4.6.06

Timor-Leste: textos importantes

DILI, East Timor -- East Timor was supposed to be a showcase for U.N. nation-building, a rousing symbol of how a downtrodden land could stand on its own with help from the world.Instead, one of Asia's poorest countries became an emblem of upheaval as the army battled former soldiers in the capital and gangs burned homes and assaulted each other with machetes.Australian-led forces, who came to East Timor in the midst of a bloody transition from Indonesian rule in 1999, are back to keep the peace in the capital. Virtually all government offices are closed, and many lawmakers have fled.It's a sad departure from 2002, when East Timor declared independence in a joyous display of fireworks, traditional dance and drum music after a period of U.N. oversight and an infusion of international aid. U.N. chief Kofi Annan and former President Bill Clinton were among the celebrants.So why did the former Portuguese colony descend so abruptly into brutality and political paralysis?"These sorts of problems are absolutely common to newly independent, postcolonial states. They always have a lot of things to sort out," said Damien Kingsbury, an Australian academic and an expert on East Timor."The belief is always that independence is the end of the struggle, whereas in reality independence is the beginning of the struggle," he said.East Timor is an extreme case, a neglected territory where violence and deprivation became routine for many people during 24 years of harsh Indonesian occupation. Their hopes that conditions would suddenly improve after independence were all but impossible to fulfill.advertising"They don't see the benefits in economic terms," said Zhu Xian, who directs World Bank operations in East Timor. "That probably generated a lot of frustration."He said many new nations lapse into violence five years after independence as an early surge of optimism fades and deeply rooted tensions overwhelm weak, untested institutions.East Timor is no exception, despite the efforts of a transitional U.N. administration that drew nearly 10,000 civilian and military personnel to the country of fewer than 1 million people.The territory was a key focus for the United Nations because militias linked to the Indonesian military killed, burned and pillaged after East Timor voted for an end to Indonesian rule.Indonesian civil servants fled, leaving empty posts that could not be filled by untrained local residents. East Timor was left with only 20 percent of its secondary school teachers, only 23 medical doctors, and no pharmacists, according to a World Bank report.Many buildings were quickly rebuilt under U.N. supervision, and advisers from across the world helped train lawyers, judges and the armed forces. East Timor held elections and adopted a constitution.But some observers believe the United Nations left East Timor too soon - U.N. peacekeepers pulled out a year ago - and retained too much authority for too long.Mario Viegas Carrascalao, an opposition leader and former governor of East Timor under Indonesian rule, said he had told U.N. officials that they should keep a robust presence in the region for at least a decade so democratic institutions could mature."We have to change minds, improve human resources, create an economic base," Carrascalao said. The large international presence scaled back in 2002, exacerbating already high unemployment rates.After protracted negotiations with Australia over territorial rights, East Timor has yet to fully reap the benefits of oil and gas reserves under the Timor Sea. Its non-oil economy of coffee harvests and subsistence agriculture is stagnant and only a trickle of tourists visit.Also, the tensions between old independence fighters and those perceived to be sympathetic to Indonesia were never resolved, and they have flared up in the recent violence.East Timor has sought to reconcile with Indonesia. But the lack of will to pursue prosecutions for occupation-era killings, or a reconciliation commission similar to that of post-apartheid South Africa, means there is no outlet for resentments.Amid the euphoria of independence celebrations in 2002, President Xanana Gusmao delivered a warning that seemed to presage the recent violence in Dili."Our independence will have no value if all the people in East Timor continue to live in poverty and continue to suffer all kinds of difficulties," Gusmao, a former guerrilla leader, said. "We gained our independence to improve our lives."