For the first time since the Venezuelan embassy in Washington ended in the midst of an international struggle for power over the future of Venezuela, an ambassador representing the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, was standing on Wednesday on the steps of the building.
Carlos Vecchio spoke of the intense protests and violence that gripped the tormented South American nation as the conflict unfolded in real time on loudspeakers and megaphones in the luxurious Georgetown neighborhood in Washington. The embassy itself has become the scene of a proxy block between Guaidó's supporters and those who say that Nicolás Maduro is the legitimate leader of Venezuela.
As he spoke Old – a microphone in his right hand, a megaphone to his left – protesters with the leftist activist Code Pink opened a window on the second-floor embassy, singing "Hands off Venezuela" and "The puppet of Trump "in his own speaker. The crowd below sang "Guaidó" and "Hands out of my embassy".
"It is a real relief to be here and actually hear him face the Venezuelan diaspora," said Gabriela Febres, 28, owner of the D.C. Arepa Zone. "I think we got the answers we were looking for…. Now we have become the resistance movement. And we will continue to protect our embassy."
While thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, where violent clashes led to dozens injured on Tuesday and the death of a 25-year-old man, protesters in Washington gathered along metal barricades blocking the ; entrance to the lock – Embassy for a second consecutive day.
On the one hand, a group of Code Pink activists and other leftist organizations have lived within the embassy since April 10 at the invitation of Maduro's government. On Tuesday, they sat on the steps of the embassy and sang American protest songs, with yellow signs that read "No US coups' plots" and "Hands off Venezuela!"
On the other side of the barricades, pro-opposition protesters dressed in yellow, red and blue filled the streets. They sang "libertad", which means "freedom", and sang the Venezuelan national anthem.
On Tuesday, the officers separated the two sides as they screamed through megaphones and speakers.
The next day, the agents surrounded Vecchio and his supporters, walking with them to an Uber while pro-Maduro journalists and protesters chased them on the brick sidewalk.
A spokeswoman for the Secret Service said that the agency's agents were on the embassy for 48 hours on Wednesday night, providing a "police presence" and ensuring the safety of protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.
Code Pink members said Wednesday they would no longer sit in the wake of the embassy steps after a night clash left one of their wounded and a supporter of the opposition entered the embassy. The group said it was not going to leave.
"We will stay inside today for our safety. And no matter what happens outside, we will be here, doing daily cleaning, meeting and doing our job to keep this building in peace," said Ariel Gold, national co-director of the # 39; organization. "For the sake of democracy and international law, we will remain in this building".
No one was arrested in the protests until Wednesday night.
Tuesday for about 12 hours, protesters in favor of the opposition – mostly Venezuelan immigrants and Venezuelan Americans – taunted activists in the building asking to speak Spanish and making a stark contrast between the Americans living inside the closed embassy and Venezuelan citizens protesting on the street.
At its peak, Tuesday's protest drew several hundred Guaidó supporters on 30th Street NW, which the police blocked for more than seven hours.
Code Pink worried for weeks that the United States would try to evict its members from the building. United States special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams he said the group is breaking the law and will eventually have to leave.
But this week, members stated their right to remain in front of the whistling crowds.
Although the number changes overnight, some 50 people lived in the embassy for three weeks, Gold said. No Venezuelan citizen lived inside as members of the Venezuelan government were forced to leave their posts when their visas expired in mid-April.
The supporters of the opposition took the perspective of the American protesters who occupied a building that, they have repeatedly said, belongs to the Venezuelan people.
"We are here and we are protecting this embassy for the democratically elected leader of Venezuela," Margaret Flowers, co-director of leftist activist group Popular Resistance, said in a microphone. "That is Nicolás Maduro."
"Qué?" A woman screamed. "I do not understand."
"En español," said another.
Nearby, Ana Galayes raised her Venezuelan identity card as a challenge.
Carla Bustillos took the megaphone to talk about her days as a student protester in the streets of Caracas over ten years ago. Several counter dressers wore blue ribbons and bandanas around their arms, a symbol of support for Guaidó's opposition government.
Victoria Mattiuzzo raised a hand-made sign that said: "Take away your ignorance from my country".
"The irony of US citizens holding cartels who say" hands out of Venezuela "because they are here who usurp our embassy," said Mattiuzzo, 32, who moved to the district from Venezuela four years ago . "You can't make it up."
Nearby, the protesters danced and applauded at the steady pace of wooden spoons on pots and pans. They waved Venezuelan flags and sang songs on those of Code Pink members.
"This is a catharsis for us," said José Esparza, 73. "It is very important for the people who have occupied our embassy illegally to see us Venezuelans here, standing for our country."
. (tagsToTranslate) dc embassy (t) Venezuelan (t) nicolás maduro (t) Juan Guaidó (t) Venezuelan embassy (t) caracas