Biden’s Executive Order targets Venezuela as a high-risk country for Americans

Biden's Executive Order, El Nacional
United States President Joe Biden. Photo: EFE/EPA/SHAWN THEW-

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden, after a executive orderopened the way to sanction governments that arbitrarily detain Americans, to be used as bargaining chips and considered that in Venezuela the risk is high.

Biden signed an executive order to return Americans kidnapped or arbitrarily detained abroad to their country. He implies better support for their families and authorizes imposing financial sanctions on those who are implicated.

It is, for example, that members of the government share relevant information, including intelligence data, with the families about how their relative is and the efforts to guarantee his release or return, something that he could already do today.

The executive order comes with a new indicator called “D” for countries with a high risk of governments detaining Americans. In the list Venezuela is in the first place, followed by Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Burma.

“This additional risk indicator will highlight the heightened risk Americans face in certain countries and provide Americans with comprehensive safety and security information to enable them to make informed travel decisions,” a senior official said. of the Biden administration, reviewed by First Report.

Americans imprisoned in Venezuela

The presidential decree of the Biden administration comes at a critical time for Americans detained in countries like Venezuela, which, as mentioned above, is on the list of nations with a high risk of imprisoning Americans who visit the Republic.

The new mandate of the White House, in fact, comes just after the recent visit of a delegation of high-ranking American officials from the Biden government, headed by the person in charge of Hostage Affairs, Roger Carstens, who visited the American John Matthew Heath at the Military Hospital in Caracas. After he tried to commit suicide in the jail where he is being held.

The US Navy veteran was arrested in September 2020 in Venezuela and in June 2022 he attempted to take his own life. Two years ago, the Venezuelan justice prosecuted him for terrorism, accusing him of planning attacks against oil and electrical installations.

Heath, 40, thinks he was detained and tortured just because he was a US citizen. For the US State Department, the citizen has been unfairly detained.

The Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Roger Carstens, and Ambassador Jimmy Story traveled to Caracas in late June to discuss the welfare and safety of US citizens in Venezuela, but on this latest visit none of the imprisoned Americans were released.

Matthew Heath, The National
Former US Marine Matthew Heath. Photo: Archive

Americans attracted by Venezuelans

According to First Report, in Venezuela there are between 20 and 30 imprisoned US citizens. Of the known cases are the five Citgo executives, Airan Berry, Luke Denman and John Matthew Heath, the latter subjected to terrible torture by agents of the Dgcim, such as the so-called “Box of Dolls”.

More recently, American journalist John Sweeney, who is an expert in geopolitics, energy and security, revealed in a thread you posted on Twitter, that the Americans imprisoned in Venezuela were caught, for the most part, “by agents of the Maduro government in Colombia, Panama and other nearby countries.”

«I personally know of two cases of young Americans attracted to Venezuela by Venezuelan women (…) They are sent to nearby countries to find and seduce American men who are later ‘invited’ to accompany the women back to Venezuela for more ‘romance’ . When they cross the border, they are immediately arrested and handed over to the Dgcim,” the journalist warned on July 8.

In fact, the US State Department itself also confirmed the arrest of three other Americans this year. The Venezuelan justice accuses them of illegally entering Venezuela and other unspecified crimes.

After Biden announced the new Executive order, Secretary of State Antony Blinken himself stated, in a releasethat when Americans are detained abroad, “everything in our power should be done to secure their release.”

The signing of the presidential decree also came after extensive media coverage of the detention in Russia of the basketball player Brittney Griner, accused of drug trafficking. Her wife accused Biden of not doing enough for her. The family of John Matthew Heath imprisoned in Venezuela She complained of the same.

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Biden’s Executive Order targets Venezuela as a high-risk country for Americans