Oscar Lopez Rivera & Suarez

This story starts in June 2021 when on a premonition at the Assange event I told Victor Nieto I may be active again politically in Miami, this was while Saab was held in Cape Verde. I had been living a 6 hour drive away in Jacksonville, Florida since May 2020 at the time, where I still reside. Victor was one of my old contacts from when I lived in South Florida. We had lost touch and was happy to see him at the event. I let him know, as the left is very divided, that I wanted to mend fences with people in the movement I had differences within the community, and Victor being a man of influence said he would talk to people. I did not take his number down and did not see him again till yesterday as I engage in activism again in the community, but things have progressed. 4 months after meeting Assange’s family in Miami and seeing Victor and others, Alex Saab is deported to Miami, and in November, I go to his arraignment and shortly after, to Venezuela for the first time. The first day of his hearing was yesterday.

As I entered the courtroom, by then a group of Saab supporters are already protesting outside. When I confirm I am in the right courtroom, I rush downstairs to tell the supporters but no one wants to go, so I reenter just in time. I quickly realize the only members of the public in the courtroom are media, and they are mostly not friendly to Alex Saab. I realize besides Saab’s lawyers, I am the only Saab supporter present. Members of AP, CNN Espanol, Caracol ( right wing Colombian TV), Reuters (whose reporter I met before and knows Donziger) and NPR are present for media (those are at least the channels I can remember). David Rivero from NPR who I spoke with during recess seemed friendly, and was happy to know Oscar Lopez Rivera was downstairs, and supporting Saab, he interviewed him later. I confronted the CNN Espanol “journalist” who I had met before, on discrepancies on his article on Saab and he tries to put blame on the editors like a coward.

As I laid eyes on Saab for the first time, I could only see the back of his head at first. I realized a sketch artist is also present in the court and is drawing him. I see headphones in Saab’s ears, I suppose for translating from English to Spanish. I take notes and dates and names of attorneys down mentioned in the hearing, I will update this article and add all this info soon, I just got home from my trip and want to put this initial article out. I do remember the judge is named Scola, and that Saab’s main attorney, working on the clarification in Georgia on his diplomatic status, is named David Rivkin.

I suddenly realize Saab, age 50, has a number of grey hairs, no doubt from his suffering, like we have seen with Assange, and I get teary eyed. I also notice he lost weight. Who knows what terrible condition his food is. He is still young, yet the strain of the torture and his conditions have caused this. Before the hearing starts I approach Saab’s side and notice two security guards by him, I ask them if I can ask his attorney a question. They ask who I am and I say I am a supporter of the defendant. They then tell me to go all the way back to the wall to the end of the aisle, that I am not allowed to ask a question. Later when a journalist does the same, they say independent people can ask the lawyers a question but not Saab. Is this legal? Is this not cruel that they wont let Saab see me, the one supporter present in the public? The beginning of the hearing calls for it to be sealed from the public, and me and the journalists are ordered by the judge to step out. The two security guards ignoring everyone else suddenly point at me right away and order me out, clearly resentful a supporter showed up. I ignore them, and in my subtle way to say fuck you, let the women leave first and am one of the last to go out. Like Saab defied the sanctions, I will defy these little security guys of the Empire.

After about 20 minutes we come back in and I hear the judge tell one of Saab’s attorneys, this is my final order, the hearing is over. It seems the attorney was arguing something. Perhaps that it remain sealed, it was not clear who was calling for the sealing, the prosecution or the defense. I suppose the judge meant the initial hearing, since hearing continued another 20 minutes. The judge said he was now unsealing. But nothing that was discussed in the beginning is brought up, and only comes out later in the media after the hearing is over. The only thing that was discussed was dates and the fact his diplomatic status could be clarified by end of April, the judge said if things are resolved then he would let Saab go within a couple days, if not they have trial dates for June and October.

As the security escort Saab out, I have the urge to yell Free Alex Saab, but contain myself. I could risk arrest and there was interviews to do outside, as well as meet Oscar Lopez Rivera. Would the arrest be illegal? Everything about the case is illegal. I have been arrested doing activism multiple times but now was not the time. I regret not bringing a letter to give to Saab’s attorneys with my solidarity, am sure they would have accepted it. I talk to one of Saab’s attorneys, I say I am a supporter who saw Saab’s wife recently in Venezuela and had a couple questions for them. The attorney talks in private with the prosecutors says he will see me later but never emerges, and never talks to the press outside.

After saying hi to Victor and other comrades, I approach Oscar Lopez Rivera. I tell him my admiration for him, speak from the heart, with how incredible he was still here having been in prison 36 years, longer than Mandela, that I am 37 and he was in prison almost my whole life (he was released in 2016 by pardon of Obama and is a Puerto Rican independence activist of prestige). He agrees to speak to my class at UNF via zoom. I tell him about my club and activities for Venezuela and the cause in general. I also mention to Oscar I know the progressive Puerto Rican journalist Ray Suarez (no relation), I later speak to Ray on twitter about my encounter and he says he hopes Oscar is well, I say he is but not Alex Saab, and ask if he heard of the case. Hopefully he can do a story on it, many listen to Ray. I drove 6 hours to get there barely rested but it was worth it, to be there in that moment of history, see Saab, and get acquainted with the great Lopez Rivera who I have admired for a long time.

As I leave downtown Miami I get a call from David Rivero of NPR, who I called earlier as he gave me his number, he called back and told me what was revealed in the sealed part of the hearing. They claimed that Saab was an informant against Maduro for the DEA in 2018 and 2019 in some document I have not seen. I said I did not believe it and would call the journalist back. Later in a communique forwarded to me by my Venezuelan contacts by both Camilla Saab (Saab’s wife) and David Rivkin, it is stated that Saab informed Maduro back in 2018 when he became a diplomat that the DEA wanted to meet him to clear his name on his business in Colombia having no ties to drugs. Maduro gave permission for them to meet, and that is all the meeting was about. This is clearly a way to pressure Saab and to try to drive a wedge between him and Maduro. They will not get what they want, and hopefully in April Saab is free, which will be a big boost to our movement.

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