Washington’s favorite Venezuelan opposition leader exposes links with Colombian paramilitary and narco networks
While the US and its allies glorify Leopoldo López as a new MLK, the US-backed Venezuelan opposition collaborates with Colombia’s narco-affiliated, death squad-sponsoring former President Álvaro Uribe.
by Ben Norton
Part 3 - Leopoldo López plots Venezuela coups with support from US and Colombia
While Juan Guaidó was selected as interim president because of his former position in the opposition-controlled National Assembly, he was little more than a stand-in for the Venezuelan right-wing’s kingmaker: Leopoldo López Mendoza, scion of one of Venezuela’s most influential oligarchic clans.
Since leftist leader Hugo Chávez won his first presidential election in 1998, López has reigned over an extremist right-wing hellbent on removing him from power. López has helped oversee numerous violent coup attempts in Venezuela, and was a leading force behind the bloody “guarimba” barricades that paralyzed the country.
In April 2002, when the military briefly overthrew President Chávez, López was mayor of the affluent Chacao municipality in Caracas. López directly assisted the coup by leading a mob that surrounded the house of a government minister, brutalized the top-level official in the street, then kidnapped him. Latin America expert Greg Grandin described López years later as “a thug. Ted Cruz with a mob.”
Flush with US financial support, López helped found the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party that became a vehicle for Guaidó’s bid for regime change.
Venezuelan political analyst Diego Sequera explained to The Grayzone, “Leopoldo López is the only Venezuelan that actually the US government really cares about; everyone else is just prop; it’s just like secondary characters.”
In May 2020, a group of mercenaries backed by a US firm linked to the Donald Trump administration tried to invade Venezuela, with the goal of overthrowing the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
The Wall Street Journal later revealed that López was the mastermind of the comically botched military invasion. In a June 26 article titled “Venezuelan Opposition Guru Led Planning to Topple Maduro,” the newspaper disclosed that López “was behind a months-long effort to contract mercenaries to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro,” and had “considered at least six proposals from private security contractors to carry out military incursions to spur a rebellion in Venezuela’s armed forces and topple” the Chavista government.
López collaborated with allies of Guaidó and fellow members of their Popular Will party. They ended up deciding to contract the Florida-based mercenary firm Silvercorp USA, planning the invasion with Jordan Goudreau, a US Army veteran, and Clíver Alcalá, a former Venezuelan general who defected to Colombia.
López’s allies then introduced Goudreau and Alcalá to right-wing Venezuelan opposition leaders in numerous meetings in the Colombian capital Bogotá, seeking millions of dollars of financing for the operation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
These mercenaries trained dozens of fighters, mostly Venezuelan defectors, in camps in northeastern Colombia. Then on May 3 they launched the attack from Colombian territory.
The US government denied involvement in the attempted May 2020 invasion. But the former US Special Operations officer who helped plan the coup attempt, Jordan Goudreau, has said in a breach-of-contract lawsuit that he met with two administration officials at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort to discuss the plot, and was assured that he had the White House’s support.
Two former US soldiers participated in the failed invasion, and are currently being imprisoned in Caracas.
The Wall Street Journal made it clear that López has pushed for the most extreme, violent strategies to overthrow the government. “López expressed the view that negotiations and the electoral route would take too much time,” it reported.
Juan Forero, the Journal’s South America bureau chief and a staunch supporter of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition, noted on Twitter that “Leopoldo Lopez’s party was key in selling Trump on plan to back Guaidó.”