Businesses, schools and public transportation remained closed in Haiti on Tuesday to demonstrate against the violence that’s gripped the Caribbean island since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July. File Photo by Orlando Barria/EPA-EFE
Oct. 19 (UPI) — A Haitian gang that abducted more than a dozen aid workers last weekend are demanding ransoms of $1 million for each of them, the country’s justice minister said Tuesday.
The 400 Mawozo gang took 17 workers, who are with a U.S.-based Christian aid group, in a community near Port-au-Prince on Saturday. Sixteen of the hostages are American citizens and one is Canadian.
The aid workers had just built an orphanage in the area when they were abducted.
“The demand was made to the country chief of the Christian Aid Ministries — they asked for $1 million per person,” Haiti justice minister Liszt Quitel told The New York Times.
“Often these gangs know these demands cannot be met and they will consider a counter offer from the families, and the negotiations can take a couple of days sometimes, or a couple of weeks.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the FBI is working for their release and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has contacted the families.
Alex Saint Surin, a Miami-based Haitian broadcaster, said the only country the gangs fear is the United States.
“If the U.S. doesn’t do anything to get the missionaries out without paying a ransom, it will open the door for I don’t know how many kidnappings a day,” Saint Surin told The Miami Herald. “There will be no exceptions, not even for diplomats.
“The U.S. will be giving a blank check to the gangs, saying ‘go ahead and do it every day.'”
Businesses, schools and public transportation remained closed on Tuesday to demonstrate against the violence that’s gripped the Caribbean island since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July.