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Venezuelan Ransom Funds Hedge Against Kidnaps as Vote Looms

Venezuelans are banding together to create informal insurance societies to pay off criminals in case of kidnapping as violence soars and moves to the forefront of voters’ priorities before the April 14 presidential election.

Groups of friends and relatives are pooling money that can be tapped in a hurry if one of its members is held for ransom, said a Venezuelan lawyer in the city of Barquisimeto who participates in a fund with three other couples and requested anonymity for security reasons. The lawyer’s fund has more than $60,000 divided between bank accounts and cash kept at home.