|The United States seeks ways to reduce pressure on oil prices|
The White House on Monday denied that the United States was discussing oil imports from Venezuela, dismissing speculation that Washington could seek help in Caracas to ease a supply shortfall. The Joe Biden administration is seeking ways to ease pressure on oil prices exacerbated by Russia's war against Ukraine. But the White House ruled out that, after banning imports of Russian crude, buying oil from Venezuela was an issue under discussion.
"This is not an active conversation right now," spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news conference. The United States and Venezuela severed diplomatic ties three years ago, after President Nicolás Maduro, in power since 2013, took a second term after an election deemed rigged by the opposition and fifty other countries. Washington then imposed a series of sanctions to force Maduro out, including a de facto embargo on Venezuelan oil that has been in place since April 2019. Speculation about a possible thaw between the United States and Venezuela grew after the release on Tuesday, March 8. of two Americans detained in Venezuela: Gustavo Cárdenas and Jorge Alberto Fernández.
Cárdenas is one of the so-called "Citgo 6", six former executives of the US subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA who were arrested in Venezuela in 2017, accused of corruption. Fernández is a Cuban-American who was arrested in early 2021 in the state of Táchira (bordering Colombia) and charged with "terrorism."
The two were released after senior US officials traveled to Caracas on Saturday, March 5, including Biden's National Security Council adviser to America, Juan González; US ambassador to Venezuela (based in Bogotá), Jimmy Story; and the president's special envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens.