Venezuela released seven US citizens on Saturdayincluding five oil executives, in exchange for two relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás maduro who has been in prison since 2015 on drug convictions.

The swap, the biggest so far arranged by President Biden’s administration, came after months of secret talks. The president finally approved the exchange a few weeks ago, he reported Reuters, but it took time to work out the logistics. As part of the exchange, which took place at an airport in an unspecified third country, Biden granted clemency to the two Venezuelans, who have been dubbed “narco-nephews.”

Does oil play a role in this mitigation of hostility?

The prisoner swap appears to be part of a US effort to mend fences with oil-rich Venezuela and potentially secure an alternative source of oil since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” The Washington Post noticed this in MarchUS and Venezuelan officials discussed the possibility of easing sanctions on oil exports from Venezuela.

Regarding the exchange on Saturday, Biden said “wrongly imprisoned” Americans would soon be reunited with their loved ones. “Today we celebrate that seven families will be whole again. To all the families who are still suffering and being separated from loved ones who are unjustly imprisoned, know that we remain committed to their release.”

Increasing prisoner swap pressure over Brittney Griner

The exchange comes at a time when the Biden administration is under increasing pressure to secure freedom Dozens of Americans held abroad. In recent months, much of the public focus has been on administration Russia’s incarceration of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Navy Paul Whelan.

Both Russia’s State Department and US officials has confirmed that they are involved in possible prisoner swap talks involving Griner and Whelan for convicted Russian arms smugglers Victor fight although very little has been reported in the press about how…

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