Thursday, November 10, 2011

Venezuelan police confirm Ramos alive

US Presswire file photo
Wilson Ramos was abducted from his home in Venezuela last night.
Updated at 4:14 p.m.

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who was abducted from his home last night by four armed gunmen, is alive, the Venezuelan intelligence police confirmed this afternoon.

Ramos has not been found, however, and his captors have not contacted his family, according to multiple reports from outlets and friends in Venezuela. Police do have sketches of two of the perpetrators.

Tareck El Aissami, minister of interior and justice, told Venezuelan television stations the van believed to have been used to kidnap Ramos was discovered in the town of Bejuma, about an hour's drive west of his home outside the city of Valencia.

Kathe Vilera, spokeswoman for Ramos' Venezuelan team, confirmed the discovery of the van but said the kidnappers still had not contacted his family nearly 17 hours after the abduction took place.

"At this time the situation remains the same," Vilera posted on her Twitter account. "The kidnappers have not communicated with the family of Wilson Ramos."

It's not known if the abductors have contacted anyone outside of Ramos' family.

The Nationals and Major League Baseball issued a joint statement this afternoon:

"Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball's Department of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment."

Nervous members of the organization and their fans awoke this morning hoping for some positive news regarding Ramos. Unfortunately, there were few significant developments overnight as authorities attempted to gather information.

El Aissami told Venezuelan TV station Globovision as soon as he had heard of the crime, he designated an investigatory commission headed by experts in kidnapping, amongst them the vice-director of Venezuela's national police agency: Luis Roberto Karabin.

"Yesterday we contacted the families, we've been conversing with his sister and parents to show our solidarity and our commitment to, in a responsible manner, provide answers for this terrible act," El Aissami said.

"For the family and all the country, I should say that we are committed to this investigation with everything, and without holding back efforts or resources."

Meanwhile, the president of the Venezuelan winter league told local television stations this morning there are no plans currently to suspend or cancel previously scheduled ballgames. All four games on the league's slate, including one featuring Ramos' Aragua club, were played last night. There are three more games scheduled for tonight.

"Suspending any ballgames will not help Wilson Ramos at all," league president Jose Grasso said. "Turning the lights off is not a solution."

The league issued a longer statement this afternoon:

"The LVBP condemns and profoundly laments the kidnapping of Wilson Ramos, player for the Tigres de Aragua. This act has caused great consternation nationally, especially for those who follow Venezuelan baseball.

"We hope that this incident has a positive outcome for Wilson Ramos and his family. For them, we give our prayers to god and we exhort the authorities as strongly as possible to carry out every investigation necessary and to resolve this as quickly as possible.

"We join in the national outrage, and specifically the outrage of baseball fans -- who in Venezuela are a majority -- in stating that deeds of this nature and any criminal event no longer occur in this country.

"We express our solidarity to Wilson Ramos' entire family, to his teammates on Tigres, to his friends and we extend our solidarity to MLB where the young Venezuelan has had a great start to his career.

"We send our prayers and hopeful thoughts for the freedom of Wilson Ramos."

Several other players in the Nationals organization are in Venezuela, including major leaguers Jesus Flores and Henry Rodriguez. Flores started and played all nine innings last night for Magallanes.

Ramos is believed to be the first active major-league player kidnapped, though several family members of players have been victims in recent years. In most cases, they returned home safely, usually in a matter of days.

The unusual, and high-profile, nature of this event has made it a story far beyond the sports world.

"We are certainly aware of the case and monitoring it closely," Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said during an afternoon news conference. "We have not had any contact with the family or Major League Baseball as of yet. He's not a U.S. citizen. He is, I believe, a green card holder. It's obviously of great concern to us. We did cite, in our country-specific information, the very real dangers of kidnapping and violent crime in Venezuela. And we condemn these kinds of violent acts. We stand by to help, in any way possible, the family if they contact us."

69 comments:

joemktg said...

Get them the hell out of there.

Mick said...

