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17778: Reid - Consular Incident Report - Abduction in Haiti (fwd)

From: Ralph Reid <rafreid@yahoo.com>

[The following is adapted from a Consular Incident Report we filed with
the United States Consulate in Port-au-Prince on December 31, 2003.]

My husband and I arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on a Dutch Caribbean
flight from Miami, Florida on Saturday December 27th, 2003 at
approximately 3:30 PM.  The primary purpose of our trip was to visit
elderly and sick relatives. My husband had not returned to Haiti for 15
years, and he was eager to catch up with the old friends he would find.
Finally, we thought that it might be a good time to visit, given that
the country would be celebrating its two hundred years of Independence.
After clearing Customs and recuperating our luggage, we left with a

We were driving on the Route de L’Aeroport. Finding a traffic jam on la
Route de Delmas, we turned onto Ruelle Nazon, where we were immediately
caught up in another traffic jam.  At this point a young man came with
a gun to the passenger side and forced my husband to the back seat. Our
relative was forced to make a small detour in the area where a second
armed young man was waiting. Our relative was then forced into the back
seat while the second man took control of the vehicle.  At first they
said that a small amount of money would suffice, and they would let us
go. But they then began threatening to kill us, demanding all of our
money. The entire time that they were point guns at us and making
threats, they continued to make and received calls on their mobile

They drove back along the route de l’Aeroport turning left onto a road
known as the “Route Neuf” which later joins the Route Nationale Numero
1. They drove us into a field, crashing our vehicle through the bushes
and plants. The first thug indicated a spot towards his right that the
vehicle should go to, but the second thug, who was driving, dismissed
him angrily and veered off in the opposite direction, where a third
armed thug was waiting. The field turned out to be a place called "Tit
Anyen." "Tit Anyen" has, for many years, been the place where the
bodies of political prisoners and crime victims alike are dumped and
left to be eaten by animals. When they finally stopped, the third thug
lifted the plants they had crashed through in order to camouflage the
car. They took my purse as well as my husband’s and the relative’s
wallets, in order to take all of the money.  We were carrying
approximately 30 Christmas cards on behalf of relatives; each one was
ripped opened in their search for additional money. They then emptied
the content of our suitcases and my purse, all the while continuing to
threaten to kill us. They assumed that we had hidden the money in
“secret” locations, going so far as to open feminine hygiene products
and toiletries in their avaricious and zealous search. When they were
unable to find any additional money among our possessions, they
searched us physically, forcing us to lower our garments so that they
could verify no money had been hidden. They took particular pleasure in
humiliating us in this way.

At various times throughout the ordeal, they accused us of belonging to
the opposition (Group 184) and of entering the country to disrupt the
president’s Independence Day celebrations. When we tried to tell them
that they were mistaken, they claimed to have been sent by “Titid”
(President Jean-Bertrand Aristide) himself. They also claimed to be
affiliated to the Police; several of the phone calls they made or
received involved the “Commissariat” (police station).

They asked to see our passports and then returned them to us, assuring
us that that they wanted us to be able to leave the country so that we
could come back and bring them more money in the future. They did not
rob us of our wedding bands and my earrings which they did not consider
flashy enough.  In all, they robbed us of approximately US $2,000,
leaving us with 70 American cents and 21 Haitian gourdes (the
equivalent of 48 cents) in change. They also stole most of the supplies
that we had brought for our relatives. However, they did not take any
of the food we had; instead they opened most of it and spilled it on
the ground, which proves that they certainly were not committing crimes
out of necessity/hunger.

They then left, warning us to wait at least 5 minutes in the car, in
order to give them time to get away. They threatened to shoot us if we
did not wait as instructed. They also ordered us to remove all of our
possessions that they had strewn about, and not to leave a trace, or
else.  We picked up the remainder of our possessions (basically, they
left only our clothes and shoes). We then found our way back to “Route
Neuf” through the bushes.

There was a police vehicle waiting on Route Neuf with two officers in
uniform and one in civilian clothing. All three were armed. They were
looking towards the direction where the first thug had initially wanted
to take the vehicle. We did not know whether they were there to finish
us off or were simply awaiting their cut. They look at us threateningly
but did nothing to indicate that they were barring our passage. They
certainly did not offer to help either, although it was very obvious,
given our disheveled state, that we had just been victimized. The
ordeal lasted from approximately 4:15 to 5:30 PM, and we finally
reached the relative’s home after sunset.

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