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Alex Saab and Julian Assange: Dads Unable To Be Fathers!

Julian Assange
Julian Assange
Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Every Father’s Day I find creative ways to observe those who take the commemorative day for granted and only remember their fathers once a year and this year I congratulated “Single Parent Mothers who have to play Father’s roles every day…”

I recalled visiting a small island off Venezuela named Coche, where I had an interesting conversation with a few fishermen who claimed the Bolivarian Republic, under Hugo Chavez, was “discriminating against us men in favour of single parent mothers…”

His justification was a claim that “some women are breaking-up with their men to get new homes and government help and making-up later, but holding the men to ransom because they have the keys to the home…”

I heard a similar complaint here on Father’s Day 2023, when a normally brutally-frank lady friend told me she couldn’t support her government because it was “encouraging women to make children to get taxpayers money instead of forcing men to pay their child-support “sex tax…”

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In both cases I offered the same response: that even if both claims were true, it would be unfair to disadvantage and disqualify all the women who qualify just because one or two find ways to outsmart the system…

Last Sunday, I also saw a repulsive Father’s Day episode in which a son, whose father had died just hours before, marched violently on his father’s Common Law wife of decades standing to “pass the keys, or else…” – which she reluctantly did out of fear for her life. His justification? She wasn’t married to his dad…

In a conversation at the rum shop table, I ventured to point out that “We have it so good for Father’s Day we don’t even realize that there are Fathers who wish to be dads but just can’t, to which most present responded in disbelief, one actually saying “Any man who doesn’t be a father to his children just doesn’t want to…’

Which allowed me to refer to the case of Julian Assange and – closer to home – Alex Saab of Venezuela, both detained in third countries after being legally kidnapped by states other than theirs, at the request of the same country.

Assange has been in a London maximum security prison for the past four years and Saab in a US prison for the past three years, both facing charges that could land each in jail for the rest of their lives – Assange for 175 years and Saab for 100, under the same Espionage Act that ex-US President Donald Trump is being charged and under which new charges were laid earlier this month against Jack Tiexeira, the young US soldier charged with releasing embarrassing top secret military information (including how America also spies on its allies).

Assange and Saab are also both married fathers of two children aged between two and four and in both cases, they spent Father’s Day 2023 nursing deteriorating health and dreaming of living to see the day they’d spend Father’s Day with their children at home.

The case of Wikileaks Founder Assange is more well-known than that of Saab, who’s being held under what Venezuela sees as “one of the most dangerous maneuvers for the elementary principles of International Law…”

Saab’s case started three years ago – and very far away when the Venezuelan diplomat was captured in Cape Verde in June 2020, based an extradition request by a United States district court in Florida, almost a year earlier.

He who was on a mission seeking COVID assistance for his country when detained and subsequently dispatched to the US, where he’s been held in detention since.

This past June 12 (2023), Saab marked 1095 days in captivity, 491 in Cape Verde and the rest in the US, which claims the right to not recognize the legitimacy of the elected Nicolas Maduro Administration and to impose resulting sanctions – and to extend this non-recognition to Saab’s access to legal protection as per international laws and conventional practices.

Saab’s defense team has filed a motion to dismiss with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, which was denied (and also an open opposition brief) with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal; and his health has deteriorated during his three-year detention.

Last March, the Free Alex Saab Movement intensified its denunciations of his treatment in detention, “as a survivor of stomach cancer and with other ailments such as diabetes.”

It said his medical condition “has worsened and raises fears of a possible recurrence of the cancer…”

Also, in March, Dr. Karol Sikora, a renowned expert in medical oncology, sent UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk and a group of special rapporteurs a letter expressing concern about the diplomat’s clinical condition.

“His persistent symptoms suggest that he urgently needs investigations such as a gastroscopy and an abdominal CT scan, along with a full blood work-up,” said Sikora, also a former director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer programme.

Venezuela says “the double kidnapping” of Alex Saab also demonstrates how “the imposition of Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCM) becomes instrumental in undermining the foundations of international relations and undermining multilateralism initiatives.”

It asks: “If this illegality is perpetuated and replicated in other nations, what does the future hold for diplomacy, the people and world peace?”

It says, “Those who sacrifice themselves for the lives of millions cannot be forgotten,” and it concludes that Venezuela will never get tired of demanding ‘Full Freedom for Alex Saab’ until it becomes a reality.

In the meantime, Saab has spent a third consecutive Father’s Day without being able to see, meet and be greeted by his children at home, while Assange continues to dread boarding that ultimate flight to the US, where it’s been determined that he’ll also die in prison before ever being told ‘Happy Father’s Day’ at home by his wife and children.