On Thursday, May 16, Washington DC Metropolitan Police invaded the Venezuelan Embassy, arresting four Embassy Protection Collective civilian activists present at the invitation of the Venezuelan government. This action was carried out in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, both treaties ratified by the U.S. that are fully part of U.S. domestic law.
BREAKING: At 9:30 in the morning, DC police officers illegally entered the Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC in the Georgetown neighborhood & arrested four activists lawfully living in the building since April 10 as guests of the legitimate VZLA govt.https://t.co/CT958y9RNM
— CODEPINK (@codepink) May 16, 2019
Marjorie Cohn, past president of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote for Truthout about the raid, placing it in the context of U.S. coup attempts and military threats against Venezuela: “The Trump administration has been trying to engineer an unlawful coup and regime change in Venezuela. After U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó declared himself ‘interim president’ of Venezuela on January 23, high Trump officials quickly ratified his declaration. The U.S. government seeks to illegally install Guaidó and a new ambassador in the D.C. embassy as part of its coup attempt.”
The National Lawyers Guild previously wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo as well as Metropolitan Police directors, Secret Service officials and members of Congress warning against this type of illegitimate attack. “The United States government, through various law enforcement agencies, have condoned and protected violent opponents in support of an attempted siege of the Embassy. In so doing, the U.S. government is creating a dangerous precedent for diplomatic relations with all nations. These actions are not only illegal, but they put embassies around the world at risk.” Over 270 lawyers, law professors, academics, legal workers, law students and other concerned citizens signed on to the letter (republished below.)
As the Partnership for Civil Justice pointed out, the eventual arrest warrant avoided accusing the activists of trespassing, since they were present at the invitation of the Venezuelan government:
Here's the Arrest Warrant for #EmbassyProtectionCollective. Charge: Interference with certain protective functions.
Significantly, not a trespass charge. Showing US govt wants to avoid defending in court who's lawfully in charge of Embassy; EPC was invited in & lawfully present pic.twitter.com/hFChrUbhf4
— Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (@ThePCJF) May 16, 2019
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the Embassy Protection Collective’s lawyer, spoke with MintPress News about the arrests:
One day before the raid, a delegation led by Jesse Jackson and Ajamu Baraka came to the embassy to hold a press conference, deliver food and show support for the Embassy Protection Collective and its defense of international law: