Kidnap express (WAS Re: Jitney)]

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Wed Dec 13 22:35:12 UTC 2000

Somehow this note got stuck in my outbox.  Just before deciding to
discard it, I realized that the term "kidnap express" I report on here
deserves better treatment than a trip to my trash can.  So here 'tis!

Grant Barrett wrote:

> Similar transportation in Colombia, that is, people-moving services that a)are
> clearly not taxis (no meter, fixed route, multipled passengers, flat fee),
> b) are not run by the government and
> c) follow a pre-arranged, regular route (like a bus), are
> called "por puestos."

In Mexico City, back when the peso was worth something real, the same
kind of service was provided by "peseros" -- which  might reasonably be
translated as "peso-mobiles".  In theory, they have been replaced by
small (12 - 18 passenger) buses buses called "ruteros" (route-mobiles?)

In action, the old peseros drove in the right-hand lane when they had
room for another passenger, farther to the left (and in faster traffic)
when they were full.  An additional indication that there was space was
that the pesero driver would hold his hand out the window with one
finger extended.

Nowadays I tend to spend very little time in Mexico City even though I
still visit the country fairly often.  One of my reasons for avoiding
the city is a new form of transit crime called "kidnap express", which
for a time became so routine that Mexico City newspapers stopped
reporting on it.

"Kidnap express" is thoroughly dependent on electronic communications.
Passengers hail what looks like an ordinary taxicab, only to find
themselves kidnapped and hauled to some convenient ATM.  They are then
forced to withdraw cash on their ATM cards to buy their freedom.
Victims who carry cell phones but don't carry ATM cards are "encouraged"
to call a relative or friend who can access an ATM account to come pay
ransom for their release.  Kidnap and ransom (or rescue) come so close
together that it would be very hard to catch the perpetrators even if
many of the perpetrators didn't also happen to be members of the police

-- mike salovesh                    <salovesh at>

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