Alex Saab is about to be extradited to the U.S. His “crime”: violating illegal US sanctions by helping feed the Venezuelan people. Tell the DOJ to free Alex Saab!
U.S. and European sanctions continue harming innocent Venezuelans. This isn’t a case where civilians are caught in the crossfire, but one in which they are being directly targeted. Portuguese bank Novo Banco, for example, has frozen $2 billion in Venezuelan funds since 2017 and they refuse to release even $25 million so that Venezuela can pay the Pan American Health Organization for vaccines and medical supplies. That’s right, a bank is deciding whether Venezuelans can get healthcare.
Novo Banco and other financial institutions that are withholding Venezuelan funds claim they feel pressured to do so by the sanctions. Well, it’s time they start feeling pressure from the grassroots to do the right thing and let Venezuela live.
There’s no legal basis for Novo Banco to continue freezing these funds. Portugal recognizes President Maduro as the legitimate leader of the Venezuelan government. Portuguese legal authorities formally unfroze the funds and even if U.S. sanctions law applied, it makes a clear exception for humanitarian goods.
The Venezuelan money in Novo Banco belongs to Bandes, the country’s economic and social development bank. Bandes has an agreement with the Pan American Health Organization to pay the equivalent of $25 million in Brazilian reais for medicine. The issue is complicated because Novo Banco is 75% owned by Lone Star, a U.S. financial equity firm. However, the money transferred wouldn’t even be in dollars, so the sanctions shouldn’t apply!
We’re teaming up with the Progressive International and other organizations from around the world as part of a global day of action to push Novo Banco into doing the right thing. Earlier today, two Members of the European Parliament, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, sent the bank a letter asking that the funds be released for humanitarian reasons. Check out this video Michelle made about Novo Banco!
In radical solidarity,
Leonardo, Michelle, Medea and Teri
P.S. In case you missed it, Teri interviewed Venezuelan Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Ron on the latest episode of WTF is going on in Latin America and the Caribbean. They spoke about the realignment in regional geopolitics following the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Check it out here!
Also, earlier this week Teri interviewed Yvan Gil, Venezuela’s Vice Minister for Europe of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, about the Novo Banco case. Here’s the full interview.