March 27th, 2009
11:09 PM ET

Kidnapped in Mexico

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/01/07/security.expert.kidnap/art.felixb.jpg caption="Felix Batista, 55, disappeared December 10, after a meeting at a restaurant in Saltillo, Mexico."]

John Zarrella
CNN Correspondent

In a quiet neighborhood in Miami on a street that could be in any city, in a home that could be yours, lives a family whose shoes you would not want to be in. Every day they wait for the phone call that never comes. Every day they pray that Felix will come home. Every day is filled with anguish. "Every hour on the hour I think of Felix and his well being. Where is he?," asks his wife Lourdes Batista as she holds back the tears.

Felix Batista was sitting in a restaurant in the city of Saltillo, Mexico when he got a call on his cell phone. He left the table, went outside and got in a car. That was December 10th. He has not been heard from since. Vanished. Gone. Batista is perhaps one person you would never expect could be kidnapped. You see, he is an internationally respected anti-kidnapping consultant. When he disappeared, Batista was in Mexico participating in a seminar on how not to get kidnapped. Mexican authorities say surveillance video from the restaurant shows he got in the car willingly.

For the first month, the Batista family kept quiet. They were advised not to go public. There was a belief, even a hope that a ransom would be demanded and the ordeal would be over quickly. That never happened. Even since they first went public in January with their pleas to whoever took Felix, the phone has been silent. But, the family will not give up hope. Lourdes and her five children work constantly keeping Felix in the public eye.

When I met them,  two of his daughters Amari and Diana were writing messages on t-shirts that say, "I don't want money, I want my dad." They wear the t-shirts when they are passing out fliers on street corners or a schools or at the county fair. The fliers ask people to sign a petition calling for Felix's story to be part of every conversation a U.S. official has in Mexico. The petition will be delivered to the White House next month.

In another room of the house Felix's sister Jackie and his daughter Adrielle are pouring over pictures of Felix that will be used on a new web site. There's one of Felix playing a guitar. Adrielle says she always made her dad play the guitar and sing her to sleep at night. Doing all this is the only way the family knows to make people aware of what happened to Felix Batista. It is also, says Jackie, cathartic. Jackie lives in New York. She flew down a couple days ago to support Lourdes when she appeared on the Larry King Show. Staying active, Jackie says, is the only way she can get out of bed every morning.

They are a strong family. But as you sit there and talk with them and watch them you can sense the pain. There is great pain in not knowing. The comfort is in knowing they have each other.

Filed under: 360° Radar • John Zarrella • Mexico
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Michael "C" Lorton, VA

    A risky business to be in--anti-kidnapping--looks like he has become the victim--–safe return Felix-–

    March 30, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  2. Cecilia Mundy

    I am so disgusted that some people have such misused power. How horrible to in a place of where corruption is normal. I heart goes out to the families that have been touched by the ruthless walking things not deserving to be called humans with the lack of respect for life and the pain they cause. Yes I am angry that it has not been takin care of. Why can't someone destroy their fields of profit. CM

    March 29, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  3. erin morrissey

    My prayers go out to the family. As Mr. Edward Olmos said last night on Larry King Live, do not travel to Mexico. I know of a family going to Puerta Viarta? spelling? in a week.
    I feel for this man and wish we could get him home safe.

    Again, I praise you for your hard work this week doing this report.
    You are an excellent journalist. Keep up the great work.

    March 28, 2009 at 12:59 am |
  4. Lori

    how can I sign their petition? what is their web site address? I can't imagine what they are going through! my thoughts and prayers are with them!

    March 28, 2009 at 12:33 am |