he "doesn't have what it takes to take the Maduro government down".

The president was referring to Pompeo's remarks on Wednesday when he said Washington will use "every tool" to free two American mercenaries who were said to be detained in a failed mercenary attack aimed at overthrowing Maduro.

"We are millions and we have a project, and you just can't stop that," Maduro emphasized.

James Story 'heavily' involved in raids

President Maduro also accused James Story, who was recently nominated to be US ambassador to Venezuela, of "heavy involvement" in the raids.

"James Story is responsible for this armed mercenary raid that was defeated militarily in Macuto Bay," he said.

The president also mocked Trump's new appointment, saying he "rewards failure".

On Wednesday, a White House statement said Trump announced his intent to nominate Story "to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela." Pompeo eyed for such a decision last week, saying he "updated plans to reopen the US Embassy in Caracas."

James Story currently serves as the Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuela Affairs Unit based at the US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. The Unit was created by the Trump administration following the cut of diplomatic ties in 2019.

However, Story denied claims about the involvement of himself as well as the US in Sunday's raids, claiming the Operation Gideon was "Maduro's invention".

Guaido is a 'criminal'

Referring to Juan Jose Rendon's confession to CNN of involvement in raids and signing the contract, Maduro said: "In Venezuela, he has a red code arrest warrant and he is the main advisor of Guaido."

The president stressed he is a political advisor to "drug traffickers, extreme right-wing politicians" and "he has made a fortune stealing".

Calling Guaido "a thief, a criminal" for hiring individuals to assassinate a political adversary, Maduro said: "There is the contract, it is evident, so we are in the presence of moral degradation of the Venezuelan opposition."

He added the US attempt of imposing a president of "such vileness as Guaido" on Venezuela unconstitutionally was a "complete failure".

"Our country is ready to fight, that is what they do not want to understand in Washington," he said, reminding the Bolivarian Shield, which includes all security personnel of the country, remains active.

Operation Gideon

Maduro revealed Wednesday a contract of the failed maritime raids allegedly aiming to oust the Maduro government.

The contract was signed by Guaido, his advisors Sergio Vergara and Juan Jose Rendon, former US Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who owns SilverCorps USA, a private security firm, and attorney Manuel Retureta.

Although there is no Colombia-linked signature on the contract, Maduro held the Duque government responsible for the aggression as well as the US as the two detained Americans confessed in video testimonies how the team got to Colombia and organized armed groups to enter Venezuela.

Luke Denman and Airan Berry also confirmed the contract and signatory parties mentioned by Maduro.

"I trained armed groups of Venezuelans because I believed that this would help their 'cause'. I thought this was not the case for irregular armed groups," Denman said in his testimony. "The orders we had were to secure and take the airport to transfer President Nicolas Maduro to the United States."

The US "mercenaries" were also detained along with 17 armed attackers of Operation Gideon that was launched Sunday to "liberate" Venezuela and capture Maduro.

According to multiple reports, Goudreau claimed responsibility for the raids.

He also confessed he signed a contract with Guaido to overthrow Maduro. Guaido denied the allegation.

However, Diosdado Cabello, the number two man in the Venezuelan government, said Guaido is taking refuge in a European embassy to avoid arrest by the prosecutor's office.

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