October 28 rally in Toronto demands that the U.S. Release kidnapped Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab now!

by Barry Weisleder

Below is the text of the SA speech to the rally, with thanks to Nety M. for some wonderful photos.  Daniel Tarade, WAM candidate for OFL Secretary-Treasurer, and Miguel F. of the Canadian Peace Congress, also addressed the gathering, which was held across the street from the U.S. consulate. – Barry W.

Companeros, creemos que Estados Unidos es culpable de secuestro. While the US government is guilty of judicial kidnapping in the cases of Venezuelan Alex Saab and Meng Wanzhou, the Canadian government is implicated in the shameful detention of the Chinese company executive, and its promotion of extra-parliamentary regime change in Venezuela.

So far, protest has not freed Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab. But we have just started.  RussiaIran, and Cuba have all condemned the kidnapping of Ambassador Saab. China spoke out against his arrest and extradition from Cape Verde. The day after the Saab kidnapping, Pope Francis criticized the use of unilateral coercive measures in countries with strong social movements for change.

The US took Alex Saab on October 16, after being imprisoned in Cape Verde under US orders since June 12, 2020. Mr. Saab was trying to buy humanitarian supplies for Venezuela in legal international trade, but in violation of illegal US sanctions.  Mr. Saab had been travelling to obtain food, fuel and medicine for Venezuela, long suffering murderous illegal US sanctions. His case raises dangerous precedents in terms of extraterritorial judicial abuse by the US in enforcing its unilateral coercive measures on Venezuela and some three dozen other countries.  Their populations comprise a third of humanity.

Venezuelan President Maduro made a passionate speech in Caracas in support of Mr. Saab the day after the diplomat was kidnapped by the US.  Maduro referred to the months of torture suffered by Mr. Saab, isolated in filthy conditions, without treatment for his cancer. Interrogators tried to extort sensitive information on how Venezuela has evaded some of the illegal sanctions, such as by the shipment of Iranian oil to Venezuela in May 2020. Now that Mr. Saab is in US custody, there is concern about US methods of interrogation.

Mr. Saab was arraigned in a Florida Court on October 18. Shackled and force to wear an orange jumpsuit, the staged political theatre on Zoom sought to portray him as a fugitive criminal. The US court charged him with money laundering and defrauding the government of Venezuela.

Is it not rather strange that the US is indicting the diplomat Alex Saab for alleged crimes committed in Venezuela against a country that is supposedly an enemy of the U.S., which is suffering from Washington’s murderous unilateral coercive measures? In Venezuela, however, Mr. Saab is considered innocent and he is a national hero.  

Is it not the US that is interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela? Isn’t the US the real criminal, guilty of crimes against humanity against the people of Venezuela?

His lawyers protested the surrender of Alex Saab to the US on a date prior to the final appeal of the decision granting the extradition. His case had not been transferred to the lower court for decision on the pending issues and for the issuance of warrants of dismissal, constituting a flagrant violation and disregard for international law.

That Cape Verde agreed to extradite a special envoy and deputy ambassador, who is entitled to immunity and inviolability, sets a dangerous precedent. Centuries of long-established international law have been brushed aside by the US, with the complicity of Cape Verde.

Why is the US persecuting Alex Saab?  Because Alex Saab has been instrumental in circumventing the illegal blockade of a country targeted by the US for regime change.

The reason the US is persecuting Alex Saab, revealed by Forbes magazineis that he is “the key that unlocks the Venezuelan monetary mystery—that is, how a country facing sanctions from the US, the UK and the European Union—is still able to export things like gold and oil…and Saab is really the only man who can actually explain how the country [Venezuela] survives today.”As the New York Times admits: “If Mr. Saab were to cooperate with American officials, he could help untangle Mr. Maduro’s economic web.”

The US has extradited Saab to use whatever means necessary to extract sensitive information from him. Saab already reports that his surrogate captors in Cabo Verde had unsuccessfully employed torture to try to break his will and induce him to betray Venezuela.

After an exhaustive investigation by Swiss prosecutors of the US charge that Saab had used Swiss banks for “money laundering,” the case was dropped. Still the US accuses Saab of “loot[ing] hundreds of millions of dollars from starving Venezuelans.” Actually, this is precisely and purposely what the US blockade is doing.

Over 100,000 Venezuelans have perished due to lack of food and medicine.

UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, urged the US and its allies to drop sanctions imposed against Venezuela. Yet Biden, following Trump and Obama before him, tries to justify the illegal sanctions on the incredulous grounds that Venezuela poses an “extraordinary threat” to US national security. The United Nations has repeatedly condemned the use of unilateral coercive measures as a violation of international law. The UN Human Rights Committee has explicitly demanded the release of Alex Saab.

On behalf of Socialist Action I demand:  Free Alex Saab!  Hands off Venezuela!  Canada Out of the Lima Group!  Canada Out of NATO!

To end imperial piracy, to end extortion and capitalist exploitation, the working class must take power in its own name.  Long live international solidarity!  Long live the world socialist revolution!  Hasta la Victoria siempre!