Victory in the struggle for Venezuelan national sovereignty and self-determination will ultimately be won on the ground in Venezuela. But on 30th Street in Washington, D.C., that struggle against U.S.-sponsored regime change and coup d’etat in that oil and mineral rich Latin American country is waged in microcosm at the Venezuelan Embassy.
The capitalist media paid scant attention until May 13, when Metropolitan police and other state agencies attempted to use an unsigned eviction notice to take the embassy property for the self-appointed official and agent of the Trump administration, Juan Guaidó. The attempted eviction of the lawful Embassy Protection Collective, like Guaidó’s multiple coup attempts, failed.
Since April 10, the Embassy Protection Collective has lived in the Venezuelan Embassy with the support and agreement of the elected and constitutional government led by President Nicolás Maduro. The protection began after U.S.-backed faux officials seized the office of Venezuela’s United Nations Mission in New York and two offices in Washington, D.C.
As a sign displayed from the embassy’s upper windows on May 13 pointed out: “Criminals break into buildings. We have keys.”
The Metropolitan Police Department, in collusion with right-wing, neofascist Venezuelans, violently blockaded the embassy and prevented food delivery to the occupants. Then, in an escalation, the paid-in-full electricity service was shut off, causing the water pump to cease working.
The representatives of Venezuela’s elite or wannabes — some from the prestigious D.C. area educational institutions famous for training imperialist diplomats and capitalist think tank academics — hurled racist and homophobic slurs at defenders of Venezuelan sovereignty. The imperialist puppet Juan Guaidó himself studied public administration at George Washington University.
The remaining four members of the collective are prepared to stay as long as necessary. No water? Catchments were improvised on the roof to gather rainwater. The collective demonstrated their high spirits and resolve with signs shown from the windows over 30th Street as supporters battled chants with the pro-imperialist mob.
Sharon Black, an organizer for the Peoples Power Assembly and contributor to Struggle-La Lucha, said of her experience supporting the Embassy Protection Collective, “Regardless what transpires in the coming days or weeks, we have already won. The courage of those inside and the fortitude of the many people outside fending off right wing attacks and the multitude of police agency has created this inspiring achievement. Our next task is expanding the fight against sanctions and U.S. invasion.”
In a public letter sent to the U.S. State Department on May 13, the Embassy Protection Collective declared:
“This is the 34th day of our living in the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C. We are prepared to stay another 34 days, or however long is needed to resolve the embassy dispute in a peaceful way consistent with international law. …
“There are two ways to resolve the issues around the Venezuelan Embassy in D.C., which we will explain.
“1. Exiting with a Protecting Power Agreement
The exit from the embassy that best resolves issues to the benefit of the United States and Venezuela is a mutual Protecting Power Agreement. The United States wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in Caracas. Venezuela wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in D.C. Such agreements are not uncommon when diplomatic relations are severed. …
“2. The United States violates the Vienna Convention, makes an illegal eviction and unlawful arrests
This approach will violate international law and is fraught with risks. The United States would have to cut the chains in the front door put up by embassy staff and violate the embassy. We have put up barriers there and at other entrances to protect us from constant break-ins and threats from the trespassers whom the police are permitting outside the embassy. The police’s failure to protect the embassy and the U.S. citizens inside has forced us to take these actions.
“The Embassy Protectors will not barricade ourselves, or hide in the embassy in the event of an unlawful entry by police. We will gather together and peacefully assert our rights to remain in the building and uphold international law.”
Will police violate international law?
On the night of May 13, the locks and chains on the front door were cut. Police violated the embassy. An article by Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright published in Alternet.com on May 14 describes what happened next.
“In a remarkable turn of events, however, instead of arresting the collective members who remained inside, the D.C. police engaged in a lengthy discussion with the Embassy Protection Collective and their lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. The discussion focused on the reason that collective members were in the embassy in the first place — trying to stop the Trump administration from violating the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Facilities by turning over the diplomatic premises to a coup government.
“Collective members reminded police officers that following illegal orders does not protect them from being charged with criminal actions.
“After two hours, instead of arresting the collective, police turned around, locked the door behind them, posted guards and said they would ask their superiors how to handle the situation.”
Supporters of Venezuelan sovereignty and the solidarity shown by the Embassy Protection Collective are needed on the street at 1099 30th St. NW at the Venezuelan Embassy. Organize everyone you know to come out on Saturday, May 18, at noon. It is the massive Chavista mobilizations in Venezuela that have defeated the multiple coup attempts, starvation sanctions and sabotage engineered by and supported by the U.S. government, and the oil and military-industrial complex.