The determination of the United States to use military force in Haiti now seems certain unless a way can be found to immediately replace confrontation with dialogue and to put Haiti on the path of reconciliation rather than intensified violence. For us, military intervention represents a tragic failure of policy, dialogue and diplomacy.
Just days ago, the leaders of the bishops' conferences in the hemisphere said they were unpersuaded that the use of military force was morally justified at this time or would bring genuine democracy to Haiti. They called for new efforts by all the Haitian factions "to come together in courageous and frank dialogue" to search for non-violent ways to restore the constitution, to protect human rights and to prevent international military action.
As religious leaders, we are not supporters of the use of force in this case, but we are defenders of human rights and democratic values. We renew our long-standing position that this regime should step aside not only to end an unlawful usurpation of power, but also to avoid massive military intervention which will further wound Haiti and to open up prospects for a new dialogue in Haiti.
In these difficult days, I urge the U. S. Government, the Haitian military, the elected President and Parliament and the other Haitian political and social sectors to find effective ways, short of military intervention, to ensure respect for democratic values and human rights and to pursue the path of peaceful transition, national reconciliation and justice for the Haitian people.
We once again, and with even greater urgency, call on all the leaders of Haiti to put the good of the nation above their own interests, fears and ambitions. Time is terribly short. The leaders of Haiti must quickly and clearly choose dialogue and democracy over continued repression and almost certain intervention. The leaders of the coup must do what they promised to do months ago--relinquish power and permit a process of negotiation to bring about a renewed commitment to democracy--with all the responsibilities and restraints of constitutional government. And the United States should seek a broader dialogue about a peaceful transition to democratic processes and national reconciliation. No opportunity to negotiate a peaceful solution should be missed.
In these crucial moments our prayers are with all the people of Haiti and all those who will be affected by coming events. Our hopes continue to rest with those on all sides who still seek the path of dialogue and peaceful transition over confrontation and armed combat.