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.