US trying to remove protesters from Venezuelan Embassy in DC
US law enforcement on Monday started the process of trying to remove protesters from the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, a State Department official said.
The move to evict the protesters from the embassy came after a group of US anti-war activists began moving into the embassy last month.
Medea Benjamin, one of the founders of the anti-war group Code Pink, previously told CNN that diplomats from the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had given them access to the embassy before the diplomats left as the standoff unfolded between Maduro and Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido.
Venezuela’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America Carlos Ron denounced the removal of protestors on Monday
“The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not authorized the entry of police officers into the former Embassy building in Washington, DC. This intrusion is yet another violation of international law by US authorities and an aggression against Venezuela,” Ron, a Maduro official, said on Twitter.
Guaido has declared himself the legitimate leader of Venezuela with the support of the US and other nations, while the embattled Maduro has stood firm as tensions mount.
The State Department said in response to the embassy protests that it was the US position that Guaido’s government had legal authority over the embassy, not Maduro’s sitting government in Venezuela. The department on Monday encouraged “the remaining unauthorized individuals to vacate the building and to conduct any future protest peacefully and through legal means.”
In a statement on Monday, a State Department official reiterated the US position against the Maduro government and said Carlos Vecchio, who Guaido has declared the Venezuelan ambassador to the US, requested US assistance.
“As a result of Ambassador Vecchio’s request, further action is being taken, and the unauthorized occupants are being informed by law enforcement that they are trespassing on the embassy property,” the state spokesperson said. “Until the trespassers are gone, no individuals will be permitted to enter the embassy.”
Law enforcement could be seen at the embassy on Monday evening.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez and Hira Humayun contributed to this report.