RYAN HAMILTON-DAVIS and ANGELO MARCELLE
A Toco woman is pleading for her son’s life after he and another man were reportedly taken by Venezuelan pirates a week ago after he left on a fishing expedition off the northeastern coast.
Abigail Gardner is convinced her son was kidnapped by pirates.
Garnder said her son, Giovanne, a fisherman, left their home on Cemetery Street on August 27 to go fishing. She said he planned to be out in the water for the entire day, and expected him to return the following day.
He left from the Toco Fishing Facility with his friend Sebastien Charles, 26, also of Toco.
“I spoke to him over the phone on Monday morning, but when Monday night came he did not come home. Tuesday came and he didn’t come home either. I thought on Wednesday he would have come home, but when I didn’t see him I went to one of his friends to see if they knew where he was.”
That was when Gardner came face to face with a mother’s worst nightmare. She was told her son had been kidnapped.
However, the circumstances around his disappearance are becoming stranger by the day, as people connected to her son are telling her about demands by the kidnappers. She said she has not yet received any confirmation directly.
“People told me that they took him while he was fishing of the coast of Tobago, where they go to catch red fish,” she said. “One person said the kidnappers want US$20,000, but no one is calling me and saying anything.
"I don't know how to feel about it. No communication at all ,and people only telling me they kill him. They telling me all kind of things. It frustrating me.
"This is the first time he ever went missing. His father lives in Tobago and he only crying."
She said the police visited her on August 30 and she reported her son’s disappearance.
“I was about to go to the station on Wednesday when I saw a police vehicle outside my house,” she said.
“The police officer took my statement and then said I should still go to the station. Police said they were trying to contact the Venezuelan coast guard and the embassy, but since Wednesday I haven’t heard anything.
“People keep coming to tell me all kinds of things but I don’t know if he is alive or dead. I don’t know what is going on.”
Gardener, the mother of five, said while she is still confused about her son's disappearance, she is still praying for his safe return.
“He is a very good person. He isn’t rude to anyone. He barely even talks to people.
"A little over a year ago he bought a boat but people stole it.
“This is the first time I have ever experienced something like this. No one is even calling me to say whether he is safe or not.
“I am praying day and night for his safe return. I don’t know what is taking place, but my son is a hard worker and a good fisherman. A lot of people are praying that he comes back safe.”
Police got reports of both men missing last Wednesday.
Fishermen at the Toco fishing depot where the two men left on August 27 did not comment on the incident when questioned by Newsday on Friday.
Sergeant Edwards and PC Maharaj visited the Toco, Cumana and Balandra fishing depots searching for the men. Investigations are ongoing.
FFOS President – drop your nets and flee from pirates
Gary Aboud of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea said fishermen are sitting ducks in the nation’s waters because of a lack of technology and security for them.
“We have no security in the waters. With great respect, we are suffering from gross incompetence, carelessness and sloth.
“We are living in an era where satellites can track movements on the moon. So there is very little that the government could say to me that could convince me that there is a justification for not having a national radar system,” he added.
Aboud advised fishermen to drop their nets and flee for their lives if they are in the water and see strange vessels approaching.
“At sea, our men have two choices – fight or flee. If they decide to fight it is very dangerous, because the pirates are well armed. Therefore, I advise them to flee.
"And to do that they need to be mindful that anything that approaches them within 300-feet radius, they should drop their nets and run. They should not wait for a vessel to come up on them.”