Venezuela detains two US citizens over speedboat incursion


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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met with senior members of the armed forces after the alleged coup attempt

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro says two American citizens were arrested after what he said was an attempt to overthrow him.


Maduro said the two men were part of a group of "mercenaries" whose armed foray into Venezuela by sea was thwarted on Sunday.

Maduro often accuses the United States of trying to overthrow him.


But U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the situation in Venezuela "has nothing to do with our government".

What does the Maduro government say happened?

Venezuelan officials said eight gunmen were killed during Sunday's alleged coup attempt.

In a live broadcast on Monday, Maduro showed what he said were the passports of the two arrested Americans – Airan Berry and Luke Denman – who work for a Florida security company.

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



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Venezuelan security forces can be seen in Macuto after the alleged incursion

The Venezuelan government said the group of "terrorist mercenaries" left Colombia and landed in the city of Macuto, about 34 kilometers north of the capital Caracas, on Sunday, before being stopped and arrested.

Republic Attorney General Tarek William Saab tweeted on Sunday, saying the group was "trying to cause a coup and an assassination attempt". He shared photos of bullets and weapons that were seized, according to Venezuelan special forces.

Who are the detained American citizens?

Not much is known about Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41.

The Venezuelan military high command said the two were members of the US security forces. US media suggested that they are ex-members, but this has not been confirmed.

When asked about them on Tuesday morning, Trump said, "Let's find out. We just heard about it," adding that they had no connection to the government.

Jordan Goudreau, a former member of the US Army's special forces, was quick to claim an association.

He told the Reuters news agency: "They are working with me. These are my men."

Goudreau, who heads a private security firm from Silvercorp USA, based in Florida, said he was one of the plot's organizers.

Why is a Florida man involved?

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press news agencyGoudreau became involved with a group of retired Venezuelan military personnel who allegedly trained deserters from Venezuela's security forces in secret camps in Colombia.

They planned previous cross-border raids that failed to take off. It is said that the plan involved invading military bases in hopes of unleashing a popular rebellion that would end with the overthrow of the president.

In its report, released on Friday, the AP said there was no evidence of US government involvement in these plots.

The news agency also said that Goudreau returned his focus to Venezuela in February 2019, after working safely in a charity concert on the Colombian-Venezuelan border organized by British billionaire Richard Branson and supported by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

What is happening now?

Goudreau also released a video referring to a "bold amphibious operation" that had "penetrated deep into the heart of Caracas", adding that several "units have been activated" across the country and are now fighting.

There is no evidence that any fighting is going on or that the group has arrived in Caracas.

He did not mention that killing President Maduro was an objective, as the government said.

What is the background of this?

Goudreau also made repeated claims about previous associations with Guaidó, recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

On Monday, Guaidó denied having anything to do with the former green beret. In a statement, he said he "has no relationship or responsibility for any action" taken by the US war veteran.

He also accused President Maduro's government of trying to distract people from recent outbreaks of violence – including a deadly prison riot on Friday and a gang battle in Caracas on Saturday night.

Guaidó has the support of Washington, which has promised to use harsh sanctions to force President Maduro and the Socialist Party to step down.

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