Biden administration team in Venezuela, as the U.S. seeks Russian influence

Washington -- High-ranking American officials will be in Venezuela this weekend for talks with Nicolas Maduro's government. Since 2019, no diplomatic relations have been established between the two countries.

Biden administration team in Venezuela, as the U.S. seeks Russian influence

This visit is another example of a geopolitical shift occurring across the globe following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The U.S. and European countries are now looking for alternative energy sources to Russia, the largest oil exporter in the world.

Multiple U.S. officials confirmed that the trip was taking place to CBS News. The White House declined to comment and the State Department did not respond.

The New York Times reported the news about the trip. This report led Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, vice chairman of Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees and vocal critic of Maduro's regime, to condemn the trip.

Rubio tweeted Sunday morning, "Joe Biden using Russia as an excuse for the deal they always wanted anyway with the #MaduroRegime." He wants to produce more oil in America, but he also wants to replace oil purchased from one murderous dictator by oil from another.

Rubio's criticisms of the Maduro regime throughout the years have resulted in death threats against him. He's also been known to travel with Capitol Police security detail.

After accusing Maduro’s government of electoral fraud, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Caracas. Maduro was overthrown by the Trump administration, who officially recognized Juan Guaido, the opposition leader, as the country's legal leader. Since then, Maduro has become closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. is looking for alternative energy sources, as lawmakers from the U.S. are urging Ukrainian officials to stop Russian oil exports in order to pressure Putin's government. American officials have visited the Gulf states in recent weeks to discuss arrangements for oil exports from Europe to compensate for any loss of supply from Russia.

Any diplomatic engagement with Venezuela could also become a domestic concern in the Florida gubernatorial and congressional elections this year. Florida has a growing Venezuelan-American population. The GOP's continued attacks on the Democratic Party for allegedly accepting socialism -- a charge Democrats resent -- have helped Latino voters win close races.


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