Chapter 4 - The siege of the Venezuelan embassy
On May 16, 2019, DC police stormed the Venezuelan embassy, arresting the last remaining members of the Embassy Protection Collective. The collective was charged by the Venezuelan government with ensuring the embassy’s safety after diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the United States broke down. Over the course of a month, Guaido’s most militant, right-wing supporters in DC besieged the embassy on behalf of his appointed so-called ambassador, Carlos Vecchio. Among the ranks were employees of the World Bank, the NATO-backed pro-regime change think tank Center for Strategic & International Studies, and weapons manufacturer Raytheon. The Guaido supporters shouted homophobic and racist insults at the Embassy Protection Collective, while threatening to kill and rape journalists and collective members. They stole food from peace activists, engaged in violence against those trying to deliver the food, flashed strobe lights into the Embassy, and blasted air horns inches from the ears of the collective. They attempted to break into the building on several occasions. During the siege, the police, Trump’s Secret Service, and later the U.S. Marshals intervened to give Guaido’s supporters the strategic advantage. When a month of siege warfare failed to break the collective’s resolve, the police illegally entered the building, violating key articles of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The excerpts you just heard were from the heavily protested press release by Guaido’s appointees, one day after the seizure of the embassy, as recorded by Anya Parampil of the Grayzone Project. They wasted no time in heartily thanking Donald Trump, the State Department, and the U.S. forces of regime change for their so-called victory. Because the Guaido puppet regime does not control any territory or government position in Venezuela, the embassy building under the control of Vecchio will not be able to fulfill any of the diplomatic functions that an embassy is tasked to carry out. This is a hollow victory for Guaido and Trump. The fallout from this violation of international law has consequences far beyond the U.S. war on Venezuela. It puts U.S. embassies across the world at risk of similar seizure if diplomatic relations were to break down.On this two-part episode of Empire Supernova, we speak with organizers who were on the ground during the siege of the embassy. First we hear from Claire Cook, an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition. Later, we speak with Kevin Zeese, a political activist and the co-director of Popular Resistance. Kevin was part of the collective that legally maintained the embassy from the beginning of the siege until the police raid on May 16. We talked to Claire only two days before the seizure of the Embassy, so the interview reflects the urgency of the situation. The process of resistance to this U.S. seizure exposed the farce that is the U.S. propping up of Guaido’s claim to the presidency of Venezuela.