President Joe Biden included to Venezuela among countries where the risk of Americans being arbitrarily detained to be used as bargaining chips is considered high, according to a new indicator introduced Tuesday.

Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday to “bring home” Americans kidnapped or arbitrarily detained abroad, which involves improving support for their families and paves the way for imposing financial sanctions on those implicated.

Addition to to Venezuela, governed by President Nicolás Maduro, Washington has begun to apply a new indicator, called “D”, to five other countries: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Burma.

Indicator “D” joins “K”, which already covers the risk of kidnapping and hostage-taking by non-state actors. In addition, the Department of State regularly issues travel advisories on destinations that are dangerous due to security, health or other considerations.

There are 11 Americans detained in Venezuela, who accuses USA of wanting to overthrow Maduro and attack basic facilities.

Venezuela arrested Cuban-American Jorge Alberto Fernández in 2021, but released him in March 2022 after a meeting between US and Venezuelan officials in Caracas.

Luke Alexander Denman and Airan Berry, two Americans accused of participating in a maritime invasion of Venezuela, were sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2020. And a former Marine, Matthew Heath, was prosecuted for “terrorism”.

There are also five former directors of the Citgo oil company, accused of corruption. A sixth was released in March. And a few days ago the State Department confirmed that Venezuela detained three other Americans, without revealing their identities.

Former US President Donald Trump led a pressure campaign in 2019 in a failed attempt to remove Maduro from power, following allegations of fraud in the elections in which he was re-elected in 2018.

Biden also does not recognize Maduro and considers opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president.

The signing of the presidential decree comes after media coverage of the arrest in Russia of basketball player Brittney Griner, accused of drug trafficking. His wife accused Biden of not doing enough for her. The family of the ex-marine imprisoned in Venezuela complained of the same.

The executive order authorizes imposing financial sanctions or travel bans on foreign officials or non-state actors involved in arbitrary detentions of Americans. Venezuela is already under sanctions, some of which Biden promised to ease if the government negotiates with the opposition.

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