In a statement on Feb. 17, the Catholic bishops of El Salvador addressed themselves to the broad situation in their country and in particular to the elections scheduled to take place on March 28:

For the church, the basis of guidance and inspiration is the integral well-being of the people. The majority of the people of El Salvador reject violence, whether it be from the left, the right or abuses by elements of the armed forces and security guard.

We state that the conflict, which is based on internal causes, has been internationalized to such an extent that decisions for a solution of the problems are now out of the hands of the Salvadorans. It is a fact that the superpowers contribute to maintaining the conflict.

The present conflict, which has been degenerated by terrorism and has been established in various areas of the country by armed communist groups such as the FMLN, is an effort to prevent elections. The social means of communications (i.e., the media), at an international level, have maximized and distorted the facts, creating a false image of what is taking place in the country.

We believe that the elections, although held under the most abnormal conditions and circumstances, are the most pacific means in which the majority of the people who have said no to violence may have the best means of expressing their will. This could be the beginning of one of the solutions to the armed conflict.

We reiterate once more that the problems of El Salvador must be solved by the people of El Salvador.