Wednesday, October 1, 2014

LDS Mission President Robbed By Armed Bandits Near Buenos Aires, Argentina, But Was Unhurt

KSL Channel 5 is reporting that a mission president in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was briefly held, robbed, then released by armed bandits in Argentina. David Paul Robertson, 52, president of the Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission, was driving his Toyota Hilux truck in Ciudadela (a Buenos Aires suburb) on the night of September 24th when armed bandits stopped him at an intersection. The thieves held President Robertson for a few minutes, then released him, taking his truck, computer, cell phone and cash. This is described as an "express kidnapping", which has emerged as a special category of crime in Argentina becoming sufficiently commonplace so as to trigger a U.S. Embassy warning to Americans living in and traveling to Argentina. Crime has become so prevalent that in April 2014, Buenos Aires authorities declared a state of emergency to cope with it. Comments posted to KSL indicate it is not uncommon for missionaries to get robbed in Argentina.

Although there's no evidence that American visitors are being preferentially targeted, Argentina's notoriously unstable President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has stirred up some anti-American feeling by vague charges that the U.S. is trying to remove her from power. This is fueled by Argentina's refusal to pay a $1.3 billion judgment awarded by New York Judge Thomas Griesa to vulture fund investors who refused to accept a "haircut" on Argentinian bonds from the country’s previous default in 2001. Persistent economic stagnation in Argentina has caused the Argentine peso to continue to fall and triggered a steady rise in crime levels. On the bright side, this is President Kirchner's last term in office, and a prospective rival candidate for president has publicly questioned Kirchner's sanity.

President Robertson took over as president of the Buenos Aires West mission in July 2014. He and his wife, Juliana Marie Hendershot Robertson, have seven children. He is a former counselor in a stake presidency, stake Young Men president, bishop, and missionary in the Brazil Recife Mission, as well as a SANW area controller, Corporation of the Presiding Bishop.

The Spanish-language also has a published account.

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