Between Issues


Originally published to the Virginia Defender Facebook page on May 13, 2019. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes.

By Phil Wilayto

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11 — With the permission of the government of Venezuela, volunteer members of the Embassy Protection Collective are living in the building that houses the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, D.C. They are doing this because the U.S. government has expelled all embassy staff and have allowed supporters of coup leader Juan Guaido to mass outside the building.

Those supporters have already taken over several other buildings in the area that belong to the Venezuelan government and would do the same with the embassy building if the protectors were not there.

This has presented a real dilemma for the Trump administration. Under international law, the Secret Service police have the responsibility to protect the building, but instead are allowing a mob of Guaido supporters to besiege it.

Even so, the police know they can’t enter the building and arrest the protectors, because that would violate Geneva Convention rules dealing with embassy buildings. As a result, the police and the U.S. government are being forced to implicitly recognize the legitimacy of the government of Nicolas Maduro, which complicates their goal of overthrowing it. Every day the protectors can hold out is another day of exposing Washington’s lies.

But the police are forbidding any food deliveries to the building and have cut off the electricity and water. They’re trying to force the protectors to leave on their own, which the protectors are vowing not to do. Supporters of the protectors gather every day to defy the coup promoters, but they need more numbers.

To find out how you can help, see Popular Resistance, Code Pink, and the ANSWER Coalition, and check back regularly at the Facebook page for the Virginia Defender.

Photograph of the Venezuelan Embassy with a large crowd of coup supporters gathered around it as occupiers of the building look on from second-story windows festooned in anti-coup signs.
This is the scene outside the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Photograph of two Embassy Protectors, a man and a woman, in an upstairs window of the Venezuelan Embassy. The man is raising his fist in a gesture of defiance. Over their heads is a sign that reads "No Military Intervention."
Defiant in the face of the mob.
Photograph of three Embassy Protectors, two men and a woman, leaning out of a window and holding a sign which reads "Guaido coups failed times 2. Maduro is President."
Keeping the score.
Photo of an embassy protector in a darkened window, holding a sign that reads "Embassy now 100% Carbon Neutral." Around the figure are other signs that say: "COUP FAIL," "Carlos Veccio cannot provide embassy services," "For services contact the Venezuelan embassy in Canada."
Cut off the electricity? The water? Block food deliveries? This was the protectors’ response.
Photograph of windows, with a hand-written sign taped into each pane.
Making good use of the windows. (The signs read: “Guaido calls for the U.S. to deliver humanitarian aid. The U.S. government begins to establish “supply lines” in Colombia. Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, has a history of using aid to transport weapons to opposition forces. The International Red Cross and the Red Crescent in Colombia refuse to participate in providing that aid to Venezuela because it is being used for political purposes. One month after Juan Guaido swears himself in as president, there have not been any elections. That day, Guaido supporters burn U.S. “humanitarian aid” trucks at the Colombian border in a stunt to create conflict and blame it on the Maduro government.”)
Photograph of a man holding a bullhorn above his head, amidst a crowded scene which appears to be a conflict.
Minutes after this photo was taken, the man with the bullhorn hit Ariel of Code Pink, at left, with the horn.
Photograph of a man wearing a motorcycle jacket and unusual boots with armored pads.
Check out the boots. This coup supporter came ready for battle.
Photograph of a sign hung on the Venezuelan embassy. It reads: "U.S. Military Intervention In Venezuela -- Against It, For It". There is an arrow pointing up to indicate that those in the upper windows are against it, and an arrow pointing down to indicate that the crowd at street level is for it.
Two sides in the battle.
Photograph of a sign which reads "U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!" in the foreground, with a view of a large crowd clustered around a brick building behind it.
Photo of the Venezuelan Embassy-- in every window, there is a large sign that reads "Coup Fail".

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