Pod Hostage Diplomacy

SITREP Pod 2: Free Tomeu Vadell, American held in Venezuela | Pod Hostage Diplomacy

April 27, 2022 SenseOfDuty Media Episode 34
Pod Hostage Diplomacy
SITREP Pod 2: Free Tomeu Vadell, American held in Venezuela | Pod Hostage Diplomacy
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

American citizen Tomeu Vadell from Lake Charles, Louisiana has been wrongfully imprisoned in Venezuela since November 2017. Tomeu works for US oil company, CITGO and in November 2017, Tomeu was arrested in Caracas while he was down there for a business meeting with 5 of his other colleagues. Collectively, they’re known as the CITGO 6. The US government has stated that they are unlawfully detained.

In October 2019, the Vadell family submitted Tomeu’s case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD). It usually takes 6-12 months for UNWGAD to release their opinion on a case. It has been 2.5 years and to this day, the UNWGAD has not released an opinion on Tomeu Vadell. On this episode, we have the honour of speaking to Tomeu’s daughter, Cristina Vadell who talks to us about this UNWGAD delay and what needs to be done. 

Cristina also talks to us about her father’s current condition and how he is coping, the recent release of Gustavo Cardenas who is one of the CITGO 6 as well as the backlash from US opposition party politicians objecting to the Biden administration’s engagement with Venezuela which resulted in the release of two Americans including Gustavo.

We end the episode talking about what the US government, news media and public can do to help bring Tomeu Vadell home to his family in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

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SITREP Pod 2: Free Tomeu Vadell, American held in Venezuela | Pod Hostage Diplomacy

SPEAKERS

Daren Nair, Cristina Vadell

 

Daren Nair  00:05

Welcome to Pod Hostage Diplomacy. We work to free hostages and the unjustly detained around the world. Together with their families, we share their stories every week, and let you know how you can help bring them home. I'm Daren Nair, and I've had the honour of campaigning with many of these families for years. These are some of the most courageous and resilient people among us. People who have never given up hope, people who will never stop working to reunite their families. And we will be right there by their side until their loved ones are back home. Thank you for joining us. And now, let's meet this week's guest. Welcome to Pod Hostage Diplomacy. Tomeu Vadell from Lake Charles, Louisiana, is an innocent American citizen, a husband, a father and a grandfather who has been wrongfully imprisoned in Venezuela since November 2017. Tomeu works for US oil company, Citgo, and in November 2017, Tomeu was arrested in Caracas while he was down there for a business meeting with five of his other colleagues. And collectively, they're known as the Citgo 6. The US government has stated that they are unlawfully detained. Former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has called on the Venezuelan authorities to release the Citgo 6 unconditionally and return them to the United States. The US State Department released a statement on 21st November 2021, stating the following. "Today marks four years since US Nationals, Jorge Toledo, Gustavo Cardenas, Jose Pereira, Tomeu Vadell, Jose Luis Zambrano and Alirio Zambrano, travelled to Venezuela for a Citgo Petroleum business meeting and were not allowed to come home. After being invited to Venezuela, masked security agents detained all six men and imprisoned them on specious charges without due process or access to a fair trial. As a fifth Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we continue to seek their unconditional return and the release of all US Nationals wrongfully detained overseas. Secretary Blinken will continue to relentlessly pursue the release of these individuals. To the Venezuelan authorities who have imprisoned them, we ask that they be allowed to return to the United States to reunite with their families." That was a statement from Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department. These innocent Americans are being held by the Venezuelan authorities to extract concessions from the United States government. This is state sponsored hostage-taking, also known as hostage diplomacy. On 8th March 2022, one of the Citgo 6 members, Gustavo Cardenas, was released and is now back home in the United States with his family. Gustavo was released with another American citizen by the name of Jorge Fernandez. The following is a statement from President of the United States, Joe Biden, on their release. "Tonight, two Americans who were wrongfully detained in Venezuela will be able to hug their families once more. We are bringing Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Fernandez home. Cardenas was arrested in 2017 as part of the so called Citgo 6, and he has endured five years of hardship and imprisonment at the hands of an unjust system. Fernandez was arrested last year on spurious charges. These men are fathers who lost precious time with their children and everyone they love, and their families have suffered every day of their absence. I am grateful to Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Roger Carstens, and our entire diplomatic team for their tireless efforts to secure their release and reunite these families. Unjustly holding Americans captive is always unacceptable. And even as we celebrate the return of Cardenas, and Fernandez, we also remember the names and the stories of every American who is being unjustly held against their will, in Venezuela, in Russia, in Afghanistan, Syria, China, Iran, and elsewhere around the world. My administration will keep fighting to bring them all home." Now, this is the 34th episode of our podcast and our sixth episode on the Citgo 6. We've interviewed Tomeu Vadell's eldest daughter, Veronica Vadell Weggaman three times. We've interviewed Alirio Jose Zambrano's daughter, and Jose Luis Zambrano's niece, Alexandra Zambrano Forseth. We've also interviewed Jorge Toledo's stepson, Carlos Anez. If you haven't listened to these episodes, please do check them out wherever you get your podcasts or on our website, podhostagediplomacy.com. Today, we have the honour of speaking to Tomeu Vadell's daughter, Cristina Vadell, Cristina is Veronica's younger sister, and this is her first time on Pod Hostage Diplomacy. Cristina, as I've said before to your sister and the loved ones of the other members of the Citgo 6, we're so sorry for what your family is going through, and we will do everything we can to help. Thank you for joining us.

