November 21, 2020, marked the third year since the Citgo 6 were unjustly thrown into one of Venezuela’s most dangerous prisons. This group, consisting of Tomeu Vadell, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano, Jorge Toledo, Gustavo Cardenas, and Jose Pereira — known as the CITGO-6 — were lured to Caracas for business meetings, then wrongfully detained by masked security agents.
The six executives of the Houston-based CITGO Petroleum Corporation have spent more than three years in detention in Venezuela without any legal due process or evidence of wrongdoing presented against them. Two of the six Americans - Cárdenas and Toledo - were released on house arrest in July of this year.
The CITGO 6 are currently detained on corruption charges. Many believe they were taken by the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro as political bargaining chips as relations between the U.S. and Venezuela have deteriorated.
The imprisoned men continue to face a grave health risk if they become infected with COVID-19. Indeed, it is feared that at least one of the men may have contracted the coronavirus.
The U.S. government has repeatedly called for the unconditional release of the CITGO-6 and their return to the United States. “These six Americans and their families have suffered long enough,” declared Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a recent statement.
“It is time for Maduro to put politics aside and let these families be reunited. No one should doubt the President [Trump’s] commitment to bringing home all U.S. citizens held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas.”
Secretary Pompeo added, “Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, and I will continue to pursue our mission to secure the release of the CITGO-6, and we will do our utmost to achieve that goal.”