Pro-coup protesters surround Venezuelan embassy in Washington but meet resistance from peace activists

Venezuelan Embassy stand off
Peter Bolton

As the coup attempts in Venezuela rage on, a battle over the country’s embassy in Washington has been raging too. As The Canary previously reported, a group of activists called the ‘Embassy Protection Collective’ have been living in the embassy as guests. Their aim is to keep it out of the hands of opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s self-proclaimed shadow government. Pro-Guaidó protesters, meanwhile, have been demonstrating in support of seizing the embassy. And now, things have turned ugly, with these protesters facing off with the embassy protectors – resulting in violence and multiple arrests.

At the same time, there have been reports of authorities preventing food from getting into the embassy.

CODEPINK peace brigade vs pro-coup mob

On 2 May, rival pro- and anti-coup protesters gathered outside the embassy. The anti-coup protesters were supporting the embassy protectors. The main organizer was peace activist group CODEPINK, which has been leading efforts against the coup in Washington. The pro-Guaidó protesters hurled both verbal and physical abuse at them.

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.

CODEPINK tried to hold a press conference to discuss developments with gathered reporters. But pro-coup protesters disrupted them with the sirens of their bullhorns. They refused repeated requests to turn them off. As the press conference broke down, both groups headed for the rear entrance of the embassy to chant rival slogans. Pro-coup forces blocked both the front and rear entrances.

As anti-coup activists tried to throw food to embassy protectors, meanwhile, at least one pro-coup protester struck out at them. Authorities then arrested two CODEPINK members for throwing the food and one pro-coup protester for attacking them in response.

Continue reading below...

The Canary was on the ground as events unfolded.

Journalist Anya Parampil also reported on the events:

Pattern of verbal and physical attacks

The Canary recorded at least one incident of a CODEPINK member being verbally abused with sexist language. A pro-coup protester said to a female member: “You should be ashamed of yourself you fucking little bitch”:

This is not the first incident of such behavior. MintPress News has also reported incidents of pro-coup protesters both physically assaulting and hurling racist and homophobic slurs at anti-coup activists.

The previous day had also seen a tense face-off between pro- and anti-coup protesters. On the evening of 1 May, Guaidó’s shadow ‘ambassador’ to the US, Carlos Vecchio, had attempted to seize the building. But he was unable to enter. Washington’s Secret Service police did not take decisive action to let him in. His planned victory speech, meanwhile, was drowned out by anti-coup activists’ chants from both within and outside the embassy. Journalist Max Blumenthal described the attempt as “a humiliating defeat for a US-backed opposition that has not achieved a single concrete victory since launching its coup attempt over 75 days ago.” The day before that, a Guaidó supporter had gained access to the building and ransacked one of its rooms. Authorities later removed him.

Featured image via author

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support
  • Show Comments
      1. The article is written by the right wing political activist, Naky Soto, married to the right wing, pro Guaido journalist Luis Carlos Diaz who works for the anti-Chavez Maduro Bolivarian Revolution ‘Union Radio News’, and has been accused by the Maduro government of playing a role in Venezuela’s recent electricity outages. A long way from credible journalism.

        Guaido is the US administration’s self-appointed puppet – he has not received one single vote from any Venezuelan – and Elliott Abrams is his master. Abrams is of course behind this latest failed coup attempt. A convicted criminal himself, he has supported and facilitated some of the worst convicted war criminals of the 20th century:

        “It is a fact that Elliott Abrams, America’s special envoy to Venezuela, covered up at least one Latin American genocide. In the 1980s, Guatemalan Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt’s U.S.-backed forces slaughtered 1,771 indigenous Mayan people whom Montt’s forces fraudulently claimed were supporting “left-wing” guerrillas. According to two-time George Polk Award-winning reporter Allan Nairn, Montt’s forces wiped out 662 rural villages. His soldiers decapitated some people, crucified others, and ripped out the fingernails of at least one baby. In 2013, a Guatemalan court convicted Ríos Montt of genocide and crimes against humanity.

        But throughout the ’80s, Abrams defended Montt, claiming he had “brought considerable progress” to Guatemala. In 1983, Abrams told a public TV station Americans “think that kind of progress needs to be rewarded and encouraged.”

