A dramatic ordeal
involving an employee of Wyclef Jean's Telemax television station in Haiti ended
in triumph last Sunday (Dec. 3), after gunmen freed a television news producer
they had kidnapped for $250,000 in ransom, out of respect for Jean and his efforts
to rebuild the country.
Wyclef and his Yele Haiti program traveled to Haiti on Nov. 30 with the United
Nations' World Food Programme agency, to present a one-week festival to promote
artistic and cultural development in the country, which is the poorest in the
Western hemisphere. Shortly
after Wyclef landed, Bidthlerson Brutus, an employee of the rapper/producer's
Haitian television station Telemax, was abducted at gunpoint, becoming the latest
victim in an rash of kidnappings for ransom in Port-au-Prince. The
kidnappings usually involve children and have become the biggest security threat
in Haiti. Brutus
was abducted by gunmen on Thursday, Nov. 30, in front of his house, which is near
the headquarters of Telemax in Port-au-Prince. The
gunmen demanded $250,000 for Brutus' safe release. Later
in the evening, Wyclef performed in front of 20,000 fans and pleaded for Brutus'
safe return and called for an end to the kidnappings in order for the Haitian
economy to develop.SOS
Journalistes-Haiti, a news media network in Haiti, negotiated Brutus' release.
to the Haitian Times, captors released Brutus, who is also an SOS member,
because of their respect for Wyclef and his efforts to help the impoverished country."We
freed the journalist after considering how much effort Wyclef is doing to help
our sisters and brothers in the forgotten ghettos," said a captor who called
himself the "Commander." "I
don’t like what I’m doing, but I don’t think I have an alternative
for the time being," said the Commander, who has three children himself.
"Sometimes I really want to stop...I wish I could have a normal life. We
also have feelings."Feelings
aside, the kidnappings continue to plague Haiti. Yesterday
(Dec. 13), gunmen abducted 10 children in Port-au-Prince after hijacking a school
bus and a car in a series of daylight assaults. Police
are still seeking the captors and have yet to determine the exact number of children
that were taken from the school bus. Prior
to Wednesday's incidents, 10 children have been reported as kidnapped since November.
were killed by their captors. According
to reports, Wyclef Jean plans to continue his work to help rebuild Haiti's economy.