Crime in Colombia: Alvaro's Kidnapping

Caption: Citizens of Colombia protest against kidnappings and miltary rescue operations of FARC hostages.

The word spread quickly throughout the town. Alvaro, the wealthy landowner, had been kidnapped. While kidnappings happened quite frequently in Colombia, it was still quite shocking and appalling when it happened to someone you knew.

Nearby, Ricardo sat with his father and talked about the sad and unexpected event. Alvaro, Ricardo, and Ricardo's father all lived in Colombia. Colombia is a country in South America. From 1996 to 2003, around 3,000 people a year were kidnapped according to the Department of National Planning. However, to Ricardo and his father, the kidnapping seemed unbelievable.

"How could this have happened?" Ricardo asked his father. "Alvaro did everything he was supposed to do to keep safe. He even hired paramilitary to protect him from the guerrillas."

"I'm not sure what went wrong," Ricardo's father answered. "The family is still waiting for what they hope will be a ransom call." A ransom is something exchanged, usually money, for the kidnapped person's freedom.

Ricardo asked, "Who do they think did this?"

Ricardo's father answered, "The family believes it is the guerrilla group known as FARC. They've been very active in this area lately. They continue their terrorist activities, looking for ransom or political bargaining chips. It doesn't matter anymore what a person's job or nationality is or anything. They just need the money to keep the civil war going. Of course, the other possibilities are other guerrilla groups such as ELN or the National Liberation Army."

"Why would they do this to Alvaro?" Ricardo asked.

"Alvaro has a lot of money. Guerrillas need a lot of money to keep up their fighting with the government and keep the drug trafficking going. Kidnapping means more money to guerrillas if the family can afford to pay for a person's freedom," his father answered.

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