$17 Million Dollar Ransom Demanded for 17 Missionary Hostages in Haiti

The FBI races to resolve the abduction of the missionaries, both American and Canadian, as the prevalent but understated issue of abduction in Haiti is brought to light.

Haitian+Protestor+on+December+10th%2C+2020%2C+raising+awareness+to+the+numerous+gang+kidnappings+overtaking+Haiti.+

Haitian Protestor on December 10th, 2020, raising awareness to the numerous gang kidnappings overtaking Haiti.

Jasmin Parrado, Staff Writer

According to Haitian locals, a decision has reportedly been made by the notorious Haitian street gang responsible for the recent abduction of 17 Ohio-based missionaries since last weekend; the gang demands a total of $17 million dollars for the safe return of all kidnapped individuals.

 

The abduction occurred this past Saturday following the missionary group’s visit to an orphanage in a northeastern suburb of Port-au-Prince; they had reportedly been traveling together in one vehicle, and a few of the individuals were able to communicate their circumstances to the director of the organization before they were taken, immediately dropping a pin of their location. The kidnapped group includes several minors, with an eight-month-old infant taken with other children and young teens.

Despite the potential consequences acknowledged by the FBI towards the gang for any harm to the hostages, members are still standing by their initial demand for the tradeoff.

The gang, known as the 400 Mawozo, is infamous for mass kidnappings throughout the commune of  Croix des Bouquet in Haiti. Throughout the past few years, they have rapidly become more prominent, with over 100 members partaking in day-to-day face-offs with Haitian police as well as tax demands from smaller businesses in the area. They are most feared for their several abductions of vehicular passengers, both local and foreign, spanning dozens of victims collectively each year. They do not hold a preference as to who they kidnap for ransom; members of the lowest social class or the youngest age group also span the population of kidnapped individuals.

In wake of recent events surrounding the country overall, such crimes have substantially increased over the course of the year, with hundreds of cases still making way as issues of uncertainty in matters regarding government and law enforcement perpetuate civil unrest among its people.

Though Haiti has been facing this dilemma of national security versus criminal organizations and gang domination, the situation lends itself as a signal to the world of its severity in the aftermath of structural chaos following President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination.

The rate of kidnapping crimes has risen from 231 cases over the first few quarters of last year to about 728, marking the same period of time this year—an overall 150% increase since Moïse’s murder. Haitian police and law enforcement have struggled to defend provinces that have been overtaken by gang activity in a nonstop battle for safety and security, only seemingly insured by the delivery of massive demands for money. The issue is said to correlate mainly with the massive poverty rate existent in the country, brought on by double-digit inflation and other issues prohibiting the progress of many Haitians and leading them to join the ranks of these developed gang connections.

As this case now concerning U.S. citizens presents a real-time situation representing hundreds upon hundreds of others like it in Haiti, it is time to question the next step in this process for the hostages and all victims of ransom kidnapping in Haiti; what danger does this pose as it increases remarkably throughout the country? What can Haiti’s government do to address this issue of national security? What can the U.S. do?

Such questions will be urgently addressed through government action following the case; as of now, Wilson Joseph, alleged head of the 400 Mawozo Gang, has reportedly threatened to kill every hostage if he does not receive what he asks for, regardless of their age or the potential consequences for the action. As time progresses, the implications of this matter become more and more severe.