Wat? Biden Administration Says Freeing Maduro Money Man Alex Saab Will Help Curb Immigration

TOPSHOT - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) welcomes Colombian businessman Alex Saa

CARACAS, Venezuela – John Kirby, the coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House National Security Council, asserted on Thursday that President Joe Biden’s decision to release Colombian businessman Alex Saab, the alleged top money launderer of Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, will help curb the large flow of Venezuelan migrants to the United States.

Kirby made the assertion in a Thursday afternoon’s press briefing held alongside White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Kirby said that the “work” the Biden administration is doing with the Maduro regime seeks to address the “root causes of migration.”

US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 21, 2023. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 21, 2023 (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP).

“There’s a lot of factors. And part of that is, of course, dealing with instability — political and — and domestic instability in the region,” Kirby said.

“So, the work that we did with Venezuela here — not just to get Americans back, but to get the Maduro regime to ascribe to certain electoral reforms — that’s important,” he continued. “That’s important to help get at some of the root causes of migration.”

Saab was granted clemency by President Joe Biden and sent to Caracas in exchange for roughly ten unjustly arrested Americans. Maduro also agreed to release a group of Venezuelan political dissidents from prison as part of the deal.

President Joe Biden meets with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Nov. 13, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden is pictured in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Nov. 13, 2023, in Washington (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik).

Saab, a close personal ally of Venezuela’s socialist dictator and his “financial brain,” was arrested in 2020 by U.S. law enforcement authorities in Cape Verde after being indicted on money laundering charges. Saab stood accused of laundering $350 million for Venezuela’s state coffers through the United States as part of a bribery scheme that involved shady affordable housing construction contracts. Saab was undergoing trial proceedings at the time of his release.

The government of Qatar announced on Thursday that it acted as a mediator in the negotiations between the United States and Venezuela for the now-completed prisoner swap deal.

The Maduro regime pledged to the Biden administration and the Venezuelan “opposition” that it would allow a “free and fair” presidential election in 2024. The Biden administration, in return, awarded the Maduro regime a broad oil and gas sanctions relief package that allows the rogue socialist regime to once again sell Venezuelan oil in U.S. and international markets.

Days after Biden lifted the sanctions, Maduro broke his pledges and had his courts invalidate the results of the Venezuelan opposition’s self-organized primary election, arrested more political dissidents, and held a sham referendum to annex two-thirds of neighboring Guyana’s territory, over which Venezuela has maintained a 120-year-old territorial dispute.

Maduro gave Saab a “hero’s welcome,” airing a mandatory broadcast on Wednesday evening of his return to Venezuela. Maduro celebrated the release of his alleged top money launderer as a massive victory and as the “triumph of the truth.”

Maduro regime officials accused the United States on Thursday of having “physically and psychologically” tortured Saab during the three years U.S. officials held him in prison.

“In addition to everything he lived through, we now say that sooner rather than later the tortures he was subjected to will be known: beatings, drowning, having three of his teeth kicked out,” Jorge Rodríguez, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, said at a press conference.

Kirby dismissed the Maduro regime’s accusations at Thursday’s press briefing.

“I know of no indications or — that — that those reports are valid. I can’t — I can’t verify that,” Kirby said.

Kirby was also asked if the prisoner swap does not invite other authoritarian leaders around the world to take Americans hostage to get something they want. The spokesman responded, “We don’t advise Americans to travel to Venezuela.”

“This is the perennial question we get. Every single time we — we get Americans home, we get this question. I would say a couple of things: Number one, we — we don’t advise Americans to travel to Venezuela,” Kirby said.

He continued:

And Venezuela is one of those countries where we have a D designation for. Like, if you go, you know, as you — business or — or pleasure, you need to realize what the potential detention threat is. And in Venezuela, that — that threat is high. That’s right there on the website. If you’re going to travel, go to State.gov. It’s all right there.

The collapse of Venezuela’s socialist model, which began more than ten years ago, and the continued gross human rights violations committed by the Maduro regime against its own people, led to the unprecedented Venezuelan migrant crisis. As of December, at least 7.7 million Venezuelans — more than one-fifth of the nation’s roughly 30 million inhabitants — have fled socialism.

As of 2022, the Venezuelan migrant crisis has surpassed the size of Syria’s and Ukraine’s respective migrant crises.

The Maduro regime claimed in September 2022 that 60 percent of Venezuelan migrants had returned to their country, then insisting there was no such thing as a Venezuelan migrant crisis and that everything was an “invention.”

The Maduro regime announced in October that it had reached an agreement with the Biden administration to conduct deportation flights of Venezuelans who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border, sending them back to Venezuela through the socialist regime’s Vuelta a la Patria (“Return to the Homeland”) program. U.S. authorities claim that nearly 13,000 Venezuelans have been deported since May 12.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro leaves after offering a press conference in Caracas, on January 25, 2019. - Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido called Friday for a "major demonstration" next week to demand the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in his first public appearance since declaring himself "acting president" two days ago. (Photo by Yuri CORTEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The Department of Homeland Security has an active Humanitarian Parole program that allows up to 30,000 Venezuelan, Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan citizens per month to request entry into the United States. Beneficiaries of the program are granted advanced authorization to travel to the United States and are allowed to stay and work for up to two years.

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


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