The U.S. government yesterday demanded that Nicolás Maduro’s regime release U.S. executives detained in Venezuela.
Through a statement, the spokeswoman from the State Department, Morgan Ortagus, denounced Venezuela for the six directors of Citgo being ” improperly ” imprisoned and that they “suffer serious health conditions.
“They must be released immediately,” said Ortagus.
Citgo is the U.S. subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the Venezuelan state oil company.
In November 2017, former company president José Ángel Pereira and former Vice Presidents Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, Jorge Toledo, Gustavo Cárdenas, and José Luis Zambrano were summoned to a corporate meeting in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital.
However, they were arrested by Maduro’s regime on charges of “corruption.”
All the defendants, known as the ‘Citgo 6,’ have dual U.S.-Venezuelan nationality, except for one who is Venezuelan but has legal residence in the United States.
The Venezuelan prosecutor’s office arrested them for alleged embezzlement of funds from a refinancing of Citgo’s debts —or some $4 billion—where the company’s assets would have been placed as collateral, without the backing of the Venezuelan government.
The directors have been detained for a year and a half, but only last month a judge agreed to try them on corruption charges. According to VOA, no trial date has yet been set.
The State Department explained that the regime has not allow either family members or lawyers to visit them and does not even allow them to receive medicine or food.
The prosecution of the former executives takes place within the framework in which the White House does not recognize Maduro’s regime and has blocked Citgo’s assets.
“The United States demands that Maduro’s former regime release the ‘Citgo 6’ who are being unlawfully detained in Venezuela,” the State Department said.
“These grievances for basic dignity will not be ignored,” warned the U.S. diplomacy, which recognizes Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela and granted him control of Citgo since last February.