By Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
VALENCIA, Venezuela — Five alleged abductors, including a Colombian linked to paramilitary and kidnapping groups, were arrested on Friday in connection to the kidnapping of Washington Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos. Ramos, 24, was abducted at gunpoint outside his home on Wednesday night and held for ransom by his abductors until police managed to save him in a violent rescue mission on Friday.
Ramos, a Venezuela native, had returned to his homeland to play during the offseason in a Venezuelan league. He was with relatives outside his house, located in a working-class neighborhood in Valencia, when he was thrown into an SUV by the abductors and taken into the mountains. For two days, he was put in a room with a bed and was told that he was going to be ransomed out for “a ton of cash.”
Venezuelan police were able to track down and rescue Ramos on Friday after locating the stolen SUV which was used for the kidnapping. They exchanged heavy gun fire with the kidnappers outside the home where he was being held. President Huge Chavez authorized the aerial search mission.
Ramos, who was unharmed, has been reunited with his family. His mother, Maria Campos de Ramos, thanked God, her country, her neighbors, and her family for all the support on national television.
According to Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami, authorities have arrested five of the captors. They are still searching for four Colombian men who escaped during the rescue.
Ramos’ kidnapping is the first known kidnapping of a Major League Baseball player in Venezuela. His kidnapping ordeal ended happily for him and his family with a successful rescue, but it is not a common ending for many of Venezuela’s hostages who typically die when a large ransom is not paid.
Kidnappings in Venezuela have soared in the recent years and have become a huge problem for the Chavez administration. Government statistics reveal that 859 kidnappings were reported last year; a number 20 times higher since Chavez first came to power 13 years ago.
One of Ramos’ representatives announced on twitter today that, despite the kidnapping ordeal, Ramos still intents to play for the Venezuelan Winter League on Wednesday, November 16.
For further information, please see:
NPR – In Venezuela, An Abduction Highlights A Scourge – 13 November 2011
The Boston Globe – Ramos Thankful After Kidnapping Ordeal – 13 November 2011
Yahoo Sports – Kidnapping Ordeal Over, Wilson Ramos Intends to Play in Venezuela – 13 November 2011
Fox News – Venezuelan Police Free Major Leaguer Wilson Ramos – 11 November 2011