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In light of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro missing a crucial deadline for the release of detained Americans, the White House is deliberating on the appropriate response.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” underscored the administration’s concerns. “We were extremely concerned that they didn’t take those two extra steps — release of political prisoners and getting our wrongfully detained Americans home,” Kirby stated. He stressed the Biden administration’s dedication to securing the release of these individuals, affirming, “That’s something we take very seriously, getting those folks home, and we’re going to keep at it.”
Previously, the Biden administration had reached an agreement with Venezuela in October, which involved lifting some sanctions, including a six-month authorization for oil and gas transactions. Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the contingency of this arrangement, asserting, “The license will only be renewed if Maduro begins the release of detainees and meets commitments toward fair presidential elections.” Blinken had been clear about the consequences of non-compliance, stating, “The US will ‘reverse the steps we have taken’ if Venezuela fails to deliver.”
While Venezuela claimed to have facilitated the participation of opposition leaders in presidential elections, thereby partially adhering to the agreement, the release of captive Americans has yet to occur. Speaking on the matter last month, a US official indicated the severity of potential responses, saying, “Everything is on the table” should Maduro fail to meet the US’s stipulations. This could include revoking licenses for Venezuelan oil and gas exports.