LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -A CITGO spokesperson has released a statement saying they are supporting the release of their colleagues.
"CITGO continues to support the U.S. Government’s efforts to secure the release of our colleagues, who have now been detained for more than two years without trial and who face grave risks to their health due to the global pandemic. CITGO believes that the detention of these men violates their fundamental human rights, including the right to due process under law. We pray for their safety, and for their families as they contend with all of the challenges presented by this lengthy separation from their loved ones. We continue to support the detainees’ families, and we are grateful for the efforts of this Administration and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to bring these men home.”
The spokesperson declined to give details of what they are doing to extend support.
This month marks two and a half years since the men known as the CITGO 6 were taken captive in Venezuela.
Family members say Tomeu Vadell, one of the six, was a contributing member of Southwest Louisiana society in many ways: His work at CITGO helped the economy and those who depend on the refinery for their livelihood. He participated in various projects to benefit the community.
His daughter, Cristina, says, like any other employee, he deserved to come safely home from work.
“No one deserves to be held for so long, without trial in these sorts of conditions, very dangerous and life-threatening conditions in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
Cristina says the captives are being held in unhealthy conditions and receive no medical care.
"I’m very concerned for his health and safety as we always have been, but now even more so with what could come with this pandemic. He's sixty years old, he has underlying conditions that put him at risk for complications," she said.
During his time in captivity, Tomeu Vadell has missed many milestones in his family’s life. But there’s one coming up that will make his absence even more keenly felt.
His wife, Dennysse, says their daughter, Veronica Vadell Weggeman, is expecting.
"My daughter, my oldest daughter, she's going to have a baby, in July. And it's going to be our first grandchild. And my husband won't be able, if they don't let him go,” she says, choking up.
They hope and pray those who recognize Vadell's contributions to the community will contact elected officials and others to demand justice.
"He came with credentials, he came a long time ago really, and worked very hard to become plant manager at the Lake Charles manufacturing complex. He's a professional. He's a man of ethics. He's a man of honor and he's a man, I think he's worth fighting for," said Cristina.
She hopes those who know her father will help demand his release, so that he can be reunited with those who have waited so long.
The Vadell family says they have learned Tomeu and the others are being held in a 9′ x 19′ cell without running water or ventilation. They say the men have not seen the light of day or had fresh air since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The family issued the following statement:
“We continue to ask all stakeholders, including the United States & Venezuelan Governments and the international community, to take definitive action to secure the immediate and unconditional release of our loved one, Tomeu Vadell. We ask for a humanitarian release for Tomeu Vadell driven by the extraordinary circumstances that the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought to an already unjust and life-threatening situation. Additionally, it must be noted that Tomeu has been detained for longer than two years without a trial, which is in violation of article 230 of Venezuela’s Penal Code. We remain committed as a family and will not stop giving him a voice until he is home. Thank you to all that have stood with us and continue helping us bring justice for our father, Tomeu Vadell.”
We reached out to the CITGO corporate headquarters in Houston, to ask what they are doing to help secure the release of Vadell and the other five, but have not received a response.