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Weird or ironic?

16 December 2008

An U.S. anti-kidnapping expert, Felix Batista, was kidnapped himself last Wednesday (10 December) in Saltillo, Coahuila… and only reported today. Before the polemical spin machine goes to work on this one, I’d like to know the answer to a few questions.

  • If Batista was an expert, how did he get himself kidnapped?
  • Batista was an employee of a Houston Texas “security consulting” firm called ASI Global.  He reportedly was in Saltillo on personal business, but who was he working for?
  • Is ASI Global one of the U.S. companies receiving funding for “Plan Merida”… and what does this say about the competence of the trainers?

The last U.S. training firm down here — “Risks International” and the San Diego Police Department SWAT team were conducting “Torture 101” classes.  Assuming there really was a kidnapping (and I’ll assume there really was… though given Batista’s interesting past — he’s a Miami Cuban who claims to have been involved in Colombian hostage negotiations, and his company — for now — is denying reports he’d worked for the FBI or another U.S. government agency.

Global Response lists Batista as their Latin American “Regional Consultant”, but has scrubbed the Latin American page, which defaults to your generic “Google search” page.  Or my Google search, anyway.  Somthing strange is going on there.  Mark Stevenson (in the Huffington Post) writes:

The site said Batista was a former U.S. Army major who is “known for conducting in-depth threat assessments, the successful resolution of nearly 100 kidnap and ransom cases (many on behalf of major insurance carriers) and investigations.”

The company denied local media reports that Batista was a former FBI agent, and warned those reports could put his life at risk.

By the way, since ATI Global’s business is hostage negotiation, etc. services for Travellers’ Insurance, which makes me wonder if Batista has kidnapping insurance himself.  Batista, according to his employer had his own business — and was reportedly giving seminars to local police and business groups.  Or something else we’re not being told.  ATI Global did tell the media that the FBI was involved… but, if this is a Mexican kidnapping, I’ll want to know why the FBI has anything to do with this.

The whole thing sounds too much like a bad movie of a few years ago (set in Mexico, but the usual Hollywood “Mexico” story, though based on a not-so-bad French movie) and is too weird to be true, or too weird NOT to be true.

Either way, I’d be reluctant to hire Mr. Batista (or his firm, if he turns out to be the late Mr. Batista) as a security expert after this.  Which makes me suspect they were involved in Plan Merida work… only the Bush administration could be involved in something this incompetent.

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