LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The executives from Citgo have been in captivity in Venezuela since they were ambushed in Nov. 2017 and held on what family members call bogus charges.
The families have worried about deplorable conditions there, jeopardizing the health and safety of their loved ones.
Gabriela Zambrano-Hill is pleased the men are finally out of the basement of the military facility where they were being held.
“We’re all filled with relief, because this is a huge improvement from their prior condition. However, I do want to say that they’re still very much prisoners," Hill says. "It’s just that their conditions have changed from dangerous, overcrowded and unsanitary more tolerable. But they’re still absolutely prisoners in their circumstances right now.”
She says while the men may be in a better location, this new development in no way achieves justice.
She hopes people will continue to pressure government officials to get the men home and she thinks it’s working.
“If we keep up the pressure and we keep letting them know that we are all watching and waiting for justice to be delivered to these men that they will keep responding by improving how things are going for my dad and uncle and hopefully giving them the hearing that they deserve in declaring them innocent of the charges against them,” says Hill.
Citgo is owned by the state run oil company in Venezuela called PDVSA.
Hill says the allegations sometimes change depending on who you ask.
Hill said, “the charges have included something as vague as treason but mostly have to do with a financial deal that was proposed but never was actually put in place. My dad, my uncle and the other man had nothing to do with that with that supposed deal and they’re absolutely innocent of these trumped up charges.”
Again, she says they are still living under difficult conditions.
"Additional conditions of their house arrest is that they cannot leave the premises they are guarded by armed guards at every entrance and exit. And as far as I know they have ankle monitors on."
While they hope to be able to contact the men more they say the situation is still developing. Family members have pictures before and during captivity that show the ordeal is taking its toll on the men. Hill hopes people will continue to exert pressure to free the Citgo 6.
The Vadell family gave a statement saying, “U.S. citizen Tomeau Vadell and the rest of the Citgo 6 were given house arrest in Venezuela. We remain very concerned about Tomeu’s well being and hope that this is a step toward our loved one coming home very soon."