Washington, DC – Today, three of the four members of the Embassy Protection Collective, Adrienne Pine, David Paul and Margaret Flowers, who stayed in the Venezuelan Embassy last year to stop its illegal handover to coup leaders, are finished with their six-month probation and 30-day suspended sentence. The fourth member of the collective, Kevin Zeese, died unexpectedly in September.
The three collective members are traveling to Venezuela to serve as official election observers for the National Assembly election to be held on December 6, 2020. In that election, despite the United States’ push for a boycott, 107 political parties and 14,000 candidates will participate. The current National Assembly has been in contempt of the Supreme Court, an independent body, since right wing candidates refused to redo races that were corrupted through a vote-buying scheme in 2015. A Constituent National Assembly was elected in 2017 to take on the functions of the defunct National Assembly. The newly-elected National Assembly should be in good standing again when members take their seats in January.
Pine, Paul and Flowers will report on the Venezuelan electoral process upon their return to the United States. “It is critical that we witness this election first-hand because US corporate media are already making false claims about it in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy,” said Adrienne Pine, a professor of medical anthropology at American University. “This is part of the United States’ ongoing effort to overthrow the constitutional government of Venezuela and replace it with a US-backed puppet government in order to get access to Venezuela’s vast fossil fuel and mineral resources and thwart the Venezuelan people’s rejection of US domination.”
The Embassy Protection Collective was formed in April 2019 in response to the US government handing some of Venezuela’s diplomatic properties over to leaders of a failed coup in January of that year. The United States was planning to give the main embassy in Washington, DC to an unelected parallel puppet government in violation of international law to serve as a base for ongoing coup efforts. Instead, hundreds of people either stayed inside the embassy or rallied in support outside for 37 days until law enforcement illegally raided the embassy on May 16. The four protectors were arrested and charged with a federal misdemeanor of interfering with certain protective functions and their trial in February of this year ended in a mistrial.
“The US government could not convict us of a crime because we were the lawful ones in this situation, “ said Margaret Flowers, director of Popular Resistance and a co-founder of the collective. “We were in the embassy with the permission of the constitutional government of Venezuela. We were serving as interim protectors to ensure the sovereignty of that space would not be violated while the United States and Venezuela negotiated a protecting power agreement for their embassies. Protecting power agreements are standard practice when diplomatic relations break down between two countries but in this situation the United States refused to accept Venezuela’s request for one.”
Since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 and the start of the Bolivarian process in Venezuela, the United States has been relentless in its efforts to overthrow the government. All of the United States’ actions, including coup and assassination attempts, military threats, interference in the electoral process and internal politics and coercive economic measures, are in violation of the United Nations Charter and other international laws. The newest addition to this hybrid warfare is a misinformation campaign to build opposition to Venezuela in the United States and justify intervention.
“The Venezuelan people are resolute in their determination to resist US intervention,” said David Paul, a retired nurse practitioner and Latin American solidarity activist. “For this, they have suffered greatly as the United States’ economic war has caused shortages of medicines and equipment needed to run their infrastructure and industries. This is especially egregious during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates the United States’ economic war contributed to the deaths of 40,000 Venezuelans between 2017 and 2018. Currently, Venezuela is experiencing a fuel crisis and hyper-inflation as a result of the sanctions.
The Embassy Protection Collective reiterates its demands that the US government end the deadly sanctions, remove its military from the waters around Venezuela, cease its internal interference and re-establish diplomatic relations with the constitutional government of Venezuela. The incoming president, Joe Biden, has an opportunity to respect international law and the sovereignty of Venezuela. Biden must undo Trump’s blockade on Venezuela.