Two former US soldiers have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a failed attempt to “invade” Venezuela at sea, the country’s attorney general announced on Twitter on Friday. At the end of the operation in May last year, Nicolas Maduro accused Donald Trump of “directly targeting” the “armed invasion”.
The news could increase tensions between Washington and Caracas. Two former U.S. soldiers arrested in Venezuela for attempting an armed “invasion” of the country at sea in May have been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Venezuelan court, the attorney general announced on Twitter Friday night.
Luke Alexander Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, “confessed” to having committed “conspiracy, conspiracy (of criminals, editor’s remark), arms trafficking and terrorism,” said Tarek William Saab. “They were sentenced to 20 years in prison,” he said.
In May last year, this affair had once again strained the already very tense relations between Washington and the government of Socialist President Nicolas Maduro. The head of state accused his US counterpart Donald Trump of “directly targeting” this “armed invasion” killed in the May 3 bombing, in which Denman and Berry, two former US Special Forces soldiers, had taken part.
According to the Venezuelan government, the country’s army and police that day managed to stop the “attempted invasion of the sea” fomented by “mercenaries from Colombia” on the Macuto coast, unless an hour’s drive from Caracas on the Caribbean coast.
“A” remake “of Pig Bay”
Denman and Berry were arrested the next day in the coastal village of Chuao, 80 km west of Caracas. Eight “terrorists” were killed in the operation and several dozen others were arrested. According to Caracas, the “terrorists” intended to overthrow Nicolas Maduro to “install” in his place Juan Guaido, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, which nearly 60 countries recognize as interim president.
“It’s a ‘remake’ of the Bay of Pigs,” the failed operation staged by Cuban exiles and the CIA in 1961 to overthrow Fidel Castro, then thundered Nicolas Maduro. The head of state accuses Juan Guaido of assembling the entire operation with a former US soldier, Jordan Goudreau, and a Venezuelan from Miami, Juan José Rendon, to initiate this “coup” against him.
Washington and Bogota have denied any involvement in the operation, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States will do anything to return Luke Denman and Airan Berry. The Trump administration is trying at all costs to remove “dictator” Nicolas Maduro, as it denies all legitimacy. Washington is increasingly tightening its screws on sanctions, and US justice accuses the political heir to Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) of “drug terrorism” in March.