Sputnik News.com Tues., April 30, 2019
Erik Prince, (pic above) the founder of the Blackwater private security contractor and a supporter of US President Donald Trump, has offered to deploy an army of mercenaries to help oust Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, Reuters reported, citing four sources with knowledge of the matter.
According to the report, over the past few months Prince has been seeking investment and political backing for his alleged plans from Trump supporters and well-off Venezuelans living in exile.
In a series of private meetings, the Blackwater mastermind reportedly pitched an idea to deploy 5,000 soldiers-for-hire from Colombia and other South American nations on behalf of Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president.
Reutes noted that neither the White House, nor the Maduro government had responded to the comments, while Edward Rodriguez, a spokesman for Guaido, said that the country’s opposition officials had not discussed security ops with Prince.
As for Prince, his spokesperson Marc Cohen said earlier this month that the Blackwater founder had “no plans to operate or implement an operation in Venezuela”.
However, according to Reuters, the director of investor relations at Prince’s private equity firm Frontier Resource Group, Lital Leshem, confirmed his interest in a Venezuela mission.
“He does have a solution for Venezuela, just as he has a solution for many other places”, the media outlet cited her as saying.
Two insiders with direct knowledge claim that Prince had requested at least $40 million in funds from private investors, as well as billions of dollars in frozen Venezuelan assets – although it remains unclear how the Guaido-led opposition could get hold of them.
His efforts to start an intelligence mission in the chaos-hit Latin American country are still ongoing, as one source alleged that Prince had held meetings in mid-April.
Earlier in the day, Guaido encouraged the nation and the Venezuelan Armed Forces to take to the streets in Caracas and ensure “the definitive cessation of the usurpation” of constitutionally elected President Maduro.
His calls were denounced by Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Lopez, who blasted Guaido’s “coup movement” and attempts to “fill the country with violence”. The minister reaffirmed the military’s loyalty to President Maduro, saying that the situation at all military bases remained stable.