Police in Washington, D.C. and Secret Service agents cut water and electricity to the Venezuelan embassy on Wednesday, the latest attempt by the U.S. government to oust supporters of President Nicolas Maduro who are defending the building with his government's blessing.
In response to the move, the activists inside—who for weeks have fended off anti-Maduro protesters outside—are demanding the water and electricity be turned back on.
The embassy occupation began in April, after other opposition activists attempted to take over the property for opposition leader Juan Guaidó—who has been recognized as the country's leader by the U.S., Canada, and other countries—in the wake of a failed coup in Caracas against Maduro's government.
"It is totally ILLEGAL and dangerous for the U.S. cut off water and electricity, deny access to food, to those of us residing lawfully inside the embassy building as guests of the Venezuelan government," Paki Weiland, an activist with the peace and human rights group CodePink, said in a statement. "It would also be totally illegal and dangerous to hand over the keys of the embassy to an unelected opposition."
The embassy takeover has been as unsuccessful as the coup attempt, said CodePink's Ariel Gold, who accused U.S. security forces of helping the pro-Guaidó protesters.
"The Secret Service and D.C. police continue to assist opposition protesters in blockading all entrances and exits to the building, preventing medicine, food, and water from reaching the activists living inside," Gold told Common Dreams in an email. "By refusing to arrest violent opposition protesters, the Secret Service is allowing Guaidó supporters to physically assault and gravely injure peaceful activists outside the building."
CodePink will hold a press conference in front of the embassy at 1 PM Thursday.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, said the coalition inside the embassy is now at risk without power or access to running water.
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"The violence and denial of access to food and water taking place at the Venezuelan Embassy in D.C. is a microcosm of the what is taking place in Venezuela as the U.S. continues to try and orchestrate a coup," said Benjamin. "It is dangerous and appalling."
Benjamin added that the U.S. government should both protect those within and without the building from the pro-coup protesters.
"The U.S. administration must immediately turn water and electricity back on, allow food into the building, and protect activists outside from being physically assaulted," Benjamin said.
Journalist Alex Rubinstein, who has been staying in the embassy as part of a collective invited by the Maduro government to block pro-coup protesters from overrunning the building, posted a video to his Twitter account Wednesday night showing the defiance of the occupation.
In the video, an unnamed activist holds a candle and delivers a message of defiance.
"We are not leaving," said the activist. "We are going to resist."