The Venezuelan opposition signed in October 2019 a $213 million contract with the Silvercorp USA private military company to overthrow incumbent President Nicolas Maduro, a document issued by The Washington Post showed.
The newspaper said that the document had been provided by the Venezuelan opposition itself on the condition that one of the attachments must be redacted.
"Service Provider Advisors will advise and assist Partner Group in planning and executing an operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolas Maduro (heretoafter "Primary Objective"), remove the current Regime, and install the recognized Venezuelan [self-proclaimed] President Juan Guaido," the 42-page document said.
According to the publication, the Venezuelan opposition had to pay about $213 million to the company for the operation.
"These funds will be for the purchase of communication, planning equipment and travel. The estimated total project cost will be 212,900,000.00 USD for 495 days," the document read.
The paper is said to have been signed by Sergio Vergara, a member of the opposition-controlled parliament, and Jordan Goudreau, CEO of Silvercorp USA.
Guaido's representatives have previously denied any connection to the mercenaries' failed operation.
On Sunday, Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that several militants had attempted to invade the northern state of La Guaira using high-speed boats. He added that eight militants were killed and two others captured. Reverol declared that one was an agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which the DEA denied.
One of the detained individuals, US national Luke Denman, who works for Silvercorp USA, said during an interrogation that the group's aim was to seize the Caracas airport and control it until Maduro is flown to the United States. The US government has denied having any connections to the mercenaries.
Jordan Goudreau, a retired Green Beret and CEO of private security contractor Silvercorp USA, claimed that he was behind the invasion attempt, posting a YouTube video statement on Sunday. According to Goudreau, the Venezuelan self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido signed an 8-page "general services" contract with Silvercorp in October 2019, which Guaido's press team denied on Monday in a statement.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday that the maritime invasion was "a terrorist attack during a pandemic", and that his administration had evidence that the arrested militants had been trained in neighboring Colombia in an operation funded by Bogota and Washington in an attempt to murder him. The Colombian government has, however, denied the accusations, descriving them as an effort to drive attention away from the ongoing internal turmoil in Venezuela.
Political crisis in Venezuela
Venezuela has been mired in an ongoing political crisis since early January 2019 when Juan Guaido was elected the head of the opposition-led National Assembly that all other government branches have refused to recognise since 2016.
In mid-January 2019, two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, Guaido proclaimed himself interim president challenging legitimate President Maduro, who was sworn in for a second term on 10 January.
Guaido's move was immediately recognised by Washington, with other countries around the world following suit, while Maduro slammed the opposition leader as a US "puppet", and described the entire situation as a coup attempt staged by the United States.