Monday (October 18th): Alex Saab: Venezuela’s Fixer

Alex Saab - Venezuela
Alex Saab

Name? Alex Saab

Westphalian identity? Colombian & Venezuelan (allegedly naturalised)

Age? 49

Why is he in the news? Alex Saab, top frontman of Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, has been extradited to the United States by Cape Verde, where he was arrested last year. After being discovered for laundering more than $350 million USD, the Colombian businessman is awaiting trial.  

Why do we care? The Maduro regime is not happy about their fixer being tried by their biggest enemy. Maduro was set to negotiate concessions with the Venezuelan opposition in Mexico this week which they now cancelled in protest of Saab’s arrest. He blamed Colombia’s president Iván Duque, the United States, the Venezuelan “ultra-right”, and anyone who is not Saab or the regime for the resulting cease in negotiations. Thanks, Obama!

Why should you care? Maduro’s party brought Venezuela to the brink of state failure. Their mismanagement, human rights abuses and confrontations with the United States have further incurred sanctions that paralysed an already failing economy. In 2015 a Venezuelan journalist Roberto Deniz uncovered Saab as the chief money fixer for the Maduro government. Before that, no one really knew how he kept receiving so much money. Now that the US government apprehended Saab, Venezuela’s corrupt money flows are in danger. You should care 5/10.  

Who else cares? Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian condemned Saab’s extradition as an illegal abduction by US authorities. The two countries recently closed on a 20-year economic cooperation that would expand Iran’s relations in the region as well as strengthen Venezuela’s economy, crippled by the government and US economic sanctions

Any further comments? If we’re honest, Maduro cancelling the negotiations in Mexico is really a courtesy. Saab’s arrest was likely used as an efficient excuse for Maduro to opt out of negotiations that they were unwilling to concede in the first place. Their track record with the opposition is not very bright, and expectations were not high this time around. 

Francia Morales

Editor in Chief for Research and Analysis