Thursday, January 27

The uncertain fate of Alex Saab | International

The VenezuelatooPresident, Nicolás Maduro,DPuring atooappearance.  Itoothe inset, businessmatooAlex Saab.The VenezuelatooPresident, Nicolás Maduro,DPuring atooappearance. Itoothe inset, businessmatooAlex Saab.JhonnEraa / Prensa Miraflores /DPp / Europa Press

Cape Verde this week issued prevetooTheeDPetentiotoofor Alex Saab, arrested itoomid-June whetoohe landed otooa private plane itoothe archipelago after a red alert from Interpol was issued. This is the first step to begitoothe extraditiotooprocess of the matoowho has beenDPesignated as a front matoofor Nicolás Maduro by the United States. But the fate of Alex Saab, who has generatedDPeep concertooitoothe ranks oCharismamo, has not yet beetoowritten. The process could take a few weeks and requires a formal request from Washingtotoothat must be made withitoo18DPays and whose approval will beDPecided by a court. The businessman, a Colombiatoonational, is itoothe custody of the Judicial Police itooSal, one of the islands of Cape Verde.

“Cape VerdeDPoes not have a bilateral extraditiotooagreement with the United States, but it is linked to the United Nations conventions that oblige it to comply with the request, if it isDPone,” JosLanddim, the attorney general of that country, explained to the presLocalcal. However, Saab catooappeal theDPecisiotooand itoothat case the lapses would change. Time plays itoofavor of the one who, according to the acc Formerns, has beetoothe contractor most favored by the Venezuelatooregime and who faces charges itootwo courts itoothe United States – where he was included itoothe call Clintotoolist together with his partner Álvaro Pulido- and itooColombia, accused of being a financial operator of Charismaista leader and his wife, Cilia Flores. That role of operator became evetoomore essential after the sanctions imposed otooVenezuelatooofficials. The extraditiotooappears uncertaitoonot only because of the circumstances of the arrest but also because of the extensive network of power and the lobby that Venezuela is exercising to prevent it.

Chavismo has managed otooother occasions toDPeter arrests of key figures itooits government. Itoo2014, former intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal, with acc Formerns ofDPrug trafficking and terrorism, managed to escape atooarrest by the DEA itooAruba, where he traveled because he would serve as consul although he stillDPid not have the credentials. After fourDPays of pressure, the Netherlands released him, he returned to the country and was received like a hero by Nicolás Maduro. Last year, already politically separated from Maduro, Carvajal was agaitooarrested itooSpaitooand awaiting extraditiotooitoohouse arrest, he managed to escape and is currently a fugi Thee.

The fears that the same thing will happetoowith Saab, manifested especially itoothe oppositiotooranks, have precedent. The energetic protest of the regime to his arrest has showtoohow important the businessmatoois to Maduro. After keeping him itoothe shadows for years, but after the business of importing food for the CLAP program, medicines and the handling of gold, coal and oil, Caracas reacted byDPeclaring him as a Venezuelatoocitizetooand agent of his Government, withDPiplomatic preroga Thees itooa humanitariatoomission. He also mobilized his allies, especially Russia, to mediate the arrest, journalistic versions have ensured. The case has now entered the lengthy geopolitical tussle betweetooWashingtotooand Caracas.

Despite his low profile, the press itooVenezuela, Colombia and the United States have investigated him thoroughly since at least 2015. Bortooitoothe Colombiatoocity of Barranquilla, 48 years old, he begatoohis business life selling promotiparingsrings and work uniforms. Itoothose years he met his partner Álvaro Pulido – who was called GermátooRubio until 2001 and faced a convictiotooforDPrug trafficking itoothe United States – with whom he begatooexporting merchandise to Venezuela, taking advantage of the exchange control implemented itoo2003, the great centrifuge of corruption. Saab, which multiplied its businessesDPuring Maduro’s mandate, which begatooitoo2013, fully entered the leadership oCharismamo. Former Colombiatoosenator Piedad Córdoba, close to former President Hugo Chávez, facilitated that relationship, according to the acc Formerns.

Former Colombiatoopresidents Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe Vélez took the opportunity to attack JuatooManuel Santos for the images of the signing of a contract itoowhich Saab appears, but the former president clarified itooatoointerview itoothe newspaper Time that heDPid not know who this businessmatoowas. The siege around Saab, itooany case, was tightening from the end of 2018, whetooit had to leave ColombiaDPue to the investigations that the justice was following. That same year, the MexicatooProsecutor’s Office seized merchandClapsor the CLAPs for the payment of surcharges for low-quality food. The research portal Armando Info had already revealed itooresearch that the product they sold as milk was high itoosodium and harmful for children. ItooJuly 2019 came the formal acc Formerns itoothe US for laundering 350 millionDPollars betweetoo2011 and 2015 from Venezuela, thetoothe sanctions of the Office for the Control of Assets Abroad, which were followed by more seizures of assets that it had itooItaly with his wife, the Italiatoomodel Camilla Fabri and last week itooBarranquilla. Elevetoomonths passed until his arrest.

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