Home | About Us | Archive | Documents | Campaigns & Issues | Links | Contact Us

      Free Alex Saab! U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!

      By Janine Solanki

      For 24 years, the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, with the leadership of former President Hugo Chávez and now current President Nicolás Maduro, has been developing a society to benefit poor, working and historically oppressed people in Venezuela. However, the U.S. government has tried to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution through failed coup attempts, economic warfare including sanctions and blockade, and even the kidnapping of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab.

      On June 12, 2020, Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab was en route to Iran to negotiate a deal to alleviate the effects of U.S. sanctions, enabling Venezuela to receive much needed fuel, food and medical supplies. During a refuelling stop in Cape Verde, Alex Saab was abducted and arbitrarily imprisoned at the command of the U.S. government and over a year later was illegally extracted by the U.S. from Cape Verde, bypassing his diplomatic immunity. Alex Saab is currently being unjustly held in a Miami jail. On December 23, 2022, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Robert Scola released his decision not to recognize the diplomatic status of Alex Saab. This decision, and Alex Saab’s continued detention in a Miami jail, is a further violation of international law and a continued injustice against Alex Saab and the people of Venezuela.

      For two years, Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, the Venezuela Peace Committee in Winnipeg, and Just Peace Advocates have organized monthly online picket actions in defense of Venezuela, demanding an end to U.S./Canada sanctions and freedom for Alex Saab. These actions have received the support of Venezuela solidarity organizations and individuals across Canada, and for the first action of 2023, the U.S.-based organization CODEPINK joined to co-organize the action.

      The first Venezuela picket action for 2023 on January 31 included a workshop session to write letters of support and solidarity for Alex Saab, as well as special guest Camilla Saab, wife of Alex Saab. Camilla Saab gave a heartfelt speech about Alex Saab’s case from Venezuela. Camilla Saab also shared a voice message from Alex Saab, in which he thanked Fire This Time, CODEPINK and participants of the action for their work in solidarity with Venezuela and for his freedom. He emphasized that he is a “prisoner of an unconventional war that the United States has unilaterally declared” on Venezuela. Alex Saab’s full message is also printed on this page.

      Other speakers at the January 31 action included William Camacaro, US-Venezuelan organizer with the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), founder of the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle and Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), and Roger Harris, board member of the Task Force on the Americas, who was present at Alex Saab’s Miami courtroom hearing in December 2022.

      The action was chaired by Alison Bodine, coordinator of the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and author of “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Venezuela.” (Battle of Ideas Press, 2018) and Michelle Ellner, CODEPINK Women for Peace Latin America Campaign Coordinator. Michelle and Alison lead participants in a letter-writing session to Alex Saab, and also encouraged participants to sign the CODEPINK petition demanding that U.S. President Biden drop charges against Alex Saab, which can be signed at www.codepink.org/alex_saab

      The next action on February 27, 2023, marked two consecutive years of consecutive monthly online picket actions. The action also marked 10 years since the passing of the former President of Venezuela, Comandante Hugo Chávez, on March 5, 2013. Participants commemorated the leader of the Bolivarian revolution whose legacy continues today in Venezuela and among social justice fighters worldwide.

      The action started with an exciting music video, “Free Alex Saab” from Venezuelan Hip Hop artist FullVida MC. The action also included speakers: Indhriana Parada, Venezuelan lawyer, member of the Free Alex Saab Movement and author of the new book, “The Kidnapping of Alex Saab: A Legal Analysis”; Suzanne Adely, President of the National Lawyers Guild in the United States and Bureau Member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers; and Nino Pagliccia, Venezuelan-Canadian activist and political writer based in Vancouver. A special greeting was also shared by Professor Luis Acuña, Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuela Embassy in Canada, speaking from Venezuela.

      As with every action over the last two years, after the main speakers, the virtual microphone was handed to representatives from groups and individuals in solidarity with Venezuela across Canada and Quebec to share their greetings. Every month the event concludes with participants turning on their video cameras and holding picket signs, Venezuelan flags and fists in the air for the group photo while chanting together, “Hands Off Venezuela!” “Free Alex Saab!”

      During the February 27 action, webinar chair Alison Bodine also launched the new “Free Alex Saab” postcard campaign, initiated by Fire This Time Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign. The postcards are addressed to U.S. President Biden and express the demand that Alex Saab is released immediately.

      It is the responsibility of peace-loving people in the U.S., Canada, and around the world to fight for the freedom of Alex Saab and stand with the people of Venezuela who struggle every day in defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination. Check for updates and how you can join the next virtual picket action in solidarity with Venezuela by visiting www.firethistime.net

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

      Back to Article Listing