KATY, Texas - Two Americans have been released from Venezuelan prison after U.S. officials made a rare trip to the South American country this weekend. One of the Americans released includes a member of the so-called Citgo 6.
For nearly four and a half years, Malena Cardenas has been vocal about her husband, Gustavo Cardenas’s innocence.
In November 2017, Gustavo, along with five other executives from Citgo Petroleum were arrested during a business trip to Venezuela, accused of corruption.
On Tuesday, Malena received a call from US officials informing her Gustavo would finally be flying home to her and their three kids in Katy.
Gustavo was detained for more than four years in Venezuela before being released Tuesday night from prison. He arrived home in Katy, early Wednesday morning. His wife says she’s been overwhelmed with emotion about her husband’s release.
"Justice was made for him because he’s innocent," Malena said. said. "I said 'oh my god, it's true, it's true.'"
Malena says Gustavo is overwhelmed and does not want to be on camera, but issued a statement for her to read.
"The nightmare for me and my family ended last night. I got out of jail and got my freedom after about 1570 days of wrongful captivity," he said through his wife. "It was a very hard time marked by deep pain but also, by faith, love, hope, and survival."
Gustavo’s release, along with another American, comes after US officials traveled to the capital city of Caracas on Saturday.
It's the first visit in nearly three years since diplomatic relations between the two countries broke down.
Energy analysts believe the move has deeper implications.
"We're going to do a little something for you, maybe you can do something for us," said James Bevan, the Vice President of Operations for Criterion Research. "It seems like the U.S. is trying to find alternative sources of crude oil to make up for that lost Russian product, mainly for the US, but it also might be to help out some other international partners as well if Europe’s not wanting to buy as much Russian crude; they might have options."
As for the Cardenas family, now whole and reunited, their focus remains on making up for lost time.
"He missed the graduation of my older kids and missed Christmas, Thanksgiving, and a bunch of the special occasions, so we are trying to catch up," Malena said. "Family first, then we think about the rest. But for now, we are just trying to be a family again."
In a statement issued by the White House, President Biden vowed his administration will continue fighting for the release of Americans unjustly held against their will in other countries around the world including Venezuela, Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, China and Syria.