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          size="-2"><a class="domain reader-domain"
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/12/16/venezuelan-embassy-defenders-denied-right-fair-trial/">https://thegrayzone.com/2019/12/16/venezuelan-embassy-defenders-denied-right-fair-trial/</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">US Venezuelan embassy protectors denied
          right to fair trial</h1>
        December 17, 2019</div>
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              <h3>Four US activists protecting Venezuela’s embassy in
                Washington, DC face prison time after the Trump
                administration illegally arrested them. And now a
                judge’s ruling blocking discovery will result in a
                farcical trial where the jury will not be allowed to
                consider the contentious legality of the coup.</h3>
              <h3>By Bahman Azad and Ajamu Baraka</h3>
              <p><em>This piece originally appeared at <a
href="https://popularresistance.org/embassy-protectors-are-being-denied-their-right-to-a-fair-trial/">Popular
                    Resistance</a>.</em></p>
              <p>Four US peace activists were arrested on May 16, after
                staying in the <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/05/09/mintpress-grayzone-journalists-us-blackout-siege-venezuelan-embassy-dc/">Venezuelan
                  embassy in Washington, DC</a> for 37 days to prevent
                it from being <a
                  href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/05/16/guaido-mob-venezuelan-embassy/">handed
                  over to right-wing coup-leaders</a> in violation of
                the Vienna Convention.</p>
              <p>Seven months after the arrest, the embassy protectors
                warn they are not being guaranteed the right to a fair
                trial.</p>
              <p>On December 13, the chief judge of the US District
                Court for Washington, DC, Beryl A. Howell, denied
                discovery motions requested by the defendants.</p>
              <p>This denial will severely restrict the scope of the
                trial, currently scheduled for February 11, 2020, of
                Adrienne Pine, David Paul, Margaret Flowers, and Kevin
                Zeese.</p>
              <p>The activists face federal charges punishable by up to
                a year in prison, a $100,000 fine each, and restitution
                to the government for police time and damages.</p>
              <p>Judge Howell’s ruling will result in a farcical trial
                where the jury will not be allowed to consider the
                contentious legality of the Trump administration’s
                recognition of the leadership of the coup in Venezuela,
                and thus the legal basis of the charges the defenders
                are facing.</p>
              <p>Judge Howell’s lack of objectivity and understanding of
                the issue were revealed when she referred to the embassy
                protectors as a “gang” and stated the facts supported
                their guilt.</p>
              <p>She made it clear a trial will result in their
                conviction, and promptly made rulings that will ensure
                that outcome.</p>
              <h3>What were the Embassy Protectors seeking?</h3>
              <p>The embassy protectors had permission from the
                internationally recognized, elected Venezuelan
                government to be in the embassy.</p>
              <p>The Trump administration is arguing that Juan Guaido’s
                fake ambassador, former <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/06/18/exxon-ambassador-carlos-vecchio-venezuela-coup-lobbyist/">oil
                  executive Carlos Vecchio</a>, who fled Venezuela
                because he is wanted for violent coup activities, had
                the authority to order the embassy protectors to leave.
                This is the crux of the case, but jurors will not be
                permitted to know this.</p>
              <p>The documents that the embassy protectors sought in
                discovery would demonstrate the de-facto recognition by
                the Trump administration of <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/08/06/interview-venezuelan-president-nicolas-maduro/">Nicolas
                  Maduro</a>, the democratically elected president of
                Venezuela, who is also recognized by the United Nations
                and most of the world.</p>
              <p>The Trump administration was in negotiations with the
                Maduro government for a mutual protecting power
                agreement for the US embassy in Caracas and the
                Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. This is a standard
                procedure used when diplomatic relations between
                countries are broken.</p>
              <p>On May 15, one day before the arrest, the Venezuelan
                ambassador to the United Nations Samuel Moncado held a
                press conference at the UN where he explained they were
                in discussion for Switzerland to be the protector of the
                US embassy in Venezuela and Turkey to be the protector
                of the Venezuelan embassy in the United States.</p>
              <p>The embassy protectors in Washington told the police on
                May 13 they would leave the embassy when these
                negotiations were complete.</p>
              <p>The protecting power agreement was not being negotiated
                with <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/01/29/the-making-of-juan-guaido-how-the-us-regime-change-laboratory-created-venezuelas-coup-leader/">Juan
                  Guaidó</a>, the self-proclaimed “interim president,”
                because he lacks the power to enact such an agreement.</p>
              <p><a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/12/16/elliott-abrams-smurf-villain-gargamel/">Elliott
