Juan Guaido's April 30 coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro may have fizzled, but the battle is still being waged between two groups of activists in Washington, DC. Since April 10, a group of anti-war activists have formed an Embassy Protection Collective to hold the Venezuelan Embassy and prevent pro-Guaido forces from seizing the structure and claiming to represent the country diplomatically. They have established a legal tenancy with the Venezuelan government, with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza saying the activists are their "guests."
However, since April 30, Venezuelan expatriates in the US have laid siege to the building, trapping the activists inside while their comrades rally across the street to try and get food and supplies through to them. During this time, the police have done little to quell clashes between the two groups, but have arrested numerous peace activists who tried to break through the siege and get precious food and medicine inside.
Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear spoke with Kevin Zeese, the co-coordinator of Popular Resistance, and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, both of whom are members of the Embassy Protection Collective.
Zeese said the collective had already prepared for the power to be cut, having long anticipated that move. However, after speaking with Pepco, he rejects the explanation that the power company doesn't know Carlos Vecchio, Guaido's would-be ambassador to the United States, isn't the landlord of the embassy property.
"Any action to turn it off [the power] is not coming from the fake ambassador, it's coming from the White House, it's coming from the State Department," Zeese said. "They need to be held responsible."
"We're very much counting on our allies outside to organize," Zeese said. "We're not going to be able to be online as much… no one in here is going to be doing as many interviews; we're really counting on you all to organize. This should be a galvanizing moment for the peace and justice movements, for those who opposed US imperialism and regime change operations and wars… The only thing that's going to win this is people power on the outside" of the embassy.
The activists have called for a major rally outside the building on Saturday at 1 p.m. local time.
Benjamin, who left the embassy several days ago, said the atmosphere outside is "horrendous."
"I keep saying to the Guaido supporters: ‘Is this the democracy you want to bring to Venezuela?' Because they are vicious, aggressive, homophobic, misogynistic, they have attacked us verbally, physically," she told Sputnik hosts Brian Becker and Walter Smolarek. "And then not letting food into the embassy, not letting people get their medicines… they were cheering like crazy last night when the power was turned off. They were so excited."
teleSUR's correspondent in Washington was subjected to racist abuse from Juan Guaido supporters in the US. pic.twitter.com/uYPHLaGUuB— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) May 4, 2019
"They are a reflection in DC of the violence inside Venezuela," Benjamin said.
A Thursday article in the Washington Post noted that Trump has "groused" that Bolton wants to get him "into a war," and is now doubting the interventionist approach laid out by the national security adviser and by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A pretty stunning admission from WaPo, considering Obama declared Venezuela a "national security threat" in 2015 to justify further sanctions pic.twitter.com/l3sydKw9yG— Morgan Artyukhina (@LavenderNRed) May 9, 2019
Benjamin recalled that Bolton was also behind the failed invasion of Iraq in 2003, which caused the deaths of over a million Iraqis and left the surrounding region in turmoil.
"Tell me one case where it's turned out well for the people" for the US to invade a country, Benjamin said she asks pro-Guaido demonstrators. "People have to understand what is the US playbook."
"John Bolton is making a fool of President Trump," Zeese said. "The reality is, the Bolton team has totally underestimated the Venezuelan people, the Venezuelan government, the Venezuelan military — total misunderstanding of them, not understanding that every action that Guaido and Bolton take actually strengthens that team in Venezuela. They become stronger and more unified against Guaido and against the coup."
"The same thing inside here," Zeese said from inside the embassy. "Whenever they ratchet up the pressure on us, we unify stronger, we become in more solidarity. And we gain strength from seeing the Venezuelan people standing up to the same kind of abuse. It's so interesting that they attacked the electrical grid in Venezuela — I was in Venezuela when that was happening — the US attacked the electrical grid; they've attacked our electric power here. The US put sanctions on Venezuela to make it hard to get food and medicine — they're doing the same thing to us here. The same techniques being used against the Venezuelan people are being used against the Venezuelan Embassy. It has failed in Venezuela, and it's going to fail here."
"They have failed in Caracas, and they're going to fail in Washington, DC. We are standing tall."
"People power will win this. People power needs to show up at the embassy, growing and growing until it cannot be ignored, so the New York Times will finally report this. I have no doubt when they report on it they'll lie about it, but at least they'll finally acknowledge it's happening. This is a unique event in history. When before have US Americans gone into a foreign embassy in Washington, DC, to protect it from a coup from the US government? This is a unique event; it should be part of ‘all the news that's fit to print,' and yet the New York Times has found this is not that different," Zeese said.
"I'm sure we'll find that John Bolton and the Trump administration telling the New York Times not to report on this, because they know attention will mean mobilization, and mobilization will mean their failure."