A witness at the heart of the botched invasion of Venezuela in May 2020 has stated that the US and Colombian governments were involved in the regime-change operation. Coup-plotter Yacsy Álvarez said she met with officials from the FBI and DEA in Florida and informed them of their plans.
Álvarez also revealed that Colombia’s President Iván Duque and his powerful mentor Álvaro Uribe, who is closely linked to drug cartels and death squads, were aiding the Venezuelan coup-plotters. Colombia’s top intelligence agency supported the conspirators before and after the attempted invasion, and Álvarez explained that “they knew everything.”
But the Colombian government later turned on Álvarez and her fellow coup-plotters and arrested them. Her lawyer has accused Colombia’s intelligence services of setting a “trap,” so Bogotá could pin the blame on her and her associates and wash its hands of the operation.
The failed invasion, which aimed to violently overthrow Venezuela’s elected President Nicolás Maduro, was spearheaded by a Florida-based private military company called SilverCorp, led by former US Army Special Forces officer Jordan Goudreau.
Goudreau said in a breach-of-contract lawsuit that he had met with two Donald Trump administration officials at the former US president’s National Doral Miami golf resort to discuss the coup plans, and was told that the White House supported it.
The US and Colombian governments both repeatedly denied involvement in the botched invasion, which was called Operation Gideon (Operación Gedeón in Spanish). President Maduro, on the other hand, said Venezuelan intelligence agencies had gathered evidence proving that both Washington and Bogotá backed the operation.
New bombshell testimony from one of the most important figures in the coup plot shows that Maduro’s accusations were indeed correct.
A hardline anti-Chavista Venezuelan, Yacsy Álvarez translated for Goudreau and helped him organize the operation, as the former US Green Beret trained a small army of Venezuelan defectors in camps along Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast.
In video testimony from July, published by the Colombian media, Álvarez said she had a meeting with her lawyers in Tampa, Florida, along with representatives from the FBI and DEA. “I explained to them a lot of the activities and all the stuff that we did for the coup,” Álvarez recalled.
In another testimony from June, Álvarez detailed the Colombian government’s involvement in Operation Gideon.
“President Duque and Álvaro Uribe, they promised us three things, in exchange for one: First of all, they promised a runway, so we can land planes; and a place to train, a camp; and the freedom to cross the border between Venezuela and Colombia,” Álvarez explained. She added, “In exchange, we would fight against the ELN” – a reference to a Colombian socialist guerrilla group.
“I know this because I am the translator between Jordan Goudreau and Cliver Alcalá,” Álvarez said in the video testimony, referring to a former Venezuelan general who fled to Colombia in 2018 and has been involved in numerous coup attempts against Venezuela’s leftist government.
Yacsy Álvarez was much more than just Jordan Goudreau’s translator; she was a crucial figure in plotting the botched May 2020 invasion.
Álvarez helped to traffic large sums of weapons into Colombia for use in Operation Gideon, working closely with former General Cliver Alcalá.
She also connected Jordan Goudreau and two of his former US Green Beret colleagues with the defectors from the Venezuelan military and police who carried out the coup attempt.
According to Álvarez, Colombian intelligence agencies were intimately involved in the operation. And after the invasion failed, Colombian spies spent months protecting Álvarez inside the country. She met with them, and they repeatedly told her they would defend her. But they betrayed her.
In September 2020, in an attempt to save face, the Colombian government decided to arrest a group of Venezuelans who had been involved in the botched invasion and were still living in Colombia. Among those detained was Yacsy Álvarez.
Journalists from the major Colombian TV network Noticias Caracol visited Colombia’s Picaleña prison to interview Álvarez. On January 27, the media outlet published a report that shined more light on Operation Gideon.
The Noticias Caracol report shows that Yacsy Álvarez was in “constant” correspondence with Colombia’s intelligence agencies, who were supporting the Venezuelan coup-plotters.
Álvarez said Colombia’s National Intelligence Directorate (DNI) put her in touch with a contact named “Rosa” and told her, “if you need anything, if you have an emergency, contact them.”
“They told me that everything was okay and everything was fine, that they were protecting my life from the people from FAES [the Venezuelan police’s Special Action Forces], but that here we would be okay, in Colombia,” Álvarez recalled.
She said she personally met with her Colombian intelligence contact in August – just a month before she was arrested. Álvarez was then put in touch with another Colombian intelligence officer named Francklin Sánchez.
“They told me to stay calm, that they’re going to protect you and they’re going to look after you,” Álvarez recalled. “They themselves told me that FAES is looking for me. When I met with them they showed me two photos of the people who were looking for me. He himself told me, ‘Change your SIM card; don’t call so much; be careful.'”
“That is what I don’t understand. If they were protecting me, how are they going to send me to prison on illogical charges?” a bewildered Álvarez asked in the interview.
When she was detained in September, Álvarez said it was totally unexpected. “It’s that everything was supposedly cool, calm, and supposedly everything was supposed to be resolved, and it was an incredible shock. It never once passed through my head that they were going to charge me and arrest me,” she told Noticias Caracol.
“The day that they arrested me, I was going to meet with the man from the DNI,” she added.
Álvarez’s lawyer says she was caught in a “trap” laid by the Colombian intelligence agency. He accused the Colombian government of putting the blame on Álvarez and her co-conspirators in order to draw attention away from its own complicity in the botched invasion.
As evidence of their previous collaboration, Álvarez’s attorney provided Noticias Caracol with a letter from August 2020 that was sent to Colombia’s prosecutor general from the head of terrorism and counter-terrorism for the DNI, Jorge Miguel Padilla Ruiz. The letter shows Padilla acknowledging that the top Colombian intelligence agency had been seeking protection for Álvarez.
The Noticias Caracol report noted that Colombia had faced diplomatic and political pressure due to its involvement in the coup plot. Russia formally raised the issue in a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, questioning Bogotá’s role.
It appears that the Colombian government decided to turn on Álvarez, arresting her and her associates as cover, to give the impression that Bogotá was holding the participants responsible for the coup attempt. Álvarez also appears to be a casualty of a political conflict between the Colombian prosecutor’s office and other state institutions.
When the Colombian government arrested the Venezuelans who had been involved in Operation Gideon in September 2020, President Iván Duque tried to distance himself from them, claiming they were “delinquents” who were plotting “destabilization.” But Yacsy Álvarez’s testimony shows this was just PR.
Before and after the invasion went sideways, Álvarez was living in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla. This was the same place where her associate, the former Venezuelan army general Cliver Alcalá, had defected in 2018.
Alongside Álvarez, Alcalá not only helped in the planning of Operation Gideon, but also initiated a similarly violent plot that the Venezuelan government had exposed just a few months before, in March 2020.
The Washington Post reported in July that Yacsy Álvarez had been working for the Venezuelan multimillionaire Franklin Durán, an erstwhile ally of former President Hugo Chávez who later turned on Venezuela’s leftist government.
Durán helped fund Operation Gideon, and provided logistical support for the coup-plotters. Álvarez also reportedly used Durán’s money to finance Alcalá’s activities.
The Associated Press reported in August that Álvarez had traveled to Miami to meet with the US mercenary Jordan Goudreau and two of his former Special Forces colleagues. In January, the four flew to Colombia on a plane owned by Durán.
Goudreau’s two former Green Beret colleagues, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, participated in the botched invasion of Venezuela on May 3. The men were subsequently arrested by the Venezuelan government and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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