Washington, DC (March 11, 2004) – The leadership of the Catholic women and men religious of the Americas have called upon government leaders to restore order to Haiti by committing themselves to long term reconstruction plans that respect the independence and autonomy of the Haitian people, their culture, their values and their social traditions.

The leaders, representing approximately 250,000 Catholic sisters, brothers and priests in Latin America, Canada and the United States, noted that “another ill-conceived, short-term invasion to restore order to the long-term needs of Haiti will only prolong the tragedy and suffering of this nation.”

In a statement issued by the religious leaders, they called upon all nations collaborating in the effort to restore order to Haiti to: immediately provide all forms of humanitarian aid; disarm all factions so that peace can be restored both nationally and in local communities; commit resources and personnel to help in training for conflict resolution and processes of reconciliation at the local and national level; train an effective police presence under civilian control within effectively supervised standards of international human rights law and practice; and model international human rights law and practice by assuring that intervening forces are carefully monitored.

 In addition, the leaders called upon the international community to: help Haitians form a transitional government with a minimum one-to-two year mandate so that elections are only held in a peaceful context and thus, have meaning; avoid imposing foreign structures of government and economics that would trample on Haitian values, and to strengthen the role of government in its ability to protect its people; help the Haitian people develop an economy that can produce real jobs in order to lift the nation from its structured poverty and endemically radical economic class divisions; and begin a widespread and concerted effort to raise the education level so that Haitians will be equipped to compete in the world market...