Maduro
© Reuters/Miraflores Palace handout
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said that evidence will soon reveal the US leader himself was behind the failed incursion attempt, noting that Washington severed all remaining ties with Caracas thereafter.

In an interview with Uruguayan reporter Jorge Gestoso on Thursday evening, Maduro said the freshly-appointed Ambassador James Story - the first formal US envoy to the country in some 10 years - and other senior American officials were to blame for last weekend's attempted raid, in which two US security contractors were arrested and eight local fighters killed.

"James Story has his feet, his hands and his whole body in this armed incursion," the socialist leader said, adding that declassified documents would soon provide proof, while implicating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams.

The evidence will also show US President Donald Trump "personally ordered" the "covert operation," he added.
"What are Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump doing? Once again rewarding incompetence, rewarding the unsuccessful, because James Story, Elliott Abrams and Mike Pompeo are responsible for the failure."
Though Maduro said there had always been communication channels between Caracas and Washington, even when relations hit their lowest points, he noted the US has gone completely mute since the botched incursion last week.
"They do not answer per WhatsApp, per phone, they are silent. We had three communications channels with three officials from the Trump administration, we have sent messages to them but gained no answer. It is impossible that 48 hours later, the US had not said a word to us about the mercenary attack directed by them against Venezuela."
President Trump has so far offered few comments on the operation, telling reporters on Tuesday only that the administration was aware of the situation, but insisted "it has nothing to do with our government."

Appointed as "ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary" on Wednesday, Story was previously the interim charge d'affaires for the Venezuela unit at the US Embassy in Colombia, where he will continue to work in his new role. Maduro has frequently accused Bogota of conspiring with Washington to plot his overthrow, and has suggested the Ivan Duque government may have also been involved in the failed raid.

Jordan Goudreau, a former US Green Beret who runs a Florida-based private security firm, Silvercorp USA, has taken credit for the mission, claiming the two Americans captured in the raid were his employees. One of them, Luke Denman, appeared on Venezuelan state TV on Wednesday in a public interrogation, where he said the purpose of the mission was to seize an airport in Caracas and whisk Maduro back to the US, where he is wanted on "narco-terrorism" charges. Goudreau, however, claims Washington played no role in the mission, which he says he undertook on his own after a deal fell through with Venezuelan opposition figurehead Juan Guaido.

Earlier on Thursday, Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said a total of 23 mercenaries had been arrested since the raid - including the two Americans - warning that with their testimony it would be "very difficult" for the Trump administration to escape responsibility. Trump's Democratic opponents have also started pressing for answers about any US involvement, he observed.

While Guaido had previously denied any involvement with Silvercorp USA, a partial copy of the contract Goudreau says he signed with the opposition leader has circulated online, and the Washington Post has since obtained the full 41-page document from the opposition itself, clearly listing Guaido as the operation's "Commander in Chief." Guaido's signature doesn't appear on the complete contract, however he did apparently sign a shorter "service agreement" with Goudreau, which has also been leaked and published.