To Petula Dvorak, Washington Post:
Your article about the Venezuela embassy was very disappointing, for the overall message, the tone, and for some specific items. The occupation of the embassy was designed to protect international law and to prevent the possibility of a tit-for-tat event by Venezuela that could lead to war. You miss the entire point—it had nothing to do with antipathy towards Trump per se.
A few examples of particularly irritating items in your article:
- Why mention that one of the protesters who was arrested was a “22-year-old barista”? Do you believe that because she has a low-paying job or is young, she knows nothing? How old do you have to be to have an informed opinion? And do you not think it is elitist to assume that a service worker knows nothing?
- Why not mention that one of the protesters who was arrested is a physician who works for human rights?
- Why not mention that one of the other protesters who was arrested is a lawyer who recently returned from a visit to Venezuela, specifically to learn about the situation from the people of Venezuela—and not just expats, who are certainly self-selected and not representative?
- Why denigrate people who are working for peace and international justice by referring to them as “professional activists”?
- Why conflate Code Pink with the Women’s March—the latter famously employed “pussy hats,” not Code Pink.
- Why repeat the statement that the activists don’t speak Spanish, implying that they are ignorant with respect to Latin America? Medea Benjamin, for example, is fluent in Spanish.
- Why imply that Venezuelans who need passport service were harmed because of the occupation of the embassy? It was the US government who kicked out the Venezuelan consulate employees and refused them visas to remain in the U.S. No matter if we don’t like Maduro, he is the head of the Venezuelan government, not Guaido. Guaido’s “people” don’t have authority to deal with passports.
- You present no information that the occupation of the embassy divides people “along the Trump axis.” The protest wasn’t about Trump, except to the extent that the Trump administration flouts international law. The fact that a 20-year-old expat says it was about Trump doesn’t make it so—and you don’t seem to mind that this person is young; only the “barista” who was a protester is too young to have an informed opinion.
- Certainly, the situation of the people of Venezuela is tragic. But you don’t mention the impact of the long-standing economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. as a major reason for the bad economy.
- Your statement that there are lots of things wrong in our own country is certainly correct, but to suggest that until we fix those problems, we have no business opposing our nation’s attempt to overthrow the government of another nation and prevent another war is ridiculous. “Shouldn’t the pink pussies be in Alabama right now?” is so inane and is beneath you.
- You don’t mention the other times the U.S. has worked to overthrow the government of another country and how that turned out: Chile, Iran, Iraq, Libya, etc.
You may not like the theatrics of Code Pink, but to use such a snarky tone is to ignore the serious issues that they were bringing up and is playing into the hands of the extreme right in the U.S. that wants to take over Venezuela. By the way, to assume that the particular Venezuelans who have emigrated to the U.S. and were counter-protesting are representative of the entire country is clearly ridiculous.
I am saddened that you have written such an unbalanced article, one that will play into the hands of people like John Bolton who are itching for war. Code Pink and the other protesters had a legal right to be in the embassy, as they were requested to stay by the legitimate owners, and the U.S. has no legal right to give the embassy to someone else. That would be a dangerous situation for all American diplomats, in all countries—because if the U.S. can do that, why can’t anyone else? Do you not believe in international law?
You are usually better than this.