On May 8, Washington, DC power company PEPCO cut electricity to the Venezuelan Embassy, increasing tensions between the Embassy Protection Collective occupying the embassy, and supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader and so-called interim President Juan Guaidó, who were gathered outside.
"Last night they turned off the electricity to people in the embassy, and the people outside were cheering as if that were a great victory, that they turned off the electricity. This makes it much harder for people inside to cook. It makes it harder for them to keep the little bit of food they have refrigerated, and they also have not been able to get food and medicines into the embassy," said Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, one of the groups in the embassy.
Since April 10, protesters from the Embassy Protection Collective (formed by groups that include Code Pink, ANSWER Coalition, and Popular Resistance) have been inside the Venezuelan Embassy.
The Embassy Protection Collective have said they are protecting the embassy from being taken over by Venezuelan opposition, who, with help from the United States, are trying to install Guaido's representatives at the embassy. DC police and Secret Service are also surrounding the building. International law does not allow police to enter a diplomatic building without the consent of the foreign government.
"Our whole idea of doing this is because we knew that if the Trump administration hands over this embassy to the people of Guaido, then the Venezuelan government is going to feel obligated to take over the U.S. embassy. The U.S. can call that an act of war and could use that as an excuse to invade," Benjamin said.
The embassy has been surrounded by pro-Guaido counter-protesters who have blocked entrances to the embassy, preventing food and supplies from entering, and who have threatened and attacked the protesters.
"We have had so many people on our team that have been attacked. Every time we approach the embassy to try to deliver food, which is a human right. And I am sick and tired of it. We have somebody in the hospital right now," Benjamin said.
Benjamin explained that the power shutdown in the embassy was the result of Carlos Vecchio, the Guaidó-appointed ambassador to the United States.
"[Vecchio] called PEPCO and he said he was the owner of the building and that he wanted it to be turned off. We have copies of the receipts of the paid bills paid by the real owners of the building, which is the Maduro government, and despite that, PEPCO turned off the electricity," Benjamin said.