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Jose Pereira

Jose Pereira

Cypress, Texas

Jose Ángel Pereira was unjustly detained and held captive in Venezuela for almost five years, from November 21, 2017 to October 1, 2022. Pereira was a member of the so-called CITGO6.

His only crime was being an American. Before being taken hostage, he spent thirty-five years as an oil company executive and CEO of Citgo Petroleum (a US-based refinery complex and extensive gas station distribution center).

Pereira earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the Universidad de Oriente (UDO) in Venezuela in 1985.

He joined Corpoven, S.A. (today Petróleos de Venezuela-PDVSA (Venezuelan State company), the fifth largest oil company in the world at that time.

In 1989 he completed his Master of Business Administration at Florida International University through a joint program with Universidad De Oriente (UDO).

In 2012, he received a Diploma in International Taxation from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Throughout his career, Pereira held several management positions in various PDVSA subsidiaries worldwide.

He was assigned to numerous joint ventures of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) with Ente Nationale Idrocarburi (ENI), including ENI—Italy, Inpex—Japan, China National Petroleum Company (CNPC)—China, Statoil—Norway, Total—France, and Chevron. Conoco and Exxon—USA

He was chief financial officer of CVP (a subsidiary of PDVSA's international joint ventures) and rose to become CEO of Citgo Petroleum, replacing Nelson Martínez, who later became Minister of Petroleum and president of PDVSA.

Pereira was part of Venezuela's large oil and petrochemical projects in the 1980s, launching PDVSA to become one of the top five companies in the international oil business.

He was actively involved in several management positions, including the "Apertura Petrolera" (privatization of oil fields in Venezuela) in the 1990s, the most extensive privatization of state-owned companies at that time.

Pereira was instrumental in directing the internationalization of PDVSA in the late 1990s and early 2000s and in the renationalization of PDVSA in 2006-2007.

He was also part of the PDVSA team that created the Venezuelan Petroleum Corporation (CVP). This subsidiary managed more than forty JVs with international oil companies in Venezuela.

His strategic leadership promoted him to the positions of CFO and CEO of US-based Citg Petroleum, which he held until his retirement.

While at the peak of his career as CEO of Citgo (the sixth largest refinery complex in the United States), Pereira was called to attend a business meeting in Caracas at the headquarters of Petróleo de Venezuela (PDVSA), (Citgo's parent company).

That day, the Venezuelan regime accused him of corruption, espionage and treason, among other false charges, and captured and imprisoned him. This nightmare lasted 1,775 days: four years and eight long months.

After the United States government orchestrated his release, Pereira focused on defending and supporting hostage families enduring similar nightmares and broken trials.

His experience made it clear that what he survived can help others who struggle to overcome, thrive and succeed in any circumstance.

He now speaks to spread a message of resilience, hope, faith and survival in a speech titled:
"From Captivity to Freedom: Overcoming adversity and trauma to build resilience: with a message of Love, Faith and Hope"

Pereira is proof that we can conquer anything.

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About the author

sé Ángel Pereira fue detenido injustamente y mantenido cautivo en Venezuela durante casi cinco años, desde el 21 de noviembre de 2017 hasta el 1 de octubre de 2022. Pereira era miembro del llamado CITGO6.

Su único delito fue ser estadounidense. Antes de ser tomado como rehén, pasó treinta y cinco años como ejecutivo de una compañía petrolera y director ejecutivo de Citgo Petroleum (un complejo de refinerías con sede en Estados Unidos y un amplio centro de distribución de gasolineras).

Pereira obtuvo una licenciatura en Administración de Empresas de la Universidad de Oriente (UDO) en Venezuela en 1985.

Se incorporó a Corpoven, S.A. (hoy Petróleos de Venezuela-PDVSA (empresa del Estado venezolano), la quinta empresa petrolera del mundo en ese momento.

En 1989 completó su Maestría en Administración de Empresas en Florida International University a través de un programa conjunto con la Universidad De Oriente (UDO).

En 2012, recibió un Diploma en Fiscalidad Internacional de la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela en España.

A lo largo de su carrera, Pereira ocupó varios cargos directivos en diversas filiales de PDVSA a nivel mundial.

Estuvo asignado a numerosas empresas conjuntas de Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) con Ente Nationale Idrocarburi (ENI), incluidas ENI—Italia, Inpex—Japón, China National Petroleum Company (CNPC)—China, Statoil—Noruega, Total—Francia y Chevron. Conoco y Exxon—EE.UU.

Fue director financiero de CVP (una filial de PDVSA de las empresas conjuntas internacionales) y ascendió hasta convertirse en director general de Citgo Petroleum, en sustitución de Nelson Martínez, quien más tarde se convirtió en Ministerio de Petróleo y presidente de PDVSA.

Pereira formó parte de los grandes proyectos petroleros y petroquímicos de Venezuela en los años 80, lanzando a PDVSA a convertirse en una de las cinco principales empresas del negocio petrolero internacional.

