Who are the 400 Mawozo, the Haitian gang allegedly responsible for the kidnapping of American missionaries?
The news on Saturday that an armed Haitian gang kidnapped 17 members of an Ohio-based missionary group — including five children — thrust Haiti back into the international spotlight.
However, for Haitians of all classes, gang violence and kidnappings for ransom have become an all-too-common occurrence.
Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, has the world’s highest per capita kidnapping rate. According to Gédéon Jean, head of the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince, one gang — 400 Mawozo — was responsible for 80 percent of abductions in Haiti from June to September.
Haitian police believe the group is also responsible for Saturday’s kidnapping.
“The welfare and security of American citizens abroad is a top priority for the Department of State,” an agency official said Sunday, confirming the kidnapping of 16 Americans. “We have maintained regular touch with senior Haitian officials and will continue to do so, as well as with our interagency colleagues.”
The United States Embassy in Haiti reported Monday on a planned nationwide transportation strike and demonstrations.
What you need to know about Haiti’s gang warfare and the 400 Mawozo.
On Oct. 17, in Port-au-Prince, members of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, including 16 Americans and one Canadian, were kidnapped in Haiti. (Reuters)