The following excerpts are from an article by THERESA SCHMIDT published by Lake Charles' Local KPLC 7 News on March 14, 2019.
It’s coming up on 16 months since Tomeu Vadell and others of the CITGO six were ambushed and thrown into a Venezuelan prison on what family members call “bogus charges”
Tomeu’s daughter, Cristina, of Lake Charles, says it’s increasingly frightening for family members due to power outages.
“They’re in a basement so without electricity there’s lack of air ventilation,” Cristina said.
And there are day-to-day concerns whether the men get food the families send.
“Essentially, if we don’t bring food the men are going to go back to less than 600 calories a day as they were before, essentially starving again and it could be worse because of the situation in the country,” Cristina said.
Word that the United States is closing its embassy creates even more uncertainty about the perilous situation for the CITGO 6.
“They’re evacuating their people, closing the embassy and moving the people out and for us it just furthers our concern and justifies our concern for the men’s health and safety,” Cristina said.
And communication is severely reduced.
With the uncertainty of what’s going on that scares us of course, even more so than how scared we were already,” Cristina said.
Cristina said she and the others continue to work hard to contact anyone and everyone they think may be able to help secure the men’s freedom.
“We continue to put pressure every way that we know, not just in the public eye but also with any and all leaders to let them know and make sure that the situation is happening, that these men are there, so that they’re not invisible. We continue to reach out to human rights organizations. We are certainly getting support in the sense that there’s more awareness of what’s happening and of those human rights violations, but also the fact that they continue to be unjustly imprisoned,” she said.
Cristina and the other families met this week in Houston. She says those connected to Lake Charles and the CITGO Refinery here appreciate local efforts to keep the CITGO six in the public eye.
But after 478 days away from their family, she says, it's time to bring them home.