The family of a U.S. couple kidnapped in Haiti is pleading with gang members for the safe release of their loved ones.
On March 18, Jean-Dickens Toussaint and his wife, Abigail Michael Toussaint were kidnapped in Haiti after their bus was hijacked by gangs trying to cross Martissant, which is considered ground zero for gang violence after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The couple was on their way to a Rara festival, a celebration of the slave revolution that led Haiti to become the world’s first Black republic.
According to AP, the gang allegedly noticed suitcases on the bus and zeroed in on the Florida couple. Prior to the bus ride, the couple paid someone they trusted $6,000 for safe passage, but now the family believes that was a scam. The couple was kidnapped and a ransom demand of $200,000 has been made for each.
Jean-Dickens Toussaint has also been allowed to make only two brief calls, but too brief to know their general well-being.
Nikese Toussaint, the sister of Jean-Dickens Toussaint, is worried about the safety of her family
“How are we ever going to come up with that money?” Toussaint told AP “To the gangs, I want to say, we want our family back. We are not rich over here.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first time Nikese and her family have dealt with Haitian gangs kidnapping loved ones. In 2006, gangs kidnapped two of her cousins in the capital of Port-au-Prince. They were eventually released but remain traumatized.
Nikese has also revealed that her family has been in touch with the FBI, which she says is helping with the case.
According to the U.S. State Department, the agency is aware of the kidnappings and is in regular contact with Haitian authorities.
The Toussaint family remains patient and hopeful, but every day their fears grow larger and for good reason. It’s been more than a week since the Toussaints were kidnapped and their son has a birthday this week.
“We’re trying to smile,” Nikese Toussaint said. “We have to smile with him, and give him love, and at the same time we get a little smile (from him), and that’s when the pain gets a little harder.”
According to the U.N., in Haiti, there have been 101 kidnappings reported in the first two weeks of March alone, with another 208 people killed in gang clashes during that period.
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