United States authorities forcibly removed and arrested a small group of pro-Maduro activists inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington on Thursday, clearing the way for the opposition leader's envoy to enter the premises.
The activists had been occupying the building since Apr. 10.
"All four of the peace activists who have been inside the embassy have now been arrested," activist group Code Pink’s lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard told the media after federal law enforcement officials raided the embassy to arrest the activists before taking them from the compound in police vehicles.
The activists were detained by special agents of the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service with the assistance of the Secret Service.
Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman told EFE they executed federal arrest warrants against those inside the Venezuelan embassy.
A van and two police cars were seen leaving the premises with the activists, reported to be Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Adrienne Pine and David Paul.
"Federal and DC police have illegally entered the Venezuelan Embassy to arrest 4 activists. Violation of international law -- Vienna convention. Shameful,” tweeted Ariel Gold, national co-director of Code Pink, a group that is part of the self-described Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective.
Gold told EFE that her colleagues were ousted from the embassy illegally in a clear violation of the Vienna Convention, and they had done everything possible to avoid another US war.
She added that it was now possible that self-proclaimed interim leader Juan Guaido's "illegal" envoy to the US, Carlos Vecchio, would take control of the embassy.
Dozens of Guido supporters gathered near the embassy with Venezuelan caps and flags along with posters celebrating the arrest of the activists.
After the police vehicles left the premises, the supporters hugged and prayed to thank God and the US authorities for the evictions.
Later addressing a crowd in front of the embassy, Vecchio thanked the Venezuelan diaspora and the US government. He announced that on Guaido's behalf they now had control over the six diplomatic properties of Venezuela in Washington, including the embassy and the ambassador’s residence.
Vecchio did not enter the diplomatic mission despite assuring that it was under his charge, but said he would do it "soon,” without specifying when.
The Venezuelan embassy has become a symbol of the fight for power in Venezuela between Guaido - who is recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries around the world - and Nicolas Maduro.
The activists captured the diplomatic mission a few weeks ago to prevent Guaido's envoys taking control of the embassy after Maduro's diplomats left.