"His head wasn't in the world of reality"

The flaws in his plan were laid bare as two bedraggled ex-US special forces soldiers were paraded alongside other members of the ragged invasion force. Airan Berry and Luke Denman were captured at sea before they even set foot on Venezuelan soil.

Eight people were reported killed in the botched invasion and more than 100 others arrested. Berry and Denman later appeared on Venezuelan state television outlining the supposed plan to seize the presidential palace and whisk Maduro to the US.

Goudreau announced what he called a “daring, amphibious raid” on Sunday afternoon. It was codenamed Operation Gideon after a biblical story symbolising the victory of a small military against a much stronger opponent.

“Our units have been activated in the south, west and in the east of Venezuela,” he said, dressed in a golf shirt and standing next to a former Venezuelan national guard captain wearing body armour, Javier Nieto Quintero.