This story was updated at 8:30 pm November 13, 2019.
A group of Venezuelan opposition supporters took over the Venezuelan embassy in Brazil on Wednesday. By the evening, the Brazilian government said it had intervened to usher them out and return the mission to Venezuelan government control. At the same time Miami’s congressional delegation in Washington announced a new caucus to represent the interests of Venezuelan expats.
The group of more than 20 people that occupied the embassy early Wednesday morning supports Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Earlier this year he declared himself Venezuela’s constitutionally legitimate president. And more than 50 countries – including the U.S. and Brazil – back him.
The pro-Guaidó activists claim embassy security voluntarily let them take over the mission in Brasilia. But the embassy’s chargé d’affairs disputed that, insisting the staff remains loyal to Venezuela’s socialist President, Nicolás Maduro. By day's end the Guaidó supporters had left under the supervision of Brazilian security.
Even so, the brief embassy takeover is bound to raise tensions between the authoritarian Maduro regime and right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Meanwhile, Guaidó’s ambassador in Washington, Carlos Vecchio, joined South Florida congressional members Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Mario Diaz-Balart to launch the Congressional Venezuela Democracy Caucus. It was formed to give expats a stronger voice in Washington in the effort to restore democracy in Venezuela. The country is suffering the worst economic collapse in the world today.