Alexandra Forseth, the relative of two Americans that were released in a detainee swap from Venezuela, slammed Marco Rubio as “unpatriotic and unhelpful” Monday for criticizing the exchange.
“I’m disappointed that a leader in our country is perpetuating this myth that getting our people home actually puts Americans at risk,” Forseth told CNN’s Alex Marquardt on “New Day.” “What I would ask Sen. Rubio is you’ve supported getting them home, you have done absolutely nothing for me or my family or most of these men, and any of the families can tell you that.”
Forseth, the daughter of Alirio Zambrano and the niece of Jose Luis Zambrano, responded to the Florida senator’s claim Sunday that the trade “puts Americans all over the world in danger” by calling the comments “extremely unhelpful and misinformed.”
“I wanted those people released as much as anybody, but every time you do this, now, others know, ‘I can take Americans, I can hold them until I need something as a bargaining chip,’ Rubio told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday’s “State of the Union.” “I think seven innocent American hostages in exchange for two convicted drug dealers, who happened to be the nephews of (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro, is a huge win for Maduro.”
Forseth continued, underscoring that she found Rubio’s comments “unpatriotic and unhelpful”: “And he even had a constituent from his state that was released, and I would ask, what did you do for his family? How have you’ve been supporting them?”
Forseth’s father and uncle are two of the seven wrongfully detained Americans who were released Saturday in exchange for two Venezuelans, who are both nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores, who were detained for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
The two Zambranos, alongside Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell and Jose Pereira, are American oil executives who were arrested in Venezuela four years ago, and represent five of the six Americans known as the “CITGO 6.” While one of the CITGO 6 was released in March, Matthew Heath, who was detained in September 2020, and Osman Khan, who had been detained since January 2022, make up the total seven prisoners — who were all classified as wrongfully detained by the U.S. government — freed this weekend.
For Forseth, hearing of her family’s freedom was the “biggest relief and feeling of euphoria that I could ever describe.”