CARACAS: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday honored American protesters who had occupied the country’s embassy in Washington for weeks in support of the beleaguered leader before being evicted by US authorities.
Venezuela broke off relations with Washington after President Donald Trump said he recognized opposition politician Juan Guaido as acting president — one of around 50 countries to acknowledge the 36-year-old as leader of the crisis-hit nation.
A number of left-wing and pacifist activists protesting Guaido’s bid to remove Maduro from power occupied the Venezuelan embassy in Washington in April, aiming to block the entry of his delegation to the embassy, before US police evicted them the following month.
On Tuesday, Maduro awarded the American squatters a replica of the sword used by Venezuela’s founding father Simon Bolivar.
“I want to give it to you as a show of deep gratitude,” he said.
The Venezuelan government had condemned the eviction of the activists and accused the US government of violating international law.
For more than a month, an unclear number of Americans belonging to a group calling itself the Embassy Protection Collective lived in the diplomatic mission, with the consent of the Maduro government.
A group of Venezuelan residents of Washington meanwhile camped outside the building to protest against the squatters and prevent any supplies from being delivered to them inside.