What an awful sports week, this just takes the cake. I feel that between this and PSU that it is the ultimate Rod Serling moment. I pray to God that Wilson is safe and I pray for the children that the monster scum violated, to hell with Paterno and all those little John Birch looking student punks rally around Paterno.

DCJohn said...

I agree. Tbe Nats or MLB should send security details immediately to Venezeula to protect Flores and Rodrigues. The potential for copy cats is enormous.

natsfan1a said...

As stated in the previous post, I hope that things are going on behind the scenes to which the media are not privy. I don't care about the hot stove or the ST countdown or who's playing whom in the winter leagues. I simply pray that our catcher will be reporting to his family's loving arms soon. For the longer term, yes, there are security issues going forward (as there have been in the past for the league).

Anonymous by necessity said...

As a retired law enforcement officer, I think it's important to realize that the Nationals and MLB might be silent intentionally. Hostage negotiations, particularly those where the motive is ransom, are not helped at all by being played out in public. I hope everyone balances their desire for knowledge with this reality and that Wilson is and remains safe.

Tcostant said...

This is a nightmare. The Nats should contact the show Kidnapp and Resuce those guys can get him out. This is 50/50 if they get him back - very scare stuff. I don't think anyone realizies what a grave situation this is.

http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/kidnap-and-rescue/

Theophilus said...

I believe Ozzie Guillen is behind this.

sjm308 said...

Once again as I mentioned in the last post, this is not a time to try and be funny - This is a young man who could be in serious danger - nothing we can do obviously but a little respect might be the classier way to go rather then make jokes about a situation that could turn out to be tragic.

Finally an Anon who has a legitimate reason for being anonymous and thank you for the insight

Anonymous said...

At least they have good depth at the catcher position!

Joe Seamhead said...

I just don't understand the attempts of humor on this matter, at least until it is safely settled. Grow up.

NatsLady said...

Ozzie probably got the Prez on the phone first thing, and told him to get our Wilson out of there! Alive, G-d willing.

And, yes, agree, the Nationals organization and MLB should say the absolute minimum. The kidnappers probably knew they took a "rich" athlete, but might not have realized he is an MLB player, famous, and with a world of supporters. Need to not spook the bad guys, they might have a quick trigger.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Wilson Ramos was kidnapped. It is not like he was kidnapped out of his DC area apartment people, he was kidnapped in Venezuela, on the of the most dangerous places in the Western Hemisphere. Granted Wilson only made $400K last year but he should have either a) resettled his family to the US or b) had a house with a scurity system or have bodyguards with him. any player that leaves the US during the offseason knows there are risks in their home country. I hope Wilson comes back home safe but this is just one in a long line of attacks/extoritions/kidnapping aimed at MBL-players and their families in Latin America.

Mick said...

I hear you JoeSeahead and bet these jokers are the same type of clowns who care more about Joe Paterno's legacy than they do innocent children who had their childhoods destroyed. I wiuld like anyone of you jokers to talk your smack to Wilson Ramos family, if you cant, then STF up!!!

natsfan1a said...

I suspect trolls. Who else would stoop to using such an event to try to stir things up? If you're of a mind to, pray for them to have emotional/mental healing, because they clearly have issues.

Speaking of trolls, was just searching for info on the case and it seems that someone has been trying associate bogus information with malware, possibly via Twitter. Be careful what you click on, folks.

Anonymous said...

NatsLady- I am pretty sure the kidnappers knew who they took, Venezuelans love baseball and any major leaguer, starter or bench player is revered there. Wilson is a big guy he stands out in a crowd, if the wanted to kidnap anyone theiy could hjave taken his father or brother, who I am sure are much less physically imposing than Ramos.

NatsLady said...

Anon @9:32 Do you think they thought they would get more $$ by taking the principal rather than one of his relatives? Apparently they circled the premises a couple of times before making the snatch.

I don't remember the previous kidnappings, perhaps because they were not Nats-related, but I understand some were "resolved" and others resulted in the death of the victim.

JaneB said...

