Kidnapping an Election

With gangs rampant in the streets, democracy in Haiti takes a backseat to chaos and insecurity

The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere has a booming fast-cash industry: kidnapping. Ralph Charles knows this firsthand. In November he was held for two days in the slum of Cité Soleil, a square mile crammed with 200,000 people and unmanageable crime outside Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince. Charles, the owner of a soccer team, says his kidnappers never bothered with disguise. "I'm a big guy with a bad temper, but I kept my cool. They had guns bigger than me. They have lots of them," he says. The ring has hundreds of collaborators, including teenagers, and they get what they want....

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