The founder of the private security firm Blackwater is pushing for a plan to deploy a group of mercenaries in Venezuela to support the people’s efforts to topple Socialist dictator Nicholas Maduro, according to a report.
Erik Prince is said to have been advocating for the Venezuelan plan for the last several months, seeking political support and investment from powerful pro-Trump figures and wealthy exiles from the Latin American country.
According to Reuters, Prince suggested during meetings in the U.S. and Europe that a private army of 5,000 would be deployed in support of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
The State Department didn’t respond to Fox News’s request for comment about the report.
But a person familiar with the Trump administration’s thinking told Reuters it’s unlikely the White House would support Prince’s plan. A spokesman for Prince, meanwhile, insisted that Prince “has no plans to operate or implement an operation in Venezuela.”
The reported push in Venezuela comes following amid a failed attempt to convince Trump to outsource the Afghanistan War to private contractors that Prince said could do more and for a lower cost than the thousands of U.S. military troops currently stationed in the country. Blackwater is now named Academi. Prince's new company is Frontier Services Group.
“History supports presidential authorization for the use of private military contractors during transition operations to help the U.S. and its allies achieve strategic aims. Now is the time to begin the transition, secure our vital interests, and husband our precious resources,” an op-ed co-authorized by Prince read back in January.
But Trump reportedly followed the advice of his cabinet members such as former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and decided not to pursue the plan.
Yet when it comes to Venezuela, Prince claims that the private troops would also facilitate the change in the country as it would likely help to cause a so-called “dynamic event” that would end the stalemate that existed for over four months now, with the socialist regime still in place, according to Reuters.
Guaido has largely been recognized as the legitimate leader of the Venezuela, with most Western countries throwing their support behind him, but his rule hasn’t yet been accepted by the military and security agencies, which remain loyal to Maduro.
Such situation caused an impasse, with no side having full claim to legitimacy and Maduro continuing to rule the country by force.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.