Haitian-American couple from South Florida kidnapped in Haiti has been released

A Haitian-American couple from South Florida who were both kidnapped in Haiti were released after being held captive for close to a month. Abigail and Jean-Dickens Toussaint flew to Haiti to see an ill relative according to the Miami Herald. They were also in the country to participate in Rara, a festival, and religious ritual connected to Haiti’s revolutionary and Vodou roots. They were kidnapped in Martissant, a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince while en route to the city of Leogane.

Martissant is a neighborhood that is gang-controlled and is the country’s most dangerous area which has also had closed off roads and traffic since June of 2021. The gang members holding the couple hostage, including their cousin, asked their family for $200,000 per person. This is after the gang already received an initial amount of $6,000 from relatives. Jean-Dickens confirmed that the couple was released Thursday morning but didn’t provide any further details. It isn’t known if the couple was released by paying a ransom outside the $6,000 initially given. Haitian media reported that an undisclosed amount was paid for their freedom.

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The U.S. State Department is urging citizens not to travel to Haiti and to leave if they are currently in the country. As per the findings of the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti has witnessed a significant surge of 173% in the number of kidnappings since the commencement of this year, in comparison to the corresponding period of the preceding year.