 

Cristina Vadell  05:04

Hi, Daren. Thank you so much for all your support and for having me on your podcast as well as my sister and everybody else. You're creating a space for these critical discussions about hostages and wrongfully detained humans. It's something very important.

 

Daren Nair  05:21

Thank you, and you're welcome. For our listeners who aren't aware, can you please give them a brief summary of what happened to your father?

 

Cristina Vadell  05:29

Yes, of course. So, my father, Tomeu Vadell and five other Citgo employees are wrongfully held in Venezuela for 1,650 days, 15 days and counting. On November 21 2017, they were taken without an arrest warrant by masked and armed members of Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency, the DGCIM. In essence, my father, and what later would become known as the Citgo 6, went to work and never came home. I'm still waiting for my dad to come home, four years, five months, and counting. It's just entirely too long. During these difficult 1,615 days, my father, Tomeu, and these men have suffered a tremendous number of human rights violations from various forced disappearances, to being starved for almost an entire year in a basement, to multiple back and forths from house arrest to a small room without windows in the intelligence police's high-profile prison, the SEBIN Helicoide. And, of course, a closed door trial that led to a wrongful conviction. All this without any proof of wrongdoing against my father. It is just too much. My father, Tomeu, the eldest of the group, will be 63 years old this year. And he has serious pre-existing conditions, cardiovascular and others. And I don't know how his body is really doing. I haven't gotten to seen... see him since he's been taken, and I don't have any data to look at. But I do know that... that he remains strong in spirit, because that's just who he is. He never gives up hope. But the body has physical limitations, and every day matters. I can't... I can't stress that enough. All these abrupt, arbitrary changes in detention and conditions have been very traumatic. And they take a toll on him, on my family, and everyone involved. And much of the timing of these abrupt changes has aligned with key moments in the geopolitical struggle between Venezuela and the United States. It's... it's clear that my father has been wrongfully stuck in this struggle between his birth country and his adopted country. But it has to end. His freedom shouldn't depend on any of this. And so, for my family, right, we're here on the outside, and it has been just a nonstop odyssey of public and private efforts with actors and bureaucracies of every kind, including, of course, two administration's here in the United States, interlocutors like Governor Richardson and his Center, the Vatican, the United Nations, and many, many more. All this, of course, for the ultimate goal of just reuniting him with us, something that sounds really simple, but has been very difficult to do, and we still haven't done it. But, you know, we are very grateful for all the support from so many so far. As you mentioned, Daren, we've got two administrations that have publicly denounced this and called for their release. And I am very encouraged with the recent releases of two Americans from Venezuela, one of them, as you mentioned, Gustavo, who was in the same cell as my dad, and got to know my dad. You know, I miss... I miss my dad. I know we all do, my mom especially. And we just wish him home. We miss getting to cook with him and grill on the weekends and holidays. His humour is just... and it's just wrong what's happened to him. All of his family and his community in Louisiana, Texas, New York, Spain, Ecuador, all around the world and yes, of course, in Venezuela, too. They... they want to see my dad home with us, with his family. So please, if you're listening in, help us free Tomeu Vadell, my father. Free all that remain wrongfully held in Venezuela. Bring them all home.

 

Daren Nair  10:17

Thank you for that, Cristina. And we're so sorry for what you and your family are going through. Now, there have been a few developments since I last spoke to your sister in February. One of them is related to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Can you please tell us more?

