Mexico City, Mexico, February 21, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Argentine authorities committed to an “exhaustive and detailed” investigation into alleged preparations for an invasion of Venezuela as part of a US military strategy to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.
The Venezuelan president, along with the National Assembly, called for the probe after a journalistic investigation leaked secret documents detailing exercises by Argentina’s army that simulated an invasion of Venezuela in 2019. Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia communicated the request directly with his counterpart Santiago Cafiero.
“As a result of this information, I have requested an exhaustive and detailed report of all the actions related to said exercise, codenamed ‘Puma’, verifying if current regulations [and] the Intelligence, Defense, Internal Security Laws were complied with, as well as the nature and objectives of said exercise,” Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana told the Telam news agency.
The exercises simulated an invasion of Venezuela as part of a multinational mission but involved no physical mobilization of troops. They were organized under the auspices of the government of former President Mauricio Macri, which sought to closely align itself with the foreign policy of former US President Donald Trump in the region and strongly supported of the now defunct Lima Group.
Taiana later confirmed the probe with his Venezuelan counterpart Vladimir Padrino López in a phone call. Sources with knowledge of the call told Argentine outlet La Política Online that the conversation between the pair was agreeable, suggesting that the revelations would not harm Argentine-Venezuela relations.
Venezuela and Argentina reestablished friendly diplomatic relations following the arrival of President Alberto Fernández to power in 2019 after years of strained relations under his right-wing predecessor.
However, the disclosures are unlikely to lead to the dismissal of Juan Martín Paleo, who was then a Lieutenant General and was credited with planning the virtual exercises. Paleo currently serves as Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the Fernández administration.
Taiana told Telam, given Macri’s closeness with the Trump administration and the Lima Group, that he was “not surprised” that the right-wing regime held an “interventionist attitude” toward Venezuela and maintained that the current government did not subscribe to the same thinking.
“The government of [Alberto Fernández] has always defended respect for non-interference in the internal affairs of states, the peaceful settlement of disputes, regional integration and the preservation of South America as a zone of peace,” said Taiana.
The revelations that the Argentine armed forces took steps to prepare for a potential invasion of Venezuela suggest that former President Trump was more willing to consider a military intervention than previously believed. Trump and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro openly floated the idea of a military intervention in Venezuela after efforts to install opposition figure Juan Guaidó had failed to oust Maduro.
In a letter to President Maduro, Hebe de Bonafini, head of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Association, asked him for forgiveness for the actions of Macri.
“I want to ask your forgiveness for not having found out at the time of the aims of the Nazi Mauricio Macri, a man capable of anything, henchman of the Yankees and servant of the United States,” wrote de Bonafini.
After a unanimous vote, the National Assembly of Venezuela will conduct its own investigation, with a special commission expected to travel to Argentina soon. Argentine authorities confirmed that they intend to share information concerning the exercises with their Venezuelan counterparts.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.