I agree that something has to be going on in the background, that we can't see and that is fine with me. I am sort of curious about why they are letting Flores and HRod stay...unless there is now major security for all players and their families. It's just horrifying. Sending non-stop visions of his safe return, and subsequent move out of that country (along with his whole family).

PS: capcha is oures. Yes, he is.

Anonymous said...

NatsLady -I think only one of the previous MLB related kidnappings resulted in a death. However, several have not between the typical pay the ransom and return to your house in afew days, I think twice Venezuelan Special Foreces commandos had to be called into to rescue the victim.

FACTOID: There were 619 kidnappings for ransom in Venezuela in 2009 and while the numbers have not been officially published since then, reports are that number has increased over the past coup0le of years.

NatsLady said...

Here is an article from Nats' prospect Ryan Tatusko about security for players in Venezuela.

http://ryantatusko.wordpress.com/

The Joker said...

Guess we'd better sign Rodriguez quick and not trade Flores. Signing Josh Bard for insurance might be wise.

natsfan1a said...

:eyeroll:

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

Finding Ramos car abandoned and still not hearing from the kidnappers is not good news!

Anonymous said...

Factoids are things that sound like they could be true, but are false.

Yes, I know lots of media people use it wrong. They laid off all their editors.

joemktg said...

Tweets on this horror story coming in fast: follow Mark, Amanda, AK, Ben, but also @JuanchoXIII, @rafaelrojasc

Tim the Enchanter said...

The Nats should sign free agent catcher Chris Snyder immediately.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Folks, I know there are going to be a host of issues that have to be addressed once this situation is resolved. But could you please refrain from speculating about roster moves the Nats might need to make while one of their players' lives is currently in serious danger?

There is only one pertinent angle to this story at this moment: the status of Wilson Ramos.

Thank you.

Steve M. said...

Not time for jokes or talk about signing other catchers. We just need to pray that Wilson is safe.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

NatsLady, thanks for the Ryan Tatusko link.

Feel Wood said...

The Tatusko article is interesting, but keep in mind that he is writing from the perspective of an American playing down there. As he says in the article, he's a gringo. Ramos, Flores and presumably HRod aren't gringos. (I say 'presumably' about HRod because I'm not sure he's a Venezuelan. I know that Flores and Ramos are.) Those guys are playing in their home country. The five-star resort accomodations and security experienced by Ryan Tatusko are an accomodation made by the Venezuelan government in order to get American citizens down there to play. Venezuela is not going to provide the same accomodations to players who are Venezuelans, nor should they. In fact, if given the choice between living in a closeted environment like Tatusko is and living at home, I'm sure the Venezuelan players would choose to live at home, as Ramos was. They know the risks, but it is their home and it is their right to choose to live there. Likewise, for those people who are saying that these players and even their families should be moved to the US on a year-round basis, that is neither realistic or even legally possible. Most of these players - especially the younger ones - are not permanent residents much less citizens of the US. Immigration laws don't allow them, and especially their families, to stay in the US on a long-term basis. And that's been true for years, way before the current right-wing immigration crackdown.

NatsFanTommyInCrystalCity said...

Let's keep the discussion tasteful and constructive. Please, no jokes (even if just to lighten the mood). Like Mark Z. said, all that matters at this point in time is the status and health of Wilson Ramos. I pray for his safe return. Also, my best wishes and moral support go out to his family who must be in a horrible place emotionally because of this unfortunate ordeal. Let's all hope for the best.

SonnyG10 said...

I pray for his safe return.

Lincoln Park fan said...

Mark,

I understand why the Nationals and MLB might not be saying anything publically, but do you know if baseball teams or agents procure kidnap & ransom insurance for their players? International businesses do this routinely. As well, do you happen to know whether MLB's security apparatus has any system in place for situations like this in light of past incidents?

jd said...

Mark,

Thanks for your comment. Wilson's safety and safe return is all that matters here; period.

JaneB said...

Thank you for saying that Mark. I now consider the count down clock to be a count down to when we see Wilson back in a Nats uni, safe and sound.

sjm308 said...

Mark:

thanks for joining in and hopefully people will read and listen you your thoughts

rmoore446 said...