 

Cristina Vadell  10:33

As I mentioned earlier, we've... we've tried with anyone that will listen to get their support. And we've... we think the United Nations, right, has a unique capability to advocate on behalf of arbitrarily detained people. And they have special mandates, right? They have different working groups that can take actions that may ultimately obtain, and may ultimately obtain the release of our loved one. Two working groups within the United Nations that we've reached out to, and that others have as well, on my dad's behalf, are the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, so WGAD, WGAD is what they call it, and then the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, which is the WGEID. So, the WGEID helps when you don't know where your loved one is. And that's happened, like I said, several times, now. The most dramatic, of course, the initial detention, we didn't know where my father was being held, or why, and... and all this, right, it's important to publicly denounce, and we did. And I appreciate the WGEID and everything they did in the background, to try to figure out what's going on and advocate for finding out, right, where my father is. The other group I mentioned, is WGAD, the one about arbitrary detentions. And that group has a mandate to help investigate cases of arbitrary detentions. They can send urgent appeals and communications to concerned governments and bring attention to these cases. They also can conduct country visits and try to see the conditions that these arbitrarily detained people are held in. And ultimately, right, they can work to adopt a public opinion on cases, which we have seen can bring very positive outcomes. And so, naturally, that was something that as a family, we... we pursued. And, in fact, we know of several cases in Venezuela that have been submitted... submitted to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions after my father's, but the public opinion has already come out, one in 2020, another one in 2021. And we're now about to be in May 2022. And my father has been held for four months and, I mean, four years and five months, right? And so at this point, right, we're hearing that we're getting closer to a public opinion. But we've been hearing that for... for a little while now and are wondering where things stand. The case was submitted to the Working Group in October of 2019. And now we are in April of 2022. So that's two years and six months, okay, of the process. And the estimated processing period for the group to release an opinion is six to 12 months. So now, to be clear, I'm very, very grateful for the United... the support that the United Nations has provided thus far. I mean, first of all, they were able to visit my father, two years ago, before the United States was ever given consular access, which was very recent, right? That was huge. And we're very grateful for that. And additionally, the fact-finding mission, published a report in September of 2021, that highlighted some of the human rights abuses against my father, right, that he was taken without an arrest warrant, that he's experienced an incommunicado detention for, you know, after the initial wrongful arrest. And so, the United Nations has played a part in advocating, and these things that have been done so far are incredibly important steps that we are grateful for. But now, we are asking for the opinion processing period to end and for the opinion to be made public, especially after this long processing time of two years and six months.

 

Daren Nair  15:14

What is it that can be done to speed up the process? 

 

Cristina Vadell  15:18

Yeah. So, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, right, she just marked that the 30th anniversary of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions. She mentions the plethora of opinions that have been adopted and how each year they tried to do 85 to 90 opinions each year. And she highlights how, as a result of the work last year, there were 11 people released after these opinions became public. And in fact, last month, we saw the release of Nazanin and the Ashoori, right, and in both cases, the UN adopted public opinions. So it is important, and I recognise the good work that they do. And I think everyone that has communication with the United Nations, right, whether it's within the United States government, or third party governments, or maybe you know, somebody that works at the UN, you know, raise awareness about this case, and push for this final release of the opinion for my father's case. I think it's important. And in the end, it makes me wonder, right, if the UN had come out with the opinion, before the US government's visit in March, is it possible that my father could have been released in that moment with the other two Americans that were released?

 

Daren Nair  16:46

So, I've noticed on Twitter, I saw your sister Veronica, trying to contact the UN ambassador, sorry, the US Ambassador to the United Nations to ask her about what's the delay with this ruling from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Has there been any success in that area?

 

Cristina Vadell  17:05

Yes, actually, we were able to have a call with Ambassador Thomas... Linda Thomas-Greenfield. And she was incredibly kind, compassionate. And she's someone from Louisiana, like... like... like us. So, we really connected and she... she offered to help in every way that she could.

 

Daren Nair  17:26

Well, that's... that's great to hear. So, we hope that ruling comes out soon. Now, there were other developments as well. As you mentioned, Gustavo Cardenas was released. Your family were very happy about that release, and so are the other Citgo 6 families as well. And unfortunately, there was also blowback from opposition party politicians in the US because the Biden Administration engaged with Venezuela. This very engagement that the opposition party politicians were criticising is what resulted in two Americans being freed and able to return home to their families. Now, the Citgo 6 families have pushed back saying they support the Biden Administration's efforts to engage Venezuela and bring their loved ones home. What are your thoughts on this?

