Wilson Ramos Kidnapped in Venezuela: What the Media Is Saying
Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is believed to be alive after being kidnapped in Valencia, Venezuela's third largest city, on Wednesday. Ramos was taken from his mother's home by four gunmen.
Major League Baseball investigators are working with authorities on the matter. MLB said in a joint statement with the Nationals, "Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family, and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball's department of investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment."
Captors have not made contact with Ramos' family, according to Venezuelan Professional Baseball League vice president Domingo Alvarez, and the vehicle used in the abduction has been found. Ramos is believed to be alive.
News of the kidnapping made national headlines Wednesday, with the majority of media outlets reporting that the act was not surprising.
Fox Sport's Jon Paul Morosi wrote, "Aside from the immediate concern for Ramos’ safety, the most chilling aspect of the incident is that we can’t dismiss it as an anomaly. Quite the opposite: It was inevitable. 'I’m surprised,' one American League executive told me Thursday, 'this hasn’t happened before.' "
USA Today's Jorge Ortiz concurred, "Venezuelan players who return home sometimes become victims of their own fame. Ortiz outlined the security measures taken for players in the country including bodyguards, charter planes, hired drivers and security in and out of the dugout.
The Associated Press reported that Ramos is the first MLB player known to have been kidnapped in Venezuela "but several other players have seen family members abducted, including the mothers of former pitchers Victor Zambrano and Ugueth Urbina and the son and brother-in-law of current catcher Yorvit Torrealba. According to a State Department report from last year, kidnapping is seen as 'a growing industry' in Venezuela and there were 9.2 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants in the country."
"Express kidnappings," are the most frequent in Venezuela, according to the New York Times, with victims released within a day. Ramos' case, the paper notes, appears to be a more elaborate scheme most likely perpetrated by "criminal gangs, which operate with a large degree of impunity in Venezuela."
Ramos was in his native country to play winter-league baseball for the Tigres de Aragua team.
The BBC reports that team president Rafael Rodriguez Rendon "visited Mr Ramos's family to express the team's 'solidarity' with them" and "has called for 'caution and calm' while the authorities investigate.