The US has grabbed Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab and imprisoned him in Miami, facing trial. This violates recognized international law (the 1961 Vienna Convention) on diplomatic immunity for one country to arrest and imprison a diplomat of another. Alex Saab was engaged in acquiring food and medicines for Venezuela, perfectly legal international trade. The US claims this violates the sanctions it imposed on Venezuela.
After a two-year investigation by Swiss banks, they dropped the case of “money laundering” against Saab. Yet the US accuses Saab of “looting hundreds of millions of dollars from starving Venezuelans,” when this is precisely and purposely what the US blockade on Venezuela is doing.
This blockade, begun under Obama and worsened under Trump and Biden, has resulted in the US and European countries seizing Venezuela funds in international banks, seizing Venezuela’s gold reserves, and seizing CITGO, which had been a Venezuelan state company. The United Nations has repeatedly condemned these unilateral sanctions as illegal. These US sanctions have blocked much of Venezuela’s oil exports, its main source of revenue, costing the country tens of billions of dollars a year, money that funds their food program, free health care and education system, including university. Members of Congress have called on Biden to roll back these sanctions, which “promote suffering, not democracy.” Representatives of the UN Human Rights Commission have stated that the US, Canada and European blockade on Venezuela has caused well over 100,000 deaths.
Alex Saab was actually one of the central Venezuelan leaders working to provide for the Venezuelan people by finding ways around the US- European blockade on food and medicine, even COVID vaccines. Forbes Magazine admits that “for many in Venezuela, this is not criminal—Saab is a hero, and his efforts overseas are the actions of a man trying to feed and house the hungry and homeless.”
The US has imprisoned him, not a US citizen, who did not live here, for allegedly violating US laws. Sovereign states have the right to trade with each other. The US sanctions, which are illegal under international law (both the UN charter and the OAS charter), have no jurisdiction on trade between Venezuela and other countries. It is no more legal than if Saudi Arabia were to seize women here and imprison them in Saudi Arabia for violating their laws against women driving cars.
The US wants to make the diplomat Alex Saab talk about how Venezuela has been able to provide for its people under the blockade, so the US can further tighten the strangulation of Venezuela and overthrow their democratically elected government.
November 15 is the next court date for Alex Saab, on a “conspiracy” charge to commit “money laundering.” His case is very similar to that of North Korean Mun Chol Myong, and Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Free Alex Saab!
End the US blockade on Venezuela!
Restore diplomatic relations with the democratically elected Venezuelan government!
Supporting organizations: Chicago Anti-War Coalition, Chicago ALBA Solidarity, Cuba Caravan Planning Group, Peoples Response Network, Chicago Area Peace Action, Chicago Committee Against War and Racism, Code Pink, Southsiders for Peace, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
contact: Stan Smith 773-322-3168, firstname.lastname@example.org
Neal Resnikoff 773-403-7452, email@example.com