Venezuela Continues Holding Americans Hostage

Nicolás Maduro regime holds six former CITGO executives captive, five of whom are American citizens.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued a press release on April 2, reminding the nation that the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela is holding five American citizens hostage. Cruz’s press released detailed the work he is doing to secure their release.

Cruz met with the families of the American hostages, noting that the “families haven’t spoken to them in nearly a month, as communications have been cut off.” He also said that the hostages have “drop[ped] weight precipitously,” and that “[t]hey’re kept away from sunlight—often away from human contact; denied basic human rights.”

The Maduro regime took the Americans hostage in November of 2017, and has held them ever since in the collapsing Marxist nation. The hostages are:

CITGO’s former vice president for refining Tomeu Vadell, former vice president for supply Jorge Toledo, former vice president for shared services Jose Luis Zambrano, former Corpus Christi refinery director Alirio Zambrano, and former head of public affairs Gustavo Cardenas.

The sixth hostage is former CITGO President Jose Pereira.

Cruz’s press release listed some of what he is doing to free the hostages. In addition to “leaning on the State Department and the U.S. government” “to press Maduro” to free the Americans, he is directly working in the U.S. Senate to help them.

“One of the things I’m working vigorously in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to do is establish both carrots and sticks for those generals,” he said, referring to Venezuelan military leadership, which plays a significant role in determining if the Maduro regime survives.

“The sticks are: if they continue to stand with Maduro, an illegitimate oppressive dictator, then those generals—their families will face sanctions.”

That approach could carry weight. A Feb. 22 report in the Miami Herald noted that some “family members of Venezuelan military officials” are currently residing in America.

“On the other hand,” the Cruz press release continued, “if the generals make the right decision” by siding with “the legitimate government of Venezuela,” then “[t]hat decision will benefit them personally, and it will benefit their families personally.”

The U.S. recognizes Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Vice President Mike Pence also met with the families of the American hostages on April 2 (see below video).

Top photo via official Sen. Cruz Twitter account.

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