By Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Above photo: Embassy Protection Collective members before they were arrested: Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Adrienne Pine and David Paul from the People’s Dispatch. All four voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016.
One of the things the final four people in the Venezuelan Embassy who were arrested had in common was that they all voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016. Two of us were Greens (Margaret Flowers and me) and two were independents. The participation of Greens in the Embassy Protection Collective once again shows how the Green Party of the United States is the party of the popular movement in the United States.
The Embassy Protection Collective was a unique event in US history. US peace activists going into a foreign embassy in Washington, DC to protect Venezuela from a US coup. We issued a Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective that explains why we took the actions we did. Three days before the police violated international law to illegally evict and arrest us we told the State Department there was a legal path to resolving this dispute, i.e. mutual Protecting Power Agreements between the US and Venezuela to allow a third country to protect the vacant US embassy in Caracas and the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. We still hope such a mutual agreement will be put in place.
Margaret is a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and ran for US Senate in 2016. I have been a Green since 2000, a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Green Party and a Green Party US Senate candidate in 2006. Margaret and I were not the only Greens involved in the Embassy Protection Collective. Many Greens were involved both inside and outside of the embassy. The Collective included Greens and non-Greens, often the role of Green Party activists goes unnoticed in the media, so I want to highlight some of the work of Greens in this initiative.
The Secret Service allowed a pro-coup mob to surround the embassy, assault, threaten and try to intimidate members of the Collective into leaving, and let them block food entering the embassy. During this siege I noticed there were Greens from multiple states including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Greens joined us outside from Connecticut, DC, and Virginia. We were not there as Greens but as people who are part of the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice, as well as peace. The Green Party takes strong positions against militarism and anti-imperialism and many of its members are part of peace and justice movements.
Past Two Vice Presidential Candidates Show Up to Provide Food, Water and Flowers
In fact, both Green Party vice presidential candidates in the 2016 and 2012 elections, Ajamu Baraka the national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace and Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign, played leadership roles in the Collective outside of the embassy.
Honkala came with the Poor Peoples Army and attempted to get food into the embassy as well as bring us flowers on Mother’s Day. They attempted to put food in a bag we had thrown from a second-floor window. The rope was grabbed by both the pro-coup protesters and the police. The police cut the rope and the food was not able to be delivered. After the attempt, the Poor People’s Army had a confrontation with police outside the embassy where they accused them of violating the human rights of Embassy Protectors. They argued that denial of food, water and electricity was putting people at risk, many of the same challenges poor people face every day.
In addition, the Poor People’s Army protested at PEPCO, the DC power company that shut off the electricity in the embassy, which also resulted in the electric pumps needed for water being unable to operate. The people inside the embassy noted the aggressive action of Honkala and her team. On the morning we were arrested, we heard the Poor People’s Army was making a return visit and we were looking forward to seeing their support and showing our love for their efforts on our behalf. Unfortunately, we were arrested before they arrived.
The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) played an integral role in the Collective. In the early phases of our living in the embassy when we are holding nightly forums and cultural events, members of the Black Alliance for Peace who are members of Pan-African Community Action(PACA) joined us for a forum on the militarization of Africa and then need to end Africom, the US Africa Command.
Members were regular attendees at the forums and also were part of the outside Collective. They consistently joined activists on a daily basis to show support for stopping the US coup and protecting the Venezuelan Embassy from takeover.
Earlier this year we traveled to Venezuela with Ajamu Baraka as part of a peace delegationorganized by the US Peace Council. Ajamu is a close ally and advisor to Popular Resistance who has been integral in our work that led to stopping the Trump Military Parade, developing the Peace Congress, building the US Coalition Against Foreign Military Basesand with the United National Antiwar Coalition.
Baraka was at the embassy the day that Rev. Jesse Jackson came to support us. Baraka knows Jackson from his two presidential runs and joined him and other members of the Collective in helping to deliver food to the embassy. As you can see in the video below, there was a scuffle with a pro-coup supporter who tried to pull a bag of food out of Jackson’s hands as well as wrapped the rope to pull the bag to the second floor around his arms. Baraka can be seen battling with the pro-couper along with another Maryland Green Party member, Paul Pumphrey of Friends of the Congo, and others in order to successfully deliver four bags of food into the embassy.
Colorado Green, Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, who is also a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, summarized the role of Greens and our former vice presidential candidates in a Facebook post, writing:
“It was Greens from all over the eastern seaboard who held space outside and fought the police and the Venezuelan expatriate gusano fascists to bring food to the defenders. It was a Green Vice Presidential candidate who fought with the power company to turn the electricity back on. It was another Green Vice Presidential candidate who dragged the fascists away so that Jesse Jackson could deliver sustenance to our defenders.”
Green Presidential Nominee Front-Runner, Howie Hawkins, Speaks Out Against US Imperialism
One of the founders of the Green Party, Howie Hawkins, who is currently exploring a run for president in 2020, wrote three blog posts on his website supporting the Embassy Protection Collective and opposing the US coup in Venezuela.
On April 24, two weeks after we entered the embassy, Hawkins, who is known for being the first candidate to run on a full-fledged Green New Deal, wrote about how the US should not be threatening war against Venezuela for oil especially during a time of climate crisis. Hawkins wrote more clearly than any presidential candidate about the US economic war, theft of Venezuela’s wealth, the impact of sanctions, opposition to the US coup as well as US threats of war. Hawkins strongly opposed US imperialism against Venezuela which he correctly described as bi-partisan. He described Trump’s open comments about stealing Venezuelan oil from early in his presidency and put his false comments on Venezuela in context, writing:
All Trump talk about restoring human rights and democracy in Venezuela are just more lies. Trump doesn’t support them in the US. He orders the violation of human rights against asylum seekers at the US border. He constantly spouts racist tropes and incites violence against minorities and political opponents. He supports voter suppression and opposes verifiable vote-counting laws.
The next day, Hawkins highlighted a study released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research that found that there were 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018 as a result of US economic sanctions which are illegal under international law.
The day we were arrested, April 16, Hawkins put out an excellent statement describing how international law had been violated by the US invading the embassy. He mentioned Margaret Flowers and me since we are both volunteering for his exploratory campaign, and put the US action in historical context writing;
The arrests show that the US is a rogue state. Violating the diplomatic immunity of the Venezuelan embassy takes the US back before the 1200s, when Genghis Khan’s Eurasian empire brought the notion of inviolable diplomatic immunity to a West that was riddled at the time with endemic warfare and banditry among the feuding feudal fiefdoms. Trump—and his Republican and Democratic minions alike—have taken us back nearly a millennium to the Dark Ages.
We are grateful that the Green Party is likely to have a nominee in the 2020 election cycle who understands the importance of international law and stands against US imperialism and empire.
In 2020 We Must Make US Regime Change Unacceptable and Work To End US Empire
We intend to build on the action at the embassy so that the political consensus in the United States opposes the US coup and threats of military action against Venezuela. The Green Party will be speaking out in 2020 as they always have been against war, militarism and regime change. We will be calling for cuts to the military budget and putting the necessities of the people and planet before war.
The Embassy Protectors and our allies intend to build a movement that will make it impossible for any candidate of any party to support the US coup in Venezuela. We will be escalating our actions against the US coup and organizing national and international days of action leading to a mass protest on September 21 in New York City when the UN General Assembly is meeting.
This campaign against the Venezuela coup and threats of militarism around the world is part of an ongoing effort to end US empire as quickly and responsibly as possible so the US stops creating global chaos and destruction. The people of the United States need to understand that the Empire Economy does not work for them or the people of the world and needs to come to an end.
“Any order to vacate based on a request by coup conspirators that lack governing authority will not be a lawful order. The coup has failed multiple times in Venezuela. The elected government is recognized by the Venezuelan courts under Venezuelan law and by the United Nations under international law. An order by the US-appointed coup plotters would not be legal.”
From Kevin Zeese:
To: US State Department
Venezuelan Foreign Ministry
From: Embassy Protection Collective
Re: Exiting the Venezuelan Embassy
Date: May 13, 2019
This is the 34th day of our living in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. We are prepared to stay another 34 days, or however long is needed to resolve the embassy dispute in a peaceful way consistent with international law.
This memo is being sent to the US and Venezuela as well as members of our Collective and allies. We are encouraging people to publish this memo as a transparent process is needed to prevent the US from making a unilateral decision that could impact the security of embassies around the world and lead to military conflict.
There are two ways to resolve the issues around the Venezuelan embassy in DC, which we will explain.
Before doing so, we reiterate that our collective is one of independent people and organizations not affiliated with any government. While we are all US citizens, we are not agents of the United States. While we are here with permission of the Venezuelan government, we are not their agents or representatives.
We are here in the embassy lawfully. We are breaking no laws. We did not unlawfully enter and we are not trespassing.
1. Exiting with a Protecting Power Agreement
The exit from the embassy that best resolves issues to the benefit of the United States and Venezuela is a mutual Protecting Power Agreement. The United States wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in Caracas. Venezuela wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in DC. Such agreements are not uncommon when diplomatic relations are severed.
A Protecting Power Agreement would avoid a military conflict that could lead to war. A war in Venezuela would be catastrophic for Venezuela, the United States, and for the region. It would lead to lives lost and mass migration from the chaos and conflict of war. It would cost the United States trillions of dollars and become a quagmire involving allied countries around the world.
We are serving as interim protectors in the hope that the two nations can negotiate this resolution. If this occurs we will take the banners off the building, pack our materials, and leave voluntarily. The electricity could be turned on and we will drive out.
We suggest a video walk-through with embassy officials to show that the Embassy Protection Collective did not damage the building. The only damage to the building has been inflicted by coup supporters in the course of their unprosecuted break-ins.
2. The United States violates the Vienna Convention, makes an illegal eviction and unlawful arrests
This approach will violate international law and is fraught with risks. The United States would have to cut the chains in the front door put up by embassy staff and violate the embassy. We have put up barriers there and at other entrances to protect us from constant break-ins and threats from the trespassers whom the police are permitting outside the embassy. The police’s failure to protect the embassy and the US citizens inside has forced us to take these actions.
