Washington – The last diplomats in Washington loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro left the embassy of that country on Wednesday, but inside there remain a hundred Chavistas erected in a “collective” that defends them from the envoys of the opposition leader Juan Guaidó
Because of its façade, the embassy looks more like a squat house than a diplomatic building, with huge handmade banners hanging from the roof and saying “no to the war for oil”, “stop the coup” , “peace” or “no to lethal sanctions”.
Another, with the characteristic look of the late President Hugo Chávez, observes the agents of the US Secret Service. They stand guard outside the building, located in the affluent neighborhood of Georgetown, and they did not want to tell Efe the purpose of their mission.
The Government of Donald Trump had put today as the deadline for the diplomats of Maduro to leave, but before doing so and knowing the intentions of the envoys of Guaidó – recognized by more than 50 countries as interim president – Taking control of the embassy with US support, they offered the keys to the building to a group of local Chavistas.
The so-called “embassy protection group”, which for weeks has been sleeping in the legation, today called on people who sympathize with their cause to fill the building tonight and tomorrow and defend it from possible or eviction, to which a hundred people responded.
From inside the embassy, Linda Helland explained to Efe that she took a week off and traveled to Washington from San Francisco (California) to prevent “an illegal takeover of the embassy and above all prevent an illegal coup against the elected Government of Venezuela”.
“This looks like the beginning of September 1973, just before the US-sponsored coup in Chile (against Salvador Allende) that led to a massacre, only then it was five years old and I could not do anything,” said Helland.
The meeting was attended by Venezuela’s Deputy Minister for North America, Carlos Ron, who recorded a video for the occasion in which he regretted not being able to accompany them in Washington but encouraged them to remain for many days at the embassy.
Yes it was one of the lawyers of the “collective of protection”, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, who tried to reassure the attendees citing international law to the rumors that circulate that the US authorities evicted the building and arrest those who resist.
“Everyone who is here is here legally invited by the people legally in charge of this building, property of the Government of Venezuela,” said Verheyden-Hilliard, who also threatened to bring lawsuits against any agent who “orders or executes evictions or illegal arrests. “
At the embassy, pro-Maduro activists shared gifts that diplomats had left before leaving, such as Venezuelan music records, books, Chávez posters, pins commemorating the bicentennial of independence or figures of the liberator Simón Bolívar.
Surrounded by Chavez paintings hanging on the walls, Margaret Flowers, one of the activists, told Efe that she is ready to resist: “We’re not leaving, if they tell us to leave, we’re not leaving.”
In mid-March, the envoy of Guaidó in Washington, Carlos Vecchio, recognized by the Government of Donald Trump as the legitimate ambassador of Venezuela, made public his intentions to take control of the embassy in the “next weeks”.
He did so after occupying with the approval of the United States three Venezuelan diplomatic buildings: two military attaché offices in Washington and the consulate in New York.
“Vecchio could not take a McDonald’s without Trump,” joked Medea Benjamin, one of the promoters of the protest, who said that the eyes of a “smiling Chavez” are on the embassy tonight.
The Chavistas of the “protection collective” do not know if the authorities really evicted them or if Vecchio will try to take control of the building in the next few hours, but they are aware that any scenario is possible after midnight. (EFESUA)