State Department announces release of two Americans detained in Venezuela
The State Department announced on Wednesday that Venezuela has released two Americans who were “unjustly detained” in the country.
U.S. citizens Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Alberto were able to travel back to the U.S. with Roger Carstens, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.
“We express our deepest appreciation to our many partners around the world who joined us in calling for their release. While we welcome this important positive step we continue to press for the release of all wrongfully detained U.S. nationals in Venezuela and around the world,” the State Department said.
The statement came after a U.S. official and Venezuelan human rights defenders told The New York Times about the released prisoners on Tuesday.
The release comes after a high-profile meeting occurred between U.S. and Venezuelan officials in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.
At least eight other Americans remain in prison in Venezuela. They face differing charges and have all been arrested within the past five years.
The high-level meeting between U.S. and Venezuelan officials was the first one in the country in years as the U.S. eyes an oil deal with Caracas while it halts Russian oil exports.
Venezuela has been a supporter of Russia during the Ukraine conflict but has not ruled out selling oil to the U.S.
“Here lies the oil of Venezuela, which is available for whomever wants to produce and buy it, be it an investor from Asia, Europe or the United States,” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said last week.
On Tuesday, President Biden announced the U.S. would stop Russian oil imports due to the invasion of Ukraine.
Oil exports from Venezuela were halted under former President Trump’s tenure due to Maduro’s human rights abuses.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have condemned reports of the meeting, saying the U.S. should not stop taking oil imports from one corrupt leader just to get them from another dictator.