bu Sara Flounders, published on Workers World, December 21, 2023
Alex Saab is free and home in Venezuela. For three and a half years (1,280 days), Saab, a Venezuelan diplomat, had been held in torturous conditions by the U.S. government.
(The author traveled to Cabo Verde in June 2021 in a delegation with Roger Harris and Bishop Felipe Teixeira in an effort to draw international attention to the U.S. kidnapping, torture and solitary confinement of this Venezuelan diplomat and to submit legal papers in the courts for his release, when even Alex Saab’s lawyers were denied entry to Cabo Verde.)
As a cancer survivor, Saab was denied medical treatment, held in solitary confinement in dark boxes and cells, tortured and threatened, on a tiny island in the isolated archipelago of Cabo Verde, far off the coast of West Africa. The kidnapping and brutal interrogation came under U.S. direction.
Just as it seemed a newly elected government in Cabo Verde might release him, Alex Saab was kidnapped by the U.S. again and brought blindfolded and in chains to a Miami prison in October 2021.
These kidnappings and brutal abuses were appealed by the Venezuelan government and by many legal, human rights and grassroots organizations internationally.
Alex Saab’s crime was attempting to arrange for the transfer of essential food and medicine to the Venezuelan people during a time of the harshest U.S. sanctions. He was on a flight to Iran during the days of international shut-down due to the COVID-19 surge in June 2020. It was a determined effort to arrange for needed supplies when his jet was rerouted by the U.S. and forced to land in isolated Cabo Verde.
Venezuela welcomes Saab with pride
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry released a statement and a post on X announcing the release. The statement and video of his welcoming return with his wife, Camile Saab, his children and government officials said; “The people welcome him with pride after having suffered three and a half years of illegal detention under cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, violating his human rights and the Vienna Convention that grants him diplomatic immunity.
“Alex Saab is a victim of retaliation by the United States government for his exceptional international efforts to protect the social rights of all Venezuelans, in the face of the intensification of unilateral coercive measures.” His freedom “is a symbol of victory of the Bolivarian diplomacy of peace and of the thousands of demonstrations of solidarity expressed from all corners of the world by social movements, intellectuals, artists and other fighters for justice.”
Likewise, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry recognized “the courage and dignity of his wife, children and family, who accompanied him at all times in his denunciation, and in the hope for his release. …Today the link of this injustice is broken, which obliges us to reaffirm once again the unanimous demand of all of Venezuela for a definitive, immediate and unconditional end to the criminal blockade imposed by the government of the United States against all the Venezuelan people.” (tinyurl.com/yck47p9v)
The tweet from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry reads, “Venezuela celebrates with joy the release and return to his homeland of our diplomat Alex Saab, who until today was unjustly kidnapped in a U.S. prison.”
William Camacaro: ‘Anti-imperialist people’s victory’
William Camacaro, the Coordinator of the Free Alex Saab Campaign, on the staff of Alliance for Global Justice and the Bolivarian Circle, released a statement: “Three years ago, the case of Alex Saab was not well known. With the support of [the late] Chuck Kauffman, the Alliance for Global Justice began a campaign and put all the resources of AFGJ at our disposal. Thus, the liberation movement for Alex Saab was born. It grew organically as people from all over the world jumped in to participate in many ways.
“The victory that we have obtained with the release of Alex Saab is the victory of the people against imperialism; it is the victory of more than 40 nations that live under the illegal U.S. sanctions. It is the victory of the Global South over imperial hegemony of the northern countries.
“For Chavismo, this is a transcendental victory which unifies and coheres during the year of presidential elections. Maduro stands as the statesman and leader of a revolution that is willing to resist whatever is necessary! All that remains for us, colleagues, is to share with you this moment of joy and happiness and to thank you for your unconditional support for freedom and love for social justice. Alex Saab, the kidnapped diplomat, was an innocent man, a political prisoner.”
Grassroots defense committee organized nonstop
The Free Alex Saab Campaign grew to include the cooperation and collaboration of grassroots organizations and prominent individuals, including former Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, Roger Waters, United National Antiwar Coalition, National Lawyers Guild, International Action Center, American Association for Justice and Stop FBI Repression. Also involved were, Anti War Committees, Taskforce on the Americas, Code Pink, Popular Resistance, Chicago ALBA Committee, U.S. Peace Council, Troika Collective, SanctionsKill Campaign and many others.
Posts that reflect the hundreds of actions, petitions, webinars, statements and legal appeals organized by the Free Alex Saab Campaign can be viewed at: afgj.org/category/alex-saab and iacenter.org/alex-saab-is-free.