Gustavo Cárdenas and Jorge Toledo were released at home on Thursday evening, days after a humanitarian visit to Caracas by former New Mexico Prime Minister Bill Richardson and a team of non-governmental negotiators.
Richardson said in a statement that it is “a positive and important first step” and thanked Maduro for the gesture, while also calling for the release of the six detained oil executives. It is not the first time the men have been placed under house arrest, but negotiators said they hope that this time, release from prison will ultimately be a precursor to their release from prison. Venezuela.
Their run for house arrest follows remarks last month by President Donald Trump that he would consider meeting with Maduro, during which time he introduced his previous decision to recognize the head of the opposition Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.
Days later, the President echoes those comments, stating, “My Administrator has always been on the side of FREEDOM and FREEDOM and against Maduro̵7;s oppressive regime! I only meet Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power! “
The “Citgo 6,” as they are known – Cardenas, Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Jose Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano and Jose Angel Pereira – have been detained in Venezuela without trial since November 2017, when they received a phone call from the head of the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA convenes Caracas for a last-minute budget meeting.
Upon arrival, armed and masked security agents arrested them on charges of theft stemming from a never-executed proposal to refinance about $ 4 billion in Citgo bags by offering a 50% stake in the company as collateral. . Maduro himself accused them of “betrayal,” although they were not charged with that offense.
Long before the global pandemic put pressure on financial systems around the world, Venezuela was facing severe food, medicine and fuel shortages as compared to inflation that most economists blame on years of mismanagement and corruption. More than 3.5 million Venezuelans have fled their homes to escape the country’s economy.
The families of the “Citgo 6” – five of them American citizens and all with deep roots in Texas and Louisiana – complain that the men are being held in inhumane conditions, sharing crowded basement cells in an anti-prison. military intelligence and suffer severe weight loss in a country plagued by food shortages.
The case has fallen far short of perspective as Venezuela has fallen further into deception and relations between it and the United States have been severed by the Trump administration’s strong support for opposition leader Guaidó in his battle to oust Mature.
In January last year, the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA, in what the Treasury Department said was an effort to ensure oil revenues passes to Guaidó and not to the Maduro government. A month later, Guaidó named a new board to lead Citgo, the eighth largest refiner in the United States and which until the acquisition had been a subsidiary of PDVSA.
Richardson and his team have been working to secure the release of the men for several months at the request of the families.
In a separate case, two former Green Berets were among more than 100 people arrested earlier this year in Venezuela in connection with a plan to seize the presidential palace, capture Maduro and bring him back to the States. United. The state of their detention was not immediately clear.
The White House and the Department of Defense have denied U.S. involvement in the planned raid.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.