Maduro announces that a US delegation is in Caracas

Maduro announces that a US delegation is in Caracas

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, announced that an “important” delegation from the United States Government arrived in Venezuela on Monday to “give continuity to the communications initiated on March 5” and to the bilateral agenda.

Maduro said that Jorge Rodríguez, president of the National Assembly with a Chavista majority and representative of the government in the negotiations with the opposition in Mexico, met with the delegation with which “various issues” are addressed.

In March, high-ranking representatives of the White House, led by Juan González, adviser to President Joe Biden, met in Caracas with President Nicolás Maduro.

A US State Department spokesman described the trip as a wellness visit focused on the safety of several US citizens detained in Caracas, including a group of executives of the Houston-based oil company Citgo, who have been jailed for more than four years.

Last week relatives of Matthew Heath, a former US Marine detained in Venezuela since 2020, reported that he tried to take his own life in his cell at the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) in Caracas.

Human rights defender Tamara Suju confirmed to the voice of america Heath was transferred to the Caracas Military Hospital.

In a statement released by the Richardson Center, the former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, stated that his intention was to “pressure” the Maduro government to allow an “emergency medical evacuation” so that Heath can return to the United States.

The delegation includes Roger Carstens, the presidential special envoy for hostage affairs, as well as Ambassador James Story, who heads the US government’s Venezuelan Affairs Unit from neighboring Colombia.

Continuation of the visit in March

It is not clear what else US officials intend to achieve during the mission. But it happens after a surprise visit in march of the two men and of Juan González, the director of the National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere, which was the first trip by the White House to the South American country in more than two decades.

Since then, both the Biden administration and Venezuela’s socialist government have shown a willingness to engage in dialogue after years of hostilities between Washington and Caracas in the wake of President Nicolás Maduro’s 2018 re-election, which was marred by irregularities.

First, Mature freed two Americans as a gesture of goodwill and promised to resume negotiations in Mexico with the US-backed opposition.

Although those talks have not resumed, the United States renewed a license so that oil companies, including Chevron, can continue to operate in Venezuela, which has been under heavy sanctions since 2019.

Then this month, the White House lifted sanctions imposed in 2017 on the nephew of the first lady Cilia Flores, who was accused of facilitating acts of corruption as a high-ranking official of the state oil company PDVSA.

* With the collaboration of Carolina Alcalde, VOA journalist, from Caracas, and information from AP.

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Written by Editor TLN

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