On Saturday, Venezuela freed seven imprisoned Americans in exchange for the release of two nephews of President Nicholas Maduro’s wife. The two Venezuelans were jailed in the U.S on drug smuggling charges. Franqui Flores and Efrain Campo, nephews of Cilia Flores, were granted clemency by Joe Biden to facilitate the exchange.
The Americans released included five oil executives that had been held for almost five years, a former U.S Marine and a Florida man.
The Biden administration has signaled a willingness to work work with socialist dictator Maduro’s regime. In March, reports surfaced that Biden had sent a delegation to Venezuela for talks with the regime.
Shortly after the visit, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, stated that importing Venezuela oil is “not an active conversation at this time.”
Perhaps the prisoner exchange is an effort by the Biden administration to further the potential to purchase oil from the brutal communist Maduro regime rather than drilling for more oil here at home.
Those freed include five employees of Houston-based Citgo — Tomeu Vadell, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano, Jorge Toledo and Jose Pereira — who were lured to Venezuela right before Thanksgiving in 2017 to attend a meeting at the headquarters of the company’s parent, state-run-oil giant PDVSA. Once there, they were hauled away by masked security agents who busted into a Caracas conference room.
The men were convicted of embezzlement in 2020 in a trial marred by delays and irregularities and sentenced to between eight years and 13 years in prison for a never-executed proposal to refinance billions in the oil company’s bonds.
Also released was, a former U.S. Marine corporal from Tennessee who was arrested in 2020 at a roadblock in Venezuela on what the State Department has called “specious” weapons charges, and Florida man, Osman Khan, who was arrested in January.