Rep. Love: Non-stop negotiations led to ‘miracle’ release of Josh Holt

May 28, 2018, 7:04 PM
TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – The sudden release of Utah resident Josh Holt from a dangerous Venezuelan prison was preceded by months of negotiations, said U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah.

“We’ve had so many ups and downs—so many close calls on both sides,” Love said, adding that there were times when they didn’t know if Holt was going to live through the day.

Rep. Love: “It really is a miracle,” U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, said of Josh Holt being released from Venezuela.

Holt, 26, and his wife, Thamy, have been in prison since June of 2016 on what the U.S. government says were phony weapons charges.

Love described the past two years as an “emotional rollercoaster.” She developed a friendship with Holt’s family, who live in her Congressional district, as they worked to negotiate his release.

“We don’t have any relationships with Venezuela,” she said. “People don’t even know that the State Department had to send people—put them in harm’s way—to make sure that Joshua was okay.”

Love said the secret discussions between U.S. lawmakers and the Venezuelan government resulted in a surprise message from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Jail: On June 30, 2016, police officers arrest Josh Holt on suspicion that he conspired against the Venezuelan government.

“There’s a window of opportunity,” Love said of the communication. “Maduro wants to talk to somebody. He wants to see if he can have a better relationship with the United States.”

Senator Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, answered the urgent request. He traveled to Caracas on Friday to meet with Maduro. The next day, Holt, his wife and her daughter were on a private jet headed for the United States.

“Maduro asked for nothing; it was an unconditional release,” Love said. “Thank goodness we worked hard to put Joshua at the top priority so if anybody would be released he would be the first one.”

Love praised the “incredible” work of U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff member Caleb McCarry. In a statement, Corker also thanked McCarry for handing the delicate negotiations.

Couple: Josh Holt and his wife Thamy were married in Venezuela in June of 2016.

“On a personal note, I would like to thank Caleb McCarry, an incredibly valued member of my staff, for his dogged determination,” Corker said. “We would not have been successful without his involvement.”

After receiving a call from President Donald Trump on Saturday morning, Love flew to Washington, D.C. with Holt’s parents for a homecoming meeting that took place in the Oval Office.

“It really is a miracle,” Love said. “It was like a family member coming home.”


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Rep. Love: Non-stop negotiations led to ‘miracle’ release of Josh Holt