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Cruz brings Citgo 6 imprisonment to light during Senate foreign relations hearing

Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 19:23:06-05

Senator Ted Cruz spoke about the Citgo 6 during a hearing on foreign relations Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Senators and others also heard testimony about what actions are being taken to secure the release of the Citgo 6.

The focus of the meeting was transnational crime, civilian security, democracy and human rights: rights that Alexandra Zambrano Forseth said have been stripped from her father while he’s been imprisoned in Venezuela.

Six Citgo executives, include one from Corpus Christi, remain jailed in Venezuela after their arrest in late 2017 at the hands of President Nicolas Maduro,  who accused the men of various crimes against the state.

The six men included Alirio Zambrano, a VP at Citgo’s Corpus Christi refinery. The company is not answering – or even acknowledging – questions about Zambrano’s status or condition.

Cruz spoke passionately about the imprisonment of the six Citgo employees detained in Venezuela.

“The Citgo executives have been detained on baseless charges and subjected to harsh imprisonment,” Cruz said. “It is well past time to secure their release, and it is my hope that the new Venezuelan government will work with the U.S. to swiftly ensure their safe return.”

Forseth, whose father is Zambrano, said hearing government officials demanding her father’s release is the motivation that gets her family through this tough time.

“To basically have our government say, ‘Yeah these guys are innocent and we’re gonna get them home,’ I mean that’s what this has all been about,” Forseth said. “This is what we’ve been working so hard for, so it was a huge relief. And we have to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s been writing to Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn to really enable that to happen as well.”

Elliott Abrams, special representative for Venezuela, described government efforts to secure the release of those Citgo employees. However, consular access has been repeatedly denied.

“The position of the regime is because they are also Venezuelan citizens, you don’t get to see them,” Abrams said.

Abrams said he is “absolutely confident” the Citgo 6 will be released when Nicolas Maduro is no longer in power.