Maduro has manipulated Venezuelans for too long: Trish Regan

Relatives of the five U.S. Americans whom Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro is holding hostage said their loved ones went to the benighted South American country legally and in good faith -- yet are now languishing in a prison without due process or the ability to see their families.

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The five, who worked for Venezuela-owned oil company Citgo, are Jorge Toledo, Gustavo Cardenas, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano and José Luis Zambrano, along with Citgo's former CEO, José Angel Pereira, a U.S. permanent resident.

Toledo's son, Carlos Anez, told Trish Regan the group is appealing to Maduro, President Trump and interim President Juan Guiado to honor the human rights of their relatives.

"We're pleading for help of our President Donald Trump, of Mr. Maduro, of Mr. Guaido down to the jailer holding the keys to their cell, please if you understand human rights, if you understand grief, what we're going through, if you believe in justice, you can act and let them come back home."

Cristina Vadell, the daughter of the former Citgo vice president of refining, said the stress has been severe.

"Our life has been on hold and not being able to just call your Dad when you need something, when you just want to talk, it's just been really difficult," she told Regan.

And Mervis Pereira, wife of the José Angel Pereira said, "I need my husband here. It's difficult. I don't understand. What happened? Why?"

The five, were duped into coming to Caracas under the pretense of a business meeting, Regan said. Shortly after arrival they were detained and imprisoned. That was 447 days ago.

"That is a crime," she said. "And you know what else is a crime? Starving your people by not allowing them any access to humanitarian aid. What kind of person says he's for the people, then sends his army to the border to prevent the international community from giving food and medical supplies to the people?"

"I showed you earlier ... what Nicolas Maduro is doing. He's now trying to manipulate the very desperate people of Venezuela. People are starving; people who have nothing. He is manipulating them by offering food boxes in exchange for their loyalty. Think of how horrible that is. If you're a parent and your child is starving, what do you do?"


Regan said Maduro must step down and allow the Venezuelan people to hold fair, free elections.

"Dictators don't always have happy endings."