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Members of the Republican Party have reacted to the meeting that the Biden administration had in Caracas with officials of Nicolás Maduro’s regime last week. In view of the situation, some Republicans, such as Governor Ron DeSantis, warned about the Democrats’ intentions to negotiate with Maduro without achieving a political change in Venezuela.
During the weekend, it became known that President Joe Biden sent a secret delegation to Venezuela to negotiate with dictator Nicolás Maduro, Vladimir Putin’s main ally in Latin America, about a possible lifting of sanctions now that the United States is considering an oil embargo against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting took place in Caracas, but Juan Guaidó, whom the United States recognizes as interim president and legitimate representative of the Venezuelan people, did not learn of the Democratic administration’s intentions until the delegation was already in that city.
According to the Spanish news agency ABC, Guaidó was not informed about the meeting. However, Reuters clarified that the Venezuelan politician had been notified on Saturday, the same day of the meeting, in the morning hours.
The truth is that he was not notified in advance, despite the fact that the U.S. ambassador for Venezuela, James Story, who was part of the American delegation, works from Colombia in coordination with the Venezuelan diplomats targeted by Guaidó.
The meeting was attended by Ambassador Story and Juan Gonzalez, Biden’s senior advisor on Latin America, and on behalf of the Venezuelan regime, Nicolas Maduro and his vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, were present.
The special envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, also participated in the meeting with the aim of mediating on behalf of American citizens or dual nationals being held by the Maduro regime, including six Citgo executives.
The reaction of Republicans
This Monday, the press secretary of the Biden-Harris administration, Jen Psaki, admitted that the meeting had taken place and explained that the main objective was to discuss “the welfare” of the Americans who remain in Caracas, hostages of the dictatorship, although she also conceded that “energy security” issues were discussed.
Republican senator for Florida, Marco Rubio, expressed his rejection for the “secret” meetings between Biden and Maduro, saying that it was an “excuse” to reach an agreement with the Venezuelan dictator.
“Biden is using Russia as an excuse to make the deal he always wanted to make anyway with the Maduro regime,” Rubio tweeted Monday morning. “Instead of producing more American oil, he wants to replace the oil we buy from one murderous dictator with oil from another murderous dictator.”
Later, Rubio took to Twitter again to say that “foreign policy experts” representing the United States are “stupid people” for believing that Maduro is a viable option to draw Russia away from its alliance in Venezuela.
The Cuban-born senator expanded his rejection in a third tweet, saying the meeting is just an excuse to get closer to Maduro and Cuba, as former President Obama wanted.
According to Rubio, Biden’s secret talks with the Maduro regime are not about replacing Russia’s oil. “Venezuela’s oil industry is an incompetent mess that produces 10% of what Russia exports. Ukraine is just an excuse for pro-leftist former Obama staffers who already wanted to get closer to Maduro and Cuba.”
Former Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Marshall S. Billingslea, says he has heard from “credible sources” that Biden’s delegation had offered recognition of Nicolás Maduro and the lifting of all sanctions in exchange for a “break” between Venezuela and Putin.
Billingslea believes it is possible that Maduro’s front man, now in the hands of the American justice, Alex Saab, was offered in exchange for the Citgo hostages.
The governor of Florida, the Republican Ron DeSantis, believes that an official visit of Biden to Maduro is a way of “begging for oil” and “legitimizing the communist regime” of Venezuela.
“The U.S. should hold Maduro accountable while increasing domestic energy production so we don’t have to rely on hostile regimes for energy,” DeSantis tweeted.
Maduro and Putin held a phone call last week, in which the Venezuelan dictator pledged to his Russian ally his full support regarding the invasion of Ukraine and both agreed to “strengthen their strategic partnership.”