(ZH) — A federal SWAT team breached the Venezuelan embassy in D.C. on Thursday morning, in a move the Maduro government has condemned as a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects a nation’s embassy as sovereign territory.
The four remaining “Embassy Collective” activists who were remaining from among dozens of anti-war protesters who had been holed up in the embassy for the prior few weeks were arrested, according to local accounts.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of @ThePCJF briefs the press after State Department law enforcement evicted and arrested the Embassy Protection Collective. Full video here: https://t.co/8vCJAniant pic.twitter.com/vv160KPwCl
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) May 16, 2019
The group had been defending the embassy since April 10 from what they described as a hostile and illegal potential takeover from pro-Guaido opposition supporters camped outside. The Maduro-supporting collective had the blessing of Venezuelan diplomatic authorities.
Subsequently, Carlos Vecchio – the Guaidó-appointed ambassador – tweeted his congratulations that the embassy had been “liberated,” further thanking the “Venezuelan diaspora” for helping.
The vocal anti-war group Code Pink had formed a core of the group which D.C. police and the Secret Service had reportedly considered as illegal squatters.
An hour ago police in D.C. broke into the Venezuelan Embassy to illegally arrest #EmbassyProtectionCollective. By doing this, they are in violation of Vienna Convention. This breaks international law. #HandsOffVenezuela pic.twitter.com/h4WcNsuxBJ
— Matthew Black (@_matthewblack) May 16, 2019
Tensions began ratcheting on Monday night as US federal officials ordered the activists out, saying they were criminally trespassing.
An image presumably showing the moment of the arrest of the four activists of the #EmbassyProtectionCollective. In the photo that appears to be a screenshot of another image, you see David Paul, Adrienne Pine and Margaret Flowers.
Photo via: .@AlinaTelesur#HandsOffVenezuela pic.twitter.com/F5TLiXhWxp
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) May 16, 2019
Days prior the electricity had also been cut and surrounding police had refused to allow food and water to the protectors.
Pro-Guaido supporters began shouting in support of the police as they prepared to raid the embassy.
Pro-Guaidó supporters have arrived. They’re cheering the police as they come out of the courtyard of the #VenezuelanEmbassy.
— Marissa J. Lang (@Marissa_Jae) May 16, 2019
The raid was likely on orders from the highest levels of the State Department, given the US only recognizes Juan Guaido’s opposition movement as the only legitimate authority in Venezuela, even though it has no power domestically, but is a kind of government-in-exile.
This is the moment when the US Federal police, against all international law, broke into the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC.
May 16th 2019, do not forget it. pic.twitter.com/iIEpQpkDhn
— Alina R. Duarte (@AlinaTelesur) May 16, 2019
News crews filmed the federal agents storming the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown with a SWAT battering ram, after which an ambulance could be seen on the scene, but it was not immediately clear who was injured, or if there was any attempt among the four to resist arrest.
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