Despite guilty verdict, families continue to fight for the release of imprisoned oil executives

A Venezuelan judge recently found six oil executives guilty of corruption charges in a case that began in November 2017. Family members of the former Citgo executives were stunned by the verdict and vowed to continue fighting for the men’s release.

“It was pretty bizarre, like everything else in this case,” said Alexandra Zambrano-Forseth. “I don’t think any of us were expecting that decision yesterday after Thanksgiving.”

Forseth’s father, Alirio Zambrano, and her uncle are among the group of men dubbed the Citgo 6. Forseth formed the Citgo6 Coalition to educate the public on the case.

In November 2017 Zambrano, then the manager of Citgo’s Corpus Christi refinery, and the five other executives were called to a last-minute meeting in Venezuela. Citgo is owned by Petroleos de Venezuela or PDVSA.

At the end of that meeting, Zambrano and his colleagues were arrested.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused the men of everything from embezzlement to trying to refinance Citgo’s debt in a way unfavorable to the Venezuelan people.

Compounding matters, the US government has backed Maduro’s challenger, Juan Guaido.

The men have always maintained their innocence. The US government has continually called for the men’s release, as has Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.