Horror in Haiti: Kidnappings are big business

It was a clear, cool evening in the hills above Port-au-Prince when Gregoire-Ronald Chery got the last phone call of his life.

Ronald, as his family called him, was on vacation in Haiti, sitting at the dinner table with his mother and cousins. They kept the side door open while they sat and talked. Through the iron security gate, they could see the house of their only neighbor and, beyond it, the lights of other houses flickering on a hill.

It was around 8:30 on August 27, 2010. Ronald's 16-year-old niece, Nadege, had excused herself and was upstairs watching TV in her mother's bedroom. His brother Jarmil was in the living room trying to fix a spotty internet connection.

Jarmin and Viola at Ronald's funeral in Fort Lauderdale.
Courtesy of Viola Semxant-Zucker
Jarmin and Viola at Ronald's funeral in Fort Lauderdale.
Ronald with his son, Ronnie, at a family reunion in 1999.
Courtesy of Viola Semxant-Zucker
Ronald with his son, Ronnie, at a family reunion in 1999.

The family had just returned from a yearly pilgrimage to their hometown of Jeremie to celebrate the holiday of St. Louis. Ronald had decided to join them this year only at the last minute. His job in Florida with the Department of Homeland Security frequently kept him on call.

The phone call was from a friend in Miami. Ronald stood up from the table with a toothpick in his mouth and flipped the phone open. "Hello?" He disappeared through the gate into the dark night.

His friend on the phone — and his family inside the house — heard him talking to another person. The conversation was quiet, and it sounded like someone had come up the street to chat with him. "Hi, how can I help you?"

Suddenly, his family heard a loud bang. It sounded as if it came from far away: Evenings in the hills are often peppered with distant gunfire. But as the family sat at the table wondering about the noise, they realized that someone was shooting at them. A bullet had gone right by the head of Ronald's mother, Viola, who was sitting with her back to the doorway. It flew a few feet above the scraps of meat and vegetables on abandoned plates and shattered a window on the far side of the room.

When Nadege heard the shot, she got up from her mother's bed and went onto the balcony to look down at the side entrance. She saw her uncle Ronald talking to three men in T-shirts and dirty jeans. They were pointing guns at him.

"Get on the ground," they told him in Creole. Ronald, ever the methodical diplomat, tried to stall.

"How can I help you?" he asked them. "What do you need? Money? Jewelry? Just let me know and we'll give it to you."

The guns didn't drop, so he tried a different tack. "Listen," he told them, "I'm a United States federal agent."

"Shut the fuck up," they said.

Nadege walked into her bedroom, praying, and dialed the police.

Thirty seconds, maybe a minute passed. When Jarmil heard a second shot, he stood up from the computer and peered out the window. He saw a man frantically pulling things from the ground, as if uprooting vegetables, and looking around with paranoid glances. There was no sign of Ronald.

Then the man froze. He saw Jarmil at the window and was staring straight at him. "You come out here!" the man with a gun shouted. "I'm going to shoot you too!"

Ronald and Jarmil were rarely far apart. They left Haiti for New York together as teenagers in 1965. Jarmil was the oldest, the guardian, and he was also something of a combative loudmouth. Ronald, by contrast, was calm and quiet — sometimes too quiet. Jarmil often had to ask him to speak up when he talked. But the brothers were inseparable, through high school and college in New York, and their respective moves to South Florida in the late 1970s. They spoke on the phone every day, often just to share what they were watching on TV. Now they were gearing up for retirement together: Jarmil in two years, Ronald in three.

Jarmil drew back from the window, his heart pounding. He decided to channel the cool confidence of his brother. He left the computer and walked up a single stair into the dining room, heading for the door. He wanted to reason with the visitor, talk him down, offer him money if necessary. But he didn't get a chance. The men had come inside. One of them was tying up Nadege's father, using his own shoelaces to bind his hands. The men were twitching with anger, maybe stimulants. Their eyes were blood red.

Upstairs, Nadege knelt by the front of her bed, staring at the glowing numbers on her phone. The number for the police wasn't working. She tried again and again. Nadege prayed that her father would stay calm and wouldn't do anything to anger the intruders. They were probably looking for jewelry or money, she thought, and it would be best not to stand in their way.

A movement caught her eye. In the reflection of the bedroom mirror, she could see the hallway through the partially open door. Somebody had quietly come up the stairs.

Jarmil sprawled on his stomach on the tile floor. He stared at the gunman's filthy white sneakers while an accomplice tied his hands with a telephone cord yanked from the wall. One of the white sneakers lifted, disappeared from view, and came down hard on the back of Jarmil's buzz-cut head. Then it came down on his shoulder and torso.

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36 comments
Wayne
Wayne

Nice tutor. Your way of presentation is really too good. I am totally impressed by your post. I am looking for your more updates. Keep them coming.

Byron bay beach weddings
Byron bay beach weddings

When planning and packing for your vacation to the Caribbean, you might want to add to your checklist some of the guidelines regarding Caribbean tourism.

