SI Vault
 
UNDER SIEGE
THOMAS LAKE
February 06, 2012
IN CRIME-RIDDEN VENEZUELA, EVERY CELEBRITY IS A POTENTIAL TARGET AND BASEBALL STARS HAVE BECOME AN INVITING MARK. NATIONALS CATCHER WILSON RAMOS IS ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES—HE SURVIVED HIS KIDNAPPING. BUT HE KNOWS THAT ESCAPING POVERTY AND FULFILLING MAJOR LEAGUE DREAMS CAN LAND YOU IN A DIFFERENT KIND OF PRISON
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
February 06, 2012

Under Siege

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Thus, when Wilson Ramos emerged from the jungle barely 48 hours after he was taken, the government's account of his rescue failed to convince everyone. In one private conversation after another, well-known members of Venezuela's baseball community cast doubt on the official version of events. The story described federal agents going bravely into the wilderness to rescue Ramos in a hail of bullets that apparently hit no one. The skeptics considered this a play by the Chávez regime to remix the truth for its own benefit—to show the world that Venezuela wouldn't let the malandros snatch a baseball player and get away with it.

Well, something happened to bring Ramos home. The skeptics had their theories. And in a country where real life can imitate an overwrought spy novel, nothing was too strange to consider.

Here is Ramos's own account of the kidnapping.

The gunmen threw him upside down into the Captiva and covered his face with his own black T-shirt. Although he couldn't see his brother and friends giving chase, he could hear his captors talking about it.

Those guys are going to get someone killed, one of them said, or something to that effect.

Finally the Captiva shook its pursuer, and everyone calmed down. Wilson could hear them talking in code. Along with his gold chain they had his cellphone, which they soon realized was a bad idea. Throw it out, one of them said. Throw it out.

Don't hurt me, Wilson said.

Relax, the kidnappers said, we're not going to hurt you—we're just going to negotiate for money.

They uncovered his face as they switched him to another SUV, but they tied his hands. They led him into the mountains, deep into the wilderness, and when they reached a mud hut they untied his hands. Three men had taken him; now four other men watched him. He thought about trying to get away—in fact, he had more than one chance to flee—but decided against it out of fear that the kidnappers would harm him if he tried. They still had guns, after all. The kidnappers kept offering him food, arepas with sardines, but he was too anxious to eat much. He lost 10 pounds in those two days and nights.

It was dark in the hut on the lonely mountain, and the bed was hard, and Ramos thought of his mother. He believed she was crying and praying, crying and praying, which of course she was. That's all she did while he was gone, other than sleep. She was calling out to God.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9