August 2, 2017

Old saying are often painfully accurate.

They take a step forward followed by two steps back or you need a score card to know the players come to mind after reading a Time article about Joshua Holt, a 25 year old Salt Lake City native who has been held prisoner in a Venezuelan jail since June of 2016.

Holt was in Venezuela after meeting a girl on-line through his church. They had been married two weeks when he was arrested and charged with arms possession. Witnesses confirm police planted the guns after the arrest.

Since the arrest Holt has had 5 preliminary hearings canceled and his health has suffered badly.  He is forced to eat a diet consisting of things like uncooked poultry and raw pasta. He's lost over 50 pounds.

His family obviously was encouraged by the promises made by presidential candidate Trump to "not allow these things to happen on his watch."

Even more encouraging was the recent release of Aya Hijazi, an American aide worker who had been in an Egyptian prison for 3 years.

President Trump invited Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House and secured Hijazi’s release in 10 minutes and of course  then boasted that President Obama had tried unsuccessfully for 3 years to get Hijazi released.

Of course there is a "rest of the story." In al-Sisi’s rise to power there was a coup and his regime has repeated charges against it for human rights violations. Some fear the White House invite indicated American approval of al-Sisi.

But, President Trump did get Hizjazi released.

Joshua Holt is proving to be a somewhat more difficult problem.

There is valid proof that the Trump Administration has and is trying to gain the release of many Americans held in foreign countries but may have found out this task like many others is way more difficult and complicated than they understood.

They've learned some hard truths about high prices for releases and ugly rescue or ransom options when dealing with these folks.

Holt's case is compromised by news like the following from Monday:

"Yesterday's illegitimate elections confirm that President Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement announcing the latest American sanctions on the Latin American country.

Can you imagine how gut wrenching it would be to have a loved one in prison in a foreign land and especially a country where a dictator is in power and the United States is imposing sanctions!

One step forward and........

Well, you get the picture. Please pray for Joshua Holt.

I'm Steve Sauder