Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm, testifies before a committee of the U.S. Congress about security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 2, 2007. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo
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Erik Prince – the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump – has been pushing a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela's socialist president, Nicholas Maduro, four sources with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to two sources with direct knowledge of Prince's pitch.One source said Prince has conducted meetings about the issue as recently as mid-April.White House National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis declined to comment when asked whether Prince had proposed his plan to the government and whether it would be considered. Venezuela opposition officials have not discussed security operations with Prince, said Guaido spokesperson Edward Rodriguez, who did not answer additional questions from Reuters. Lital Leshem – the director of investor relations at Prince's private equity firm, Frontier Resource Group – earlier confirmed Prince's interest in Venezuela security operations.Prince envisions a force made up of "Peruvians, Ecuadoreans, Colombians, Spanish speakers," one of the sources said, adding that Prince argued that such soldiers would be more politically palatable than American contractors.
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