Agree completely with you Mark.

Andrew said...

I have dozens of videos with Wilson. This was at a charity dinner. I edited just the part of Wilson. Look how happy he is. He loves Washington and the fans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlAS-X0t12A

Nattydread said...

Prayers and positive thoughts for Wilson's safe return home and for his family during this difficult time.

MicheleS said...

Still praying...

natsfan1a said...

I join others in thanking Mark for his perspective and focus on the human factor (as always).

MJR said...

Just adding my thoughts and prayers to those of the group for Wilson's safe return to his home and family.

Steve M. said...

I was on a road trip and hung out with Wilson Ramos. His cellphone was on the table and the screen saver was a picture of his family and another picture of his walkoff Home Run back in June.

He said that was his 1st walkoff Home Run he ever had. He then told me his mother had never seen him play baseball in the USA and he was bringing her to America for the 1st time.

Like Nattydread said...Prayers and positive thoughts for Wilson's safe return home and for his family during this difficult time.

joemktg said...

That's a positive statement from VZ authorities. Reiterating:
Get the other members of the Nationals organization the hell out of there. Get 'em out NOW!

MicheleS said...

PRAYERS ALMOST ANSWERED!! Bring our boy home!

jd said...

joemktg,

Relax; The Nats don't control every player's off season movement especially those like pudge who are free agents. Some of them simply go home to play winter ball and are permitted to do so contractually.

jd said...

If no one has been contacted I don't understand how the authorities know anything.

Kidnapping is very common in Venezuela and killing hostages is not normally the goal of the kidnappers. The scary part in this is the part where the authorities use commando style tactics in an effort to free some hostages; that is a very scary proposition for those kidnapped.

Let's continue to hope and pray Wilson gets through this safely and unharmed.

Mark Zuckerman said...

For those who haven't checked the top of the page in a little while, I've updated the story with Venezuelan police confirming Ramos is still alive (though he has not been found yet) and a joint statement issued by the Nats and MLB.

NatsFanTommyInCrystalCity said...

Mark Z.,
Thanks for the update. We appreciate all your work and keeping us informed of the latest developments. I'm refreshing this page every minute for anything new. I'm so happy to hear Ramos is alive. Let's keep our fingers crossed that nobody is harmed during this horrible ordeal.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

jd, I imagine they have other sources of intel on what must be a high-profile case like this. That, and they are going to play this close to the vest, I assume.

Dawn said...

While I appreciate your updates Mark, I won't believe anything until I see that he is back with his family safe and sound. Too much misinformation out there from the media in Venezuela.

JamesFan said...

We cannot trust official statements until this is resolved. The Venezualen police want to spin this with positive news so it doesn't start a stampede of players out of the country--which will happen, despite what they say.

Steve M. said...

JamesFan, I have spoken to a player in Venezuela who told me they are fine and his team contacted him to make sure he is fine.

They expect increased security and he is staying for now.

This isn't like a war broke out. Venezuela and other countries have financially motivated kidnappings all the time unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Ok, unrelated to the Ramos situation, but is Rizzo really going to leave Norris off the 40-man? He'd go Rule 5 pretty quickly, I am guessing. I am thinking a trade of some kind is coming sooner than later for the Nats.

dfh21

JaneB said...

It seems the kidnappers haven't contacted the family inI 17 hours, but they have contacted somebody. Taking the statements literally makes me feel betterr, like he hasn't just gone into a black hole.

Let's leave speculation about Norris's status for another day. There's plenty of time for the Nats to find a place for him. That's my view anyway. Especially in that position.

Anonymous said...

You all obviously aren't praying hard enough.

Tcostant said...

My wife just asked me for an update. I said there was a statement from the police that Ramos was alive, yet there was no contact from the kidnappers. I realized that doesn't add up; after all how do they know he is alive then?

My wife (who I will note is from Mexico, where kidnapping is big business) offer this reply. They know because the police are in on it / know about it. She said it a "matter a fact" way. Interesting prospective I wanted to share here.

Wally said...

