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Venezuelans Are in a Power Struggle — for Their Own U.S. Embassy

Antiwar activists have taken over the Venezuelan embassy in D.C. and Venezuelans want it back.

by Ibrahim Balkhy
May 10 2019, 3:03pm

WASHINGTON — Late last month, the Venezuelan embassy was taken over by the American anti-war group Code Pink and a collective of like-minded activists. Their goal? To stop the diplomatic staff of opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his appointed diplomatic staff from taking up posts in the building while embattled socialist president President Nicholas Maduro is still in office.

The activist group occupying the building opposes American support for Guaidó on the grounds that it's imperialistic and could lead to armed intervention. But Guaidó's supporters are having none of it. They're now engaged in a prolonged siege to starve out the occupiers — and give their fledgling shadow government the D.C. presence it so badly wants.

Venezuelans from all over the D.C. region have been camped out on the embassy grounds, quaintly placed on a quiet street in Georgetown. But over the past week, vuvuzela noisemakers, loud music and strobe lights have all been commonplace on this block, as the Venezuelans try to pressure those inside to vacate.

“That’s our building. There is absolutely no reason, no legal, political or moral, for these people to be here,” said Gustavo Tarre, Guiadó’s ambassador to the Organization of American States.

Both groups say they won’t quit until the other side leaves. Wednesday night, the power was shut off inside. But Code Pink and the activist collective remain steadfast. For now.

The resulting situation is a tangential bizarre outpost of the Venezuelan political crisis: The Americans in the Embassy, who are technically on Venezuelan soil, are now surrounded by Venezuelan opposition supporters on American soil.

This segment originally aired May 9, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.