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President Biden’s courting of Venezuelan oil in an effort to end dependence on Russian imports and mitigate soaring gas prices at home could risk whitewashing alleged ‘crimes against humanity’ “committed by the Venezuelan government and its proximity to Russia.
Several senior Biden administration officials from the White House and State Department traveled to Venezuela on Saturday to meet with the government of Nicolás Maduro and discuss the possibility of easing sanctions on the country’s oil exports. Latin America as US gas prices surged to levels not seen since. 2008.
BIDEN ADMIN VENEZUELA COURTS AS RUSSIAN ECONOMY HIT BY SANCTIONS: REPORT
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the trip on Monday, saying officials traveled to Venezuela to discuss “a range of issues, including certainly energy, energy security, but also to discuss the health and well-being of detained U.S. citizens.”
The rare meetings came as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine less than two weeks ago accelerated fuel price spikes in the United States. Last week, Venezuela and regional Russian allies Cuba and Nicaragua abstained in a vote condemning Russia for the invasion.
Russia – along with China and Iran – came to Venezuela’s financial aid in 2019 after the Trump administration severed diplomatic ties with the Latin American country and sanctioned its oil exports to states. United amid Western accusations of illegitimate elections. Trump’s White House has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the real president after Maduro was accused of voter fraud.
Maduro is also accused of a host of human rights abuses, including murder, torture and arbitrary detention. In November, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into alleged “crimes against humanity” by the Maduro regime.
Jim Carafano, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital that the Biden administration’s strategy in pursuing Venezuelan oil sounds like “Jimmy Carter redux.”
“If you do business with Russia’s friends, you help Russians. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “Now you have an energy crisis, and your only way to solve this problem is to do business with some of the most repugnant countries on planet Earth, who are the biggest violators of human rights.”
“They would rather buy oil from our adversaries who will use that money to attack American interests than pump oil and gas here, which would actually inject more money into the American economy and make us more independent on the energy plan,” he said.
Psaki was pressed by a reporter on Monday whether it was “worth doing business” with a “despot” like Maduro.
“I think that’s a leap of several steps in any process,” Psaki countered. “Members of the administration have had a discussion over the past few days. Those discussions are ongoing as well, and part of our focus is also on the health and well-being of detained U.S. citizens.”
“So at this point I have nothing to plan for,” she added. “It’s ongoing. I just don’t have anything to convey at this point.”
Asked by another reporter if the United States was working on a deal to free detained Americans from Venezuela in exchange for the lifting of oil export sanctions, Psaki said that was not the case.
“There are different channels,” she said. “And obviously we’re going to continue to do everything we can to bring home anyone who’s been detained in Venezuela or any other part of the world, but they’re going through different routes. They’re all part of the conversation with the Venezuela. big, but not at the same time.”
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Carafano told Fox News Digital that the strategy “makes no sense.”
“The problem is that when you buy oil from Venezuela, you’re basically investing money to support the economy and further strengthen the Maduro regime,” he said. “And at the same time, the only reason this diet exists is on life support, it’s because of the support of the Chinese, the Russians, and the Cubans. So you really have the most hateful diet in America. Latin which is basically subsist of these external actors.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed reporting.