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 went 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 Maryland 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, but 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 from 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.
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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 to 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 attached to the bag 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, and was similar to 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 from the local group 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.
BAP 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 delegation organized 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 Bases and 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 wrapping the rope used 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 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, May 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 the 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 it needs to come to an end.