To avoid an invasion of Haiti, the United States is trying to induce the three top military leaders of the Caribbean nation to leave for a comfortable life in exile, perhaps by arranging for them to be paid off, senior administration officials say.
As part of that strategy, much of the country's 7,000-man armed forces and military police also stand to avoid punishment by the return of the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the popularly elected president who was ousted in a military coup in 1991.The latest strategy has emerged in recent weeks as the United States received intelligence reports through intercepted conversations and other means of rising discontent among enlisted men and some senior military officials in Haiti, the officials said. The Central Intelligence Agency, which until recently had discounted similar reports, has begun to take them seriously.
To create even more dissent in the military, the United States will begin broadcasting propaganda messages by way of a new shipborne radio station, called Radio Democracy, in the next few days.
The radio has a twofold mission: to persuade the troops to get rid of the triumvirate that rules Haiti by telling the rank and file that their futures are secure if they welcome back Aristide, and to dissuade the Haitian people from fleeing by boat unless they can prove they have a "well-founded fear" of persecution. Aristide is expected to broadcast a message that his goal is reconciliation, not vengeance.
And in preparing for an eventual return of Aristide, the United States has persuaded Canada to begin training about 100 Haitian exiles on Canadian soil as the core of a new police force, American and Canadian officials said. The Haitian force, which is to be trained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, would be poised to return to Haiti to try to maintain security if Aristide is restored to power.
The administration is seeking ways to ease the peaceful departure of the three military officials - Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, the leader of the ruling junta; Col. Joseph Michel Francois, the police commander; and Gen. Philippe Biamby, the army chief of staff - by persuading them to assume that they will not be punished for the repression that has occurred during their rule, senior administration officials said.