Family Of California Man Arrested In Venezuela Pleads For His Release As Deadline Looms

Family Of California Man Arrested In Venezuela Pleads For His Release As Deadline Looms

The family of a California man being detained in Venezuela is calling for his release amid the Biden administration's easing of oil sanctions.

The family of a California man is alleging that he is unjustly imprisoned in Venezuela and is now being held for ransom despite the Biden administration loosening oil sanctions previously imposed on the socialist-run government.

The 38-year-old businessman, Savoi Wright, was arrested on Oct. 24. His family claims that though no criminal charges have been filed, he has not been allowed to see his lawyer and details of his detainment remain hidden, The Associated Press reports.

“It’s a nightmare. It’s like you’re watching a horror movie, but you’re in it,” his mother, Erin Stewart, said. Wright’s family believes the U.S. government has turned its back on the man.

“As Americans, when a loved one is in this horrific situation, you think someone is going to be there to help, and when they don’t, it’s the worst feeling in the world,” said Moizeé Stewart, Wright’s sister. “It’s sickening that they would throw their hands up in the air and say we have no diplomatic relations with Venezuela, so we can’t do anything.”

Wright is one of seven U.S. citizens who have been detained and imprisoned in Venezuela, and his release is dependent upon the turning over of tens of thousands of dollars, The Associated Press reported.

The Biden administration’s deal with Nicolás Maduro’s government will remain in place unless officials fail to meet demands, which include releasing political prisoners as well as U.S. citizens who have been wrongfully detained, by the end of November. Failure to do so would result in the reinstatement of sanctions that were enforced during the Trump presidency, which sought to punish Maduro for interfering with Venezuela’s democratic process.

“Failure to abide by the terms of this arrangement will lead the United States to reverse steps taken,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Some lawmakers claim that Wright’s arrest is another action Maduro took in bad faith. In July 2022, three Americans were arrested, following an alleged trend of detaining unsuspecting Americans along the Colombia-Venezuela border, an area ravaged by criminal gangs and rebels, being jailed.

The Associated Press reported that Americans seeking to enter Venezuela without a visa were especially vulnerable to being used for political bargaining power. Lawmakers allege that Wright’s detainment is Maduro “calling Biden’s bluff” and deem his use of American lives “unacceptable.”