BREAKING: Police illegally enter Venezuelan embassy in Washington and arrest remaining peace activists

Embassy protectors
John McEvoy

Police have reportedly entered the Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC to arrest the remaining activists residing there.

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”:

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Violation of the Vienna convention

Medea Benjamin of peace group CODEPINK tweeted:

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”:

What next?

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”.

It’s likely that the US government will hand the premises over to members of the Venezuelan opposition. With US support, the opposition has conducted various coup attempts over recent months.

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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