If anyone has a chance of surviving a Mexican gang kidnapping, it might be Felix Batista. Then, again, if anyone should have been able to avoid getting kidnapped in the first place, he was at the top of the list.
Two years ago, Felix Batista, a Cuban-American whose family lives in Miami, disappeared. The 54-year-old contract employee of ASI Global, a company providing kidnapping advice and rescue, had just been lecturing businessmen on how to avoid kidnappings and how to react if one occurs. People who know him hail him as a hero, in part because of his military service, but more pointedly for the fact that he's helped save the lives of more than 100 people who have been kidnapped.
But on Dec. 10, 2008, after eating at a restaurant in Saltillo, a Mexican town about three hours from the Texas border, Batista was seen getting into a sport utility vehicle.
His family has been holding out hope for his return, or at least progress in the investigation, ever since.
That progress isn't coming.
Exactly two years after the abduction, on Dec. 10 this year, U.S. congressmen from Florida are trying to revive the case by bringing it back into the public spotlight.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, has been leading the effort to put more pressure on Mexican and U.S. officials to work harder to get the case resolved and give the family answers.
At a press conference Monday, flanked by Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Batista's wife and sister, Ros-Lehtinen made the case that the Batista case has far-reaching effects.
"The security challenges facing Mexico pose a threat to our nation and our citizens," she said in front of a handful of news cameras and reporters.
"This case matters," she continued, "because we are seeing an ally, an ally so close to the United States dismantling into crime and chaos right before our eyes."
With the help of Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Ros-Lehtinen has been writing letters and making phone calls to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Mexican ambassadors.
Once in a while they'll get a courtesy call from Mexican authorities saying they're still working on the case, and that the case is still active, but it does little to soothe a lonely wife and family.
"This has been an experience I cannot put into words," said Felix's wife, Lourdes Batista, "because the pain is too great, the absence too long, and the silence too painful."
Dec. 5 was the Batistas' 35th anniversary, the second she's had to mark without her husband.
Ros-Lehtinen says the situation in Mexico is critical. Thousands are kidnapped and killed every year. She believes both Mexican and U.S. officials could do more.
"If you solve the Felix Batista case," she says, "it'll give a sense of comfort to many others -- a sense of progress and resolution."