The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the situation in Venezuela today. Elliot Abrams, who was chosen last month as the point person to represent the State Department’s handling of the crisis in Venezuela became a target for protesters from Code Pink and Rep. Ilhan Omar. As Abrams began to speak, several Code Pink members stood up and began shouting. From the Hill:
The group’s national co-director Ariel Gold was arrested after telling the committee not to trust Abrams and to pursue diplomacy.
“Don’t listen to Abrams,” she said. “We must not go down a path to war. We need you to push for negotiations, not a U.S.-orchestrated coup. No coup in Venezuela.”
Once Gold was removed, a second protester began shouting. She was removed and then a third protester repeated the process. Here’s video tweeted out by Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin:
BREAKING 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 great job by my colleague @ArielElyseGold arrested today disrupting war criminal Elliot Abrams in congress who is orchestrating the coup and trying to take us to war in Venezuela #HandsOffVenezuela pic.twitter.com/C0n1muLw0s
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) February 13, 2019
This second clip is longer and includes the two subsequent interruptions:
BREAKING: CODEPINK interrupts convicted war criminal Elliott “Death Squad” Abrams, Trump’s special envoy for Venezuela. No to US imperialism, no to the coup! #HandsOffVenezuela https://t.co/EkEbrUOTVk pic.twitter.com/C5ZdA9yU9L
— CODEPINK (@codepink) February 13, 2019
Needless to say, this is spectacularly stupid. First of all, it’s easy to say “no coup” in Venezuela but the reality is that the tyrannical socialist leadership has closed off every legitimate alternative to a coup by jailing opponents and refusing to hold fair elections. Second, taking no action on Venezuela only perpetuates the grinding misery that exists there now under the Maduro regime. That regime has already created mass starvation, a sky-high murder rate, and a refugee crisis as millions flee for their lives. And yet Code Pink (and the Answer Coalition) want the U.S. to just leave the dictator alone. And make no mistake, they’re not only objecting to US military involvement. They’re objecting to sanctions as well. Hands of Maduro is the bottom line.
This kind of fringe rhetoric wasn’t over once the Code Pink protesters were removed. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who apologized for using anti-Semitic language this week, used her five minutes to attack “Mr. Adams” as a liar who had been involved in the “Iran-Cortra” affair. Omar is literally reading these talking points from a sheet of paper and still can’t seem to manage it.
After refusing to let Abrams respond to her attack, she then suggested that Abrams believed an infamous massacre by Salvadoran soldiers in 1981 was a “glorious achievement.” Abrams pointed out that the achievement he believes was worthwhile was that El Salvador became a democracy. Omar then pressed him on whether he would back a genocide in Venezuela. Abrams refused to answer what he considered an absurd question and she eventually settled on the less extreme, “Will you make sure that human rights are not violated and that we uphold international and human rights?” Abrams responded that the entire policy toward Venezuela “is to support the Venezuelan people’s effort to restore democracy to their country.”
“I don’t think anybody disputes that,” Omar said, apparently unaware that the Code Pink protesters in the chamber had already disputed that.
In any case, here’s Omar suggesting that U.S. support for Venezuelans trying to restore democracy, rather than the socialist dictatorship they’re suffering under, is the real threat to human rights in the country.