What’s it like to be kidnapped in Buenos Aires?

Taos, an English speaker, recounts his nightmare in the Argentine Post:

I was kidnapped briefly in a taxi in 1999. The whole incident lasted only about an hour, making it an express kidnapping. I reported it to police, who didn’t seem to care at all. It never appeared in the media. Meanwhile, I know of two people who were kidnapped for much longer periods of time a few years ago. Their stories never made it into the press….

Mine was a typical “taxi-knapping” or “express kidnapping” that occurred frequently in those days. I got into a taxi and sat in the back right-side seat. A few minutes later, while parked at a stoplight, a man tapped on my right-side window with a gun and said, “Don’t move or I’ll kill you.” By the time I realized what was happening, another man had gotten into the back left-side seat. He quickly put me into a half-nelson headlock and forced my head between my legs.

They simply wanted my money and tried to get additional cash from an ATM. Unfortunately, at the time, most local banks didn’t accept my debit card, so they thought I was lying and giving them the wrong PIN. The whole thing should have lasted maybe 15 minutes, but because the card wouldn’t work they drove me around for an hour or so before eventually dumping me off in the Barracas neighborhood.

After having my head between my legs for so long, my legs were asleep and I could hardly move them when they told me to get out of the car. Somehow I managed. It was a relatively harmless experience but not one I’d like to repeat.

One of the guys even spoke some English and tried to make jokes in English with me while pointing his gun at my face. It was ridiculous and surreal at the same time. After threatening to kill me repeatedly, at the end of the “ride,” one of the men said, “Don’t worry. We were never going to hurt you. We’re professionals.” He then stuffed a two-peso bill in my shirt pocket and told me to use it to pay for a bus trip back home.

Julia Amante commented:

This happened to my mother who is Argentine and was flying home to visit family. A taxi driver pretending to be sent by her hotel to pick her up at the airport, drove her into downtown, then pretended to break down and asked her for about ten times what the fare should have been. She gave him the money, because she was scared, but not before she scolded him, telling him that he should be ashamed to do this to tourists who are coming to spend money in Argentina, and that men like him made the country look bad. LOLOL. She said he still took her money, but apologized. Sadly, she hasn’t been back since.

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