Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup

The Embassy Protectors have decorated the Venezuelan Embassy with signs and banners that are giving the Georgetown neighbors a good education. A large banner right above the Venezuelan flag says "End the Deadly Sanctions." (Photo: Courtesy of the authors)

The Trump-orchestrated plan of creating a parallel government in Venezuela and then simply taking over diplomatic premises is totally illegal

By Medea Benjamin, Kevin Zeese

An extraordinary chapter in the ongoing saga of Venezuela has been taking place, virtually unnoticed, at the Venezuela Embassy that lies in the heart of swanky Georgetown in Washington DC. A group initiated by CODEPINK and Popular Resistance, all activists opposed to the prospect of the Venezuelan opposition taking over the Embassy, have been living inside the building for the past two weeks, working side-by-side with the skeletal Venezuela diplomatic staff that has been told by the State Department that they must leave by April 24.

Calling ourselves the Embassy Protection Collective, we have been working in the embassy during the day, holding educational events every evening, making banners and signs, and sleeping on couches at night. The evening events have included seminars on Julian Assange, US foreign policy in Africa, the history of Venezuela, and update on Honduras and El Salvador. The night before we expect the embassy takeover to occur, April 24, we will have a talk by former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, who will give an insider's view of US regime change operations.

The Embassy Protectors also decorated the Embassy with signs and banners that are giving the Georgetown neighbors a good education. A large banner right above the Venezuelan flag says “End the Deadly Sanctions.” Two placards are bolted on the wall next to the stately building columns: One is an “imperial checklist” about how to orchestrate a coup, another shows the consequences of some of the past US interventions. Thirty-two signs are in the windows, giving a chronology of the attempted Venezuelan coup. The banner that evokes the most curiosity from passersby is the iconic “Eyes of Chavez”--a design representing Hugo Chavez’s piercing eyes that is painted on murals all over Venezuela.

The Collective has good reason to believe the embassy is under attack. On March 18, representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took over the military attaché building on 2409 California St. in Washington DC, with the help of the DC Police and Secret Service. On that same day, they also took over the Venezuelan Consulate in New York City.

According to  Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, diplomatic premises are “inviolable.” Moreover, the receiving State must protect the premises against any “intrusion, disturbance of the peace or impairment of its dignity.” A takeover by an unelected government would certainly violate these principles. Like it or not, the Maduro government is actually the government in power in Venezuela and is recognized by the United Nations. This Trump-orchestrated plan of creating a parallel government and then simply taking over diplomatic premises is totally illegal.

The only other country that has allowed the opposition to take diplomatic premises is Costa Rica. Throughout the rest of the world, Venezuelan diplomatic premises continue to be staffed by Maduro’s administration, even in countries that recognize Guaido as interim president. They understand that Guaido does not have any control inside Venezuela, so his representatives would not be able to carry out normal diplomatic tasks.

The collective is calling on other activists to join them, especially this Thursday, to hold onto the space.

For more information, see: the Embassy Protection Collective.


Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Her previous books include: Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection; Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Kevin Zeese is an organizer of Popular Resistance and the Attorney General for the Green Shadow Cabinet. He is in the leadership of World Beyond War and Come Home America.

Comments

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  • Judy Ilan
    commented 2019-05-13 06:14:22 -0400
    It seems that Venezuelan Americans and affluent Venezuelans have an idealized version of their history. Venezuela was run by death squads. It had one of the highest illiteracy rates in Latin America and most of the citizens had never seen a doctor. The vast majority of the people lived in horrible hovels. While you had your lovely life you remember so fondly, the majority of Venezuelans lived a life of starvation and terror. Hugo Chavez led these people to the various times elected Bolivarian Revolution which brought a new life to these deprived Venezuelans: medical centers all over the country, a literacy program that wiped out illiteracy, food distribution centers, housing programs, land distribution program out of the city, university centres in neighbourhoods,
    highways, bridges, transit systems built all over the country, and many more benefits. Yes the people are literate and they VOTE! All this has been accomplished in spite of a vicious opposition that has sabotaged, ravaged, destroyed, organized coups, murdered, kidnapped, tortured, any method possible to return themselves to power. You can see them outside the embassy with their sledgehammers. They refer to themselves as “the real Venezuelans”. It seems that the huge majority of the rest of the country are not Venezuelans but rather less than human peons. Of course looming in the background is Uncle Sam fanning the fire to take back its “backyard”. Viva Venezuela! Viva Code Pink! 6.2 million votes for Maduro…….
  • Elizabeth Roebling
    commented 2019-05-06 16:17:41 -0400
    You women are now on the wrong side of history. Please #AskaVenezuela and do some research on the history of how Maduro packed the Supreme Court https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Venezuelan_constitutional_crisis. I am afraid that you have now become “useful idiots” in the hands of Putin.
  • Judy Ilan
    commented 2019-04-29 11:21:04 -0400
    Posada, a Cuban exile who is now a Venezuelan citizen, is vehemently anti-Castro and is suspected to having been the main supporter of Bosch during the latter’s stay in Venezuela prior to being arrested in November 1974. Posada was formerly chief of the counterintelligence division of the Venezuelan Intelligence Service, DISIP.
    https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76ve11p1/d322. US government records

