From Hostage to Author: A Journey of Resilience and Redemption – Navigating Adversities and Sharing a Story of Unyielding Strength

Reflecting on my harrowing journey from being an oil and gas executive to surviving during 1775 days as an international hostage, I have channeled my experiences into my new book, “From Hero to Villain: My True Story of the Citgo 6.”

This story, born from five years of being captive with unimaginable hardship, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a deeply personal exploration of suffering, hope, and the strength to endure. 

In 2017, my life was upended when I was taken hostage in Venezuela, separated from my family, friends, and everything familiar.

The isolation and constant threats were overwhelming, but it was the anguish felt by my family that left the deepest scars. They were thrust into a life of uncertainty and constant worry, grappling with the fear of losing me forever.

My captivity meant more than physical separation; it cast a long shadow over every aspect of our lives. 

During my 5 years of captivity, my wife and I managed to keep our connection alive by smuggling over 1,000 letters to each other in food trash cans every two days that were supplied by my family, echoing the desperate yet hopeful communications reminiscent of Anne Frank’s diary. Each letter was a lifeline, a glimmer of hope in the shadow of captivity. They chronicled not just the hardships I faced, but also the unwavering love and resilience that sustained me through those long years. 

These letters were my connection to the outside world and to my family, providing me the strength to endure with the hope that one day, I would be reunited with them, due to the phone communication being very limited. 

The mental and physical toll on my family was immense. Every day was a struggle, filled with the torment of uncertainty and the pain of missing a loved one. 

Financially, we faced severe hardships. The sudden loss of my income meant my family had to cope with mounting expenses and the strain of living on limited resources and supporting my logistics to survive. 

The psychological toll was even greater. The constant worry, the fear of the unknown, and the ache of an empty chair at every family gathering left deep emotional scars. 

For my wife, each day became a battle against loneliness and anxiety. She had to shoulder the burden of maintaining our household and managing the incessant stream of bills, all while fighting the fear that I might never return. 

Our children, even though they were grown up, were deeply affected by the trauma. They faced the reality of their father being held captive, each day filled with anxiety and the haunting possibility that they might never see me again. 

The loss of a parent, even for adult children, is a profound source of pain and grief. 

In the face of this dire situation, my eldest son made the selfless decision to quit his job and move to Colombia, near the Venezuelan border to support my logistics. From there, he orchestrated a complex logistical effort to send me weekly boxes of food and medicine through a third party. 

This was a lifeline in a country ravaged by shortages, where basic necessities were scarce, and I was suffering from severe malnutrition and illness.

By the time these supplies started reaching me, I had already lost over 100 pounds and was battling serious health issues, including infections, COVID-19, and even a heart attack among my pre-diabetes. 

My son’s efforts to provide for me were not just acts of survival; they were acts of love and resilience that kept me alive through some of the darkest moments of my captivity.  

Celebrations, anniversaries, and holidays became painful reminders of my absence. My family tried to maintain a semblance of normalcy, but every occasion was overshadowed by the void of my empty chair. 

The joy of birthdays, the warmth of anniversaries, and the festive spirit of holidays were marred by the pain of my absence. Life was on pause, suspended in a state of limbo where hope and despair were in a constant tug of war. 

Each milestone missed and every moment lost became a silent testimony to the endurance of my family’s love and strength. 

After being miraculously freed through a prisoner swap, I returned to a world forever changed by my experience. 

The resilience and steadfast faith of my family guided me through the aftermath, inspiring me to transform my ordeal into a meaningful narrative. 

I chose to write “From Hero to Villain: My True Story of the Citgo 6” to share my journey with the world, offering a glimpse into the trials and triumphs of those harrowing years.

The decision to write this book stemmed from a profound need to process my experiences and provide a voice for countless others who face similar adversities. 

It’s a deeply personal account that not only recounts my physical and emotional struggles but also highlights the incredible power of hope, faith, and human resilience. 

Through this book, I hope to inspire readers to find strength and courage in the face of their own challenges, showing that even in the darkest times, the human spirit can prevail. In my new life, I have committed myself to raising awareness about the plight of hostages and the need to end hostage diplomacy.

My journey led me to connect with incredible organizations like Hostage Aid Worldwide, which tirelessly supports hostage families and advocates for change in legislation to support more families.

These connections have reinforced my determination to use my voice and story to drive awareness and support for those still suffering. “From Hero to Villain: My True Story of the Citgo 6” is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, Draft2Digital, and all major outlets. 

It’s not just a recount of my ordeal but a reflection of the power of perseverance and the transformative journey from despair to resilience. 

I invite you to explore this story and find inspiration in the resilience and strength that carried me through my darkest days. 

My hope is that my journey will resonate with readers and remind them that, no matter the circumstances, there is always a path forward.  

For more information about my book and to stay updated on my journey, visit :

my website

my Linkedin , and 

my YouTube channel 

Book available Amazon


Jose Pereira, Former Hostage in Venezuela (November 21, 2017 – October 01, 2022)