May 11, 2020 / 4:42 PM / a month ago

Venezuelan opposition advisers resign after failed operation to oust Maduro

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has accepted the resignation of his Miami-based adviser Juan Rendon, his press team said on Monday, after Rendon acknowledged discussions with a U.S security firm to topple President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido thanked Rendon and another exiled lawmaker, Sergio Vergara, who also resigned from the opposition’s “crisis strategy commission,” for their “dedication and commitment to Venezuela,” without giving a reason for the decision.

Rendon has said that while he negotiated an exploratory agreement with Florida’s Silvercorp USA late last year, he cut ties with the firm’s chief executive, Jordan Goudreau, in November.

Goudreau, Rendon said, then went ahead with an operation led by two ex-U.S. soldiers to capture Maduro. The plot failed and Venezuelan authorities said security forces killed eight members during one May 3 incursion attempt and arrested a dozen more, including the two U.S. citizens, the following day.

Guaido has denied any involvement in the bungled invasion. But it has raised doubts about his leadership some 16 months since he first declared a rival presidency and denounced Maduro as a usurper who had overseen a six-year economic collapse.

In the statement, Guaido’s press team said Rendon and Vergara “ratified their support for the democratic cause... and called for all national and international sectors to reinforce their support for the interim president.”

Rendon and Vergara confirmed their resignations in public letters. Rendon said the commission had never been interested in “participating in violent activities,” while Vergada said he had not been aware of the so-called Operation Gideon.

Goudreau, in media interviews, has confirmed his role organizing the incursion.

On Friday, Venezuela Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab said his office had requested the extradition of Goudreau, Rendon and Vergara for their involvement in the “design, financing, and execution” of the plan.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Sarah Kinosian; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Dan Grebler

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