Daughter of imprisoned Citgo executive feels renewed hope for her father after his colleague’s release

The daughter of an imprisoned Citgo executive feels a renewed hope her father and his colleagues will soon be released.

On Monday, one member of the so-called ‘Citgo 6′ was released from a Venezuelan prison following negotiations between the U.S. government and President Nicolas Maduro’s regime.

“There’s definitely a roadmap to get these guys home,” said Alexandra Forseth.

Forseth has never stopped fighting for her father, Alirio Zambrano, and uncle, Jose Luis Zambrano’s, releases. She created the Citgo 6 Coalition to keep the imprisoned executives struggle in the public eye.

“This is what they’ve been waiting for and dreaming about for years,” said Forseth.

Forseth’s renewed optimism comes after she said her family met with Roger Carstens, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

The meeting happened after our government negotiated the release of one member of the Citgo 6, Gustavo Cardenas. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recently expressed a willingness to improve relations with the U.S.

“We did get a sense that this isn’t going to be a year from now situation, that we’re going to see progress on this case,” said Forseth.

“Did they give you any indication as to future talks?” asked KPRC 2 Investigator, Robert Arnold.

“The indication that we got is this is definitely not one of those, ‘Hey, we got one guy out. We’re done,’” said Forseth. “I was told the Biden administration, specifically President Biden, is very personally invested in getting these guys home, which is a relief to hear.”

Citgo is owned by Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA. The six Citgo executives were called to a last-minute meeting in Venezuela in 2017 and then promptly arrested. All were accused of corruption and embezzlement.

Their families and the U.S. government have staunchly maintained their innocence. Forseth said the family’s meeting with state department officials also gave them a much-needed update on her father.

“He is doing well, that is a relief,” said Zambrano. “He’s feeling hopeful, he’s feeling energized and that bolsters us to know that.”

Forseth said her father was also able to write a quick letter in Carsten’s notebook. A short note that spoke volumes to Forseth about her father’s resolve.

Letter written by Alirio Zambrano, member of the Citgo 6, who remains in custody in Venezuela. (Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“That’s my dad, he’s good, he’s all right, he can write, he’s in good spirits,” said Forseth.

Forseth said other promising signs are that the men are being allowed to exercise in prison and teach English to other inmates. She said they’ve also had two consular visits in recent months.

“These are huge steps. Maybe to someone else, getting a consular visit isn’t a big deal. But when you’ve waited four years for one, it is a big deal,” said Forseth.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”