TheOnlyModerate
TheOnlyModerate

Haiti has no democratic tradition, from either Africa or France. The British American colonies had the advantage of democracy and limited local representative government before the War of Independence.That said, the French "reparations" of 150,000,000 Francs for freeing Haiti (not paid off until 1947) put the country at a permanent disadvantage as far as controlling their own economic affairs.

RockNRolla
RockNRolla

The American agricultural industry made Haiti the way it is. Look at the rice and sugar industry in Haiti to see what I'm talking about. The dominican republic is as bad as Haiti with an exception of 10% of the population which is middle class, which haiti doesn't have. Otherwise both countries have over 50% of the population living in poverty.

bob0101
bob0101

The aid workers trying to help Hait are also kidnapped and charged with that crime. until a "fine" is paid they are held in custody. I am a small business owner who does beach weddings in south florida http://afloridabeachweddings.c... and someone I know asked me to borrow some camera equiment that I use for wedding photography to go there and take pictures. I declined and asked them if they understood the danger. fools jump in where angels fear to tread. I feel sorry for the island nation.

Albert Jefferson
Albert Jefferson

My heart bleeds for Haiti. I simply do not understand Haiti's inability to erect a government that can take care of the needs of its people. Ruthless dictators, greedy beauracrats, incompetant politicians, and, a poplulation stifled by illitearcy and an inability to work together for their common good. Haiti is a BASKET CASE, no doubt about it. Until the Haitian people take back their country from the elite, the "haves," it is an exercise in FANTASY to believe their situation will EVER improve. Curiously, the Dominican Republic, which shares 50% of their island is prosperous and civil. Perhaps, it would do good for HAITIANS taking refuge in the United States to return HOME and implement some of the governmental reforms that are right next door. HAITI is a blight on mankind, to say the least. May God help them. Prince Albert.

EyemNotFree
EyemNotFree

I am not sorry for your loss. Haiti is a religious country breeding out of control trying to take over my country. I do not like being kidnapped and tortured either. I want the monitoring device out of my back the feds stuck there. People that worship MLK are violent sociopaths.

Kikisaintsurin
Kikisaintsurin

I'm very sorry for your brothers death. My parents were born in Haiti Cabaret(i think thats how you spell it) And im very glad they did not rape or hurt your niece, im 14 almost the same age and i can not imagine how hard it must feel to be kidnapped!! I send you my BEST WISHES to find the killer may GOD be with you!!

Waterjunkiefl
Waterjunkiefl

WHO CARES?? THIS IS NEWTIMES BLEEDING HEART BS. HAITI HAS BEEN A TOILET SINCE THEY CAME FROM AFRICA. NOTHING NEW. LEAVE THEM ALONE AND FORGET ABOUT IT....JUST MORE TAX DOLLARS WASTED ON PEOPLE WHO WILL NEVER APPRECIATE IT OR CHANGE...

No mess
No mess

you are a asshole bitch ass water crap

Muchluvmj623
Muchluvmj623

Who cares? Wasting tax dollars? Who tax dollars? You are the same folks that make it hard to do anything anywhere around the world. How about Africa? You say that Haiti has been in a toilet ever since Haitians came from Africa? How insulting and how rude. How can you call yourself a human being? You see what we are going through we have plenty to be thankful for. We are the FIRST BLACK INDEPENDENT COUNTRY!!!! Point blank period. People everywhere are getting kidnapped, murdered, raped and even going through their own disasters. So for you to be like that towards Haitians means you do not know your history! Take a look down memory lane and see the mess that U.S. have been through. Our tax dollars should be paying for other people's aid. We are using it for war when there is not even a "war" going on. Using on welfare for people who continue to lay down and open their legs waiting for US to pay their bills while they live in neighborhoods where drugs are the primary income and where young children are left to either enter gangs, drug dealing, records and no education. It is quite embarrassing to say the least! Maybe this is to hard for you to comprehend but understand this: Those soldiers are fighting for our freedom, people still make it out of those neighborhoods, there are hard-working mothers who do not dare to have their children placed in the welfare system, children who end up as teachers, doctors, professionals and even in the government!....and guess what? SOME ARE HAITIANS! Including me! I am a hard working woman who is currently in her master's degree in the criminal justice field, I am just 22....and guess what? I AM A PROUD HAITIAN! I will never deny who I am to satisfy anybody. Haiti will prosper in the midst of haters, in the midst of all the hell that was brought against them. I see it so I speak it! Thank You Lord that we have a God who does not think the way you think. For HE knows we will make it no matter what you say. So you know what? I appreciate it and I will pray for you because you just don't know any better.

EyemNotFree
EyemNotFree

Blah blah bring the war home.God is a piece of fe e s e a e s

Muchluvmj623
Muchluvmj623

...and for the family: I am sincerely sorry for the loss you suffered! May God Bless you through it all. It seems like he was a great man. Let that dictate what path you should now follow. Let his life be a testimony to the good things that will come to pass with the efforts to restore Haiti. *Blessings*

Ms Ronda07
Ms Ronda07

hold the fuck up! Haiti is filled with human beings I'm guessing your not a human being..because seriously that was heartless!!

zak
zak

and is this first that yahoo(AP) is posting/writing this? There are atrocities like this happening all over the world. Kidnappings in Haiti are nothing new...and indeed horrible.

yahoo prefers to post crap articles about how to improve your relationship, etc, as opposed to the real problems in this world...

