Only four activists – who were in the embassy at the invitation of the elected government of Venezuela – were still in the building. Defending international law, they have been resisting Washington’s threats to seize the embassy for over a month.
According to some commentators, the police that entered the building looked “like they’re ready for combat in Afghanistan”:
They're breaking down a door pic.twitter.com/YWSSp7UwzS
— Michele Banks (@artologica) May 16, 2019
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Violation of the Vienna convention
Medea Benjamin of peace group CODEPINK tweeted:
BREAKING NEWS: Police arrested the 4 people remaining in the Venezuela Embassy as part of the #EmbassyProtectionCollective. Total violation of Vienna Conventions. Shameful!!!
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) May 16, 2019
According to Article 22 of the Vienna Convention:
Article 22 confirms the inviolability of mission premises – barring any right of entry by law enforcement officers of the receiving State and imposing on the receiving State a special duty to protect the premises against intrusion, damage, disturbance of the peace or infringement of dignity. Even in response to abuse of this inviolability or emergency, the premises may not be entered without the consent of the head of mission.
The US government and Venezuelan coup plotters claim they have the right to seize the embassy because elected Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro is ‘illegitimate’. But Venezuela’s representative to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, disagrees. And he recently called for “respect of international law and the Vienna convention”:
In international law, the ability of one State to recognize another has nothing to do with the power to appoint the authorities of that country. The sources of national power can only be legitimized within the country, never outside of it. pic.twitter.com/S3dYfIp7Xs
— Samuel Moncada (@SMoncada_VEN) May 16, 2019
Washington’s decision to send police into the embassy sets a dangerous precedent concerning the sovereignty of embassies worldwide. Some have argued that the US has “just turned its embassies into fair game, especially its embassy in Caracas”.
Venezuelan deputy foreign minister Carlos Ron has reportedly asked for “the US government to sign a Protecting Power Agreement to ensure the integrity of [Venezuela’s] embassy in DC and the US embassy in Caracas”.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s man in Washington is Carlos Vecchio – a man who has openly invited US military support to intervene in Venezuela.
Whatever happens, Washington’s decision to take over the Venezuelan embassy is, in the words of journalist Dan Cohen, “a bad sign for a peaceful resolution”.
Featured image via screengrab/WTOP Radio
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