Victory for Venezuela: Alex Saab is free!

Nicolas Maduro welcomes Alex Saab back to Venezuela

by Gloria LaRiva
reprinted from Liberation News
Dec. 20, 2023

Nicolas Maduro welcomes Alex Saab back to VenezuelaPhoto: Nicolás Maduro celebrates Alex Saab’s return to Venezuela. Credit: X/NicolasMaduro

Today, the solidarity movement celebrates the freedom of Venezuela diplomat Alex Saab from illegal U.S. detention. Saab, a businessman and diplomatic envoy for the government of Venezuela, was arrested in June 2020, on his way to Iran to secure shipments of food, fuel and medicines for Venezuela. His mission was obtaining needed goods to overcome the U.S. illegal economic sanctions causing harm to the Venezuelan people.

This afternoon, Saab was welcomed by President Nicolás Maduro at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. A government statement declared that his freedom “… is a triumph for the Bolivarian peace diplomacy and the solidarity expressed from around the world.”

To thwart his humanitarian missions for Venezuela, the U.S. government unleashed an unprecedented attack on Saab. While in transit to Iran, in a fuel stopover on the African island of Cabo Verde, that government arrested Saab on the orders of Washington. The U.S. vigilantes were closely monitoring any potential economic deals by the Venezuelan government, with the aim of blocking them.

Saab was held illegally in Cabo Verde for 16 months despite having diplomatic immunity. Saab was born in Colombia, but years ago he became a Venezuelan citizen. In Oct. 2021 he was extradited to the United States and held for the last two years in Miami federal detention. Saab suffered torture in Cabo Verde, was denied family visits, and was blocked from medical care for cancer during his whole imprisonment.

His wife, Camilla Fabri, who bravely led his freedom campaign with the support of the Venezuelan government, even had an Interpol arrest order placed on her — again, at Washington’s bidding. Why the Interpol order? To keep her from traveling to campaign for Saab’s freedom. She has had to remain in Venezuela for her safety.

Until today, Saab faced many years of U.S. imprisonment. He had no chance to get out of U.S. clutches unless there were negotiations and a prisoner exchange. Today is a victory for Saab, for Venezuela’s determined resistance and for Maduro’s persistent diplomatic negotiations.

Cynically, but in true U.S. form, during Saab’s imprisonment authorities tried to coerce him into collaborating and accepting a deal with the U.S. He refused, despite being in need of urgent medical care.

On Aug. 25, 2021 while still kidnapped in Cabo Verde, Saab wrote in part: “For those who dream that my speech or integrity will change if I am extradited, let me spoil that illusion. My integrity does not change with the [political] climate or the type of torture. Venezuela is sovereign. It is the country that adopted me. It is the country for which all decent people fight. We do not go around the world lying and asking for sanctions against the people. Venezuela will win this battle, whether in Cabo Verde or in North America, we will win…”

Saab released as part of prisoner exchange

The news is still early and not all details are known, but at least 10 people detained by Venezuela were in the prisoner exchange. Among those released to the U.S. were some terrorist mercenaries, including former U.S. Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry. They were contracted by former Green Beret and mercenary Jordan Goudreau, owner of a private security firm Silvercorp USA, in the so-called “Operation Gideon.” He claims he signed a contract for $213 million with ex-self-proclaimed president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó — a puppet of the U.S. — but was not paid for his “services.” In that foiled plot involving dozens, they were supposed to assassinate Maduro and overthrow the government. But they were captured by people in a fishing village in Aragua.

There were others released to the U.S., including a man named Frederick Leonard, wanted for corruption and extortion of members of the U.S. military in a multi-million-dollar scheme, while he was in the United States. He faces a U.S. trial.

The histories of the mercenaries released to the U.S. show just a part of how extensive Washington’s coup plots are.

In the negotiations that preceded the exchange, the U.S. offered the easing of some sanctions, by basically allowing French, Spanish, Italian oil firms and Chevron, to engage in joint oil operations in Venezuela, and a partial easing of exports.

Maduro’s government is involved in continued negotiations over the U.S. demand that right-wing opposition candidates be allowed to run for president in 2024. U.S. imperialism, of course, hopes to prop up and finance opposition candidates with tens of millions of dollars, the same way it did in Nicaragua in 1990. There, the Sandinista government conceded to “free” elections after years of a bloody U.S. counter-revolutionary war. The right-wing candidate Violeta Chamorro ultimately won.  For 17 years she and her right-wing successors overturned all the social gains of the Nicaraguan Revolution.

In 2006, as a consequence of that disaster, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista government were elected and have won subsequent elections handily, restoring many of the economic and social programs benefiting the people Nicaragua is also a country sanctioned by the U.S. for its independence.

The world is all too aware of the history of U.S.-engineered elections and coups across Latin America. But Venezuela would be the biggest prize, as it holds by far the largest source of petroleum in the world. The CIA and its agents have orchestrated five attempted assassination plots on Maduro.

Venezuela has won this battle

The sanctions imposed by Washington are massive, causing an almost total cutoff of Venezuela’s oil revenues. In turn, they create great suffering on the Venezuelan people. The people of the world demand the end of sanctions, whether against Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia or the many other countries it castigates for acting independently of U.S. imperialism.

Washington wanted to set an example with Saab and punish him, his family and the Venezuelan people for daring to resist U.S. sanctions. Congratulations, Alex Saab. You were right — Venezuela won this battle!