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The ‘Citgo 6’ Remain Imprisoned In Venezuela

Tsvetana Paraskova

Six U.S. executives at Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-held oil firm PDVSA, were detained by Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela in November 2017 and the ‘Citgo 6’—as the men have become known—are still in jail nearly two years after their detention, while their families hope the U.S. administration is doing everything it can to secure their release.

“We had no idea that something like this would happen and I’m still today thinking, how is this possible?” Dennysse Vadell, the wife of one of the detained U.S. executives - Tomeu Vadell - told CNN in an interview, referring to the nearly two-year-long detention of her husband in one of Venezuela’s most notorious facilities.

“It’s worse than a nightmare,” Dennysse Vadell told CNN of the ordeal her husband and family have been going through in the past two years.

Venezuela arrested the six executives as part of a corruption sweep at an event in Caracas in November 2017. Maduro said a week later that all six - five of whom are US citizens and one holding a permanent residency permit for the United States - would be tried as traitors.

Back then, U.S. authorities requested that its nationals be released, but Maduro refused, saying “These are people born in Venezuela, they’re Venezuelan and they’re going to be judged for being corrupt, thieving traitors.”

Nearly two years later, the families of the detained Citgo executives are looking for answers and hoping that their loved ones will not be forgotten.

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The U.S. Administration is doing everything it can to help the Citgo executives held in prison, but the Trump Administration and Maduro’s regime don’t have official relations now, CNN says.

Last month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned officials of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) of Venezuela, where the Citgo executives are being held.

“The DGCIM, including these officials, has been accused of systemic human rights abuses and repressing dissent,” the Treasury said.

After the Treasury imposed the sanctions, Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, tweeted “New sanctions imposed on a group working for Venezuela's counterintel agency, DGCIM-the same people holding the #CITGO6. We demand the immediate release of the #CITGO6. Those holding them are fully accountable for their safety. If the #CITGO6 are released, we would be grateful.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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