Wilson Ramos, the rookie catcher for the Washington Nationals baseball team, was recently kidnapped outside his home in his native country of Venezuela. Ramos garners attention because he is an athlete, but kidnappings are an epidemic in Latin America.
Suspected kidnapping vehicle found
Wilson Ramos, a catcher for the Washington Nationals, enjoyed a rather successful rookie season, according to The Guardian, with 15 home runs, 52 RBIs and a batting average of .267. He also ranked third among catchers in the National League of MLB for throwing out runners trying to steal bases, throwing out 19 in 67 attempts with a success rate of 28 percent.
He returned home to his native country of Venezuela to play in the winter leagues, a common practice there, and was enjoying a night at home with family on the night of Wednesday, Nov. 9, when he was seized by four men at gunpoint. He was whisked away in an SUV, which was found in a nearby ravine. Venezuelan officials have dispatched their top investigators to try to get Ramos back alive.
Baseball players becoming targets
Ramos qualified on playing merits to receive the MLB’s minimum salary of $414,500, according to CBS. That makes him a wealthy man in his home country.
Unfortunately, Venezuelan baseball players who make it into the American MLB have become targets of kidnappings. Victor Zambrano’s mother was kidnapped in 2009 just days after his cousin was similarly grabbed. His mother was rescued three days later, but his cousin was murdered by his captors. The brother-in-law and 11-year-old son of Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba were also kidnapped that year and later released. Ramos, according to Time magazine, is the fourth MLB star to be involved in a kidnapping in Venezuela.
Kidnapping has become epidemic in Latin America. Only 52 kidnappings were reported in 1998, when current president Hugo Chavez was elected. The number of incidents accelerated to 618 in 2009, according to CBS. According to Time, the number of murders in Venezuela has also increased from 4,550 to 16,047 in that same time. Roughly 90 percent of all crimes there go unsolved.
Most kidnappings are attributed to revolutionary groups such as FARC in Colombia and also narco-cartels. In 2005, according to MSNBC, Mexico eclipsed Colombia as the world’s capital for reported incidents of kidnapping, when 194 incidents took place in the first half of the year. Of those, one in seven were murdered by their captors.
According to the Washington Post, the number of kidnappings in Mexico has increased by more than 500 percent since 2005. More than 2,000 incidents took place in 2010. In 2010, according to the AFP, there were 282 reported incidents of kidnapping in Colombia, marking a 32 percent increase from the previous year.
The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/nov/10/wilson-ramos-kidnapping-vehicle-found?newsfeed=true
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/26/AR2011022603384.html
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