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Nationals Catcher Wilson Ramos Kidnapped in Home Country of Venezuela

            Wilson Ramos, catcher for the Washington Nationals, was kidnapped from his mother's home in Santa Ines, Carabobo state by two gunmen who ushered him into an orange SUV on November 9th. Following the World Series, Ramos returned to his home country of Venezuela where he was to play in a winter baseball league after finishing off an extremely successful rookie season in the MLB. In 2011, Ramos played his first full season on the big stage, batting .267 with a whopping 15 homeruns and 58 RBIS. Ramos also replaced Ivan Rodriguez, the 14-time All-Star behind the plate. Because it was his first season in the major leagues, Ramos only raked in the league-minimum $414,500, although this amount allegedly provoked the kidnappers to target Ramos (Matuszewski). .
             Unfortunately, the set of events surrounding Ramos' kidnapping is not all that unlikely in Venezuela, particularly for major-leaguers and their families. Yorvit Torrealba's 11-year-old son was kidnapped in 2009 and returned only after the kidnappers received the ransom. Victor Zambrano's mother was also kidnapped that year. In 2008, kidnappers in Caracas murdered Henry Blanco's brother (Matuszewski).
             Officials in both Venezuela and the U.S. have warned visitors and citizens of the country's crime rates. Mario Marmoi Garcia, a criminal lawyer in Venezuela, said that eight to 10 abductions occur daily, and major league baseball players are specifically targeted because they get paid large salaries in U.S. dollars. "What happens is that Venezuelan baseball players, because they come from humble, low-income backgrounds, even though they earn a lot of money, they don't have that mentality of protecting themselves, of contracting private security services, bodyguards and security rings," Garcia said (Matuszewski).
             The U.S. State Department also stepped in to remind travelers to use caution. Venezuela experiences one of the top five highest per capita murder rates in the world, and this number has increased.

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