As a result of the extradition to the United States of businessman Alex Saab, alleged figurehead of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan government interrupted the dialogue with democratic forces that began on August 13 in Mexico, whose fourth session would begin this Sunday. The announcement was made on Saturday by the self-proclaimed President of the Legislative Assembly and head of Maduro’s delegation to dialogue, Jorge Rodríguez, who blamed the US, Colombia and the opposition for the situation.
“Our delegation announces that it suspends its participation in the negotiation and dialogue table. Consequently, we will not participate in the round that should start tomorrow, October 17, in Mexico City, as a profound expression of our protest against the brutal aggression against the person and inauguration of our representative Álex Saab”, justified Rodríguez. Saab, who was detained on June 12 last year in Cape Verde at the request of the US in a money laundering case, was recently named a member of the Venezuelan government’s negotiating team, which also considers him a diplomat.
Rodríguez, who was accompanied by the entire Bolivarian delegation, described the extradition as an “illegal action” that “violents” international law. The Chavista also blamed the government of Colombian President Iván Duque, the United States and the democratic alliance “led by Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López” for the “aggression” against Venezuela. “This illegal and inhumane action, harmful to international law, constitutes a new act of aggression by the United States against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, given that Álex Saab was incorporated by our country as a full member of the ongoing dialogue and negotiation process. in Mexico,” he added. According to Rodríguez, Saab’s life “is in danger” at the hands of the US justice, which he demanded his release.
The name of the 49-year-old businessman, who was extradited this Saturday, appeared in the press when former Venezuelan attorney Luisa Ortega Díaz accused him, in 2017, of being one of Maduro’s frontmen. He was wanted by the United States for alleged money laundering. Linked to several companies, including Group Grand Limited (GGL), Saab is accused of supplying food and products at inflated prices to the Maduro government. Maduro’s businessman and three stepchildren have profited “hundreds of millions of dollars” from these operations, according to US officials.
Colombian President and Venezuelan Democrats Celebrate Extradition
Colombian President Iván Duque had commemorated on Saturday the extradition of Alex Saab, who is Colombian by birth. “The extradition of Alex Saab is a victory in the fight against drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption brought about by the Nicolás Maduro dictatorship,” wrote the Colombian president on Twitter.
Duque added that “Colombia has supported and will continue to support the US in the investigation against the transnational criminal network led by Saab.” In August, the president had already said he considered Saab’s extradition to the United States essential to uncovering the Venezuelan government’s “obscure ties” with drug trafficking. “It is necessary and essential to discover all the obscure links between the Venezuelan dictatorship and drug trafficking, money laundering and a very large criminal network,” the president said in an interview with Radio Nacional de Colombia. Duque also recalled that, in Colombia, the Attorney General’s Office carries out a process of expropriation of eight properties of the businessman, with which the authorities seek to prosecute “all those who benefited from this network”, which “ranging from beneficiaries to partners and people involved in money laundering”.
Leaders of Venezuela’s democratic forces also celebrated Saab’s extradition. “There are no untouchables. Sooner or later, all those who sacked Venezuela and committed crimes against humanity will fall. Justice always arrives. After a long and complex process, Álex Saab, Maduro’s biggest mobster, (his wife) Cilia Flores and his entourage were extradited to the US,” Carlos Vecchio wrote on Twitter.
In the same vein, former deputy Julio Borges stated that “the extradition of Álex Saab to the US is a fundamental step towards justice and truth in the face of looting, corruption and the network of organized crime that currently sustains and feeds the regime. of Mature”. Borges said that Saab, appointed by the Venezuelan government as a diplomat after his arrest, had grown rich from the “hunger of Venezuelans”. “Saab’s extradition is also a message to those who support and are accomplices of Maduro. No matter how long it takes, justice will come. It can be today or tomorrow, but it’s always enough”, he warned, insisting that the Colombian is a figurehead for Maduro and his wife, and that he knows all their business and secrets. “He controlled fundamental sectors of the economy such as gold, oil, construction, fuel, among others, and also linked up with countries like Russia and Iran to launder huge amounts of money and escape international sanctions,” Borges said.