Hi All, I have shared some of this with you, but the great work being done at the Venezuelan Embassy is amazing and I want you to have all of this to see, hear and share! I so wish I could go down there this week, but my body is still healing from my fall and I have no energy. But I will be fallowing and getting info out as much as I can. Please also share with any organizations you might be involved with to get them involved. We may be helpless in our corrupt electoral system to vote out the corproate 2 Party System that keeps these things going on, but we can do what Medea and others are doing here and those who can can answer the call to go join them this week.
Medea Benjamin was live — with Margaret Flowers.
Eyewitness Venezuela Livestream Webinar with Ajamu Baraka, Medea Benjamin, Max Blumenthal, Claudia De La Cruz, G…
You are likely aware of the attempted US-led coup in Venezuela that has failed. However, the US is ignoring that and turning over assets to the opposition. We, the Embassy Protection Collective (Colectivos Por La Paz), are staying in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC to protect it from takeover by the opposition. We need your help.
The Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective is approaching a crucial week. On or after April 25, we expect the illegitimate opposition to try take the embassy with the help of the Trump administration. We need a strong show of support to stop them.
As a step toward showing that support, we will be publishing the Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective (Colectivos Por La Paz). A copy is below. We are seeking individuals and organizations to sign on to the Declaration. You or your organization can sign on here: http://bit.ly/EPCDeclaration.
We will have important events coming up in the next few days. Saturday will be an ANSWER webinar on Venezuela at 3 pm followed by an art build at 5 pm. The evening art build will be accompanied by music. There will be events every night that will be live streamed. For details of events at the embassy see Acton: 24/7 Protection Of DC Venezuelan Embassy or visit our Facebook page.
The crucial days for people to be at the embassy and spend the night will be April 24-25. This is when the opposition has openly said they will seek to take the embassy.
Please join us and show solidarity with Venezuela. Share this email widely and urge people and organizations to sign on to the Declaration: http://bit.ly/EPCDeclaration.
Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective (Colectivos Por La Paz)
We have joined together as the Embassy Protection Collective to show solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their right to determine their elected government. We are staying in the Venezuelan embassy with the permission of the legitimate Venezuelan government under President Nicolas Maduro. We seek to provide a nonviolent barrier to the threatened opposition takeover of their embassy in Washington, DC by being a presence at the embassy every day of the week for 24 hours a day.
The Collective is working from the embassy, located in the heart of Georgetown in Washington, DC during the day and holding seminars and cultural events in the evenings, as well as sleeping in the embassy. Events include forums on Venezuela, its government, economy and the ongoing attempted coup. We are also holding seminars on US foreign policy toward Africa, Honduras and Iran, the prosecution of Julian Assange and other issues.
There is great cause for us to be concerned about a hostile takeover of the DC Embassy. On March 18, 2019, the Venezuelan opposition took over the military attaché building on 2409 California St in Washington DC, with the help of the DC Police and Secret Service. On that same day, the opposition also took over the Venezuelan Consulate in New York City. They have publicly threatened to take over the embassy itself.
International Law Protects Foreign Embassies Located In The United States
According to Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, foreign embassies should be protected by the United States government and their space should not be violated by the US government. Specifically, international law requires:
The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.
The Trump Administration is violating the Vienna Convention by not only allowing the illegal seizure of diplomatic premises but by facilitating it. The Election Protection Collective is supporting the people of Venezuela by taking responsibility to ensure that Article 22 of the Vienna Convention is followed.
The Elected Government of President Maduro Remains In Power
The government of President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected on May 20, 2018 in response to the opposition demanding an early election. The election was held consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution, in consultation with opposition parties and as determined by the National Electoral Council, an independent branch of the Venezuelan government.
Sixteen parties participated in the election with six candidates competing for the presidency. President Maduro won by a wide margin, obtaining 6,248,864 votes, 67.84%; followed by Henri Falcón with 1,927,958, 20.93%; Javier Bertucci with 1,015,895, 10.82%; and Reinaldo Quijada, who obtained 36,246 votes, 0.39% of the total. A total of 9,389,056 people voted, 46% of eligible voters.
The electoral process was observed by more than 150 election observers. This included 14 electoral commissions from eight countries among them the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America; two technical electoral missions; and 18 journalists from different parts of the world, among others. According to the international observers, “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”
In a letter to the European Union correcting some of the false statements made about the election, election observers wrote: “We were unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly, that the election conditions were not biased, that genuine irregularities were exceptionally few and of a very minor nature.”
