I spent some time in Venezuela in 2005 and 2006. Baseball is religion there. That's why I was shocked earlier this week when it was reported that Wilson Ramos, a Venezuelan national and catcher for the MLB Washington Nationals, had been kidnapped from his home in Venezuela.
This type of high profile kidnapping (generally, for ransom money) occurs frequently in Latin America. Many times, the resolution is that the family pays the ransom on the hush-hush, with no law enforcement involvement. Other times, the ordeal doesn't end well, and the kidnapping victim ends up "disappeared", whether or not the ransom is paid. This time, there's a happy ending:
Wilson Ramos, the 24-year-old Venezuelan catcher for the Washington Nationals, was rescued yesterday in a mountainous area of central Venezuela two days after being kidnapped in front of his family’s home.
Venezuelan commando units located Ramos and rescued him after exchanging gunfire with his captors in a rural area of Carabobo state while arresting five people, Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El-Aissami said. President Hugo Chavez ordered the aerial rescue operation, he said...
It was clear in reports as recently as yesterday that the Venezuelan authorities were all over this kidnapping. Sure, there was the PR aspect - a high profile, local baseball player was kidnapped at gunpoint - but regardless of the reason, the authorities pulled out all the stops to find and rescue Ramos.
I'm happy for him and his family that this scary episode ended well.