 

Cristina Vadell  18:13

Look, when a wrongfully held American comes home, that's a win for every American. When any human in the world is released from an arbitrary detention, that's a win for humanity. And sometimes all it takes is for feuding sides to talk. That's what diplomacy is all about. And for the sake of humanity, for the sake of cases like these, like my father's, we have to find a way forward, we have to find common ground. Of course, I... I'm... I'm very, very happy to see the release of Gustavo, and especially for his family. I know the pain that they've endured, and I'm happy that they are now embarking in a healing journey, which is going to take a long time. And same for Jorge Fernandez, I don't know his family, but... and he was held in another prison. But I... I have a lot of joy for them. And when I learned about this, you know, I... I felt a lot of peace because I... I recognise that while, of course, while... while, if my father wasn't on that plane, at the same time I understood that, hey, this is a great step. It's a step forward. And it... since then, I've gotten to speak to Gustavo and I see... I see my father's release even closer. And that's, I mean, that's huge. Basically, two lives were... were saved. And that should be celebrated at every opportunity. So, I recognise, and I celebrate the Biden Harris Administration for their efforts. And of course, in particular, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Roger Carstens, right? He... he did not leave until he brought some Americans home. Right? And I'm thankful for President Biden's public commitment that you've read earlier in this podcast, right, to keep bringing... keep fighting to bring them all home, right? And I'm thankful for President Biden's public commitment to keep fighting to bring them all home. I know it's not easy to do this, these things don't happen randomly. But, like I said, it is important to celebrate these wins, even if not everybody came home, even if my father was not the one on the plane to the US. But it doesn't stop there. Right? And so, I encourage the United States government to keep going, to keep trying, I think the administration showed that it's possible to obtain the release of Americans in Venezuela. And we need to keep doing that there. We need to keep doing that in every country that we can. Now is the time to bring the rest of them home. Right? There's a moral duty for a country to take care of its citizens. And... and so, I... I... I encourage the... the continued engagement for the purpose of obtaining the release of wrongfully held Americans in Venezuela.

 

Daren Nair  21:56

I agree with you, and I hope your father and the rest of the Citgo 6 and all Americans wrongfully imprisoned in Venezuela come home soon. Now, when was the last time you spoke to your father? And how is he doing?

 

Cristina Vadell  22:10

Yes. So, I spoke to my father, actually, this week. It was a Friday. I'm feeling so grateful that we have some communication right now. He's... he's doing everything he can to survive this. I mean, it's just a gruelling practice of every day being okay, mind, body and spirit, despite being an innocent person between four walls for so long, right? Every day matters. And I can't stress that enough. But he... he just... he remains just an inspiration to me. Because every time we talk, it's clearly a highlight for him. So, it's always, I mean, unless he has a negative update to give, which is sometimes the case and those calls are very unpleasant. But generally, we're talking about just past memories, inside jokes. "How are you?" Right? And he tells us sometimes about the times that they'll let him or others, at times, go to an enclosed area outside. And he'll tell us about the... the beautiful birds, the sun that day. And the other day, I asked him, I was like, "have you been seen rain in a while?" And he... he told me, "you know, I haven't even thought about that. I haven't. I don't even remember the last time I saw rain." And these are normal, everyday things for us here on the outside, right? We... these are things we take for granted. And for my dad, right, It's not something that he gets to experience every day. And I remember one of the times that they placed him on house arrest, he told me, "wow, I just... I saw the stars. I... for the first time in so long." And it just... it makes... puts everything into perspective about what's important, right? And just to share a little bit about my dad. So, Tomeu, he's a husband of 36 years, a father of three. He's a new grandfather. He hasn't met his grandbaby. He...he's a brother. And he was a son, though his parents have passed, right? And he's a 35-year career engineer. And he's technically still employed by Citgo, the company that delivered him to Venezuela. My family moved to the United States in 1999 for my dad's work in Citgo, and he eventually, right, became a naturalised citizen like the rest of my family. I happen to be born in the United States prior to us moving, because of a Masters that he did in New York, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It was... it was sponsored by his company. So, he's a seasoned professional with a mechanical engineering background. And he's the first in his family to graduate from college after growing up in Venezuela to humble Spanish immigrants. His father was a carpenter, and had just a fifth grade education. My father worked too hard in both countries, Venezuela and the United States. He paid taxes in both countries. He was always respectful of others' political opinions. And... and you know had his own, of course. And to be treated like this is, you know, it's disrespectful. And, as Jason Rezaian, put it, it's... it's been this cost of doing business. And it's not right, because it's... it's because of honest, hard working people, like my father that Citgo is even a company that politicians are fighting over, right? And I find it unacceptable that we can't find a way to move him, right, from these bigger issues. And so, I hope that we can find a way, right, that... that those countries can find a way and... and show a good... a good example of how to treat their citizens.

