Surge in violence rattles Haiti as poverty, fear deepens

Yahoo, AP, Evens Sanon and Danica Coto, April 16, 2021

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The attack was brazen, streamed live on the internet: Men carrying big guns walked into a Holy Thursday church service, grabbed the pastor and three parishioners and led them away in full view of cameras.

For Haitians, it was a fearsome emblem of a wave of kidnappings and deaths that has victimized even impoverished people already already stung by years of violence in the streets.

One of the church abductees, Steven Jérôme, spent the first night in the hands of his captors sitting on a chair afraid to close his eyes. Meanwhile, parishioners and and relatives of the victims like Jérôme’s sister, Suze, scrambled to gather money to free them.

“People gave 10 gourdes, 15 gourdes, whatever they had,” she told The Associated Press, referring to donations that amounted to 13 to 19 U.S. cents.

The victims of the April 1 kidnapping at the Gospel Kreyol Ministry were relatively fortunate; they were freed nearly three days later. But Jérôme and others remain traumatized and their relatives find themselves in debt, some pushed deeper into poverty, after paying a ransom.

The abductors — like most — were not caught.

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