CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Vanessa Zambrano was a junior at Ray High School in Corpus Christi when her dad and five other CITGO executives were detained on false conspiracy charges from CITGO's parent company while on a business trip to Venezuela in November of 2017.
More than three years later, she's reacting to the news Friday that her father Alirio Zambrano, her uncle Jose Luis Zambrano, and the four other members of the so-called CITGO-6 were once again released from prison and placed on house arrest by Venezuelan authorities.
“He didn’t get to see me graduate high school," she said. "That’s pretty heartbreaking. I hope he can be there for my wedding, and my college graduation."
Currently a sophomore at the University of Houston, Vanessa is encouraged about the developments, but she's also not assuming that her father's full-release and that of the other five men is eminent.
"I think that this is a step in the right direction, and I think that that’s all I can really say about it," she said. "I’m really grateful for that.”
This is at least the second time that the CITGO-6 have been transferred from prison to house arrest.
They spent two months in apartment-type dwellings beginning in December of 2019 but were returned to prison when then-President Donald Trump hosted a Venezuelan opposition leader at the White House.
If all goes according to plan, Vanessa will earn her college degree in a little over two years.
She hopes her father will be able to be there in person to see it.
"He was really involved in my life, and he really cared about my education," she said. "We were super close. This is a really painful situation. Probably the most painful in my life."