 

Daren Nair  26:44

Cristina, again, I'm so sorry for what your family is going through. And I mean that because I've interviewed many of the families of the Citgo 6. I've interviewed your sister many times. To some extent, I do feel powerless, because all I can say is I feel sorry, and that you're not alone, and we'll be here to help. And on the other hand, I am trying to help raise awareness of your father's case. But I am genuinely sorry for what you're going through. So our next question is, what should the US government be doing better to bring your father home?

 

Cristina Vadell  27:18

Thank you, Daren. I think the short answer to that would be to keep going. Right? I think they have gained trust with us and some families, right, in bringing two Americans home. Right? They delivered results. And now it's about continuing and... and finding a way to bring my father, Tomeu Vadell, and the rest of the wrongfully held Americans in Venezuela home. I think it's possible. And so I'm... Like I said earlier, I'm really encouraged. I'm thankful to SPEHA Carstens and... and all the efforts that are ongoing. And, you know, it's been a long journey with the United States government, right? You mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, how we have had support from the previous administration, and now we're working with a new one and also have public support. And... and over these years, we've seen improved communication, right, because the SPEHA office has... has... has grown and has received more resources. And for those that don't know what SPEHA is, it's the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. Right? And it's a... it's a relatively new group in the State Department. And they focus on these diplomatic engagements and finding solutions to these very difficult and sometimes extremely complicated problems. And we've seen, I mean, since my dad's been taken, we've seen the Levinson Act go through and get passed. Right? But of course, a lot of that is long-term goals, right? Long-term visions about a philosophy on how we more effectively get wrongfully held Americans home. And... and for... for those that are currently in the situation, right, there's not a lot of time for long processes. And I think we have to think about what can we do now. And I think the United States has shown with the recent releases that they are thinking about those things. And so, I'm hopeful that they're going to look at all the tools and the resources available, that they're going to be creative. And because I think there's... there's always a way, you just have to have that political will, right, to take that action and to take it swiftly. And so again, I encourage the United States government to keep going and keep making those swift decisions to save the lives of Americans that are wrongfully held, not just in Venezuela, but around the world.

 

Daren Nair  30:00

Now your family has fortunately got some decent media coverage. What can journalists and the news media do to help bring your father home?

 

Cristina Vadell  30:10

Yes, I would say the journalists are one of the most targeted groups for these kinds of arbitrary detentions and political imprisonments. Right? I think many are very mindful of how they message their stories, and how to be careful not to empower, whether it's the terrorist group or the state actors that are wishing to utilise humans as hostages and as leverage for policy or financial goals. I believe that the media can play an incredibly critical role, not only in awareness, but also in being a part of the solution. And I really encourage every reporter out there to reflect on the ethics of journalism and... and try to find ways to help families hold all stakeholders accountable, and to bring light to the situation, create space like you do, Daren, for families to share their stories, and to bring attention to governments, corporations and entities that they... that are maybe dealing with a lot of issues and with these problems being so unique and so difficult, sometimes staying in the backburner, right? And so, I'm very grateful for all of the media coverage. We've worked with a lot of very compassionate reporters. And... and we will continue to shed light on this issue in order to keep my dad safe, and to ultimately bring him home.

 

Daren Nair  32:00

Yeah, Cristina, I absolutely agree with you. I think I would add, one important thing journalists should be mindful of is not repeating the propaganda of the hostage-taker, which in this case, is the state of... specifically, Venezuela. So, we've seen this with countries like Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and China. They come up with these preposterous false charges, like espionage, which is not true, or whatever. And when the American media or the British media, the European media report on these cases of innocent individuals wrongfully imprisoned in that country, they repeat the charge in the headline, and they only provide context in the body of the article. The problem is, most people are going to see the headline. So, when you kind of repeat the false charge, in the headline of your article, you are doing the hostage-takers work for them. And you are basically making this innocent person come across as guilty. So, I would just ask the journalists to be mindful of that, and to correct that, and to understand the effect you're going to have on this innocent individual, and their ability to come home if you continue to do that. Not all journalists do this. Many journalists are mindful of this and do it quite well. But some still go for that sensational headline, which includes this false charge, and that really needs to change. So, what can the public do to help bring your father home?

