Biden Frees Venezuela’s ‘Financial Brain’, Granting Narco-Socialists a Major Win

A man walks past a graffiti demanding Colombian businessman Alex Saab's freedom, in Caraca
YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden greenlit the release of Colombian businessman Alex Saab, accused of acting as Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro’s top money launderer, on Wednesday.

Saab’s release is allegedly the result of a prisoner swap with the rogue socialist regime that will also allow for the release of unjustly detained Americans in Venezuela, the Associated Press reported.

Saab, 51, is a close personal ally of Maduro and is widely considered the socialist dictator’s financial brain. American law enforcement authorities arrested Saab in Cape Verde in 2020 after the Department of Justice indicted him in 2019 on charges of laundering $350 million from Venezuela’s state coffers through a bribery scheme that involved shady affordable housing construction contracts. Saab was on trial in America at the time of his announced release.

According to an anonymous source cited by the Associated Press, in exchange, the Maduro regime will release “some, if not all” of the roughly 12 U.S. citizens who remain imprisoned in Venezuela.

Another report published by Reuters on Wednesday claimed that the Maduro regime will release 36 people, including 12 American citizens and four citizens arrested this month as part of a crackdown on dissidents of the socialist regime.

The release of Alex Saab is the latest in a series of major concessions by the Biden administration to dictator Maduro. Last year, as part of a different prisoner swap deal, the Biden administration released Maduro’s convicted drug-trafficking nephews Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas. The pair, commonly known in Venezuela as the narcosobrinos (“narco-nephews”), were sentenced by U.S. courts to 18 years in prison after they were arrested attempting to transport 800 kilograms of cocaine belonging to Colombia’s Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist organization onto U.S. soil in 2015.

People walk near a graffiti demanding Colombian businessman Alex Saab's freedom, in Caracas, on February 23, 2021. - Saab, who is allegedly close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and wanted in the US for money laundering, has been put under house arrest in Cape Verde. Saab was detained in June 2020 as a plane he was travelling on stopped over in the African country. (Photo by Yuri CORTEZ / AFP) (Photo by YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

File/People walk near a graffiti demanding Colombian businessman Alex Saab’s freedom, in Caracas, on February 23, 2021. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration also recently awarded the Maduro regime with a generous oil and gas sanctions relief package in exchange for a series of vague promises to hold a “free and fair” presidential election sometime in the second half of 2024. Some of the Americans arrested for participating in an opposition presidential primary were detained after the sanctions were lifted, a direct violation of the provisions cited as the reason for the sanctions relief.

Saab is also closely linked to the Maduro regime’s corrupt CLAP program, which provides Venezuelans — especially those who have been pushed to extreme poverty as a result of socialism — with a heavily subsidized monthly box of low-quality and often rotten food.

Since the moment of his arrest, the Maduro regime has spared no expense in launching massive national and international campaigns, hosting musical concerts, and organizing diplomatic events calling for Saab’s release. Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Yván Gil demanded the immediate release of Saab during his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September.

In 2022, The Maduro regime launched a campaign to “launder” the businessman’s image and portray him as heroic figure of the socialist regime in Venezuela’s “resistance” against the United States. The regime claimed that Saab, a Colombian national, was a Venezuelan ambassador at the time of his arrest, seeking to retroactively provide him with diplomatic immunity.

A protester holds photos of Colombian businessman Alex Saab during the caravan organized by Free Alex Saab movement activists for the freedom of Colombian businessman detained by US authorities since 2021 in Petare, Caracas, Venezuela, on August 18, 2022. (Pedro Rances Mattey/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Maduro regime also hired bots and Nigerian-based influencers to flood social media with pro-Saab posts. Pro-Maduro influencers claimed that Saab is the Venezuelan “Oskar Schindler,” – referencing the German hero who saved roughly 1,200 Jewish people from certain death under Nazi German rule.

Saab and his wife, Italian citizen Camilla Fabri, have an active arrest warrant issued by Italian authorities, in addition to three other members of their family, on similar money laundering charges.

Neither the White House nor the Maduro regime have issued a public statement on the matter at press time.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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