A U.S. occupation — led by Code Pink

By | May 5, 2019

Vox‘s Alex Ward reports:

On Monday, I spoke to activists inside the [Venezuelan] embassy [in Washington D.C.] from Code Pink, an antiwar group, about why they were occupying the space. [Ariel] Gold [a Code Pink national co-director] told me her team was living and working inside the mission [since April 10] because they oppose US-led conflict and intervention.

“We are willing to put our bodies on the line” to stop President Donald Trump’s support of [Juan] Guaidó [head of Venezuela’s National Assembly], something that should be deeply troubling to all Americans,” she told me. “We are opposed to this US coup.”

In other words, she says America’s support for Guaidó is nothing less than thinly veiled regime change.

She had a relatively small team with her when I arrived that afternoon, with only a handful of staffers sitting at a conference table near a living room-like area and kitchen. All the people who stay in the embassy, many of whom haven’t left it for weeks, work in that space and sleep in abandoned offices all around the building.

Among the people in that room was Kevin Zeese, a leader of the pro-Maduro group Popular Resistance. When I spoke to Kevin, a 63-year-old from Baltimore, he was sporting a blue “Chavistas” shirt emblazoned with the face of Hugo Chávez, the late socialist dictator and Maduro’s mentor.

“He’s not a dictator,” Zeese told me of Maduro, saying that Venezuela’s problems were mainly caused by US-imposed sanctions. And what did he think of Guaidó, then? “He’s a fraud under Venezuelan law,” because Maduro won his election last year, Zeese told me.

He added that he and others in his group traveled to Venezuela recently and saw no violence and not much poverty. According to him, the real reason America wants Maduro gone is so it can install a puppet who grants the US access to the country’s oil reserves and other resources. [Continue reading…]

In an open letter to Code Pink activists, Francisco Toro writes:

By the time the bottom really fell out of the Venezuelan economy, in 2014, nearly everyone with the resources to get out relatively easily had done so. Music videos chronicled the heartbreak of the holdouts. As one grim joke making the rounds put it, “damn it, the friends I made after all my friends left the country, are leaving the country now.”

So you’re right: the people hurling abuse at you in English right now are, by and large, not quite like the Venezuelans left behind. Their relative privilege allowed them to get out before 2016, when the real humanitarian crisis set in and people started to flee, rather than emigrate. And even then, those who fled on foot to Colombia—many now darker skinned—have been the relatively better off: younger, working-age people hoping to land work abroad to send money back. Behind, they left young kids, often in the care of elderly relatives: the absolute most vulnerable people in Venezuela.

For most of those who’ve fled, it’s been an enormous struggle to rebuild something like a stable life in cities from Guayaquil to Santiago de Chile. They’ve suffered enormously to flee. But compared to those they left behind, they’re privileged.

Because the people truly brutalized by the Maduro regime are those who haven’t left, because they can’t. Too poor, too old, too young, too isolated: the people the revolution claimed to champion are the ones who’ve suffered the most from the society-wide collapse the revolution wrought. [Continue reading…]

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