January 23, 1988
- The Haitian Conference of Bishops is extremely preoccupied with the situation in Haiti after the elections of January 17, 1988.
- While the elections of November 29, 1987 gave rise to a human drama that took the lives of a number of innocent people, those held on January 17, 1988 were a challenge to political morality, although there were no dead, no wounded.
- Within the framework of her pastoral mission, the Haitian Church cannot remain silent. She must be ready at all time, to raise her voice to reiterate that political activity must take into account and respect the fundamental values of human dignity, truth, freedom and justice.
- Politics is one of the dimensions of human activity. It must integrate all the moral values that should inspire the behavior of men. It is the responsibility of the Church to call the attention of the people on moral values to be promoted toward the common good of human being and national community. Maneuvers, manipulations, threats and demagogic promises that pervert political activity ought to be denounced. This is the mission of the church thrust upon her by the will of God, her founder.
- The bishops who were present in their respective diocese on election day, saw for themselves that, in its large majority, the population abstained from voting.
Some bishops do have in their possession detailed reports or have heard testimony to the effect that the turnout in many parishes was extremely low.
- Based on the testimony of reliable people, we can say with authority, that moral fundamental values have been violated both during the electoral process and during election day: values relating to truth, liberty, justice and respect for human rights.
- Through the media, we have been informed of many irregularities and fraud: voting by minors and many cases of multiple voting.
- In many places illiterate people were forced to vote and the secrecy of the vote was not respected. Extension services workers, church aids, chapel directors, church school teachers, illiteracy programs auxiliaries, other citizens were arrested on the ground of propaganda against elections. Under the circumstances, how could the Church not say that those elections were neither morally free, nor just, nor truthful.
- A systematic disinformation campaign against the Church, its institutions and its personnel has been and is currently being carried out forcefully. In spite of its repeated declaration to the effect that the Church favors no candidate whatsoever, people were led to believe that the Episcopal conference had been working in favor of getting one particular candidate elected for president.
- Those are insinuations and spiteful accusations. We vigorously denounce any strategy that would try to use the Church and its structure for political means.
- The painful situation of our country today should be a matter of concern to all Haitians. Indeed, what is at stake is the future of its people, development and progress for the country. These aims obviously shall not be achieved without a democratic society. The Haitian people have already said No to dictatorship; would it not be natural for them under the circumstances, to feel attracted to means other than peaceful for the installation of a genuine democracy.
- It is, therefore, our duty to say to the Haitian people: Be careful, Violence generates violence. Violence is not a solution. On the contrary, it would lead to a show of force which would paralyze distress and disfigure the nation.
- Such a disaster situation should be avoided at all cost. On December 21, 1987, we issued a declaration in which we called upon the political leaders, the candidates and the responsible authorities to agree to enter into a dialogue that would involve the various sectors of the population.
- It is, of course, impossible to predict the outcome of such a meeting. Most would depend on the farsightedness and spirit of sacrifice of each of the participants. On the other hand, it is clear that such a serious crisis cannot be solved without a dialogue for truth, honesty and the good of the Haitian people, based on the rule of law.
- For such dialogue to succeed will call for a sense of sacrifice, nobleness, great love for the country and for each other, a deep concern for the poor, the deprived and the broad world of the peasantry. To succeed will call for all the light and all the strength of the Holy Ghost.
- To sustain everyone's effort, the Lord's help is necessary. We therefore beg you to continue to pray.
For "if it is not the Lord who builds the house,
all the bricklayers' efforts shall be in vain
For if it is not the Lord who looks after the city,
it is in vain that the guardian keeps watch" (Ps. 127) This letter shall be read in all churches and chapels of the dioceses, the Sunday following reception.