Far from Caracas a group of American activists have been defending the sovereignty of Venezuela from inside its embassy in Washington. The state department ordered all Maduro loyal staff to leave the building by April 24th to make way for Guaido’s diplomats. Juan Guaido declared himself president of Venezuela on January 23rd with full support from the United States but most Venezuelan diplomats and military officials have remained loyal to Maduro. According to Ariel Gold, National Co-Director of the antiwar activist group CODEPINK they have been maintaining a 24/7 presence at the embassy since April 14th to prevent Guaido’s appointed diplomats from taking over the embassy.
"We’ve been working with the embassy staff ever since the coup began. As they started to reduce the staff we’ve had some educational events here then we finally made a decision that we should be there. And they said to us you are welcome, you are there with our permission." Gold told me over the phone Monday night from the embassy.
Maduro’s diplomatic officials were all expected to be out of the embassy by April 24th and the activists were prepared for a confrontation, "That was what they said to the diplomatic officials, we assumed it would apply to us and we were prepared to have them come in. It’s my understanding that it did apply to us but we had a huge turnout of people that showed up to lend their support and lend their bodies. And after that they decided not to show."
Eliot Abrams, Trumps Venezuelan regime change point man called the sit in a "violation of law", when asked about Abrams comments Gold called out his hypocrisy, "Well what a farce that Eliot Abrams would tell us that we’re breaking the law, he’s a convicted criminal and has been involved in war crimes. If Eliot Abrams did say that he is in fact entirely wrong. We are completely within our legal rights, we are here legally with permission from the Venezuelan government. Under the Vienna convention even if two countries lose diplomatic relations the embassy remains the property of that government, so for the secret service or US police would in fact be illegal."
Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Treaties states, "The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission."
Gold and other CODEPINK activists have called on antiwar Americans from around to country to help them. Anybody is welcome at the embassy and this Saturday May 4th a rally will be taking place there. For those who cannot make it in person, they can donate directly to the activists at the embassy online or send meals from local restaurants. CODEPINK always encourages people to speak out on social media and other platforms they have. You can also send a letter to the state department here.
Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US Foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.