The news could escalate tensions between Washington and Caracas. Two former US soldiers arrested in Venezuela for attempting an armed "invasion" of the country by sea in May were sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Venezuelan court, the attorney general announced on Twitter Friday evening.

Luke Alexander Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, "confessed" to being guilty of "conspiracy, association (of criminals, Editor's note), arms trafficking and terrorism," Tarek said William Saab. "They were sentenced to 20 years in prison," he said.

Last May, this affair had once again strained the already very tense relations between Washington and the government of Socialist President Nicolas Maduro. The head of state had accused his American counterpart Donald Trump of having "directly directed" this "armed incursion" killed in the bud on May 3 in which Denman and Berry, two former American special forces soldiers, had participated.

According to the Venezuelan government, that day, the country's army and police succeeded in stopping the "attempted sea invasion" fomented by "mercenaries from Colombia" on the Macuto shore, unless an hour's drive from Caracas on the Caribbean coast.

"A 'remake' of the Bay of Pigs"

Denman and Berry were arrested the next day in the coastal village of Chuao, 80 km west of Caracas. Eight "terrorists" were killed in the operation and several dozen others arrested. According to Caracas, the "terrorists" intended to overthrow Nicolas Maduro to "install" in his place Juan Guaido, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition that nearly sixty countries recognize as interim president.

"It's a 'remake' of the Bay of Pigs", the failed operation mounted by Cuban exiles and the CIA in 1961 to overthrow Fidel Castro, then thundered Nicolas Maduro. The head of state accuses Juan Guaido of having set up the whole operation with a former American soldier, Jordan Goudreau, and a Venezuelan from Miami, Juan José Rendon, to instigate this "coup" against him.

Washington and Bogota have denied any involvement in the venture, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States will do anything to repatriate Luke Denman and Airan Berry. The Trump administration is trying at all costs to oust the "dictator" Nicolas Maduro, to whom it denies any legitimacy. Washington tightens more and more the screws of the sanctions and the American justice indicted the political heir of Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) for "narcoterrorism" in March.

With AFP

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