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Local CITGO 6 members' family reacts to letter sent to Venezuelan president

Posted at 5:31 PM, Nov 30, 2020

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Gabriela Zambrano Hill said she and her family had no idea the family of a man held with her father, Alirio, and uncle, José Luis, planned to send a letter to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro pleading for the CITGO 6's release.

“I really didn’t know that the Pereira family had a letter or that they were going to publish it,” she said.

José Pereira -- another member of the six former executives sentenced to at least eight years in jail on corruption charges in Venezuela -- was sentenced to 13 years in jail. His family sent the plea shortly after the men were convicted Thursday -- Thanksgiving Day -- that the men be freed.

Alirio Zambrano, his brother, Pereira and three others have been in prison for more than three years. The other five men were sentenced to eight years in prison.

Hill said the families have some contact with one another, but for the most part, they handle the situation in their own ways.

She said her family has no plans to send a similar letter, but it has been in contact with the State Department since the conviction.

The topic: How the CITGO 6 would be addressed during the upcoming presidential transition.

“This current team is doing its very best to make sure the Biden administration understands that the CITGO 6 deserve to be fought for just as hard as they were fought for in this administration,” Hill said.

Officials have told the Zambrano family that a conviction may help the negotiating process, but Hill didn't say how.

“That is what we’re hoping, but again, I kind of don’t want to say anything,” she said. “It’s kind of like looking at a bubble too hard -- you don’t want it to pop.”