Caracas, Dec 21 (EFE).- The Venezuelan government incorporated Colombian businessman Alex Saab into its delegation of negotiators with the opposition on Thursday.
Saab, accused of conspiracy to launder money, was released Wednesday in the United States after 1,286 days in detention.
“We would like to inform you that, by order of President Nicolás Maduro, the citizen Alex Saab is naturally included as a plenipotentiary member of the dialogue table,” announced top negotiator and head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Jorge Rodríguez, in a press conference at the headquarters of the National Assembly.
The president of the legislature also said that Camilla Fabri, Saab’s wife, would continue “as a plenipotentiary member” for her “outstanding performance, especially in the dialogue tables that have been set up” along with Science and Technology Minister Gabriela Jiménez and Vice-Minister of Anti-Blockade Policies, William Castillo, members of the pro-government delegation.
Fabri, Jiménez, and Castillo, “discussed with the counterpart all the elements that led to the social agreement” signed in Nov. 2022 (which established the creation of a fund with which the United Nations would manage Venezuelan resources blocked abroad for urgent needs) which “the US government boycotted,” he added.
Rodríguez, who celebrated Saab’s “rescue,” emphasized that in addition to “behind-the-scenes negotiations” by “Venezuela,” which were “arduous, hard” and “difficult,” there was also an “immense effort to defend” the businessman “from a legal standpoint.”
After his release in the US, Saab, a close collaborator of Maduro, arrived in Venezuela on Wednesday afternoon, where he was received by his wife, his five children and the first lady, Cilia Flores, and then by the head of state at the Miraflores palace in Caracas.
The head of state “rejoiced because of the release and return to his country” of the businessman, who is an accredited diplomat even though the US Judiciary refused to recognize this credential when seeking to extradite him from Cape Verde, where he was arrested on June 12, 2020.
Between 2011 and 2015, Saab and his right-hand man, Álvaro Pulido, who was apprehended in the Caribbean country in April this year on bribery charges, conspired with others to launder illegal profits and move them from Venezuela to bank accounts in the US.
Saab’s release came at a time when Venezuela also freed some thirty people considered political prisoners, including 10 Americans whose exchange for Saab was negotiated between the two countries. EFE