- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2023

An American couple was kidnapped while visiting Haiti last week and is being held for $200,000 ransom, according to their family.

Florida residents Jean Dickens Tousaint and his wife, Abigail Tousaint, were abducted March 18 while riding in a bus from Port-au-Prince, according to family members who spoke to Miami ABC-TV affiliate WPLG. The couple went to the island nation to visit family and attend a festival.

“They stopped the bus at a stop and then asked for Americans to get off the bus and their escorts off the bus, and then they took them,” a niece of the victims’ told the station. A family friend who met the couple at the airport was also kidnapped.

The kidnappers originally demanded $6,000 for their release, which the family paid. Then the kidnappers upped the ransom to $200,000.

“We don’t have that type of money,” the niece said.

The couple, who are both 33, have a 1-year-old son in Tamarac, Florida.

The State Department advises Americans not to travel to Haiti due to “kidnapping, crime, and civil unrest.” The federal agency also says that U.S. citizens are regular targets for the country’s widespread kidnapping attempts.

More than 1,200 kidnappings for ransom were reported in Haiti in 2022 — more than double the number from 2021, according to The Guardian.

Haiti has been rattled by civil disorder in recent years over issues such as rising fuel prices and a lack of confidence in the formal government. Violence has soared while the economy continued to decline following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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