Josh Holt, a former missionary who served in Venezuela, spent two years in a Venezuelan prison but was released last May. BYUH students said the U.S. and Venezuela should have a better relationship to avoid situations like Holt’s.
According to Newsweek, Josh Holt and his wife were released from serving time in prison in Venezuela. Holt was accused by the Venezuelan government of being a spy for the U.S. and possessing weapons with intentions for civil unrest. The Salt Lake Tribune reported, “Despite efforts by members of both the Obama and Trump administrations, the Venezuelan government refused to free the Holts until Saturday May 19, when Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with President Maduro in Caracas and secured their release.”
According to ABC-7, Holt said while sitting next to President Trump, “I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude. Those two years, they were a very, very, very difficult two years. Not really the great vacation that I was looking for… I'm just so grateful for what you guys have done."
Commenting on Holt’s release, Gabriela Gomez, a senior from Guatemala studying peace building, said, “I know there is more to Holt's story we do not know. But I believe when you arrive to a foreign country with unclear motives, like to see someone you met online, it can rise doubts. Especially if there is enmity between these countries.”
Given the strained relations with the U.S. and Venezuelan government, Jose Alfredo, a senior from Guatemala majoring in business management, said, “I think the current situation of Venezuela is very regrettable. The quality of life is inhumane, their people don’t deserve to live like that. I know there is high rate of crime, poverty, and unemployment in Venezuela.
“I think the situation between the U.S. and Venezuela is really sad. I have met people from both countries, and I have seen the consequences that this has on the people,” Gomez added.Voicing his opinion on a possible reconciliation for the two countries, Alfredo said, “I think Venezuela should try to be friends with the United States. The U.S. is a world power, therefore making business with them can result in an advantage for Venezuela. I know Venezuela has one of the biggest reserves of Petroleum. They could sell it to the U.S. This will help them go out of the crisis they are facing.”
Seeing possible peaceful solutions with other former belligerent states, Gomez said, “I wish their situation can improve. Seeing the U.S. working at a relationship with Cuba and more recently with North Korea, gives me hope that things will work out for Venezuela too.”
Looking into the next couple years, Alfredo said, “I don’t see relationships improving in the near future. The Venezuelan president doesn’t see to have any desire in doing so. It will take two or three presidents for things to change.”