As a nation, we could do something to help. too bad all we care about is oil and money...

DUMORANGE
DUMORANGE

I AM SORRY ABOUT YOUR LOSS.YOUR DAD WAS A GOOD MAN AND A PERSONAL FRIEND...AS A FORMER CITY OF MIAMI POLICE OFFICER--I PROMISED YOU THAT IF MARTELLY BECOMES PRESIDENT---I WILL PERSONALLY GO TO HAITI.........

Igdfoi
Igdfoi

isn't about time that this country should just go away. no matter how you try to help them it is never enough.. they cant feed themselves but they sure can breed and yhan they cry about all the babies that are dying from malnutrition and at the same time refuse any type of birth control.next time they have an eartquake maybe it will be big enough to sink the island

Goodguy
Goodguy

WAIT A MINUTE, I AM FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND IF THE ISLAND SINK THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC WILL SINK ALSO, AND WE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MISERY OF THAT COUNTRY.

watever
watever

Reply to IgfoiFuck bitch know some haitian in haiti are better than u. Wat america produce other thieves, rober and crackerhead like u. So wat haitians dont ask u for help bitch, eat shit dont u ever talk about my country nomore i dont care is good or not bitch....

Jo
Jo

You're a disgusting person to have such a mind frame. I'm a mixed Haitian and I had family and friends who died in the earthquake, and they were all God-fearing people. Haiti needs help, and this negativity you're writing about my country will get it nowhere. I'm sorry you're too mentally ill to recognize this. You're such a fool. Obstreperous indecent people like YOU should just go away. Hopefully an earthquake will swallow you're idiot flippant, dissolute, squalid, sorry, pathetic excuse of a human being behind. Get your purpose in life together, fool. Egare!. Ou pa mem konnen kisa wap pale epri ou vin djedje isi'a. Rale ko'w pitit Satan! >=(

Hisacia
Hisacia

the fact is i live in the US and if a piece of crap like these pieses of crap try to get into my house i will unload my 40 cal into their worthless asses you can bet your ass on that, i was trained by one of the finest the us army .

Jundallah Ali Abdullah
Jundallah Ali Abdullah

Haiti is like Mexico they do anything to make cash, this is NOT robber is hate man please,US citizen have to be more care fore, everywhere, anywhere OK.I love you, god bless America.

Martindrummond
Martindrummond

Why is profanity allowed in this article? What happened to AP style? What happened to the editor? This is such an important issue and allowing overtly offensive language that could easily be substituted with (expletive) in order have the same truth would have been MUCH better.

DHDH
DHDH

THIS ISN'T THE AP. THIS IS THE NEW TIMES YOU FUCKING PUSSY! FUCK THE AP AND FUCK YOU!

Trevor Reid
Trevor Reid

The truth is they didn't say "(expletive)". The truth is they used profanity.

Sefloridamate
Sefloridamate

The fact that Yahoo! refers to this free throwaway publication is the tail of the tape for their editorial leanings.

Use Google
Use Google

Yes this trash throwaway rag that wins countless journalism awards is terrible. Congratulations on your lack of knowledge.

Tyrome_dalton
Tyrome_dalton

It's a shame that most of the problems come from the people themselves with the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer more of these same things are going to happen even worse. The brothers and sisters in Haiti will have to have an uprising to restore calm and peace with-in a country full of corruption. And as you see the same black folks that come here don't understand the struggles of black americans that made it possible for them to live here and prosper those same sacrifices has to be done there and weed out those and stand on principles which benefit the people and not the rich only

Jundallah Ali Abdullah
Jundallah Ali Abdullah

is not about poor oh richer bro, crimes happen everywhere, not just and Haiti OK.

lechat34
lechat34

i am not sure if i understand when you say those black folks don't understand the struggles of black americans... your freedom came about after we struggled to get ours. it was then, the revolt of slaves started all over the amrican continent. unfortunately the wolrd turn its back against us for doing so. thus, now we are paying for it. yes, we are hurting ourselves with all sorts of atrocities but it is all due to the fact that when we became independent we lacked the support and have tried to do it on own with the lack of know how. this has allowed a few to take advantage of a bad situatuion in order for the to prosper. we understand your struggles, and we praise you for your accomplishments. we need your assistance but you are not obligated to help. we will one day be free again.

altes b
altes b

This is another reason to admit that there is no functional government in Haiti. The president and all the members in his administration are weak and invalid.

anonymous
anonymous

Other countries are not like in the US. You have freedom to say anything or go anywhere and no one tells you that you are not safe except common sense. In other countries, you have governments that are corrupt and make a profit by kidnapping foreigners or locals and killing them if they don't get their money. The corruption comes from the President all the way down to the lowest Generals etc.

 
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