The U.S. government on Tuesday denied any involvement in the alleged coup attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his leftist administration.
“As President Trump and Secretary Esper said, the United States Government was not involved in recent events in Venezuela,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. “There is a major disinformation campaign underway by the Maduro regime, making it difficult to separate facts from propaganda.”
The comments come after Maduro Monday publicly announced Monday that he had taken into custody two U.S. citizens who were part of a mercenary group of around 60 men that intended to take down his regime. The two men were purportedly captured on Monday by Venezuelan forces.
The leftist leader claimed that the U.S. government knew about the coup attempt and was involved in its execution.
So far, no reports indicate that the two men acted on behalf of the U.S. government. Maduro, during his televised address on Monday, brandished ID cards for Silvercorp, a security services company based in Florida.
In an interview with The Washington Post, the CEO of Silvercorp, Jordan Goudreau, identified the two men as Airan Berry and Luke Denman, both of whom were former Special Forces members. Goudreau said Berry and Denman, along with six Venezuelan citizens, were captured on Monday by Maduro’s forces.
“We are making efforts to learn more, including about the activities of two U.S. Citizens who are reportedly in the custody of the former regime, as well as Mr. Goudreau,” the State Department spokesperson said Tuesday.
“We will also be looking closely into the role of the Maduro regime in this melodrama and especially of the very large Cuban intelligence apparatus in Venezuela. The record of falsehoods and manipulation by Maduro and his accomplices, as well as their highly questionable representation of the details, argues that nothing should be taken at face value when we see the distorting of facts,” the spokesperson continued. (RELATED: The US Has Finalized An Asylum Agreement With Honduras)
The State Department also suggested that Maduro’s claims of U.S. involvement were an attempt to divert attention away from a “massacre” of prisoners that took place on Friday at the Los Llanos prison center in Guanare, Venezuela. The riot resulted in the death of 46 prisoners.
The Trump administration, along with roughly 50 other countries, does not consider Maduro as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and instead recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as the rightful leader of the country.
The accusations from Maduro mark the latest spat between the U.S. and the leftist Venezuelan government. The White House in March named Maduro as the leader of an international drug cartel in March and is offering a $15 million bounty for information leading to his capture.
Due to privacy concerns, the State Department refused to comment on the identity of the two men taken into custody by Maduro’s regime.
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