President Donald Trump shakes hands with Josh Holt after his release from prison in Venezuela, in the Oval Office of the White House on Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Washington. | Alex Brandon, Associated Press
Editorial note: This is the latest in a series of articles related to the KSL Podcast, “Hope In Darkness.” Find all of our episodes and coverage at kslnewsradio.com/hope-in-darkness/.
SALT LAKE CITY — A Senate floor speech in April 2018, just over a month before Josh and Thamy Holt’s release from a Venezuela prison, threatened to potentially undo all the work behind the scenes to secure their freedom, in the eyes of a Senate staffer whose work was key to that effort.
“I was worried we were completely burned to a crisp and that it had ruined any chance to get you out,” Caleb McCarry, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, told Josh Holt two years later in an interview for his podcast, “Hope In Darkness.”
‘On the edge of collapse’
Rafael Lacava, the governor of Venezuela’s Carabobo state, invited Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to visit Caracas in April 2018. Lacava was aware of the Holts’ imprisonment; he knew McCarry through a mutual friend and legislator, opposition leader Pedro Diaz-Blum, who had been with McCarry and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at a Boston retreat in the early 2000s aimed at mending fences between Venezuela’s government and opposition factions and the United States.
Durbin hoped to negotiate the Holts’ release during his visit. He also wanted to urge Venezuelan leaders not to go forward with potentially unfair elections. At the time, there was concern among international circles that Maduro had moved the election date up by a number of months in order to more easily win reelection.
When he got back to Washington, Durbin felt compelled to document the conditions he witnessed there, which were far beyond anything he expected. He described a country not just in crisis but arguably failing.
“No doubt many are aware that Venezuela has been suffering devastating economic and democratic backsliding,” Durbin said in his April 2018 Senate floor speech. “But what I found was a country that is on the edge of collapse, facing overlapping economic, humanitarian and political crises.”
“Inflation is rampant, expected to reach 13,000% this year, leading to what some call a race for survival,” Durbin said on the Senate floor. “Business leaders told me they’re being vilified by …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News