By Joe Montero
Incredibly, Capo Verde has complied to finish the kidnapping of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab to the United States. This does by the politer name of extradition. This is a kidnapping because violates legal norms, is blatantly political, and there is no extradition agreement between the Unites States and Capo Verde.
Saab is now in Florida and has made his first appearance at the District Court and charged with money laundering. Anyone who knows anything about it is aware of the fact that this is really for doing the work of an Ambassador. Part of this, was to negotiate the supply food and other essentials needed by the population of Venezuela. It means that he has been involved in finding ways around the sanctions imposed by the United States that have already led to the death of thousands.
Over more than a year of detention, the diplomat has been tortured and denied medical treatment for cancer.
The alleged charge of money laundering relates to an investigation over claims about the use of Swiss accounts to hide a money trail. This was dropped because of the lack of evidence.
Alex Saab’s work has been an important contribution to Venezuela’s CLAP program, which distributes food to households and is managed by local communities. These monthly, and sometimes fortnightly, distributions of food to households for no charge, have prevented widespread starvation.
The United States alleges the CLAP is being paid for by a corruption network, and that feeding the population is being used as a political tool by the Nicolas Maduro government.
I have been in Venezuela and witnessed that the food distribution is carried out by neighbours and no one is left out. In fact, I accompanied a member of the household I was staying in and experienced an inside view of the distribution point.
The US Treasury Department said in 2019: “Rather than ensure that this vulnerable population receives the food it desperately needs, the regime uses the CLAP program as a political tool to reward support and punish political criticism,” and continued with “…rather than ensure that this vulnerable population receives the food it desperately needs, the regime uses the CLAP program as a political tool to reward support and punish political criticism,” and “by offering food through this program, the former regime is able to maintain its influence because many Venezuelan citizens do not have enough money to buy food and therefore depend on the rations CLAP provides to survive.”
Below is the story from the other side.
A look at how the government’s Local Food Production and Provision Committees (CLAPs) are operating in Barquisimeto, Lara.
Video from Venezuela Analysis
Here is a roundabout admission that the CLAP program has succeeded in lessening the impact of the sanctions on food. The problem for the United States political leadership is that it has been getting in the way of starving the Venezuelan people into submitting to Washington’s political designs for the country.
Saab was detained while the fight he was on was of a routine refuelling stop at Cabo Verde. The small Atlantic Ocean island nation just off the African coast is subject to severe economic pressure from the United States. The issue has caused major internal political division between the strongly pro-United States government and the opposition.
Layers for Saab are that this is a kidnaping, violating Cape Verde’s internal law and international law.
The United Nations had earlier demanded that the effort to get Saab be suspended.
A range of governments of countries have made public protests. It includes Russia, Iran. The European Union has warned of the consequences, even if not joining the condemnation. China has called the treatment of Saab bullying and an abuse of power.
According to human rights expert and former UN independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, an independent judge from Cabe Verde could have rejected the extradition request on the grounds that there were political motives.
Venezuela’s government has reacted by suspending its participation in the talks in Mexico City to reach an agreement between the Maduro government and opposition groups. That around last year’s self-proclaimed Juan Guaido have been involved but support the abduction of Saab, who happens to be a member of the negotiating team.
Venezuela is proceeding with the charging of the six charged with corruption relating to Citgo, a United States based subsidiary of the state oil company PDVSA. Five are U.S nationals.
Saab’s supporters have already rallied in New York. This was within hours of the extradition.
“Free Alex Saab!” Emergency Rally in NYC Times Square
Video from Caleb Maupin
More voices against his injustice are being heard.
Numerous organisations and public figures were represented and have pledged to keep on fighting until Alex Saab is released.
Alliance for Global Justice and International Action Center working together in the International #FreeAlexSaab Committee. It posted its Twitter account, an invitation for people to join its campaign A petition with more than 17,000 signatures had previously demanded US and Cape Verdean authorities release the abducted Venezuelan diplomat.
There is the International Free Alex Saab Committee, which had earlier organized a delegation to Cabo Verde with Sara Flounders, Roger Harris, and Bishop Filipe Teixeira, and participated in a delegation to the annual conference of the African Bar Association held in Niamey, capital of the Republic of Niger.
Women’s organisation in the United States, Code Pink, relaunched its drive for signatures to request the US Department of Justice drop the charge and invites people to subscribe to the campaign. Their petition can still be signed.
More activity is underway and across many countries.