A group of around 50 leftists, organized by the far-left, pro-Communist organization, Code Pink, has taken up residence in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., in order to "prevent" the new Venezuelan government from taking over from Nicolas Maduro's team of diplomats, who vacated the embassy last month.
Towards the end of last week and over the weekend, Venezuelans who support opposition leader Juan Guaido, also began protesting around the embassy in an effort to educate the mostly white, uniformly American demonstrators inside on the realities of Maduro's dictatorship.
The Code Pink protesters were, reportedly, not amused.
The dueling protests have clashed, sometimes violently, since Thursday of last week, when the pro-opposition protesters joined together to form a human chain around the Venezuelan embassy, preventing new Code Pink and pro-Communist occupiers from entering the building, and blocking deliveries of food. Fox News reports that the Code Pink-ers retaliated by playing pro-Communist anthems, screaming taunts into bullhorns, and sitting down in front of the Venezuelans.
The Code Pink group, led by longtime leftist stalwart Medea Benjamin, says they have no plans to leave until the embassy has returned to Maduro's hands, and that they have permission from the Maduro government to remain inside. Officials tied to the Maduro government have even provided them keycards and security codes for the building.
“We feel that the elected government and the government that holds power and the government that’s recognized by the United Nations is the Maduro government, and they deserve to have their embassy here,” Benjamin told Fox News in an interview late last week. “That’s why we’ve been here.”
Photos of Benjamin's cohorts show a mostly non-Venezuelan crew, and the Venezuelan protesters have noticed, often referring to the Code Pink protesters as "occupiers," according to one reporter from Vox who spent the day at the protest last week.
"We're doing our part from wherever we are around the world to bring light into the Venezuelan plight. And there's invaders in our embassy that are not Venezuelans," one pro-Venezuelan protester even told CNN. "This is the Venezuelan people for Venezuelan democracy; this is not about right or left in the world. I hope and I beg that people don't use my country and the suffering of my people for their own personal flags that have nothing to do with what's going on."
Occasionally, Benjamin and others, including Code Pink co-president Ariel Gold, will try to "educate" the Venezuelan ex-pats — an effort that often results in embarrassing confrontations like the one captured by Vox Media, in which an elderly, white, American protester attempts to explain Venezuela to a Venezuelan.
Indicative of the kind of discussions happening outside the Venezuelan embassy right now. pic.twitter.com/LhNGDhkiBa— Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox) May 2, 2019
Other pro-Communist protesters have tried doing public relations for Maduro. Kevin Zeese, the 63-year-old career leftist in charge of the pro-Maduro group, "Popular Resistance," explained to Vox's reporter (while clad in a Hugo Chavez tee shirt that read, "Chauvistas") that Maduro is not a dictator and that he had friend who had visited the country and found only limited poverty.
Over the weekend, pro-Venezuelan protesters tried fighting back against the taunts by reading aloud a list of people killed by Maduro's regime.
The State Department called Benjamin's crew, "trespassers," but admitted that they can't remove the group by force since the embassy is technically Venezuelan territory. Even the Secret Service, which is guarding the embassy and trying to diffuse tension between the two groups of protesters, can't go inside.