TAMPA, Fla. - As the efforts continue to rescue 17 missionaries abducted by Haitian gangs over the weekend, a woman whose father survived a recent kidnapping in Haiti is telling the story of how her father was forced to live before his family paid the ransom.
She did not want to share her face or her name, but the 34-year-old woman believes it’s important to share her father’s story.
"It was just unbearable, it’s inhumane," she said.
The Haitian American’s father, an 85-year-old Vietnam veteran from Florida, was in Haiti visiting family when he was kidnapped by gang members south of Port-au-Prince. He was held for 11 days and given just one bowl of rice and a few packets of water per day.
"They got three bags of water, and they saved some for tomorrow, because tomorrow never guaranteed another bag," said his daughter. "They didn’t have running water, they slept on the floor on an old, beat up, nasty mattress."
The elderly man went more than a week without the three medications he takes daily. She says the gangs refused to accept even a delivery of his medication during his captivity.
Their family had to pay a ransom – the same demand gang members are requiring to free the 17 missionaries kidnapped over the weekend.
"It’s predictable because the government isn’t doing anything about it, the police are incompetent, and they don’t have the necessary resources to fight against these gangs, so these gangs have more resources than the police," she said. "They’re more structured than the police and that’s the sad reality."
U.S. officials are now working with Haitian authorities to try to get the group released and, even though her father was rescued, she says her family members are still on edge.
"I’m scared to even go [leave] my own house, scared to go in the streets because, at this point, the mentality you have to have is, ‘Get your money ready because everybody is going to have to go through the registers,’" she said. "Because this is just about cashing in."
And she says the government’s instability created a monster they can no longer handle.