Press Statement Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman,  Washington, DC August 5, 2002

 Haiti: Violence in Gonaives

The United States is deeply concerned by violence in the Haitian city of Gonaives. In recent days, armed street gangs and members of local political groups known as “popular organizations” have blocked roads and assaulted government facilities and vehicles. On August 2, an armed mob attacked a Haitian National Police detention facility and aided in the escape of Amiot “Cubain” Metayer, a notorious criminal and gang leader. The prison break also resulted in the escape of dozens of other criminals, including former soldiers convicted for the 1994 massacre of civilians in nearby Raboteau.

The violent actions of “popular organizations” and street gangs are deplorable. We call upon the Government of Haiti to take all necessary steps to restore order and the rule of law in the city of Gonaives. In order to protect the people of Haiti and prevent further lawlessness, Haitian authorities should pursue and re-arrest all prison escapees, including “Cubain” Metayer, who is charged for perpetrating serious acts of violence in Gonaives. A recent Organization of American States report also cited Metayer as responsible for leading a deadly assault in 2001 on members of the political opposition.