    Posada was a paid asset of the CIA from 1965 to 1967," when he left the United States to set up operations in Caracas as an intelligence official of the Venezuelan secret police, DISIP, “and again from 1968 to 1974,” states the summary. “From 1974 to 1976, CIA had intermittent contact with Posada.”
    https://www.thenation.com/article/former-cia-asset-luis-posada-goes-trial/

    He kept in close touch with the agency after leaving it and joining Venezuela’s intelligence service, known by its initials as Disip, where he served as a senior officer from 1969 to 1974, according to the declassified records and retired American officials who served in Venezuela.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/09/us/cuban-exile-could-test-us-definition-of-terrorist.html

    At the time of the bombing, Mr Posada Carriles was living in Venezuela, where according to declassified US intelligence files he was working as an informant in Venezuela’s intelligence service.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44226647

    LEARN YOUR HISTORY. Just because a person is born in a certain country does not give him the sole rights of knowing the history. There are often different factions within a country which have different versions of the history. What Cuban pamphlets are you talking about?
  • Judy Ilan
    commented 2019-04-29 10:06:10 -0400
    Luis Posada Carriles was former head of the Counterintelligence Division of the Directorate for the Services of Intelligence and Prevention (DISIP) the Venezuelan civilian security service prior to the election of Hugo Chavez Frias. He is accused of murdering, acts of torture, illegal detention, physical abuse of prisoners, violations of international law, terrorizing political prisoners in Venezuela when he was head of special operations in the intelligence service of Venezuela. This was not just 2 people but the entire intelligence service of Venezuela at that time. There were many torturers and murderers which possibly helped lead to the Bolivarian Revolution which cleaned them out. Posada Carriles was implicated as recently as 2010 for contracting Francisco Chavez Abarca to carry out plans to violently disrupt the lead up to the September 2010 national assembly elections. Chavez Abarca stated at that time that his duty was to create: “Riots. Riots…tire burning…riots in the street…the other thing that could be done is attack one political party…so the (pro-Chavez) parties start fighting.” In your note you said “the head of Fedecamaras basically treasoned us.” You admit being a part of the coup of 2002 which shows that you are not just disagreeing with the current election of Maduro but you do not respect the rule of law nor the will of the people. You did not respect Chavez who only survived with his life because loyal members of the Air Force rescued him from the island where he was kidnapped to. This was all documented in the film “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. As far as Chavez starting the coup this story was debunked in the film “Llaguno Bridge Keys to a Massacre” where the opposition forces had snipers on top of the building near the bridge and they were shooting at Chavistas as well as their own opposition members to confuse the issue about who was shooting. They killed their own people. This film documents that the Chavistas on the bridge were shooting at the snipers on the roof and there were no marchers below the bridge at that time. The snipers from your side were shooting at a close member of your family. Your “imbecile of Carmona” is much like the imbecile of Guaidó – not elected, chosen by friends, outside of the rule of law, it would be a joke (or temper tantrum) if the consequences were not so serious for Venezuelan citizens. As for the random gringo in the basement, this is Max Blumenthal – author, filmmaker, internationally acclaimed journalist – who went to Venezuela for weeks to study the situation there. The utube film is the report he is giving to the United Nations on situation he observed in Venezuela. You told me I could find out what is happening in Venezuela if I went there for 2 days. The fact of the matter is that the outrageously rich oligarchs rich (from PDVSA funds) at the expense of the rest of the citizens had absolute power for decades. The majority of the country lived in obscene abject poverty. The “spoiled brat” opposition will never stop undermining the revolution to reclaim their past position. This includes financing or becoming street thugs terrorizing people in the guise of being Chavistas. Real Venezuelans have told me about this. Look in the mirror. Viva Venezuela!
  • Judy Ilan
    commented 2019-04-28 08:07:23 -0400
    Luis Posada Carrilles, the Cuban terrorist who blew up a Cuban airline among many other atrocities, was head of the DISIP, the Venezuelan Intelligence Service as well as a CIA operative. “Commissioner Basilio”, his alias, was guilty of thousands of kidnappings, tortures, and disappearances in the decades preceding the electoral victory of President Hugo Chavez. The Venezuelan government had an extradition request for Posada Carrilles before the U.S. judicial system which was never honored showing the ongoing U.S. complicity in undermining the Venezuelan government. The world’s largest oil reserves are the prize. There may have been “public hospitals” in Venezuela but they were extremely high priced and only in the rich areas, not in the barrios with the poor where the majority of the population lives. Venezuelan doctors often refused to treat poor patients who did make it