WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked the State Department to maintain maximum economic and diplomatic pressure until six CITGO employees detained in Venezuela are allowed to return home. The employees, two of whom have connections to Lake Charles, recently were released from prison but still aren’t allowed to leave Venezuela.
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) joined Sen. Kennedy in sending a letter to Pompeo. The text is below.
“What these men have endured is horrific. They are political pawns in a high-stakes, international game,” said Sen. Kennedy. “They’ve missed enough holidays and birthdays with their families in the U.S. It’s time to bring them home.”
The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20320 Dear Secretary Pompeo,
We write to express our support for ongoing efforts to secure the release of Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained in many rogue nations such as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and others. As the administration continues to successfully craft policy and solutions, we write to express our steadfast commitment to securing the release of Gustavo Cardenas, Jose Angel Pereira, Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, and Jose Luis Zambrano, otherwise known as the CITGO 6, from their unjust detainment in Venezuela.
As you know, the CITGO 6 have suffered from over two years of inhumane detainment conditions and lack of due process. They have experienced significant health hardships as a direct result of their treatment by the oppressive Maduro regime and others who support them. Imprisoned in an overcrowded basement for two years with limited access to sufficient nutrition, exercise, or medical treatment, the men are reported to have suffered severe weight loss and significant physical pain. Although their recent transfer to house arrest is a promising development, we believe it is crucial
the Administration maintain maximum economic and diplomatic pressure in order to secure their full release and return.
We realize there are competing equities at play in Venezuela and we strongly support the Administration’s commitment to securing free and fair elections in Venezuela; however, it must be made clear to all stakeholders that American citizens must be released and not made political pawns by anyone or any group. Therefore, we urge the Administration to use every tool at its disposal to help these Americans. American national interests and citizens must come first. We will continue to support efforts to maintain diplomatic and economic pressure on the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela and secure the release of the CITGO 6.