Code Pink leaders say U.S. authorities entered the Venezuelan embassy in D.C. to arrest protectors, violating international law and conventions.
United States security forces have broken into the Venezuela embassy in Washington Thursday and have taken the four remaining members of the Protection Collective, Code Pink organization announced. The announcement was confirmed by the activists' lawyer, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard.
Such action violates several articles of the Vienna Convention and breaks international law.
teleSUR reporter Jorge Gestoso on site outside the embassy says there are security service, federal agents and dozens of D.C. police officers heavily armed at the back entrance of the embassy. According to Gestoso the authorities dressed in military gear took up position in the embassy's basement where there are no surveillance cameras. This allowed U.S. authorities to make the arrests out of the site of the public and the media.
International law expert, Jose Pertierra, speaking exclusively to teleSUR from Washington said this tactic of trying to remove the protectors via the basement by U.S. authorities is being done "in order to avoid a war of images where they can have police act without the public seeing them."
Pertierra adds that this security force operation violates international law that prohibits a hosting nation from invading the sovereign territory of another country’s embassy.
The law expert said the protesters will likely sue the U.S. administration if they are arrested, "which is not in the interest of the government."
The activists who had been inside the building since mid-April had lost weight since barricading themselves in the embassy to protect against the illegal takeover by U.S. authorities and Venezuelan opposition of the building. Their food supplies had been cut off by U.S. authorities and Venezuelan opposition activists also stationed outside the embassy.
Carlos Vecchio, appointed by self-declared interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido as envoy leader to the U.S., ordered the electricity and water illegally turned off at the embassy over the past week.
Let it be clear. The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela does not authorize the entrance of any US law enforcement officers into our former Embassy building in Washington. Any such entrance is an unlawful breach of the Vienna Convention.— Carlos Ron (@CarlosJRonVE) May 16, 2019
Protectors inside the facility told Gestoso Wednesday afternoon they were in good spirits at that time and were trying to negotiate a peaceful deal with the Trump administration under Article 45 of the Vienna Convention that would allow the activists to hand over the embassy to a third party country.
According to Gestoso the protectors say they found a note telling them to leave the building on the main door of the embassy overnight and a lock there had been broken. The article 45 proposal was rejected roundly.
teleSUR correspondent in Washington, Alina R. Duarte, confirmed the police are pushing back the press from the area around the embassy while supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who are against the U.S.'s overthrow of Maduro shout, “no wars!”