US evicts solidarity protesters defending Venezuelan Embassy

On 16 May, in breach of the United Nations Charter and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, police in the United States stormed the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC, arresting four supporters of the Bolivarian revolution. The activists – from CodePink, the ANSWER Coalition and Popular Resistance – had spent weeks inside at the invitation of Venezuela’s government to prevent it from being taken over by the US-backed opposition.

The Embassy Protection Collective (EPC) had since 10 April mobilised thousands in solidarity with the legitimate government of Venezuela, led by President Nicolas Maduro. They had prevented the entry into the embassy of the illegitimate Venezuelan ‘ambassador’ Carlos Vecchio, who was appointed by would-be coup leader Juan Guaido and is recognised by the United States, but by no one else.

The embassy, adorned with banners and placards proclaiming the truth about US manoeuvres against Venezuela’s socialist government, served as a rallying point for demonstrations in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution, forcing even the mainstream media to address, in some form, its arguments.

The EPC achieved this despite constant and illegal harassment by both the US state authorities and thugs from the viciously reactionary Venezuelan ex-pat community in Washington. The building housing the embassy suffered repeated break-ins, vandalism and the destruction of security cameras in full view of law enforcement agencies, in breach of their duty under the Vienna Convention to protect it. Those within the embassy and their supporters were subject to a constant barrage of racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic abuse, including rape and death threats, from the reactionary mob gathered outside. At the beginning of May, the US Secret Service, State Department Security Services, plain-clothed Federal Agents and the Metropolitan Police Department barricaded the building, preventing food and water from getting through. They stood by as counter-revolutionary Venezuelans broke windows, banged on the doors, shone strobe lights in people’s eyes, blew air horns in people’s ears and assaulted supporters of the EPC. Secret service officers even slammed the head of a Vietnam-era veteran and President of Veterans for Peace, Gerry Condon, into the pavement for trying to take food to the occupiers. On 12 May, the authorities cut off water and electricity supplies.

Having still failed to force out the embassy’s defenders, on 14 May police turned up with what purported to be an official notice to quit, but had no official letterhead or signature – it appeared to have been written by the Guaido faction. The notice said that the Trump administration recognised Guaido as the head of the government of Venezuela and that only his puppet US ambassador Carlos Vecchio and his appointee to the Organization of American States Gustavo Tarre could determine who was allowed into the embassy. Those not authorised by them were considered trespassers. The police taped the notice to the doors and called in the fire department to cut the chain that had been on the front door since diplomatic relations were broken between Venezuela and the US in January. However, after lengthy discussions in which the collective pointed out that they were acting unlawfully under the terms of the Vienna Convention, the police eventually left. Two days later, federal police broke down the doors, arrested those inside and handed the building over to Carlos Vecchio and his cronies.

Those involved in the Embassy Protection Collective are now supporting Venezuela’s call for a ‘protecting power’ for its Washington embassy, as stipulated under international law when diplomatic relations between two countries are severed. This allows a third party to hold the building while negotiations between the parties take place. Recent reports suggest that Turkey is willing to play that role.

The RCG salutes the stance taken by all those involved in the Embassy Protection Collective against the machinations of the US and its puppets to undermine the legitimate government of Venezuela. They provide an inspiration and an example of precisely the kind of principled political and practical solidarity that will be required from all of us in the ongoing battle to defend the Bolivarian Revolution from imperialist attack.

Cat Allison

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 270 June/July 2019

 

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