US war games step up pressure on Haiti junta

WASHINGTON - The US has carried out a dress- rehearsal invasion of Haiti in which 1,000 commandos practised seizing ports and airfields. The exercise, held two weeks ago, is part of an escalating campaign by the US to convince Haiti's military leaders that there will be a military intervention if they do not leave voluntarily, writes Patrick Cockburn.

Officials say the plan is for an invasion force of 20,000 men, mostly from the army, in addition to the 2,000 Marines now being deployed offshore. Although the administration would like the junta in Port-au-Prince to leave peacefully, they are determined to force them out of power.

The New York Times says the exercise, similar to that which preceded the invasion of Panama in 1989, involved a battalion of Army Rangers flying from Savannah, Georgia, to 'seize' Eglin air force base in Florida. Eglin represented Port-au-Prince airport. Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, naval commandos practised capturing a port.

William Gray, the former congressman who now coordinates the administration's Haiti policy, says: 'We don't expect the military regime to be there six months from now. We believe that the dictatorship will step down.'

The wave of refugees leaving Haiti - 14,000 since June 15 - is putting intense political pressure on Washington to act swiftly. Mr Gray has announced that they will be taken to 'safe havens' in Panama, Dominica and Antigua. However, last night Panama's President, Guillermo Endara, said he had withdrawn his agreement to take in up to 10,000 Haitian refugees. He said the US wanted to put the Haitians in military bases, 'but the (Panama) Canal treaties forbid that'.

William Swing, the American ambassador to Haiti, has requested that he be given formal authority to deliver an ultimatum to General Raoul Cedras telling him to leave by a certain date. No decision on this has been reached by the White House. The Pentagon still opposes military action, but, after humiliation in Somalia and Haiti last year, the administration cannot afford to have its bluff called by General Cedras.

In May, under pressure from a hunger strike by the black activist Randall Robinson, President Bill Clinton decided to make it easier for Haitians to seek political asylum in the US. He miscalculated in underestimating the number of Haitians who would then buy passage to Florida on leaky wooden boats.

Leading article, page 15

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL)

£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Operations Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the single governing and regul...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufa...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935