Washington, DC – On Monday, April 29, activists opposed to a Venezuelan opposition takeover of DC Venezuelan Embassy are starting week three of living inside the embassy that lies in the heart of Georgetown in Washington DC, despite a call by Trump’s Venezuela Envoy Elliot Abrams to dislodge them.

Named the Embassy Protection Collective, the group has grown tremendously.

Over the weekend, the Collective saw an influx of supporters from all over the country and even as far away as Germany. The number of people occupying the building overnight has increased from ten during the week to 50 over the weekend.  Activist groups such as CODEPINK, Answer Coalition, and Popular Resistance have come together to host the rallies and press conferences that have occurred regularly outside of the embassy. Every evening they have been holding educational events, sometimes with over 100 people.

The activists were appalled when, on March 18, 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.

The Trump Administration is not only allowing this illegal seizure of diplomatic premises, but is facilitating it. According to Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, diplomatic premises are “inviolable” and agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission. Moreover, the receiving State must protect the premises against any intrusion, disturbance of the peace or impairment of its dignity.

“President Maduro is the legitimate president and was elected by 6 million Venezuelans. He is recognized by the United Nations and over 140 other nations.” says DC coordinator of CODEPINK, Paki Wieland, who has been sleeping at the embassy.  “The Embassy belongs to the Venezuelan government, it belongs to the Venezuelan people, and it is not the U.S.’s property to give away to an unelected opposition.”

Activists say that they will continue to protect the building until the Venezuelan government and U.S. government reach an agreement considering the property, with the permission of the legitimate Venezuelan government.