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Venezuela frees two jailed Americans, White House says

Venezuela US
Posted at 10:12 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 22:12:04-05

The White House says two American detainees have been released by the Venezuelan government as it seeks to improve relations with the Biden administration, which is looking to undercut support for Russia in Latin America.

Gustavo Cardenas is an oil executive who had been jailed alongside five other colleagues since 2017. Jorge Fernandez was arrested last year on what the White House described as “spurious charges.”

Their release Tuesday night followed a secret weekend visit to Venezuela by senior Biden administration officials, including the top White House official on Latin America and the State Department's top hostage negotiator.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that “there were a range of topics discussed during that trip, including the health and welfare of detained U.S. citizens.”

Cardenas and five other Citgo executives, which is a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil giant, were originally detained in Venezuela in 2017 and then sentenced to prison over accusations of a plan to refinance billions in bonds from the oil company, the Associated Press reported.