NY Dominican family worries about cousin, fellow truckers kidnapped in Haiti

National News

CHESTER, N.Y. — Ana Apatino of Chester was horrified when she heard about 17 Christian missionaries kidnapped Sunday near Ganthier in Haiti, five children among them.  

Apatino was already keeping a tense vigil for her cousin, Joel Pineda, a 29-year-old trucker from the Dominican Republic who was kidnapped in Haiti 11 days ago with three fellow truckers.

“It’s the same group as the missionaries,” Apatino said of the 400 Mawozo gang, the heavily-armed group that grabbed the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries volunteers on their way to the Port au Prince airport Sunday.

“He and his three partners were kidnapped when they were making their weekly delivery to Haiti,” Apatino said of her cousin.  

“My cousin lives in Santo Domingo,” Apatino added, referring to the capital city of the Dominican Republic.

“They were kidnapped after crossing Jimaní, the border with Haiti,” Apatino said.  “They were going to Port au Prince,” 

Apatino said Dominican representatives for the truck drivers’ union had gone to the Dominican-Haitian border, seeking to get information about the kidnapped men.

Dominican families have been protesting outside government offices in Santo Domingo, insisting officials there are not doing enough to help the truckers.

There’s been a huge spike in kidnappings in Haiti in the last year and a half, with 328 abduction victims reported for the first eight months of 2021.

Some are freed after ransom is paid.

A deacon was fatally shot outside a church in the capital of Port-au-Prince and his wife was kidnapped.

The country has been badly destabilized since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in the bedroom of his home on July 7.

Then, a month later, a 7.2 magnitude quake devastated Haiti, killing more than 2,200 people.

Back on April 11, the gang kidnapped ten people, including five priests and two nuns from France doing ministry in Haiti. They were held three weeks before their release, and it’s not clear if any ransom was paid by the Roman Catholic Church to secure their freedom.

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