Good evening, ladies and gentlemen:
For 2 days American forces have been in Santo Domingo in an effort to protect the lives of Americans and the nationals of other countries in the face of increasing violence and disorder. With the assistance of these American forces, over 200 Americans and other nationals have been evacuated from the Dominican Republic. We took this step when and only when, we were officially notified by police and military officials of the Dominican Republic that they were no longer in a position to guarantee the safety of American and foreign nationals and to preserve law and order.
In the last 24 hours violence and disorder have increased. There is great danger to the life of foreign nationals and of thousands of Dominican citizens, our fellow citizens of this hemisphere. By an outstanding effort of mediation the Papal Nuncio has achieved an agreement on a cease-fire which I have urged all those concerned to take. But this agreement is not now, as I speak, being fully respected. The maintenance of the cease-fire is essential to the hopes of all for peace and freedom in the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile there are signs that people trained outside the Dominican Republic are seeking to gain control. Thus, the legitimate aspirations of the Dominican people and most of their leaders for progress, democracy, and social justice are threatened and so are the principles of the inter-American system.
The inter-American system, and its principal organ, the Organization of American States, have a grave and an immediate responsibility. It is important that prompt action be taken. I am informed that a representative of the OAS is leaving Washington very shortly for the Dominican Republic. It is very important that representatives of the OAS be sent to the Dominican Republic, just as soon as they can be sent there, in order to strengthen the cease-fire and in order to help clear a road to the return of constitutional process and free elections. Loss of time may mean that it is too late to preserve the freedom, which alone can lead to the establishment of true democracy. This, I am sure, is what the people of the Dominican Republic want. Late action, or delay, in such a case could mean a failure to accomplish the agreed objectives of the American states.
The eyes of the hemisphere are now on the OAS, both in its meeting today and on the meeting of its foreign ministers contemplated tomorrow. The wisdom, the statesmanship, and the ability to act decisively of the OAS are critical to the hopes of peoples in every land of this continent.
The United States will give its full support to the work of the OAS and will never depart from its commitment to the preservation of the right of all of the free people of this hemisphere to choose their own course without falling prey to international conspiracy from any quarter.