 

Cristina Vadell  33:44

I can think of several ways. First of all, right, is sharing and having solidarity for the... for these cases, helping raise awareness with everyone that they know. In particular, for my dad's case, they could follow @FreeCitgo6, and also my sister, @Vvadell, on Twitter. They can use the hashtag, #FreeTomeuVadell, and the hashtag, #FreeCitgo6, anytime they want to message about this. Beyond that, I think writing to Congresspeople is important. You want to make sure that Congress, right, knows that you want your fellow Americans home now, that you want it to be a priority when it comes to foreign policy. Another way to support is showing support to ally organisations through donations or following them on social media. Just to name a few would be, of course, the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, the Richardson Center. We are so grateful to Governor Richardson. I mean he was the closest to get my dad home, besides the recent efforts by the United States government, and he did that in the middle of a pandemic. Incredible. I'd say also another organisation would be Hostage US. They've... they provide a lot of support for families as well. Amer Fakhoury Foundation, and so many more. Of course, I think lastly, you know, no matter what your background is, your religion, your beliefs, I think, please pray, or send hearts and light to my... good vibes, whatever you call it, to my father, Tomeu, and all wrongfully held. He... he's told me that he feels the prayers, he feels that energy, he feels the love. And when you are like my father in the situation, right, the worst thing would be to feel that you are abandoned, that nobody knows or that nobody cares. But we have to show that we care. And even if we can't tell them directly, we can do that in so many ways, right? I just named a few. And I really encourage everybody to try and do that wherever they can, at this moment.

 

Daren Nair  33:51

So...

 

Cristina Vadell  34:18

Thank you.

 

Daren Nair  34:49

... if I am an American citizen, and I want to write a message to my representatives, Senator, Governor or the White House, I mean, what is the kind of elevator pitch? What are the key points that you would want me to state in that message? Or even if I give them a phone call, or I meet them in person, what are the key points that you want me to state to this person in power, this decision maker?

 

Cristina Vadell  36:54

I would say there are three... three key points for the White House, Congress, the Department of Justice Department of Treasury, really the entire US government, because they have to collaborate and work together to solve these cases. It requires a lot of collaboration. First, I would say, okay, great job with the recent releases of two Americans from Venezuela. Celebrate that. It matters. A lot of people in... in... in... in government have thankless jobs. They're hearing constantly about problems. So, we have to celebrate that, celebrate that two Americans came home. Two, please keep this positive momentum going and prioritise a swift release of my father, Tomeu Vadell, and all that remain wrongfully held in Venezuela and beyond, hostages too. And three, we support the use of diplomatic engagements, and every resource and tool available for the purpose of bringing wrongfully held Americans home. And really, the bottom line is bring Americans home now. Bring them home. Now. We want to see Americans home. Now.

 

Daren Nair  38:24

Cristina, we're almost at the end of our interview. Is there anything else you'd like to mention? 

 

Cristina Vadell  38:28

Yes. I think it shouldn't be, you know, it shouldn't be so hard to obtain the freedom of an innocent person. But it is, and we must all bring light to it and confront it without fear. I know many other families that also struggle with this every day around the world. And there are many that we'll just never hear about. And I stand in solidarity with all of them. And I ask for all of their loved ones' immediate release. Same as I continue to ask for my father's, Tomeu Vadell's, freedom. Libertad para Tomeu Vadell! Free Tomeu Vadell!

 

Daren Nair  39:12

Thank you for that. So, Cristina, as I said this before, and I'll say it again, we will be right here by your side until your father comes back home. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us.

 

Cristina Vadell  39:22

Thank you so much, Daren, I appreciate your time. Take care.

 

Daren Nair  39:32

Thank you for listening to this week's episode of Pod Hostage Diplomacy. We're not just a podcast, we're a community. If you're on Twitter, and would like to post a message of solidarity to the families or have any questions for us, please tweet it using the hashtag #PodHostageDiplomacy, and we will get back to you. If you like what we're trying to do, please do consider supporting the show financially. You can do this using the support the show link in the description of this podcast episode. We're grateful for any contributions, no matter how small. Thanks again for listening, and we will be back next week. Take care.

Intro
Who is Tomeu Vadell?
Summary of what happened to Tomeu Vadell
United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Backlash after Biden administration engaged Venezuela
Last contact with Tomeu and how he’s coping
What should the US government be doing better?
What can journalists and the news media do?
What can the public do to help?