Participó activamente en varios puestos directivos, incluida la "Apertura Petrolera" (privatización de los campos petroleros en Venezuela) en los años 90, la privatización más amplia de empresas estatales en ese momento.

Pereira fue fundamental en la dirección de la internacionalización de PDVSA a finales de los 90 y principios de los 2000 y en la renacionalización de PDVSA en 2006-2007.

También formó parte del equipo de PDVSA que creó la Corporación Venezolana de Petróleos (CVP). Esta filial administró más de cuarenta JV con compañías petroleras internacionales en Venezuela.

Su liderazgo estratégico lo promovió a los puestos de director financiero y director ejecutivo de Citg Petroleum, con sede en Estados Unidos, que ocupó hasta su jubilación.

Mientras se encontraba en la cima de su carrera como director general de Citgo (el sexto complejo de refinería más grande de Estados Unidos), Pereira fue llamado a asistir a una reunión de negocios en Caracas en la sede de Petróleo de Venezuela (PDVSA), (la empresa matriz de Citgo).

Ese día, el régimen venezolano lo acusó de corrupción, espionaje y traición, entre otros cargos falsos, y lo capturó y encarceló. Esta pesadilla duró 1.775 días: cuatro años y ocho largos meses.

Después de que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos orquestó su liberación, Pereira se centró en defender y apoyar a las familias rehenes que soportaban pesadillas similares y procesos rotos.

Su experiencia dejó en claro que lo que sobrevivió puede ayudar a otros que luchan por superarse, prosperar y tener éxito en cualquier circunstancia.

Ahora habla para difundir un mensaje de resiliencia, esperanza, fe y supervivencia en un discurso titulado:
"Del Cautiverio a la Libertad: Superar la adversidad y el trauma para construir resiliencia: con un mensaje de Amor, Fe y Esperanza"

Pereira es una prueba de que podemos conquistar cualquier cosa.
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Hostage US

Hostage US is a 501c3 non-profit organization that supports families of Americans taken hostage or wrongfully detained abroad and supports hostages and detainees when they return home.

Each year, an estimated 200 Americans are taken hostage overseas. We are here to help families survive this terrifying ordeal and help former hostages rebuild their life after captivity. For more information on Hostage US please visit

Hostage Aid Worldwide

Hostage Aid is a non-profit NGO 501(c)(3) that was recently established in September 2020 by a group of former hostages from around the world, families of hostages and subject matter experts, all of whom, based on their different personal experiences as well as suffering have banded together to fight for the release of hostages globally while aiming to prevent this inhumane act of hostage taking from occurring against other innocent people.

HAW will complement the great work that is being carried out by other important organizations that help and advocate for hostages. In addition to providing humanitarian relief and support to current and former hostages who were unlawfully detained, HAW is aiming to work closely with technology experts and different stakeholders to scientifically address the hostage taking “business model” by identifying ways to target different components of this model and disrupt its operation. This will be done by a state-of-the-art scientific and data-driven approach to state sponsored hostage taking which is being developed as a tool with an aim to put an end to hostage taking.

To this end, HAW is in the process of initiating a hostage tracking system powered by artificial intelligence that will assist governments struggling to deal with the global hostage crises and can be used as a significant tool to achieve tangible outcomes.

See for more.

James W. Foley Legacy Foundation

Inspired by the life, work, and moral courage of American journalist, educator and humanitarian James W. Foley, we catalyze action, research and policy to advocate for freedom of all US nationals wrongfully detailed or held hostage abroad, to ensure government accountability to prioritize their safe return and to educate and protect journalists and international travelers.

Amer Fakhoury Foundation

The Amer Fakhoury Foundation fights for all victims of illegal detention as well as victims living under radical and corrupted governments. We look to provide advocacy, emotional, and financial support to the victims and their families. We work to ensure anti-torture laws are created and implemented in countries that enforce torture on helpless victims.

Our founders are the daughters of the late Amer Fakhoury. Amer was kidnapped and held hostage by Hezbollah, a recognized terrorist organization. Separated by force from his family, and under extreme physical and emotional torture, Amer was coerced to sign false documents which were later used against him to keep him imprisoned in Lebanon. After several months of his family and the United States Government fighting for his freedom, Amer was finally released on March 19th, 2020. However, due to the torture, abuse, and maltreatment he received during his unlawful detention, he passed away shortly after his return home. Together, we will fight tirelessly to advocate for the release or rescue of hostage victims.

With your help, we can save lives, bring justice to those denied it, and comfort to those impacted.





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Success! From Hero to Villain has already sold 44 pre-orders , was pitched to 17 publishers , and will be published by United Book Publishers .
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Jose has selected the following organization to donate 30% from each sale as a contribution to help aid their important efforts:

1) Foley Foundation
2) Hostages US
3) Hostage aid worldwide
4) Amer Fakhoury Foundation

Following the checkout, you will be given the option to specify an organization to receive your donation, otherwise it will be split equally to all 4.

