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Alvaro's Kidnapping: A Crime in Colombia



Alvaro's Kidnapping: A Crime in Colombia
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.32

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    guerrillas, knowing, landowner, paramilitary, profile, shocking, terrorist, civil, wealthy, spread, quickly, taxi, ordinary, word, ransom, tourist
     content words:    South America, National Planning


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Alvaro's Kidnapping: A Crime in Colombia
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     The word spread quickly. Alvaro, the wealthy landowner, had been kidnapped. While kidnappings happened a lot in Colombia, it was still shocking when it happened to someone you knew.
 
2     Ricardo sat with his father and talked about the sad and scary event. Ricardo and his dad lived near Alvaro in Colombia. Colombia is a country in South America. Kidnapping happens all too often here, although fortunately not as often as it once did. From 1996 to 2003, around 3,000 people a year were kidnapped according to the Department of National Planning. People were often taken to get money or political power. Much of this came from fighting between groups within the country and violence connected to drugs. Even knowing all this, Ricardo and his father found the kidnapping to be almost unbelievable.
 
3     "How do you think this happened?" Ricardo asked his father. "He even hired paramilitary men to protect him from the guerrillas." The paramilitary, Ricardo knew, was a group of ordinary people put together like an army to help, or take the place of, the real army.
 
4     "I'm not sure," his father answered. "The family is still waiting for a ransom call." A ransom is something exchanged, usually money, for the kidnapped person's freedom.
 
5     Ricardo asked, "Who do they think did this?"
 
6     Ricardo's father answered, "The family believes it is the guerrilla group known as FARC. They've been very active in this area lately. Of course, the other possibilities are guerrilla groups such as ELN or M-19."
 
7     "Why would they do this?" Ricardo asked.
 
8     "Alvaro has a lot of money. Guerrillas need a lot of money to keep up their fighting with the government and keep doing their drug trafficking. Kidnapping means more money to guerrillas if the family can pay for a person's freedom," his father answered.
 
9     "Can the family be sure it's a guerrilla group?" Ricardo asked.

Paragraphs 10 to 18:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable


Extended Activities:

1.  Research the activities of the guerrilla groups in Colombia. Summarize their ties to drug trafficking.

2.  Research travel restrictions in Colombia. What would be the safest ways for tourists to travel? Create a list of safety tips for travelers.



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