to the hospital. Maybe your father can tell you about that. When Chavez brought in thousands of Cuban doctors and set up clinics in the poorest neighborhoods most of the citizens of Venezuela had never been to a doctor, much less a hospital. Thousands of Venezuelans have now been trained as doctors by the Bolivarian Revolution. Medical care is free in Venezuela. Illiteracy was eradicated. Homes and co-ops have been built all over the country to help people to move out of the horrendous shacks they occupied under the previous government. The 2002 military coup against Hugo Chavez, backed by the US military, was orchestrated by the same people who are running the opposition now. They appointed their friends to run the short term “government” before it was deposed by the uprising of millions of Venezuelans in the streets. They accuse the Maduro government of using the exact same tactics they have always used: snipers, street gangs, assassinations, undocumented accusations of corruption. The opposition hoards commodities to create the illusion of shortages much as was done in Chile to discredit the Allende government. International observers (including Jimmy Carter in the past) declared the election free and fair. The Maduro government won in a landslide 68% (6.2 million) of the votes while his closest rival Henry Falcón could only muster 21%. A far cry from the turnout in US elections. Checkout this utube analysis https://youtu.be/WZ1vFlX5jEw
  • Judy Ilan
    commented 2019-04-27 16:56:14 -0400
    Viva Venezuela! The Venezuelan oligarchy with their US accomplices want to steal the power the citizens have given to Chavez and now Maduro. Before the Chavistas came in to power the death squads ruled supreme. There were no hospitals for the poor, a huge percentage of citizens were illiterate, the money was siphoned out with the oil by these oligarchs. The revolution put a stop to that. Protect the Venezuelan embassy in DC! Code Pink keep up the GREAT WORK! I am proud of you. Fascism is alive and well in the USA. It has been for a long time but its cruel face has been further exposed by füh·rer Trump. This is true folks, he is not a goof, clown or ignoramus: the US has been been subjected to a coup following the principles of fascism worldwide. We ignore him/them at our peril: will they relinquish power? Venezuela is but one of a continuous barrage of attacks by the commander in chief and his cohorts: take over of the court system by nazi judges, children in cages, walls, abandoning treaties, targeting immigrants, Muslims, blacks, women, teachers, Natives, latinos, children, Senators cowering, NRA running amuck, KKK, Wall Street, compliant Democrats, AIPAC, just to name a few. A policy of overkill to overwhelm dissent. What does it take for the US citizens to stand up to this?? Viva Venezuela, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Puerto Rico, Palestine, Cuba, Standing Rock, Code Pink…….
  • Rafael Orozco
    commented 2019-04-26 13:17:31 -0400
    You do not have any idea who is Maduro is a Criminal , Killing students, population, and receiving terrorism group as ELN, Hezbolah, etc
  • Harry Alaín Márquez
    commented 2019-04-26 02:16:56 -0400
    Gracias por ese apoyo fraternal… solo Dios y la historia sabrá agradecer enormemente.. seguiremos siendo libres en la patria de Bolívar y Chávez a pesar de las amenazas.. No Pasarán! Chávez Vive!!! la Patria Sigue!!!
  • regina zender
    commented 2019-04-25 23:30:12 -0400
    Hi, dear all. Although it looks like you do want to see the betterment of the world in general, beware. Regarding Venezuela it might be that you´ve believed what Maduro´s people say. It might even go further in time to that you believed what Chavez´s people said, beware. Since Chavez came to power, him and the people around him have lied. Daily and compulsorily; shamelessly and criminally, beware.
    Beware to give your voices, and show your faces for these thugs. Unfortunately, they are the resented byproduct of many generations of citizens that let their young be disconnected from history and politics; so they did come to power with the support of others as hurt as them, but they have only deepened the social and economic issues, tortured youth like our last dictator (over 40yrs before them) had done, stole as much as possible and lied, lied, lied about it all and beyond.
    Please don´t think that because I write this, I agree with any kind of foreign intervention. Know that our military is under Cuban leadership already, our businessses and lands given away to the interests of many countries for generations to come, beware.
    Please don´t think that because I write this, I agree with any kind of foreign intervention. I am aware of the history of American interventionism for many decades, beware.
    Please get your facts straight. People are dying, and that´s no lie. Please get your facts straight, beware.
  • Rafael Prins
    commented 2019-04-25 12:38:55 -0400
    Please stop doing what you are doing in “supposed” support to Venezuela, the people in Venezuela are going hungry, and millions of people had to leave the country because of the crisis, me included, I have more than two yearsthat i don´t see my family because my brothers are in different countries and my parents are in Venezuela, they survive with the help we send them through remittances.

    I would invite you to visit venezuela especially the popular neighborhoods where the crisis is even more visible, I also invite you to visit the public hospitals, where you can see the humanitarian emergency that exists there.