Former Blackwater Founder Wants the US to Hire Mercenaries to Invade Venezuela
The world looked on as violent clashes erupted in Venezuela after government opposition leader Juan Guiado called on the military to oust embattled president Nicolas Maduro.
Could we be on the verge of the United States entering the chaotic Latin American nation using open military force? Speaking on Fox Business Network, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that “military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do.” This echoes similar statements made over the past year by President Donald Trump with regards to the crisis in Venezuela.
Despite the recent clashes in the Venezuelan capitol of Caracas, Maduro declared victory over what was reportedly a small insurrection led by members of the military. In a public statement, he claimed the attempted coup was assisted by foreign powers, including the United States.
Whether Maduro’s casting of blame here is accurate — given high U.S. interest in the devolving Venezuelan crisis and past actions under similar circumstances, it wouldn’t be far fetched — it seems clear that direct U.S. military intervention is not far off.
That’s where former Blackwater founder Erik Prince comes in. Once again, he is reportedly lobbying both to Western powers opposed to Maduro as well as Venezuelans in exile to help him execute a plan to use hired mercenaries, or private military contractors (PMCs), to overthrow the current government.
According to those familiar with Prince’s plan, it would begin with intelligence operations that would then be followed up with the deployment of between 4,000 and 5,000 mercenary troops into Venezuela, likely from neighboring countries such as Colombia.
An individual speaking on behalf of Prince has denied these reports. A representative from the United States’ envoy to the United Nations Security Council says any such plan is not at all likely to gain traction, but both statements should be taken with a grain of salt.
Prince has been pushing for the privatization of military efforts around the world, especially to the Trump administration. Though Trump and his administration remain coy about their reception to such suggestions, its appeal is undeniable. Not only would it allow Trump to save face about his position on deploying U.S. troops abroad — one of his campaign promises was to draw down military presence in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and he has more recently reiterated this intention — it could also allow a U.S. presence that would be unburdened by international and domestic scrutiny.
Then, of course, is Erik Prince’s direct connection to the Trump administration. Not only is the former Blackwater founder brothers to Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, he played a key role in attempting to foster back channels between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. And, as the Mueller report shows, Prince may have perjured himself when, before Congress, he denied playing this role. Prince and his family hold sway with the Trump administration — when he talks, the president listens.
The path forward for Venezuela must be one that is peaceful and adheres to that nation’s citizens’ desires — so far, most say they do not wish foreign powers to intervene. Perhaps the only solution worse than the U.S. and regional allies deploying uniformed troops would be to hire mercenaries to take action. It would open the door to massive lack of accountability and, as some worry, a violent civil war as most of the Venezuelan military still supports Maduro.
This article was originally published on Care2.com on May 11, 2019.