Additionally, as first to support Jose on his journey to publishing, readers who order a copy through Publishizer will also receive an invitation to a free group masterclass with Jose live on Zoom.

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Readers who pre order this bonus will receive a copy signed personally by Jose!

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+ 30% donated to support the hostage community

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$996 Group Speaking Engagement (Virtual) + 25 Copies

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Through these various speaking topics, Jose Pereira shares his story of being held hostage and how we can overcome adversity through resilience, hope, love for the family, and faith in God. He discusses how he survived his tragic experience daily, week by week, month by month, year by year until he returned after 1775 days of captivity.

With this bonus, readers receive 75 copies and a Virtual Speaking engagement with Jose, selecting from the following Speaking Topics:






**This can be upgraded to a live, in person event for an additional cost. Email to learn more **

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Update #14 - Mayor Sylvester Turner honors Houston's Citgo 6 with a proclamation Dec. 27, 2023

Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Martin stands at left as Mayor Sylvester Turner honors members of the Citgo 6, Citgo executives Jose Pereira, Jorge Toledo, Gustavo Cárdenas, Jose Zambrano and Christina Vadell, right, daughter of a fifth member, Tomeu Vadell, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023, with a proclamation declaring Dec. 19 Citgo 6 Day.

Kirk Sides/Staff photographer

Mayor Sylvester Turner honors Houston's Citgo 6 with a proclamation

Outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner honored six Citgo executives Wednesday who were held prisoner in Venezuela for over five years, issuing a proclamation that recognized their resilience, determination and faith throughout their ordeal.

The “Citgo 6” are made up of six executives from petroleum company Citgo, which is based in Houston. In 2017, the executives were told they were traveling to Venezuela for a budget meeting with PDVSA, a Venezuelan oil company that is the parent company of Citgo.

The executives were met by masked men with rifles who detained them and accused them of selling $4 billion in Citgo bonds for personal gain.

The kidnappers released the first executive, Gustavo Cárdenas, in March 2022 as tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela rose with the breakout of the war in Ukraine and a search began for new fuel supplies.

The captors released the last of the hostages – Tomeu Vadell, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano, Jorge Toledo and Jose Pereira – in October 2022 following a prisoner swap. President Joe Biden's administration negotiated the release of the remaining five members, and in return Venezuela secured the freedom of two of President Nicolás Maduro’s family members, who were being held on drug smuggling charges.

“The fact that you're here at City Hall today speaks volumes,” Turner told the former hostages Wednesday.

Only four of the six of the Citgo executives, Joze Luis Zambrano, Toledo, Pereira and Cardenas, and their family members were present for the proclamation reading Wednesday.

Cristina Vadell, Tomeu Vadell’s daughter, showed up to represent her parents.

Also in attendance was Sofia Adrogue, who represented the executives for free as they fought for their release. She wrote in a message to a reporter that she was honored to advocate for the executives, and that their survival was a testament to their determination, conviction and faith. 

Ardogue said the executives became “political pawns” who got “caught in the morass of a geopolitical conspiracy.” Members of Congress, the state department, the president’s envoy for hostage affairs and officials from the White House were all engaged with the campaign to help release them, she said.

The two prisons the hostages were held in, she said, are among the two worst in Venezuela.

After Turner read the proclamation that declared Dec. 19 the Citgo 6 Day,

a bleary eyed Pereira got one word out. “Wow,” he said.

The proclamation was supposed to be done on the 19th, but was moved to Wednesday due to scheduling.

Toledo called the proclamation an honor. Both he and Jose Luis Zambrano were grateful to be able to say thank you to those who supported them through the ordeal.

Houston’s business community is international, said Christopher Olson, the city’s director for trade and international affairs. The proclamation for the Citgo 6, to him, was about honoring those who have represented the city’s business community through hardship.

“Our companies in Houston work in hard places, but should not be subjected to this kind of treatment when you're doing just the conduct of international business,” Olson said. 

As she held a copy of the proclamation outside Turner’s office Wednesday, Cristina Vadell called her father her hero.

“He, every day, fought for his freedom, and every day he had faith,” she said. “And what kept us going was love.”

She hoped that others who saw her father and his colleagues make their way out of the situation were able to find hope, and that decision makers were able to find solutions.

After his release, Toledo said he entered a new life. He didn’t know if he was going to come back, he told the Chronicle.

“This is like living a dream,” he said, adding that Wednesday was about fulfilling that dream.

His time in captivity changed his purpose. Toledo said he’s dedicating more of his time to find solutions to hostage diplomacy, which he calls a crime committed with normal citizens.

“They’re playing with peoples’ lives,” he said.

Dec 27, 2023

By Abby Church

Abby Church is a City Hall reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She can be reached at
Before coming to the Chronicle, Abby covered local politics at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor's degree in media arts and design.