That night I was learning to keep my blues away. Miles Davis’ trumpet fills the air, "Song Of Our Country" from the album SKETCHES OF SPAIN. Then suddenly, "Coy, could u write smthn abt PM José Ramos-Horta, plz!" Rico Aditjondro, editor of Paras Indonesia, asked me through SMS.
For the last two months of the mess that befell this tiny country, I could only write two articles, record a few footage to mini-DV and write bits of words that are yet to form a poem.
Silence crawls down the barrel of a gun / Shades of dusk fade upon Ponte Cais / Each bears his own bier / Towards Santa Cruz.
And there, in 1991, in Santa Cruz cemetery, Max Stahl recorded an event. Indonesian soldiers brutally slaughtered hundreds of youths who wanted Timor-Leste independent. Now on the cemetery wall next to the Heroes Cemetery abandoned by Indonesia, there is a fading graffiti, “when will the Timorese suffering end,” and on a tombstone, "Viva Alfredo ho Salsinha", "Alfredo Loromonu". Thank you Mbak Ati Nurbaiti from The Jakarta Post and Nug Katjasungkana who photographed both.
Major Alfreido Reinado is a Xanana loyalist and one of the rebel leaders who forced Mari Alkatiri to resign. Lieutenant Gastão Salsinha is the spokeperson of 591 petitioner soldiers who were fired by the commander of Falintil-FDTL for disciplinary reasons, for being absent without official leave.
"I don't believe in democracy. I want a dictatorship like it was during the time of Salazar," says Antero Rodrigues last week when we visited him in Lospalos to stay clear of rumors and lies that proliferated Dili. Two of his children, Paula and Nuno Rodrigues, became targets of rampaging mobs who conspired to topple Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
Certainly there is nothing wrong with democracy. And Antero Rodrigues is a '75 generation who has lived three different eras – Portugese colonialism, Indonesian occupation, and independent Timor-Leste. His daughter is an executive producer at the national radio and television station RTTL. Along with her reporters, they were sought by a group of people for their public broadcast of a pro-Alkatiri Fretilin demonstration.
The intelligence services also sent ‘sms’ to Prime Minister when they found that some youths in Farol were looking at some things. Nowdays, because of the lack of employment, everyone tries hard to make ends meet. We try to get close those who have money. Every one can see that this happens in our country.
- Xanana's speech on June 22, 2006
Antero's son, activist and writer Nuno Rodrigues, is the director of a popular education institute in Farol, Dili who supported a number of Alkatiri's policies. He was later accused of giving money to pro-Alkatiri demonstrators. Two Fretilin colleagues from Lospalos who work with the environment group Haburas (also located in Farol) - Pedrito Vieira and Maleve - were accused of possessing guns. Indonesian Nug Kantjasungkana, an activist with the Solidarity Forum for East Timor in Indonesia (Fortilos) who has been residing permanently in Dili, was accused of keeping Maleve’s guns in his boarding room in Farol, lent to him by HAK Association.
Dictatorship is something frightening, and Alkatiri was forced to resign through non-democratic means. Two weeks ago, when entering Dili, around Bidau, groups of Alkatiri supporters were met by a rival demonstration. "They carry guns and will kill us," the anti-Fretilin group members told Australian soldiers. In Becora, an anti-Fretilin gang was arming itself with arrows.
The pro-Alkatiri convoy waved hands from above the buses and trucks transporting them from Metinaro. A group of anti-Fretilin youths started to ransack kiosks along Bidau roads. Some set fire. Earlier they were shouting, "Viva Xanana Gusmão!"
Yes, there is nothing wrong with democracy, and dictatorship is something frightening. Because Alkatiri is an Arab and a Muslim, the anti-Fretilin demonstrators shouted "Alkatiri terrorist". Because for 24 years Alkatiri was in exile in Mozambique to garner support for Timor-Leste independence from countries in Africa and the Middle East, Alkatiri was denounced as being "Mozambiquean Communist" and "Alkatiri is not Timorese". But, Alkatiri remained Alkatiri – founder of Fretilin who in the 1970s with José Ramos-Horta established an underground movement to oppose Portuguese colonialism. Has was among those who formulated the CNRT Magna Carta.
That night, before Rico sent his SMS and before Miles Davis’ trumpet filled the air, I watched the inauguration of José Ramos-Horta on television broadcast by RTTL. "I am not a Prime Minister elected by the people. I was appointed by the President and the majority party Fretilin," said Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta in his inauguration speech at Palácio das Cinzas (Palace of Cinders). Aming the attendees were Parliament members, foreign dignitaries, and Comandante Railos (who accused Alkatiri of giving him weapons to kill the former PM’s political rivals).
This inauguration however was attended by only a few from the oposition groups (besides demanding resignation of Alkatiri, they also demanded that President Xanana Gusmão dissolve the parliament and immediately form a 'junta' National Unity parliament).
The appointment of PM José Ramos-Horta, a Noble laureate and a supporter of the War in Iraq, was a political compromise between the majority Fretilin party and President Xanana Gusmão. Ramos-Horta will govern for eight months to continue Alkatiri’s government; who refused debt from the World Bank; who was adamant in his negotiations with Australia over oil and gas riches in Timor Gap; who embarked on a bilateral cooperation with Cuba by bringing in Cuban doctors to Timor-Leste and sent hundreds of students to study medicine in Cuba. Alkatiri also annoyed Timor-Leste small bourgeoisie community who wanted the private sector made as a development priority, thereby channeling oil funds for their interests.
"I will consult with the President and Fretilin who proposed me," Ramos-Horta said further in his speech. As for the budget submitted to the parliament, it was the budget prepared by Alkatiri before he was forced to step down. Ramos-Horta will be assisted by two deputies, Estanislau da Silva (Fretilin) and Rui Maria de Araújo (independent), who were also suggested by Fretilin.
As predicted by many, Ramos-Horta is indeed favored by Australia, the World Bank and the IMF. Initially, opposition groups and rebel soldiers also supported his appointment. But it would perhaps be too risky a move for Xanana Gusmão to dissolve the Parliament and form a junta. Is it even imaginable what is going to happen if Xanana decided to toss the costitution, form a junta government and put aside Fretilin that controls more than half the seats in the Parliament – like Chile in Pinochet era?
Sorry, coy, I cannot write much about this new prime minister. For the time being I would prefer to be silent and listen more. Because two weeks ago the rebel soldiers and opposition circles were chanting that "only President Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos-Horta are capable or resolving this crisis!"
But the tide has changed. Right now, in mass media, opposition groups (through the leader of Democrat Party, Fernando 'Lasama' de Araujo) and rebel soldiers (Major Tara and company) are saying that Ramos-Horta’s government is illegal and unconstitutional because it is merely a continuation of the Alkatiri government. Some even said that Ramos-Horta too is a member of the Maputo (Mozambique) clique. The entrepreneur groups have also expressed their dislike of Estanislau da Silva who was appointed the deputy prime minister.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of people who left their houses (some burned and looted) remain displaced in refugee camps. The groups who conspired to topple Alkatiri are now facing a new reality: is there a bullet taking a U-turn?
Really, coy! I know very little about the continuation of this new regime. I only want to learn how to keep my blues away, fall in love again and think about our friends while listening to Miles Davis' trumpet. This time from the album KIND OF BLUE, "So What?".
sábado, julho 15, 2006
Por Malai Azul 2 à(s) 15:33
Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!
Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006
"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "