HomeNewsVenezuela's Saab Story Continues With Benefit Concert

Venezuela's Saab Story Continues With Benefit Concert


As alleged Maduro financier Alex Saab awaits potential extradition to the United States, the Venezuelan government decided that a concert catered by a company linked to Saab’s illicit activities would be an effective way to try and secure his release.

The officially sanctioned public spectacle was held on February 20 in Caracas’ Diego Ibarra Plaza in order to condemn the so-called international “blockade” on the Venezuelan government and to demand the release of Alex Saab, a close business associate of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused of illegally financing the regime.

Among the artists featured in the concert was Venezuelan reggaetón artist Omar Acedo, who is married to Daniella Cabello, daughter of Diosdado Cabello, one of the most powerful men in the country.

SEE ALSO: The Fall of Álex Saab, the Venezuelan Regime’s Trusted Money Man

The concert was held with seemingly little regard for COVID-19 related safety measures. Photos from the concert show only scattered mask-wearing among the hundreds of people packed into the plaza.

Attendees were gifted bags of food from Salva Foods, a company closely tied to Saab, in order to encourage their participation in the event. Earlier this month, Salva Foods was accused of forcing its employees to publicly express support for Saab, such as by attending protests and events in his name.

In addition to the concert, the Venezuelan government has championed Saab’s cause by enthusiastically promoting #FreeAlexSaab on Twitter through official accounts such as that of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela – PSUV).

Interestingly, a preliminary InSight Crime review of #FreeAlexSaab indicates that a significant number of the accounts tweeting the hashtag are either bots or Nigerian accounts, at least two of which were confirmed to be PR content creators or social media managers.

#FreeAlexSaab has also appeared as graffiti in Caracas in recent weeks, despite his relative obscurity to many Venezuelans. “People’s savior? I don’t even know who he is,” Caracas resident Yanira Rodriguez told Bloomberg in a puzzled reaction to the graffiti.

InSight Crime Analysis

The concert illustrates how the Venezuelan government is willing to double down on its support for Alex Saab, who was detained June 2020 in Cape Verde and is desperately fighting extradition to the US for allegedly laundering hundreds of millions of dollars for the Bolivarian regime.

That such an audacious concert was held on the government’s dime is ironic considering how, only a week earlier, the United Nations had released a report decrying the devastating effects of international sanctions on the livelihoods of everyday Venezuelan citizens.

SEE ALSO: Álex Saab Profile

Saab is accused of helping the Venezuelan government evade international sanctions by leveraging his business connections. He was allegedly instrumental in negotiating an elaborate gold-for-food scheme with Turkey and an oil deal with Iran. He has ties to a variety of economic sectors that can be exploited for money laundering, including agriculture, construction, oil, mining, and food production.

In one publicized case, Saab has been accused of defrauding and corrupting Venezuela’s food aid program for the poor, the Local Committees for Supply and Production (Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción – CLAP), through companies such as Salva Foods.

Saab is currently awaiting a final decision from the Cabo Verde courts on the US extradition request. If Saab is extradited to the United States and chooses to cooperate with US authorities, the resulting information could prove exceptionally embarrassing for the Venezuelan government and disrupt its illicit revenue sources.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


The killing of four young people in Paraguay’s border city of Pedro Juan Caballero has led back to an imprisoned…

BOLIVIA / 28 MAY 2021

Bolivia's controversial former interior minister and his chief of staff have both been arrested in the United States on charges…


Colombia’s top military commander says 40 percent of ELN and ex-FARC fighters operate in Venezuela, a figure that must be…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…