The visit by Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and US Ambassador Jimmy Story
, who heads the Venezuelan Affairs Unit
, to the capital city of Caracas comes about a week after Matthew Heath
, an American unlawfully detained there
, attempted suicide.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro acknowledged the visit by the delegation
, which was first reported by 美联社
, in a televised address Monday
“As we speak, [National Assembly President] Jorge Rodriguez is hosting a delegation from the US government who arrived in Venezuela a couple hours ago, and he’s working to maintain the conversations we begun in March and the bilateral agenda between the US and Venezuela,” 马杜罗说. “He is in a meeting with them at this very hour.”
Jonathan Franks, the spokesperson for Heath’s family, said Monday that “if true, the reports of SPEHA Carstens’ trip to Caracas are an encouraging sign, both for Matthew and for the numerous other Americans held hostage in Venezuela with whom the Heath family stands shoulder-to-shoulder.”
“Matthew’s situation remains dire, and the family reiterates its plea to Presidents Biden and Maduro to arrange an emergency medical evacuation,” Franks said. “We are concerned that once authorities withdraw heavy sedation, Matthew will take the first opportunity he gets to attempt suicide again.”
Heath is one of at least eight Americans currently known to be wrongfully detained in Venezuela
. Five of the six American oil executives known as the “CITGO 6”
— 以瓦德尔, 豪尔赫·托莱多, 阿里里奥·何塞·赞布拉诺, 何塞·路易斯·赞布拉诺和何塞·安吉尔·佩雷拉 — who were arrested in Venezuela more than four years ago
, remain detained there
, as do Americans Luke Denman and Airan Berry
Two Americans who had been detained there
, including one of the CITGO
6, 是 released in March following the visit of two top US government officials to Caracas
在十二月 2021, Carstens traveled to Venezuela and was able to meet with US wrongful detainees
The families of such detainees, some of whom have been imprisoned abroad for years, have called on the Biden administration to do more to secure the release of their loved ones and have increasingly sought to meet with President Joe Biden directly.
上个星期, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting with the families of US hostages and wrongful detainees
, in which he did not promise a meeting with Biden
, but sought to assure them that the administration is making every effort to bring their loved ones home
While the families were largely appreciative of the conversation with the top US diplomat, some walked away frustrated by what they see as a lack of urgency and concrete action from the administration.
“Stop having meetings with us to check the box and start doing stuff that actually changes things for our families,” said Alexandra Forseth, whose father and uncle are part of the “CITGO 6” 当时说.