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 However, last night Panama's President, Guillermo Endara, said he had withdrawn his agreement to take in up to 10,000 Haitian refugees.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
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before