Matt Bush, FISM News
Wilson Joseph, leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that kidnapped 17 missionaries in Haiti, released a video stating that he would kill all those abducted if his demands were not met.
The gang has asked for a $17 million ransom – $1 million for each victim – following the ambush of the Christian workers traveling from an orphanage on Saturday.
In the video, Joseph is wearing a blue suit with several open coffins behind him holding fellow gang members who were recently killed, presumably in recent police operations. Joseph states, “You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood.”
The video makes it clear that this kidnapping is personal for Joseph and the 400 Mawozo gang and that the situation is very dangerous for the kidnapped missionaries, as he stated that he will not hesitate to “put a bullet in the heads of these Americans.”
Kidnappings in Haiti have become exceedingly normal in light of the political unrest that has plagued the country for over two years now, but in the past Americans were largely left alone. This kidnapping of Americans and Canadians, including 5 children, shows the lack of fear and that nobody in the country is off limits. It shows that the police and government are ceding their power to the gangs that already control most of the capital.
According to a CNN article, in the first 9 months of 2021, Haiti has seen 645 reported kidnappings and the reality is probably much worse. On Thursday, in light of this most recent kidnapping, Haiti’s national Police Chief, Leon Charles resigned and was replaced with Frantz Elbe, who was serving as Inspector General prior to the resignation.
In the midst of this kidnapping, the country has been thrown into a new state of uncertainty and chaos. Haitian truckers and drivers are in the midst of a strike to protest a nationwide fuel shortage. A source in Haiti states that most gas stations are closed and, “gas can only be found on the streets, and diesel is being sold for $10/gallon.” With generators the only way to find electricity and gas the only way for many people to run their businesses, this poses an immediate danger for the entire country.
On top of the strike over the fuel shortage, there have been nationwide demonstrations to protest the violence in the country and the lack of government involvement to stop gangs from taking over. One Haitian resident, Lener Francois, was unable to make a simple trip to the local market because the streets are too dangerous. Mr. Francois said, “I cannot even go to the market to shop for food for the orphanage that I work for, protesters and gangs make everything too dangerous right now.”
Haiti is in a dangerous place, and its leaders are asking for help. The gangs both outnumber and outgun the police and the public response of protesting can only do so much. This kidnapping of American citizens could be a turning point one way or the other, either plunging the country into greater chaos, or bringing an international response that could help put Haiti on a path towards normalcy.
To date, the American response is unclear. The statement, “The FBI has a team on the ground working closely with Haitian authorities” has been repeated across numerous news outlets. With this new video threat, many are wondering to what length the American government is willing to go to ensure the safe release of the hostages.