Victory Lap: Venezuela Money Man Freed by Biden Goes on Maduro Podcast to Trash America

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro (L), receives busine
Pedro Rances Mattey/Anadolu via Getty Images

CARACAS, Venezuela — Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro interviewed his alleged top money launderer Alex Saab on his podcast on Thursday, granting him a victory lap following President Joe Biden’s decision to free Saab despite the money laundering charges against him.

Saab, a Colombian businessman, accused the United States of trying to lead Venezuela to collapse and claimed American authorities tried to force him to participate in the alleged conspiracy. He provided no proof to substantiate the claim. 

Saab, and his accusations against the United States were the central piece of the third episode of Maduro Podcast, one of the dictator’s several programs.

Saab was arrested in Cape Verde in 2020 following an indictment by the Department of Justice in 2019 on charges of laundering $350 million from Venezuela’s state coffers through the United States, using a bribery scheme involving shady affordable housing construction contracts. He was extradited in October 2021 and sent to a federal jail in Miami, Florida, to await his trial proceedings.

President Joe Biden granted a presidential pardon to Saab in December and allowed him to return to Caracas as part of a prisoner swap between the United States and Venezuela. In return, Maduro released some ten unjustly arrested Americans and a group of Venezuelan political dissidents. Maduro enthusiastically celebrated Saab’s release as the “triumph of the truth.” 

The release of Saab marked another huge concession from Biden. Shortly before the prisoner swap, Biden awarded Maduro a broad oil and gas sanctions relief package in October. Last year, in a separate prisoner swap deal, President Biden released Maduro’s convicted drug-trafficking nephews, Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, who had been arrested on charges of 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.

The Associated Press

Demonstrators hold posters with the image of Alex Saab who has been extradited to the U.S., during a demonstration demanding his release, in the Petare neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, April 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby claimed last week that Saab’s release is part of the Biden administration’s strategy to help curb the large flow of Venezuelan refugees who continue to enter the United States daily.

“They [U.S. authorities] used to tell me, you have to call the suppliers, you have to tell them that nobody is going to be paid, you have to tell them that they are going to be sanctioned, you have to give us the routes,” Saab alleged, “the names of the companies, everything, because you have to collapse, that was their favorite word, you have to collapse the government.”

“I remember telling them, but if we are in the middle of Covid, and you want to cut everything, there could be thousands of deaths. They told me that it didn’t matter, that the goal was to achieve a change of government,” he continued.

Throughout his detention, the Maduro regime maintained a massive campaign that sought to portray Saab as a “heroic” figure who fought sanctions on the rogue socialist nation, imposed in response to years of human rights violations by the Maduro regime against its own people.

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)

“I was one of those who stayed to fight and we started using all our infrastructure to get food, medicine, and whatever else Venezuela needed,” Saab said.

The Colombian businessman continued by claiming that he was allegedly tortured in Cape Verde prior to his extradition to the United States, without providing evidence of his claims.

“They cut my arms, but not deeply, but they left them raw. They put lamps on my face, poured alcohol and water on me. They knocked out three of my teeth, they hit me very hard,” Saab said.

Maduro praised Saab for his “resistance,” claiming that the alleged modes of torture are “in the CIA manuals.” The socialist dictator also assured that Saab aided in “saving lives and stabilizing Venezuela.”

“Our people applauding and thanking all those actions. And many times even without knowing where they came from, because that is an anonymous thing,” Maduro said. “You were there resisting with your conscience, with your spirituality, and our people here were also resisting.”

Maduro asserted that Saab was an “innocent man,” describing the unjustly arrested Americans and Venezuelan dissidents released in exchange as a “group of convicted and confessed people.” 

“There was an exchange of an innocent man, pure and brave, for a group of people convicted and confessed to crimes against the country,” Maduro said. “A humanitarian exchange.”

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


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