Venezuelan baseball player Wilson Ramos found alive
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REPORTING FROM BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Major League Baseball player Wilson Ramos of Venezuela was found alive by Venezuelan security forces Friday night, two days after he was kidnapped by armed men at his parents’ house in Valencia, southwest of the capital, Caracas.
According to Reuters, Ramos was found in the mountains near where he was captured. Details of how and where he was freed and his condition were sketchy. Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami went on state television to announce Ramos was safe shortly after calling the player’s family with the news.
Ramos’ kidnapping created a national outcry and prompted the Venezuelan government to mobilize large numbers of security forces to search for Ramos, who had just completed his rookie year with the Washington Nationals.
Venezuela has been beset by deteriorating security in recent years. The number of major league teams with training facilities there has fallen to five, from 21 in 2002. Major league players’ families have been the target of several kidnapping attempts and at least one killing, but Ramos is thought to be the first player taken hostage.
It was not clear Friday night whether a ransom was paid to free Ramos, or if security forces rescued him from where he was being held, or whether he was found after his kidnappers freed him.
Venezuela ranks second among foreign countries after the Dominican Republic as a source of baseball talent, according to the number of native-born players on major league rosters on opening day this year. But teams increasingly are sending prospects to train in the Dominican Republic, where all 30 teams maintain academies.
-- Chris Kraul