Venezuela releases at least two Americans after Biden admin talks: report
The Biden administration talks have been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats.
Venezuela on Tuesday released at least two jailed Americans in an apparent gesture of goodwill following a high-profile meeting with Biden administration officials, sources told The New York Times.
The freeing of Americans comes after a rare trip over the weekend in which a U.S. delegation met with Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. Russia has supported Maduro's regime for years, and Caracas is considered a close ally of the Kremlin.
Oil executive Gustavo Cárdenas was reportedly released on Tuesday. Known as one of the Citgo 6, Cárdenas was arrested in 2017 with six other Americans from the U.S. branch of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company Citgo.
The other U.S. citizen who was released is Jorge Alberto Fernández, a Cuban American tourist accused of terrorism and arrested in February 2021, according to the Times.
A senior Biden administration official on Tuesday said that the trip "was intended to discuss a range of issues, including the health and the welfare of detained U.S. citizens."
Venezuela has large oil reserves, and the Biden administration may be seeking to restart the purchase of oil from the Socialist dictatorship after former President Donald Trump banned the sale.
Oil industry experts warned the Times that accepting Venezuelan oil would do little to help fight rising U.S. gas prices and inflation. Gas prices hit a record high in the Untied States of $4.17 per gallon on Tuesday.
The Biden administration has been criticized by both sides for talks with Venezuela.
"Venezuela’s oil industry is in shambles. Because of marxist incompetence & corruption, it will takes years before they can produce enough to even come close to replacing #PutinOil," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted Monday. "Biden is just using this as an excuse to cut the deal with the #Maduro he has wanted all along."
Sen. Bob Mendendez, D-N.J., also slammed the talks.
"If the reports are true that the Biden administration is brokering the purchase of Venezuelan oil, I fear that it risks perpetuating a humanitarian crisis that has destabilized Latin America and the Caribbean for an entire generation," he wrote in a press release.
"Nicolás Maduro is a cancer to our hemisphere and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder. As such, I would strongly oppose any action that fills the pockets of regime oligarchs with oil profits while Maduro continues to deprive Venezuelans of basic human rights, freedoms, and even food," he said.
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