The Embassy Protection Collective is a movement based in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington D.C. opposing the illegal US-backed coup against the legitimate, elected government of Venezuela — the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Standing against U.S. militarism and the war economy rigged for the rich, the EPC’s fight to defend international law, including the Vienna Convention, from inside the Venezuelan embassy has taken center stage in the struggle against U.S. war for empire and oil.
How do we know? We were just living inside the embassy building for two weeks as representatives of the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, where we faced the violence of a right-wing mob that trapped us inside with the assistance of the Secret Service and other police agencies.
A Coup for Oil
The EPC was formed after the Trump administration’s recognition of Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela via Twitter in January of this year. The United States has sought to overthrow the socialist Bolivarian Revolution, which took power through the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998, for decades. The recognition of Juan Guaidó, a Venezuelan politician known to less than one in five Venezuelans at the moment he declared himself the president, was the boldest move yet by war criminals in the Trump cabinet like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Elliott Abrams, to oust Maduro. The recognition of Juan Guaidó as Venezuelan President is a violation of international law, Venezuela’s democracy, and a gross display of imperialist arrogance. It would be no different than if Venezuela recognized Nancy Pelosi as President of the United States and then urged the military to storm the White House.
These war mongers say they are concerned about a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Venezuela, but they are really interested in Venezuela’s oil reserves, which happen to be the largest in the world. John Bolton admitted this in an interview on Fox Business saying, “it will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”
Just ask yourself, if the Trump administration really cared about Venezuelans, why would it be enforcing a sanctions regime that a recent report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates killed over 40,000 Venezuelans? Sanctions are not a tool of care, they are a tool of economic war.
Despite 67 percent of Venezuelan voters choosing Nicolás Maduro in the 2018 Presidential election, the Trump administration pledged support for several attempted coups by Guaidó and a few dozen of his cronies in Venezuela, all of which failed miserably. As part of their ongoing attempt to give their puppet government photo-op legitimacy, the Trump administration hoped Guaidó’s henchmen in Washington D.C., Carlos Vecchio and Gustavo Tarre, would seize the diplomatic mission in violation of international law.
The people of the United States say no to coups and war
The Embassy Protection Collective, formed by activists from the groups Popular Resistance, Code Pink, ANSWER Coalition, and others sprang into action to protect the Venezuelan embassy from illegal seizure. Present at the invitation of the persons lawfully in charge of the building, anti-war activists have been lawfully present on site for more than a month. Because those inside are lawfully present, the government has not employed any legal process to remove them. Instead it is facilitating an illegal and dangerous siege of the premises.
Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, articles 22 and 45, the U.S. government is forbidden from entering or otherwise violating the sovereignty of the Venezuelan embassy under any conditions. The U.S. government is obligated to protect the embassy from intrusion or damage and is forbidden from the building without the permission of the Venezuelan government. This is true even when relations between two countries are broken.
The United States has refused to respect the sovereignty of the embassy and well-established law. The Venezuelan and U.S. governments must establish a protection agreement where a mutually chosen third country will protect the embassy.
U.S. government facilitates violence against U.S. activists
People in the United States are also victims of imperialism. The government attacks anyone daring to point out that the U.S. is incapable of and uninterested in “spreading freedom and democracy” to the world if it cannot offer such things to its own people. This has been the case in the 1985 MOVE bombing, the 1970 Kent State Massacre, the suppression of the water protectors at Standing Rock, or the imprisonment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
The EPC and the building housing the embassy has suffered from repeated violent attacks, multiple break-ins, vandalism, the destruction of security cameras and other illegal acts that were witnessed, tolerated, enabled and facilitated by multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies in violation of the Vienna Convention. These various police agencies and individual officers have stood aside, facilitated and collaborated with fascist Venezuelans from the country’s tiny elite, serving the role of shock troops, as they engaged in illegal acts against a diplomatic compound. Only with the help of armed police are the coup supporters able lay to siege to an embassy. The right-wing mob’s criminal activities are routinely accompanied by racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic slurs, as well as rape and death threats against those inside and anti-war supporters outside.
The United States Secret Service, State Department Security Services, plain-clothed Federal Agents and the Metropolitan Police Department have placed metal barricades around the embassy building preventing food, water, supplies and Collective supporters from entering the embassy building, but allowing the right-wing thugs inside those same barricades. These agencies have watched the right-wing elite Venezuelans who live in the U.S. break windows, bang on the doors, shine strobe lights in people’s eyes, blow air horns in people’s ears, break into the building and even violently assault people without conducting a single arrest. The Secret Service even slammed the head of Gerry Condon, a Vietnam era veteran and President of Veterans for Peace, into the pavement for trying to give two cucumbers to people inside.
Last week, people who arrived in a Pepco truck recently went into the manhole across the street from the embassy and turned off the electricity. Later, the water was also cut off to the embassy. The U.S. government wants to starve and dehydrate the embassy protectors inside the building and uses their fascist allies outside to help enforce the blockade. Ironically, the tactic of using sanctions to block food, water, and other necessities from entering Venezuela, a policy intended to create a humanitarian crisis that would serve as a pretext for US-backed regime change in Venezuela, is now being adopted by the police and the right wing opposition against U.S. activists inside the embassy building.
No Coups for the Rich, No War on the Poor!
Almost every day, top leaders of the Trump administration threaten to turn the economic war on Venezuela into an all-out military assault. People in the United States have no interest in going to war with our sisters and brothers in Venezuela. The Venezuelan military has not attacked the United States, the Venezuelan people are not responsible for rising rents and the student debt crisis here in the States. Venezuelans are not our enemy, corporate greed is.
It is ironic that in the capital city of the so-called “land of opportunity” there is a glaring contrast between the wealthy and the oppressed. In D.C., luxury apartments are built every day despite the swelling rate of homeless and poverty. In fact, there are more people living in poverty in the United States (nearly 40 million) than the entire population of Venezuela (nearly 32 million).
The same class of people that is profiting off of our labor is the same class seeking to overthrow the socialist government in Venezuela, privatize the infrastructure of their country, and profit there too. This class also controls the Trump administration, a cabinet full of billionaires and millionaires, a government that does not care about the plight of hundreds of millions of working people in the United States. This war is being waged for the interests of rich people and against our interests. Working people should not die in a rich man’s war for oil.
Become an Embassy Protector today
The movement surrounding the EPC is growing by the day and the best thing we can do to prevent war with Venezuela is to go to 1099 30th St NW and pack the sidewalk with as many people as possible that see the coup for what it is: a ploy to violently assert U.S. business interests’ control over the Venezuelan government. You can also follow and share coverage from journalists Anya Parampil from the Grayzone Project and Alex Rubinstein from Mintpress News, who are embedded inside the embassy building.
Whether we are inside or outside the embassy building, we can all do our part to protect international law, Venezuela’s democracy, and the right to criticize U.S. foreign policy like the arrogant Monroe Doctrine proclaiming the U.S. government’s domination over the entire western hemisphere. The EPC is waging a historic challenge to the U.S. illegal actions and aggression towards Venezuela and all the peoples of Latin America. Join us today!