- The US government is trying to secure the release of eight prisoners in Venezuela.
- Former New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, has spoken to President Nicholas Maduro about the issue.
- Maduro has a long list of grievances against the US.
Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has just concluded a visit to Venezuela to negotiate the release of eight prisoners. Seven of them are Americans. According to Richardson, he had a meeting with Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro. Richardson described the president as friendly and cordial.
However, Richardson most likely caught him on a bad day because he wouldn’t budge. Maduro apparently presented a lot of grievances, dousing hopes of securing an immediate release of the prisoners.
The move by the government to open a direct negotiation channel comes weeks after it began slapping sanctions on shipping companies making oil deliveries to Venezuela from Iran.
US Government Foils Car Smuggling Operation
The US government is putting pressure on the Maduro administration by cutting off essential supplies to the nation. The latest move involved the seizure of 81 vehicles, valued at over $3.2 million, that were about to be exported to Venezuela from the US.
The car purchases were apparently tied to individuals in Maduro’s inner circle. He and his cohorts are accused of engaging in systemic corruption, thereby undermining the country’s economy at the expense of Venezuelan citizens.
Federal agents said on Wednesday that a smuggling syndicate was looking to ship the cars to Venezuela when the authorities pounced. The vehicles included a $150,000 Mercedes Biturbo SUV and a black Lexus SUV worth $86,000.
According to Anthony Salisbury, the Chief of the Miami Homeland Security Investigations office, the latest seizure is part of ongoing efforts to combat the Maduro regime’s corruption network.
“This is all part of an ongoing effort to combat foreign public corruption and in particular for public corruption in Venezuela and the laundering and the fleecing of the Venezuelan people’s wealth and the stealing of the Venezuelan wealth from the national treasury for the gain of a few politically exploited, exposed people, kleptocrats and their associates.”
The Treasury Department has seized over $450 million in assets belonging to the Venezuelan administration in the past five years. They include cash, property, gold items, and vehicles that were apparently bought with illegal proceeds. Maduro and some of his close associates are additionally wanted in the US for their involvement in the drug trade.
The DEA has already announced a $15 million bounty for the capture of Maduro. He and some of his associates have apparently allowed Colombian drug cartels to use the country as a distribution hub.
US President Donald Trump has promised to intensify the fight against drug trafficking in Latin America, and the Venezuelan socialist government. Speaking recently at the Southern Command in Florida, he promised to wipe out the “the sinister criminal cartels” that are smuggling drugs into the United States.
“No adversary can match the awesome power of the American Army, Navy, Air Force Coast Guard and Marines,” he said.