        This is, amazingly, not the only act of mass rape, dismemberment, and slaughter Abrams has defended. Now that Abrams is fomenting regime change in yet another Latin American nation, Democratic Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar yesterday brought up the various acts of slaughter that Abrams has defended in the past. Omar also recalled the time Abrams was convicted for lying to Congress about sending illegal arms shipments to the Contra fighters in Nicaragua.”
        https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/marco-rubio-defends-elliott-abrams-who-defended-massacres-in-guatemala-el-salvador-11086042

        Maduro is the democratically elected head of the Venezuelan government, and recognised as such by the UN, and the vast majority of the international community, so you’re either on the side of Abrams and the criminality he and Guaido are currently pursuing, or you’re on the side of democracy and international law. To peddle propaganda on behalf of people as blood drenched as Elliott Abrams is not a good look.

      2. ps You may also want to consider the fact that the article to which you’ve linked is from an independent anti-government news outlet which appears to have no problems broadcasting its views in what is supposed to be a dictatorship.

        1. “The article is written by the right wing political activist, Naky Soto, married to the right wing, pro Guaido journalist Luis Carlos Diaz who works for the anti-Chavez Maduro Bolivarian Revolution ‘Union Radio News’, and has been accused by the Maduro government of playing a role in Venezuela’s recent electricity outages. A long way from credible journalism.”

          I understand that you consider Naky Soto “right wing”. I also understand that you consider the person she is married to “right wing” and that he has been accused of “playing a role in Venezuela’s recent electricity outages”. But why would any of this mean that the article I link to is a “long way from credible journalism”?

          You say that Guaidó “has not received one single vote from any Venezuelan”. That is not true. He was elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly, of which he is now President.

          You say that “Elliott Abrams is his master” and that “Abrams is of course behind this latest failed coup attempt”. I wonder what evidence you have for this.

          The 2018 presidential election was not democratic. Many opposition parties and leaders were not allowed to participate. The company which had provided voting machines for Venezuelan elections ceased operations in Venezuela before the presidential election and said that they could not guarantee the validity of results. The United Nations refused to monitor the election. The Venezuelan National Assembly rejected the election results as did many foreign countries. On what do you base your assertion that “the vast majority of the international community” recognise Maduro as the “democratically elected head of the Venezuelan government”?

          By the way, I am not peddling propaganda on behalf of anyone.

          “ps You may also want to consider the fact that the article to which you’ve linked is from an independent anti-government news outlet which appears to have no problems broadcasting its views in what is supposed to be a dictatorship.”

          Journalists in Venezuela have many problems broadcasting facts and opinions. https://rsf.org/en/venezuela

          1. “You say that Guaidó “has not received one single vote from any Venezuelan”. That is not true. He was elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly, of which he is now President.”

            I apologise for the confusion I’ve caused you. What I meant, and assumed you might understand by my less than precise statement, is that Guaido has not faced election from the Venezuelan people, and as no doubt you are fully aware, the only source of legitimate power in a democracy is the people – not the members of the Venezuelan National Assembly. In other words, just to be absolutely sure I’m being crystal clear, and you grasp my meaning, he has not faced a popular election. By popular election I mean those elections in which the entire electorate are invited to participate, in order to elect a government. We have a similar process over there, if that’s of any help to you.

            “You say that “Elliott Abrams is his master” and that “Abrams is of course behind this latest failed coup attempt”. I wonder what evidence you have for this.”

            Elliott Abrams is the recently appointed US special envoy for Venezuela, the US has called for Guaido’s installation as president, and the US has assisted his efforts to have US aid delivered to the country (Elliott Abrams was convicted for lying to Congress about the shipment of illegal arms to the Nicaraguan contras, disguised as aid), but you’re right. Guaido is strong enough to stand on his own two feet, he doesn’t take orders or money from the US, he doesn’t need their military or their financial support and US involvement in the region is entirely unnecessary in order for Guaido to supplant Maduro as the President of Venezuela. There really wasn’t any necessity to appoint a special envoy to Venezuela at all, or indeed to impose sanctions on its economy. Guaido can manage all this by himself. It’s all merely a diplomatic gesture, to show moral support. Guaido will not have been encouraged by Abrams in any way to bring the Venezuelan military over to his side; as a law abiding citizen, a lot of the time, at least, Abrams almost certainly encouraged Guaido to refrain from launching an illegal coup against the government, just as the US did its best to prevent the failed coup against Chavez in 2002- for which, as you know, there is ample evidence ……

            1. “I apologise for the confusion I’ve caused you. What I meant, and assumed you might understand by my less than precise statement, is that Guaido has not faced election from the Venezuelan people, and as no doubt you are fully aware, the only source of legitimate power in a democracy is the people – not the members of the Venezuelan National Assembly. In other words, just to be absolutely sure I’m being crystal clear, and you grasp my meaning, he has not faced a popular election. By popular election I mean those elections in which the entire electorate are invited to participate, in order to elect a government. We have a similar process over there, if that’s of any help to you.”

              Guaidó was elected to the National Assembly by the Venezuelan people. He subsequently became President of the National Assembly. It is a rather complicated situation but, according to his supporters, as I understand it, the President of the National Assembly (Guaidó) should, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution, assume the role of President of the Republic until elections are called because Maduro has illegally usurped power and violated the Constitution.

              I agree that Guaidó has not faced a popular election to be president of Venezuela. I wish he could but unfortunately Maduro’s constitutionally illegitimate Constituent Assembly declared last year that Maduro won the presidential election (from which many opposition parties and leaders were banned and which was unrecognised by many members of the international community) and can remain president until 2025. We most certainly don’t have a similar process over here!

            2. “according to his supporters, as I understand it, the President of the National Assembly (Guaidó) should, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution, assume the role of President of the Republic until elections are called because Maduro has illegally usurped power and violated the Constitution.”

              Venezuela’s constitution doesn’t allow for impeachment by the National Assembly, of which Guaidó is the leader. Instead, it specifies that the president can be recalled by popular vote.

              Article 233 doesn’t say that the assembly can remove the president. It just says that the president of the National Assembly can fill the office of the presidency for 30 days if the president “shall become permanently unavailable to serve.” It lists the bases for permanent unavailability, which include removal from office by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, physical or mental disability, or abandonment of office.

              None of those conditions has been met. In an op-ed article in the Washington Post, Guaidó offered the brief argument that “there’s no legitimately elected president,” presumably because Maduro’s election was tainted. But nothing in the constitution says that that decision is up to Guaidó or the National Assembly.

              Guaidó also cited two other articles of the constitution, 333 and 350. The first calls on citizens to restore the constitution if it isn’t being followed. That’s more a nice sentiment than a legal duty. The second calls on the people to reject a government that violates democratic values and human rights — ditto.

              The State Department didn’t consider these other constitutional arguments even worth a mention, which tells you something about their weakness.”

              https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-01-24/u-s-recognition-of-venezuela-s-guaido-is-disguised-regime-change

              The article is well worth a read.

              Article 233 (of the Venezuelan Constitution):

              “The President of the Republic shall become permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice*; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.

              When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.

              When the President of the Republic becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the first four years of this constitutional term of office, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the Executive Vice-President shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.

              In the cases describes above, the new President shall complete the current constitutional term of office. If the President becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the last two years of his constitutional term of office, the Executive Vice-President shall take over the Presidency of the Republic until such term is completed.”

              https://venezuelanalysis.com/constitution/title/5

              * The Tribunal has endorsed Maduro.

              He’s not a great president, and clearly no Chavez, but the constitutional argument for Guaido being president is non existent.

              “We most certainly don’t have a similar process over here!”

              We have democratic elections, as does Venezuela, which is what I was inviting you to recognise had not taken place where Guaido’s ‘presidency’ is concerned. I’m sorry you remain confused.

    1. @Forthestate:

      “We have democratic elections, as does Venezuela, which is what I was inviting you to recognise had not taken place where Guaido’s ‘presidency’ is concerned. I’m sorry you remain confused.”

      I would contend that the most recent presidential elections were far from democratic. I am aware that Guaidó has not been elected president of Venezuela. I would very much like to see free and fair elections so that Venezuelans can choose their president and their political representatives democratically.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.