Report from Timor Lorosae

Narciso and family are fine though they all had to leave Dili, there is a programme (unofficial naturally) to get rid of anyone who supports Alkatiri or socialist ideas. – Had my doubts about Alkatiri, mainly because of what I had heard in England from ETAN – etc., but I think he’s sound, he did not run a centralised government as has been claimed, the right wing, and international institutions, had his hands tied. Thus he could send little money to the districts for projects – however his government did budget for a new road from Los Palos (town) to Tutuala, the road is really bad, a pen type injector to vaccinate buffaloes against disease, and for the electricity connection between Los Palos town and the outlying villages to be repaired – many small villages including Merhara have lost electricity supply all together, they did have it when I was in Timor Lorosae last time though it was hitty missy, hurricanes, storms etc. have wrecked the cables. It was for the new fiscal year which is supposed to start now.

I attended a meeting in Mehara between administration Tutuala (Mehara district) and the community, when up there recently – Ramos-Horta, (the acceptable face of Fretilin to the elite and western power – somewhat like our beloved Tony the acceptable face of Labour – now know as New Labour with a continuation of Thatchers policies) is the new PM, though he is not Fretilin, he is independent, a deal was done with right wing Fretilin and others. Horta has started well, he now says there is not enough money for these projects and the people have to chose two. There is concern over this and also over who will do the work – western firms or Timorese. (Japan is working on a road between Dili and Ilieu, very badly – the repairs are shoddy – Japan sent some aid to Timor Lorosae last year – conditions you use our men and firms- great eh, maybe that answers some of the critics who said Alkatiri was screwing the people, and did nothing to decrease unemployment )
Possible reason there is not enough money for projects now is Timor Lorosae is paying for international assistance – which up till now has been useless.

Alkatiri’s idea was to develop Timor Lorosae slowly so they did not have to borrow from the world bank, which was why he fought the Australians so hard for the petrol revenue, he won good concessions. Timor Lorosae is debt free and the oil revenue would have meant they could employ Timorese on building, road projects etc. Alkatiri’s handling of the economy and development was praised by the European Union, and the UN last year. They said development was going well after the 25 year occupation and the referendum – people should maybe think on how long it took Britain to kick start again after the second world war.

Alkatiri’s main fault he did not explain the reason for the slow development, maybe the left of Fretilin party failed to do this in the communities, again that is what happened in Britain, so who am I to talk. He had huge support at the Fretilin demonstrations, from all over Timor Lorosae. I only wish the left had got their act together before he resigned, the demo was after his resignation and was to show that he had huge support, the demos by the way which I attended were entirely peaceful, although western thugs had attacked displaced peoples camps the night before and burnt some house, its not ordinary people who have been causing the destruction, yes some of the young have jumped on the band waggon and are fighting, but it seems highly likely they are being encouraged by someone. most of the destruction has been done by men over 25 to 40 age group.



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