                  Abrams</a>, Trump’s special representative for
                Venezuela, said on January 25 that Guaidó’s term would
                not begin until President Nicolás Maduro left office. On
                August 2, Abrams was interviewed by the <a
href="https://www.aei.org/multimedia/wth-is-going-on-in-venezuela-elliott-abrams-discusses-trumps-strategy/">American
                  Enterprise Institute</a>, where he expressed
                frustration that Maduro was still in office.</p>
              <p>The jury will not know that the person in charge of
                Venezuelan policy for the US was publicly acknowledging
                Maduro is still the president, because Judge Howell
                declared this is not relevant to the case.</p>
              <p>Another area of discovery denied by the Obama-appointed
                Judge Howell was that the State Department failed to
                protect the embassy.</p>
              <p>A <a
                  href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/05/02/guaido-vecchio-failure-coup/">pro-coup
                  mob</a>, working with the Trump administration,
                surrounded the embassy for 17 days. Embassy protectors
                called on the Secret Service to protect the embassy
                multiple times when the pro-coup mob was destroying it.</p>
              <p>When a member of the mob broke windows to enter the
                embassy, police waited while the embassy protectors got
                permission from the elected Venezuelan government to
                remove him.</p>
              <p>On another occasion, hundreds of people called the
                Secret Service to demand they protect the embassy when
                the pro-coup mob was damaging it, but the Secret Service
                declined to intervene.</p>
              <p>In fact, the pro-coup mob who destroyed doors and
                windows defaced the embassy and broke into the building
                worked with the Secret Service and State Department to
                terrorize embassy protectors, block food deliveries and
                assault people outside the embassy. The judge is not
                going to permit the jury to hear this testimony.</p>
              <p>The actions of Judge Howell are turning Trump’s
                prosecution of the embassy protectors into a charade
                where they and their lawyers will not be allowed to
                mount a defense. This is another example of how the
                legal system is designed to deny justice.</p>
              <h3>Our responsibility as citizens of US Empire</h3>
              <p>Beyond the legal and political implications of this
                case, there is the human element. The embassy protectors
                face the real possibility of imprisonment and steep
                fines for the crime of living up to their
                responsibilities as citizens of US empire.</p>
              <p>More than 70 activists joined the Embassy Protection
                Collective over 37 days. And they slept in the embassy
                not to seek publicity, as they knew the corporate press
                wouldn’t cover them; and not because they enjoyed going
                hungry, when the right-wing thugs with the help of Trump
                administration would not let food and water inside; and
                not because they wanted to live in the dark, after the <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/05/09/mintpress-grayzone-journalists-us-blackout-siege-venezuelan-embassy-dc/">government
                  shut off the power</a>; rather, they put their bodies
                on the line and gave their time because they wanted to
                stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela in
                support of international law.</p>
              <p>The suffering they endured to protect the embassy was a
                microcosm of the <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/08/14/photos-venezuela-march-us-embargo-no-more-trump-protest/">suffering
                  of the Venezuelan people</a>, who lack food, medicine,
                and electrical power because of illegal unilateral <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/10/11/life-resistance-venezuela-ben-norton-us-blockade/">coercive
                  measures from the US economic war</a>, which is
                seeking to force Venezuela to put in place a US puppet
                government.</p>
              <h3>What can you do?</h3>
              <p>The embassy protectors represented all of us who are
                citizens of the US empire but could not make our way to
                Washington, DC to carry out our responsibility to resist
                US lawlessness.</p>
              <p>We need to join together to demand the charges against
                the embassy protectors be dismissed.</p>
              <p>You can <a href="https://defendembassyprotectors.org/">take
                  action here</a> to demand that all charges are
                dropped.</p>
              <p>And you can support the embassy protectors’ defense for
                their legal fees by <a
                  href="https://defendembassyprotectors.org/">donating
                  here</a>.</p>
              <hr>
              <p><strong>Ajamu Baraka</strong> and <strong>Bahman Azad</strong>
                are the co-chairs of the <a
                  href="https://defendembassyprotectors.org/">Embassy
                  Protectors Defense Committee</a>.</p>
              <p><strong>Ajamu Baraka</strong> is the national organizer
                for the <a href="https://blackallianceforpeace.com/">Black
                  Alliance for Peace</a> and the Secretariat of the U.S.
                Peace Council.</p>
              <p><strong>Bahman Azad</strong> is coordinator for the
                Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Base and the
                Executive Secretary of the U.S. Peace Council.</p>
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