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EAST TIMOR - by other authors

I have signed up to the letter below. The contact to add your name is at the bottom of the letter. I have addended also a December, 2006 statement by the East Timorese government on the Cuban medical aid.

Prime Minister of Australia
Mr Kevin Rudd, MHR [also to other ministers]
January 2008

Dear Prime Minister

Re: Australian and Cuban education assistance to Timor Leste

We the following academics, writers, organisations and NGO workers observe these developments, on education assistance to Timor Leste:

• over 2002-2007 the number of University scholarships offered by the Australian Government to students from Timor Leste declined from 20 per year to 8 per year
• over 2003-2006 the number of medical training scholarships offered by the Government of Cuba to students from Timor Leste increased from 50 to 1,000

There are currently 800 students from Timor Leste studying medicine with the Cubans. This makes it probably the biggest aid program in medical training, per capita, in the world. Adult literacy training in Timor Leste is now also dominated by the Cubans.

So far there have been two Australian reactions (government, media, NGO) to Cuban programs in ‘our’ region. One was to ignore, snipe at or seek to undermine the Cubans, as perceived ‘competitors’. The other is to respond with a generosity that matches them. We urge your government to strengthen this latter path and MATCH the Cuban scholarship offer.


Below is a link to an article written by Avelino Coelho da Silva, Secretary-General of the Socialist Party of Timor (PST). The article has been translated from the Indonesian by Max Lane. The link is EAST TIMOR: The people will pay the price

A failed transition in Dili
Aboeprijadi Santoso, Dili, Timor Leste

His Palacio da Cinzas (Palace of Ashes) is a reminder of Indonesia's latest legacy and his protection by foreign armies a sign of today's crisis. Nothing, however, reflects President Xanana Gusmao's and, to a great extent, his country's problem better than the myth, symbolism and real predicament of Fretilin. Once East Timor's icon, Fretilin is now hurt by the crisis -- so too is the country.

Nuno Guterres, 25, whose father was tortured to death by the Indonesian Army, inevitably recalled his childhood as he joined rallies against Fretilin leader and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. "I used to cry whenever I heard about Fretilin. Now I'm angry," he said. Still, for Nuno and many like him, it's difficult to be angry with Fretilin, the historic symbol of Timor's struggle for freedom.


For an early background article on the Socilalist Party of Timor (PST) by Max Lane go to

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