Rally for Citgo 6

Pictured is the turnout at the rally to raise awareness about wrongfully imprisoned Americans abroad.

Families of Americans imprisoned abroad, including several representatives for the Citgo 6, attended a rally in Washington D.C. early Wednesday to raise support for the U.S. administration to intervene on their behalf. 

“People being reunited with their family is so much more important than that icky feeling of working with an entity you might not want to,” said Alexandra Forseth, a woman whose father and uncle have been imprisoned since November 2017 by the Venezuelan government.

More than 55 Americans are wrongly imprisoned in other countries and the families of those people are all part of an organization no one wants to be, according to event organizers.

Included in that number are the remaining members of the so-called “Citgo 6” that are still imprisoned in Venezuela, a group that includes several Fort Bend County residents.

The Citgo 6 were all executives at the Houston-based oil-and-gas company who were called to a business meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, a few days before Thanksgiving in 2017, when they were arrested by the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Citgo is a subsidiary of PDVSA, an oil-and-gas company run by the Venezuelan government, and the men were arrested, accused of trying to make a deal that would financially inhibit PDVSA and convicted in November 2020 by a Venezuelan judge.

Then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the convictions “wrongful” and described the judicial proceeding as a “kangaroo court.”

Earlier this year, Custavo Cardenas, of Katy, was one of two jailed Americans freed by the Venezuelan government after talks with the United States.

Cardenas spent more than four years in a Venezuelan prison.

The other still-detained Citgo 6 members are Sugar Land resident Jorge Toledo, Katy residents Jose Angel Pereira and Jose Luis Zambrano, Zambrano’s brother, Alirio, who has family in Houston, and Tomeu Vadell.

Forseth is the daughter and niece of Alirio and Jose Luis Zambrano, respectively, and represented the families at Wednesday’s gathering.

“We always prayed our cases would be resolved before we were all in the same space,” she said. 

Other attendees included the mother of James Foley, a freelance war correspondent who was abducted in Syria and later killed in 2014.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.