Timor Leste - Fretilin's comeback; literacy and governance

May 13, 2008 (Latin Radical) -- Estanislau Da Silva was a prime minister of Timor Leste (East Timor) when Fretilin was the party in government. Before that, he was the minister for agriculture. He was in Australia this week to attend the launching of a book by a Timorese man, Naldo Rei, who grew up in Indonesian-occupied Timor Leste, as a committed supporter of the Fretilin-led resistance movement.

Da Silva spoke to 2NimFM and Latin Radical at a very opportune time. The Australian mainstream media is playing down the commitment of the second largest (social democrat) political party to run with Fretilin as a renovated government coalition in next year's elections. But it looks like the beginning of the end of Xanana Gusmao's hastily cobbled-together AMP coalition, designed to keep Fretilin out of power after last year's election, when Fretilin won the largest share of the vote, but was denied the opportunity to try to form a government by presidential intervention.

Da Silva does not dwell on this. He moves on and is at his most eloquent and passionate (as a former minister for agriculture) when he speaks about the Fretilin party's commitment to resist the pressures of corporate agribusiness, and a commitment to develop, as far as possible, self-sufficiency in basic food products by enabling small farmers. The current government appears to be more interested in encouraging corporate agribusiness investment. Da Silva says Fretilin is committed to resisting corporate pressures to use Timor's precious land to grow biofuels -- the main factor in a looming global shortage of basic food products. Important, when even corporations like Nestle are saying that there is no such thing as a global food shortage -- it is the diversion of food crops to produce biofuels that is causing the rise in food prices.

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Timor - Literacy and governance

May 16, 2008 (Latin Radical) -- Bob Boughton, senior lecturer in adult education, has just returned from Timor Leste where he goes regularly as a government consultant for adult literacy campaign. While the campaign was showing signs of great promise Bob sees progress hamstrung by sudden switches in government policy on the administrative side of things. The campaign has gone backwards since Xanana's AMP coalition initiated a restructuring of the public service. Bob was also in Timor Leste when the Social Democrat party split, and announced its commitment to support Fretilin in the next elections.

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Submitted by Terry Townsend on Tue, 05/20/2008 - 23:22



CUBA, May 8, 2008. East Timor's Foreign Minister Zacarias Albano da Costa met with his Cuban counterpart Felipe Perez Roque in Havana where he thanked the country for its continuous support of East Timor, "even under the most difficult circumstances."

On the first day of his official activity in Cuba, Albano da Costa said that ties with Cuba will take on a new and more dynamic turn. He expressed his admiration for the spirit of sacrifice of the Cuban people working in his country and spoke about the invaluable contribution from Cuban medical brigades and teachers working to eradicate illiteracy.

"The government and people of East Timor value the extraordinary and disinterested assistance and solidarity shown by Cuba throughout these years, including meeting the promise -made by the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro in Kuala Lumpur in 2003 to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmaso- to strengthen ties," said the official.

Perez Roque recalled East Timor's first vote as an independent member of the United Nations when it did so on the resolution to put an end to the US economic blockade against Cuba. "We will never forget that," he said.

The Cuban Foreign minister reiterated Cuba's commitment to continue collaborating with modesty and respect to improve the health and education of the sister nation. He said the island is proud of the work of its doctors and educators in East Timor, many thousands of miles from home. (Cubaminrex-RHC-Granma)