Contributed by Joe Montero
Obviously and intentionally breaking international law, specifically the Vienna Convention, as well as US law, the Trump administration ordered the raiding and takeover of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington. The State Department carried out the task.
Venezuela’s ambassador speak out at the United Nations on 15 May, the day before the attack
Video from the United Nations
The purpose of the attack was obviously to remove Americans who were inside, protecting the building under the permission of the legitimate Venezuelan government, and to hand it over to supporters of Juan Guaido, wrongly recognised by the Trump administration as the president of Venezuela.
This is the same person involved in the 30 April and failed attempt.
A few Venezuelan Guido backers, supported up by Cuban exiles, other similar minded groups from other Latin American countries, and elements form the American ultra Trump supporters, had began to mount protests outside. Assaults on individuals considered Maduro supporters ocurred in front of and ignored by the police.
Instead, they began to arrest individuals taking food, medicine and other supplies to those inside. Electricity and water were cut off last week.
Meet the defenders of Venezuela’s Embassy
Video from Democracy Now!
On 16 May, dozens of armed police and secret service agents cut through chains securing the doors, crashed in and ordered those inside to leave. Four were arrested.
Mara Verhayden-Hilliard, a lawyer for the arrested, said in a statement that they have been charged with interference with certain protective functions.
As one would expect, Venezuela has condemned the invasion.
Regardless of how Washington feels, it is not up to a government to decide who is going to lead another country. This is a matter that must be decided by those living in that country. Taking a contrary view, especially when it involves a major power, sets a dangerous precedent. Till now, this has even been universally recognised among nations that are at war with each other.
Invading the Venezuelan embassy sends out the message that this principle no longer stands, at least as far as Washington is concerned. It means that Washington has now declared itself above the law and other governments not in their favour better watch out.
Under international law, an embassy is foreign territory, and the authorities of the country where it is has no jurisdiction. The laws of the country whose embassy it is in apply. Through this, diplomats are given immunity, a condition that is necessary, if they are going to carry out their diplomatic functions. without this, the world becomes a much more dangerous place. The chances of conflict turning into war increases.
The sovereignty of the embassy is also the reason why citizens can go for help, and why those feeling under threat can claim asylum.
Donald Trump and the team around him might claim that the president they support has given them the go ahead. It doesn’t wash.
Guaido does not fulfill necessary conditions to be head of state. He cannot be an effective leader, while he does not have control inside Venezuela. He has no administration inside and lacks popular support.
Falling attendances at public rallies show this. The 30 April and US backed coup attempt, when the population did not back his call to rise up casts this beyond any doubt.
Guaido is completely dependent on foreign intervention to fulfill his ambition. Pretending otherwise does not change this.
The attempted coup was a desperate move to regain some momentum to Guaido’s failing campaign.
Washington got egg on its face. Responded with increasing sanctions against Venezuela and turned on Cuba and Iran, in a transparent bid to deflect attention. Now it has sent the heavies into the embassy, to show that it is not powerless, is not giving up and still intent on throwing its weight behind Guaido.
This looks like a silly move. Other nations have undoubtedly taken note, wondering whether they may be next. Quite a few of them may avoid drawing attention, by keeping heir heads low. But all know that this violation makes the global political situation less stable, and this effects everyone. It may well rebound on the United States itself.
That this has happened, underlines Washington’s growing inability to impose its will. The United States might remain a formidable power. But it is no longer seen as invincible, and no longer as able to orchestrate regime change at will. It’s attempts to do so in Venezuela have failed so far.
Prompting it on has probably been the added factor that Guaido’ deputy and vice president of the National Assembly and deputy leader of the remnant Democratic Action party, Edgar Zambrano, was arrested arrested on 8 May, and charged with serious crimes relating to his participation in the coup attempt.
Violation of the sanctity of an embassy is dangerous, threatening a domino effect that will lead to the drawing of battle lines around Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.
It is plausible that the underlying strategy is to encourage Caracas to act similarly on the United States embassy in Venezuela, and to use this as an excuse for military incursion into the country. there is no sign that it is working either.
A similar strategy was behind the attempted coup two weeks ago. A subsequent arrest of Guaido would have also provided an excuse to military intervention. President Nicolas Maduro did not fall for it. Guaido has not been arrested, nor has he been restricted.
Signs are that the Europeans are getting cold feet. Some of the most powerful nations on that continent, initially took on a pro-Guido position, albeit with certain conditions. They are now finding these conditions are not being met, and are shifting the other way.
This is why Juan Guaido is now concentrating on bolstering up faltering European support and appealing for for European nations toi join in imposing together sanctions on Venezuela.
Coming to power on the back of the guns of the US marines is not a good look. The more he calls for a US invasion, the more his own people turn against him and the more international isolation it invites.
Recruiting Europe is ultimately aimed at securing its involvement in military action, to make it look like an international peace keeping force. Given the lack of enthusiasm, this will be extremely hard to pull off.
Guaido is also turning to the United Nations. He wants it to put Maduro to be put on trial for crimes against humanity, support him and take part in military action. Given that most member nations do not support him, it won’t happen.
He knows this. The strategy here too is to make it look like the momentum of his campaign to bring Guaido to power is still strong.
And it takes away attention from failures and buys some time to work out the next move.
How does this link to the invasion on the embassy in Washington? While it might involve setting a trap for Maduro, there are the same underlying factors of needing to create the appearance of momentum and a diversion to buy some time\.
Pressure must be put on the United States to pull back from the brink and use of these methods.
Part of it involves defending those Americans who had the courage to stand up. The other part is, to work against the prospect of a military invasion, demand that respect be given to the sovereignty of another nation and recognition of the lawfully elected government under Venzuela’s law.