The Embassy Protectors will not barricade ourselves, or hide in the embassy in the event of an unlawful entry by police. We will gather together and peacefully assert our rights to remain in the building and uphold international law.
Any order to vacate based on a request by coup conspirators that lack governing authority will not be a lawful order. The coup has failed multiple times in Venezuela. The elected government is recognized by the Venezuelan courts under Venezuelan law and by the United Nations under international law. An order by the US-appointed coup plotters would not be legal.
Such an entry would put embassies around the world and in the United States at risk. We are concerned about US embassies and personnel around the world if the Vienna Convention is violated at this embassy. It would set a dangerous precedent that would likely be used against US embassies.
If an illegal eviction and unlawful arrests are made, we will hold all decision-makers in the chain of command and all officers who enforce unlawful orders accountable.
If there is a notice that we are trespassing and need to vacate the premises, please provide it to our attorney Mara Verhayden-Hilliard, copied on this memo.
We have taken care of this embassy and request a video tour of the building before any arrests.
We hope a wise and calm solution to this issue can be achieved so escalation of this conflict can avoided.
There is no need for the United States and Venezuela to be enemies. Resolving this embassy dispute diplomatically should lead to negotiations over other issues between the nations.
The Embassy Protection Collective
May 13, 2019
On the heels of a month-long trip through Venezuela in the midst of growing U.S. aggression, anti-war activist Gloria La Riva will speak in numerous cities on the current situation in Venezuela, with a progressive perspective on the crucial issues facing the Venezuelan people: the U.S. economic sanctions, the U.S. media blockade, and the people’s organizing efforts to overcome the aggression. La Riva will show exclusive first-hand video footage from her trip and answer the questions:
- What is the Bolivarian revolution all about?
- Is Venezuela suffering an economic collapse?
- What is the role of the U.S., is the danger of U.S. war near?
- How can people in the United States get involved?
If you are interested in hosting La Riva in your city, contact us at: (661)487-1060
- Thursday, March 21 – New Haven, Connecticut
Eyewitness: Venezuela with Gloria La Riva
First and Summerfield United Methodist Church
6:30 pm EST
- Friday, March 22 – Boston, Massachusetts
Women Fight Back: Report Back from Venezuela + Housing in Boston
The City School
- Saturday, March 23 – New York City, New York
Women and Socialism Conference: Feminism for the 99%
The People’s Forum
- Tuesday, March 26 – Seaside, California
Hands Off Venezuela: Breaking the U.S. Media Blockade
Sponsored by the Monterey Peace and Justice Center
6pm to 8pm PST
- Saturday, March 30 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Liberation Forum: No Coup in Venezuela, Free Puerto Rico!
Philadelphia Liberation Center
- Monday, April 1 – Bowling Green, OH
Grounds For Thought Coffee
174 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402
- Tuesday, April 2 – Antioch College
Coretta Scott King Center
One Morgan Pl, Yellow Springs, OH 45387
- Wednesday, April 3 – Depauw University
609 S Locust St, Greencastle IN 46135
- Thursday, April 4 – University of Illinois
Gregory Hall – Room #213
Wright Street Urbana, IL 61801
7:00 pm CST
- Friday, April 5 – St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis Association of Community Organizations5888 Plymouth Ave, St. Louis 63112
- Saturday, April 6 – Chicago, Illinois
3460 W. Lawrence, Chicago, Illinois 60625
6:00 pm CST
- Sunday, April 7 – Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan, Kalamazoo Room
911 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
- Monday, April 8 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Peace Action Bldg., 1001 E. Keefe St.Contact:
- Tuesday, April 9 – Madison, Wisconsin
First Unitarian Society – Landmark Auditorium
900 University Bay Dr.
- Wednesday, April 10 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
4200 Cedar Ave. S.Contact:
- Wednesday, April 17 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
(details to be announced)
- Thursday, April 18 – Denver, Colorado
(details to be announced)
Tuesday, April 23 – Arcata CAHumboldt State University
11:00 am PST
Wednesday, April 24 – Sacramento CASol Collective, 2574-21st St., 95818
Saturday, April 27, Pittsburgh PA
(details to be announced)
Sunday, April 28, Cleveland OHSite TBD
- Seattle, Washington
(date and location to be announced soon)
If you have questions or are interested in hosting a speaking event with Gloria La Riva in your city please contact (661)487-1060
U.S. Peace Council in Venezuela.
Send it to your TV and newspapers and all your social media. We must stop the US from doing this to Venezuela.
The Black Alliance for Peace joined activists from peace organizations based in the United States to embark as a delegation to Venezuela to uncover the truth. They are reporting to you today, the day they were supposed to fly back to the United States. While American Airlines refuses to fly to Venezuela because of so-called danger, this delegation found the embattled country pleasant and safe.
Video credit: Popular Resistance
Learn more about the U.S. intervention in Venezuela: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/newsletter/bapheadstovenezuela