Sunday, December 4

Biden releases Maduro’s nephews in exchange for seven Americans

After a shift in United States policy towards Venezuela, which included meetings between senior US officials with Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, President Joe Biden announced on October 1 the release by the Chavista regime of seven detained Americans, including the five executives of the Citgo oil company, arrested in 2017. In exchange, the US releases two nephews of Cilia Flores, Maduro’s wife, accused of drug trafficking. In his announcement, Biden did not refer to the exchange, nor did he refer to the cases of Efraín Campos and Francisco Flores, sentenced in 2017 to 18 years in prison each for trying to introduce 800 kilos of cocaine into the United States. after five. As Biden announced in a statement: “Today, after years of being unjustly detained in Venezuela, we bring back home Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, José Luis Zambrano, José Pereira, Matthew Heath and Osman Khan. These people will soon be reunited with their families and back in the arms of their loved ones, which is where they belong.” Related News standard No “Where’s Jackie?”: Joe Biden calls a deputy who died months ago to the stage during an act AFP Jackie Walorski was a member of the House of Representatives until his death on August 3, when he lost his life in a traffic accident, and Biden offered his condolences to his family at that moment. The strategy of Biden and his team has been to get closer to Maduro, establishing direct contact with his regime after the years of Donald Trump’s rupture. Since contacts with the dictatorship began at the beginning of the year, the White House has maintained that its objective was to secure the release of these people detained in Venezuela. Sources familiar with these contacts told ABC at the time that Maduro’s condition for releasing the Americans from the outset had been the release of his wife’s nephews. In its own statement, the Venezuelan dictatorship celebrated the release of “two young Venezuelans unjustly imprisoned in that country,” without making reference to their family relationship. The trial of Flores’ nephews was long and the prosecution presented evidence of his drug trafficking network with ramifications in Haiti. The Organization of American States has repeatedly denounced that a large part of the Americans imprisoned in Venezuela were arbitrarily detained, and have been subjected to harassment and torture, including fake drowning. Recently, a report from the United Nations Human Rights Council denounced the systematized repression and torture of the Chavista regime. In March, the person in charge of Latin America in the National Security Council of the White House, Juan González, traveled to Caracas; the US ambassador to Venezuela, James Story, and the special envoy of the US president for the release of hostages, Roger Carstens, who met with Maduro in person. Chavismo later released two of the Americans it had imprisoned: Gustavo Cárdenas, one of the so-called Citgo six, the executives of that refining company who were arrested in Venezuela in 2017 on corruption charges, and Jorge Fernández, a tourist arrested on last year charged with terrorism for being in possession of a drone. Now the rest of the Citgo executives are released: Toledo, Vadell, Zambrano, Zambrano and Pereira. Heath is another American, a Marine Corps veteran, who was detained at a roadblock in Venezuela in 2020 and accused of an alleged terrorist plot to sabotage oil refineries and electrical service to provoke unrest in the country. According to his mother, he has been tortured. Khan’s family has denounced the same, in addition to extortion, after he was arrested in Venezuela after crossing from Colombia earlier this year. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken celebrated the release of the seven detainees. “The safety of Americans around the world is my top priority as Secretary of State, and we will continue to press for the release of all American citizens wrongfully detained abroad,” he said in a statement Saturday. Other Americans remain in prison in Venezuela, such as Luke Denman and Airan Berry, two retired US soldiers who participated in an attempt to overthrow Maduro from Colombia in 2020. Both were signed as mercenaries by Jordan Goudreau, another war veteran that in his case he did not go to Venezuela.

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