TCostant - Or, the reason they went after Wilson, and not his family, is that they are targeting MLB or the Nats to pay the ransom, not Wilson himself. If true, they won't contact the family.

Not sure if this is helpful or not, but several years ago I worked for a company that had operations in Venezuela, and we had the insurance that someone referred to above. We never had a kidnapping incident, but I was part of the team that was briefed by the insurers on what to do and expect if something happened. First thing they said was don’t tell anyone, even people inside the company, that we had the insurance, since it would actually raise the likelihood of an employee being targeted (it is a quantifiable source of money, which is what this is about). (And TC - they also said not to trust the local police, but nothing about national police.)

Like the joint statement by MLB and Nats, we were told that we should say absolutely nothing publicly and let the insurance negotiators handle everything privately.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

All they said was, the kidnappers haven't contacted the family or the authorities. That doesn't mean they haven't contacted someone else, or that someone who knows, other than the kidnappers, hasn't contacted the authorities. Assuming it's true at all.

We are not going to fix this from the blog, so save it; take a deep breath and hope for the best.

jd said...

Wally,

What you say makes lots of sense. Ramos is not likely a wealthy ball player just yet and I'm sure the kidnappers know this so it stands to reason that they aim to extort someone else.

Tcostant said...

Wally - very helpful. I though it was worth noting that many other places outside the US, the local police have relationships with the local crime groups. I though I read here or the Washington Post that the kidnappers had not made contact.

This is scary stuff. I also pray for Ramos is safe return.

Eugene in Oregon said...

Remember the 'rule of thirds' in these sorts of situations:

-- About a third of the information you receive (whether from public or private sources) is going to be about right;

-- About a third of the information will be overstated (or completely wrong in an exaggerated direction); and

-- About a third will be understated (or completely wrong in a minimized direction).

And you cannot know which third is which until after the crisis is over. That means about two-thirds of the information you get will not be completely accurate. That's just the nature of crisis reporting and crisis management.

Anonymous said...

This is agonizing. I can't imagine what his family is going through.

I'm just a fan and I'm beside myself.

NatsLady said...

Anon @4:46 -- me, too. I'm at work now, and can't stop looking at Twitter to see if there is news...

There is a picture up of a sign saying "Free Wilson" at the VZ Baseball Park.

JeanneB said...

Thanks to Mark and other commenters. I keep checking for news, and it didn't make sense that they could assert he was alive if there was no contact. I never thought about the kidnappers contacting someone else.

I read somewhere that a player's mother was held for months, I'll happily contribute to keep that from happening and get Wilson home safely. Awful for his family, and I can't imagine how the team feels, either.

Andrew said...

Some of you have commented that there isn't much news coverage on Wilson. Its almost been a delayed effect while everyone grasps how large this all is.

I have been turning down interview requests as I don't want my 15 minutes of airtime on a families misery. I agreed to send in some candid video and photos of Wilson. World News with Diane Sawyer will be using some of our video for tonight's segment on Wilson as will other news stations.

Surprised they want to use my very homemade amateur videos. They will probably be chopped up and edited to a few seconds.

JaneB said...

I keep checking here, too. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE GLAD TO BE AN INSIDER THAN I AM TODAY. I wish I was glad for an extremely positive reason. But it helps to know so many people are seeing him home, holding him in their hearts, and creating space for the best possible outcome. I am so grateful to you all, and for Mark, who is staying on top of everything. With love and gratitude, JaneB

Mark'd said...

Saw Mark Zuckerman on CSN and watching ABC now. Nice video Andrew. They did put your name up there on the video.

Dawn said...

The Penn State sordid tragedy has consumed the sports media. Hopefully Wilson's ordeal will end on a happy note and sooner rather than later.

Doc said...

Mark Bowman's interview with Venezualian and Braves BP C was extremely instructive.

Eddie's advice don't go back to live there. And when you visit, don't let anyone know that you're coming home. When you get there, stay for only a few weeks, and limit your visits outside the home in which you are staying.

Wilson Ramos is too nice a guy for this to happen to. This is a very sad day for me as a Nats' fan.

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