An activist interrupted a press conference by Carlos Vecchio, the US representative of Venezuelan opposition leader and interim-President Juan Guaidó, in Washington, DC on Thursday to denounce the Venezuelan opposition and United States policy towards Venezuela.
Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK, took the microphone at the event for nearly two minutes to denounce Vecchio and US policy backing Guaidó.
Vecchio can be seen standing behind Benjamin and signaling to people in the room to let her speak. While she was behind the podium, Benjamin made the following statement:
I want to say these people are fraud. They don’t represent the Venezuelan people. They are representing the US-orchestrated coup.
This is a very dangerous situation. They want to create a crisis at the border that would be a justification for US intervention. This has nothing to do with a humanitarian situation. Indeed for a humanitarian situation, the US would lift the economic sanctions that have exacerbated the crisis.
The issue at the border now is something that is politicizing humanitarian aid. That is why the Red Cross, the United Nations, and all the legitimate humanitarian groups have insisted they will not touch this aid.
What we need now is negotiations. These people here want to take Venezuela to a path of civil war and US intervention. What the Venezuelan people need is negotiations mediated by Mexico … by the Uruguayans and by the Vatican.
So let’s say that if you indeed care about the people of Venezuela you will be calling for negotiations, you will not recognize these people who are willing pawns in a Trump orchestrated coup d’etat.
Thank you for listening to the voice of reason. Gracias.
Benjamin’s message is largely reflected on CODEPINK‘s website:
The U.S. is orchestrating a coup in Venezuela that is likely to lead to bloodshed — even civil war. Instead of meddling in the internal affairs of another country, the U.S. should be supporting peaceful dialogue facilitated by mediators such as Mexico, Uruguay, and the Pope. We have seen the effects of past U.S. backed coups in Latin America — Guatemala in 1953, Chile in 1973, Honduras in 2009. It always turns out disastrous for the people — as is evidenced by people fleeing U.S.-orchestrated violence across Latin America and seeking refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border.
After Benjamin left the stage, Vicchio, who had been standing behind the protester as she spoke, stepped up to the podium. He thanked Benjamin and gave the following response:
You know for doing that in Venezuela, I’m facing an order of arrest in my country. If you do that in Venezuela, you could be in jail. If you do that in Venezuela, you can be killed.
So one of the reasons why I’m here is because I’m facing an order of arrest only for expressing my political ideas.
The disruption at the press conference in Washington, DC, demonstrates how polarizing the issue of US policy towards Venezuela.
President Donald Trump made clear in a speech in Florida that he is no fan of Nicolás Maduro or his socialist government.
Some on the political left in the United States, such as Medea Benjamin, are concerned that President Donald Trump will use force to overthrow Nicolás Maduro. Such concerns are not unwarranted.
In his new book, former acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Andrew McCabe recounts that Trump questioned why the US was not at war with Venezuela. Although Trump has attacked McCabe and his book nine times on Twitter in as many days, the passage about Trump’s attitude towards Venezuela matches previous reporting.
According to the Associated Press, in an August 2017 meeting with top officials in his administration regarding sanctions, Trump questioned why the US couldn’t just invade Venezuela?
Then-National Security Advisor McMaster and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent several minutes explaining to the president the problems with military intervention in Venezuela.
Trump discussed the possibility of military intervention at least two other times with foreign officials including then-president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos.
The crisis in Venezuela is quickly escalating over the delivery of humanitarian aid from the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Venezuelan opposition plan to attempt to bring the aid into the country this weekend.