Voting machines were audited before and immediately after the election. Venezuela does something no other country in the world does, a public Citizen’s Audit of a random sample of 52 to 54% of voting machines. The Citizen’s Audit is observed by the media, the public, and all opposition parties, who sign the audits.
The Invalid Self-Appointment of Juan Guaidó Violated Venezuelan Law
Juan Guaidó’s self-appointment as interim president violated the Constitution of Venezuela. The language of the Venezuelan Constitution is clear regarding when the president of the National Assembly can become president and none of the conditions in the Constitution have been met.
The opposition relies on Article 233 of the Constitution, which allows the National Assembly president to serve as interim president only if the president-elect has not yet been inaugurated. Guaidó’s self-appointment occurred after President Maduro had been inaugurated.
Article 233 allows the president of the National Assembly to become president only if the president-elect:
“become[s] permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice [equivalent of impeachment]; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.”
None of these conditions were met.
If Guaidó had met the above conditions, Article 233 allows him to serve for only 30 consecutive days pending election and inauguration of the new President. Guaidó’s self-appointment and fraudulent inauguration occurred more than 30 days ago and no election has been scheduled.
In a press briefing, Elliot Abrams, the US Special Representative for Venezuela, could not explain these violations of law by Guaidó and admitted that Guaidó is not “able to exercise the powers of the office because Maduro still is there.” Even Abrams admits that Guaidó is not the president. Therefore, he has no authority over the Venezuelan embassy.
The Role of the Embassy Protection Collective
The Embassy Protection Collective is in the embassy with the permission of the Venezuelan government. We are upholding international law and the Venezuelan Constitution and opposing a coup attempt against the legitimate government of Venezuela on behalf of the people of Venezuela who elected their government.
The Embassy Protection Collective is made up of civilians, United States citizens, who are peacefully defending the embassy. If the opposition enters, they will be trespassing. We call on the DC police, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and any other law enforcement agency to uphold the law and prevent the opposition from trespassing.
The Collective feels a responsibility to hold our government to a standard of respecting the rule of law as well as a responsibility to stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela.
Two weeks ago, Congress took the historic bipartisan step of reasserting its constitutional war powers to end U.S. participation in the illegal, inhumane, Saudi-led war in Yemen—a war that has killed 85,000 children and is pushing millions to the brink of starvation.
HoloLens, first released to developers in March 2016, allows the wearer to see digital images laid over the real world. Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella is expected to announced HoloLens 2 at an event in Barcelona on Sunday, ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show.
The letter demands Microsoft cancel the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) contract, stop developing “any and all” weapons technologies, and draft a public policy statement on the matter.
It also calls for an “independent, external ethics review board” that would oversee compliance with that policy.
It is not the first time that Microsoft employees have spoken out against the firm’s work with government entities.
In June, with the Trump administration mired in controversy over family separations on the US-Mexico border, staff demanded the firm cease providing services to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
Mr Nadella eventually denounced the White House’s actions and said Microsoft’s technology was only being used for standard office-related tasks.
With this latest employee rebellion, Microsoft will not have such an easy defence. According to the contract, the goal is to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”.
Microsoft is understood to have outbid rival augmented reality developers, such as Magic Leap.
Microsoft’s president and top lawyer Brad Smith has said employees who are not happy with the nature of the firm’s military work would be allowed to work in other departments. However, in the latest letter, employees said that suggestion was flawed.
“Microsoft fails to inform its engineers on the intent of the software they are building.
“There are many engineers who contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed, believing it would be used to help architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to help teach people how to perform surgery or play the piano, to push the boundaries of gaming, and to connect with the Mars Rover (RIP).
“These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they work on, instead finding themselves implicated as war profiteers.”
Microsoft is not the only company to face internal anger over military work. Last year, Google did not renew a contract to work with the US on Project Maven, an artificial intelligence program in development with the Pentagon.
However, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said his firm would enthusiastically work with the military.
“This is a great country – it needs to be defended,” he said during an on-stage interview.
Building the wall was a key election promise but Mr Trump has so far been unable to get the necessary funding.
What did the White House say?
“The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.
She added he would “take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border”.
The compromise legislation includes $1.3bn (£1bn) in funding for border security, including physical barriers, but it does not allot money towards Mr Trump’s wall. Mr Trump had wanted $5.7bn for the wall.
When Mr Trump warned that he might declare a national emergency over his wall earlier this year, some Republicans argued it would only set a dangerous precedent.
Speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, however, party leader Mr McConnell indicated his support for the move, saying the president was taking action with “whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his efforts to secure the border”.
The Senate has passed the border security bill, which is now expected to go to the House of Representatives at about 18:30 EST (23:30 GMT).
How have Democrats responded?
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already suggested a legal challenge from Democrats should the president make an emergency declaration.
She and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also issued a strongly worded joint statement condemning the move.
“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” they said.
“He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it.”
The Democrats vowed that Congress would “defend our constitutional authorities”.
Getting around Congress, not through it
A month ago, in the midst of the federal government shutdown crisis, a consensus had emerged that the easiest way out for the president was to back down from his demands for congressional border wall appropriations while declaring a “national emergency” to commandeer funds from other sources.
It took a while, but the path of least resistance was the one Donald Trump followed.
He extricated himself from a predicament of his own making, while taking action that he can cite to supporters as evidence that he’s fulfilling his “build the wall” campaign promise.
Of course, the drawbacks to this course that were apparent in January are still there.
Republicans fear this will set a precedent for presidential power that Democrats can someday use to circumvent the will of Congress.
The emergency declaration is sure to get bogged down in court challenges, which means it may not have much tangible benefit anytime soon.
And, as much as the president may like to spin this as a victory by other means, he still backed down in the face of Democratic resistance in Congress.
The shutdown fight was always about more than just the wall – it was a battle over who would set the political agenda for the next two years of the Trump presidency.
And if this resolution is any indication, if the president wants to get his way he’s largely going to have to find ways around Congress, not through it.
What is a national emergency?
A state of emergency is declared in times of crisis. In this case, Mr Trump says the crisis is being caused by migrants arriving on the US-Mexico border.
Experts say declaring a national emergency would give the president access to special powers that effectively allow him to bypass the usual political process.
He would be able to divert money from existing military or disaster relief budgets to pay for the wall.
However there is debate about whether the situation at the southern US border constitutes such an emergency.
On the one hand, more than 2,000 people were turned away or arrested at the border each day during November alone. Supporters say this equals an emergency.
Others argue the figure is far lower than a decade ago, and many of the thousands of people who travelled north from countries like Honduras are presenting themselves as asylum seekers, looking to enter the country legally.
Negotiators in the US Congress say they have reached an “agreement in principle” to fund the government and avoid another partial government shutdown.
The emerging agreement was announced late on Monday by a group of politicians, including Republican Senator Richard Shelby and Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Shelby did not give an outline of the deal but said staff members would work out the details.
Negotiators scrambled on Monday afternoon to save the talks after they fell apart over the weekend due to disagreements over immigrant detention beds and physical barriers along the US-Mexico border.
US President Donald Trump‘s December demand for $5.7bn to help construct a border wall triggered the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended last month. It was the longest government closure of its kind in US history.
Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow congressional negotiators time to find a compromise on government funding for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
Meanwhile, on Monday night, Trump held a campaign-style rally in the border city of El Paso, Texas.
Trump has repeatedly pointed to El Paso to make his case that a border wall was necessary, claiming that barriers turned the city from one of the nation’s most dangerous to one of its safest. The claim comes despite statistics showing El Paso had a murder rate of less than half the national average in 2005, a year before the most recent expansion of its border fence.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows that El Paso’s annual number of reported violent crimes dropped from nearly 5,000 in 1995 to around 2,700 in 2016. But that corresponded with similar declines in violent crime nationwide and included periods when the city’s crime rates increased year over year, despite new fencing and walls.
The Trump campaign released a video showing El Paso residents saying the wall helped reduce crime. But many in the city have bristled at the prospect of becoming a border wall poster child.
But the Republican president was also greeted by thousands of anti-wall protesters.
Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from El Paso, said many of the anti-wall protesters “felt insulted that the president pictured the city as a community rife with crime, drugs, human trafficking and a very unsafe place in his State of the Union speech last week and said that’s false.”
Leading the protesters was hometown Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman who in November lost a close election for a US Senate seat in Texas to Republican Ted Cruz. He is now considering seeking his party’s 2020 presidential nomination.
Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has sought to crack down on immigration.
Trump made a border wall one of his central campaign promises in 2016, saying it was needed to curb irregular immigration, drug trafficking and other crimes.
Democrats, who took control of the House last month from Trump’s fellow Republicans, oppose a wall, calling it ineffective, expensive and immoral.