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Venezuela releases 2 American prisoners after US visit(New Report)

Two American prisoners were released from prison in Venezuela on Tuesday, following a high-level visit to the country by US officials from the White House and State Department, according to sources.

Citgo executives Gustavo Cardenas and six others were arrested in 2017 and convicted on accusations the US claimed were fabricated, including Cardenas. According to Reuters, Jorge Alberto Fernández, a tourist, was charged with terrorism for bringing a drone into the country.

The highest-ranking American official to visit the country in years paid a visit over the weekend. The Trump administration restricted imports of Venezuelan oil in 2019 because the West claimed that President Nicolás Maduro had fraudulently won a second term in office.

As President Biden announced an embargo on Russian oil, natural gas, and coal imports, a prisoner was released on the same day. U.S. sources said the release of the Americans was not part of any arrangement, but rather an apparent goodwill gesture. Venezuelan oil might help offset the loss of Russian supplies.

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's president, delivers a State of the Union address at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022.

A State of the Union address will be delivered by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, on January 15, 2022.
(Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg)

It was reported that at a speech on Thursday, President Nicolas Maduro said, “Here lies the oil of Venezuela, which is open for anybody wants to produce and buy it.”

During the United States’ restriction on Venezuelan oil imports, Russia stepped in to provide financial assistance to the Latin American country. As the New York Times points out, Russia’s sanctions-stricken economy was a part of the rationale for the journey to the United States.

President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia's economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington.

In punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden imposed an embargo on Russian oil imports in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
Photo by Andrew Harnik for Associated Press

According to the New York Times, the United States is also demanding the release of five additional Citgo employees and three U.S. veterans.

Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that these soldiers are fathers who have been away from their families for too long, and their loved ones have been hurt by their absence. Every American held against their will in countries like Venezuela, Russia, Afghanistan, Syria, China, Iran, and everywhere throughout the world is a name and a story that we will never forget.

However, the visit was not without its detractors.

“We should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder,” Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.Y., and head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, according to Reuters.

Arkansas Republican Rep. Rick Crawford told Fox News via email that the Biden administration’s logical decision to limit Russian oil imports was weakened by its flirtation with obtaining imports from pariah regimes like Iran and Venezuela instead.

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures after he casts his ballot as he votes for a constitutional assembly in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday, July 30, 2017. 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is shown in this photo given by the Miraflores Press Office after casting his ballot in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday, July 30, 2017, during voting for a constitutional assembly.
(AP via Miraflores Press Office)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Fox News that relying on oil from Venezuela or Iran was a bad idea.

Since we are so dependent on oil, “no alternative is a good option,” she stated.

There are short-term supply difficulties, she added, but the United States should emphasize investments in solar and wind power. “I think this is the situation with fossil fuels in general: it is not a coincidence that oil-rich states tend to be petro-authoritarian states.”

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