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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/15/19

Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective Defies "No Trespass" Order

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By Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright

Police outside Venezuela embassy.
Police outside Venezuela embassy.
(Image by (Ann Wright))
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An extraordinary set of events has been unfolding at the Venezuela Embassy in Washington DC, ever since the Embassy Protection Collective began living at the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela on April 10 to protect it from an illegal takeover by Venezuela's opposition. The actions of the police on the evening of May 13 added a new level of drama.

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Since the cutting off of electricity, food and water inside the embassy has not been enough to force the collective to leave. Late Tuesday afternoon, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police handed out a trespassing notice that was printed without letterhead or signature from any U.S. government official.

The notice said that the Trump administration recognizes Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido as the head of the government of Venezuela and that the Guaido-appointed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, and his appointed ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Gustavo Tarre, were to determine who is allowed into the Embassy. Those not authorized by the ambassadors were to be considered trespassers. Those inside the building were "requested" to depart the building.

The notice appeared to have been written by the Guaido faction, but was posted and read by the DC police as if it were a document from the U.S. government.

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The police taped the notice to the doors all around the Embassy and later called in the fire department to cut the lock and chain that had been on the front door of the Embassy since diplomatic relations were broken between Venezuela and the United States on January 23.

Adding to the drama, supporters of both sides began to gather. The pro-Guaido forces, who had erected tents around the perimeter of the embassy and had set up a long-term encampment to oppose the collective inside the building, were ordered to take down their encampment. It seemed as though this was part of moving them from outside the embassy to the inside.

Two hours later, some members of the collective inside the embassy voluntarily left to reduce the load on food and water, and four members refused to obey what they considered an illegal order to vacate the premises. The crowd waited in anticipation of the police going inside and physically removing, and arresting, the remaining collective members. The pro-Guaido forces were jubilant, crying "tic-toc, tic-toc" as they were counting down the minutes before their victory.

In a remarkable turn of events, however, instead of arresting the collective members who remained inside, lengthy discussions ensued between them, their lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and the DC police. The discussion focused on the reason collective members were in the Embassy in the first place -- trying to stop the Trump administration from violating the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Facilities by turning over the diplomatic premises to a coup government.

Collective members reminded police officers that following illegal orders does not protect them from being charged with criminal actions.

After two hours, instead of arresting the collective, police turned around, locked the door behind them, posted guards and said they would ask their superiors how to handle the situation. The crowd was stunned that the State Department and DC police, after having over a month to organize the eviction, had begun this operation without a full plan to include arrests warrants in case the Collective members did not vacate the building voluntarily.

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Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 

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10 people are discussing this page, with 18 comments  Post Comment


Lois Gagnon

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Thanks to all of the embassy collective and especially to the remaining 4 who remain under very difficult circumstances. You are upholding the best traditions of international law against a bunch of bullying gangsters.

Submitted on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 11:49:19 PM

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David Pear

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We are seeing the true face of the white supremacists of Venezuela. If the Bolivarian Revolution is overthrown in Venezuela, then there will be a bloodbath. Don't expect it to be covered by the mainstream media though, just as the bloodbath now going on in Haiti isn't.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 12:31:31 AM

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Don Smith

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Gotta respect the peace activists! Made me donate to Code Pink.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 5:53:57 AM

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shad williams

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One would think that the DC police above other police would understand the plight of the trampled underdog, but that just reflects my racist belief that black police are going to be more tolerant to those engaged in civil disobedience, which is not the case for the embassy protection collective, since they are in the embassy building legally. What a disgraceful display of caving in to the fake man - fake paperwork and willingness to act as the mens henchmen.

There is going to be an accounting. Just you wait and see.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 6:06:17 AM

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Our government continues telling "we the people" they regard us as babbling idiots as they continue their agenda of lies, this time in Venezuela. This barrage of lies has been flung upon us for decades. A few examples, Desert Storm, 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, need I go on? When is it time we stand up and demand being regarded as people with a brain, who should be regarded as being able to communicate with the truth?

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 11:43:18 AM

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Yes Dennis, everything you say, is true. But it appears posters on here have missed entirely the little ray of sunshine reported within the article.

That is ; " Collective members reminded police officers that following illegal orders does not protect them from being charged with criminal actions.

After two hours, instead of arresting the collective, police turned around, locked the door behind them, posted guards and said they would ask their superiors how to handle the situation. "

Therefore it appears the police have for the very first time, recognised that they answer to another authority other than their local one. That Embassy's are NOT the property of America, and their rights must be respected. Something I have not seen in any of these exchanges. In effect, they have refused to obey their bosses ILLEGAL orders and placed the situation deftly, back into their hands to resolve.

Now that, IMHO, was a very smart move. Too bad folks can't see that.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 3:41:09 PM

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We can only hope that is what really happened.

The fact that they enabled the right wingers and the utility cut-off, and dared to even enter the building is alarming. I'm pretty sure they knew their duty was to do the opposite of all those things.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 4:20:30 PM

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shad williams

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Helllloooooo.

Submitted on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 5:15:39 AM

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Yes you need to go on.

Submitted on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 5:13:17 AM

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lila york

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just now - embassy protectors arrested according to Bloomberg news. expect most US embassies worldwide to be breached in retaliation.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 5:38:12 PM

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Medea Benjamin on RT today - protectors under arrest but still inside the embassy

click here

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 6:02:34 PM

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My face is getting sore from all the self-administered palming. :(

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 6:29:15 PM

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Heaven help us these days, Lila!

Submitted on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 2:18:46 PM

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lila york

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The US has now forced its way into two foreign embassies in the space of a month. No US embassy is safe anywhere in Latin America. We are about to see what revolution looks like. No, won't be televised here but RT will do.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 7:04:18 PM

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...as will Telesur

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 7:12:06 PM

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Alas, the police have arrested the peace activists in the embassy: Police Raid Venezuelan Embassy in DC, Arrest Last Remaining Members of Embassy Protection Collective "The activists from the Embassy Protection Collective have been living inside the embassy since 10 April in a bid to protect it from US attempts to seize the facility and hand it over to supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido."

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 8:18:56 PM

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Yeah, I can smell it all the way up here... that unmistakable stench of fascism.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 8:26:46 PM

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Another SHAMEFUL DESPICABLE day in U.S. history.

I'm immensely sad, horrified, and outraged - how can we sit back and let the hard work of the embassy protectors be in vain? They are heroes. The real criminals walk free and continue to rape, pillage, and murder for fossil fuels and mineral resources which they just think they can TAKE from unwilling countries - hence, the endless wars of aggression.

We are seeing dictatorship in action. The dominoes have been falling for a long time...yet most people will go willingly along with the indoctrination, and think they are free and even superior - right up to the gas-fired incinerators that can likely do double-duty of providing "energy" while cremating dissenters alive.

Yes, I feel grim and this feels like another dire turn of the screw.

"U.S.A" - it's terminal cancer scourge on the rest of the world and the planet and its own people - let us mourn, and resist while we mourn. Let our outrage compel us to DO SOMETHING to stand up and fight back against all these injustices throughout U.S. history to today's latest.

Submitted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 8:49:03 PM

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