U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz met today in Washington with family members of six Citgo executives currently being held by the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela.
Five of the six Citgo executives are from Texas, including Corpus Christi refinery director Alirio Zambrano.
Cruz has repeatedly spoken out against the unlawful imprisonment of these Americans, and recently urged the new Venezuelan government to work with the U.S. to secure their safe return.
“I spent the morning meeting with the families of the ‘Citgo 6,’” Cruz said in a prepared statement. “These are six American citizens who are being wrongfully imprisoned in Venezuela.
“For over a year, they’ve been imprisoned. Their families have been praying for them, have been worried, have been speaking out. They haven’t spoken to them in nearly a month, as communications have been cut off. They’ve seen their family members drop weight precipitously. They’re kept away from sunlight–often away from human contact, denied basic human rights. It has been too long. They are hostages being persecuted and Maduro needs to release them. Maduro needs to release the ‘Citgo 6.’ They need to come home. Come home to America.”
Cruz added that the current Venezuelan regime is punishing its own residents as well as the Citgo detainees.
“Maduro is a cruel dictator abusing the Venezuelan people. But he is also holding Americans hostage,” Cruz said. “The United States government shouldn’t stand for Americans being held hostage. I stand in solidarity with the ‘Citgo 6,’ and with the families of these men being wrongfully persecuted. We will continue using every diplomatic lever, every economic lever–every lever we have to bring the ‘Citgo 6 ’ home.”
Cruz also affirmed his stance against the Maduro regime and his commitment to securing the safe return home for the ‘Citgo 6.’
“I have been talking–leaning on the State Department and the U.S. government–to press Maduro to release these American citizens,” Cruz said. “Holding Americans hostage is unacceptable. It is an act of hostility against basic human rights but it’s also an act of hostility against the United States of America– and we shouldn’t stand for it,”