Subject: East Timor activist pushing for fair trade in NZ

The Daily News (New Plymouth, New Zealand)

March 10, 2006 Friday

East Timor activist pushing for fair trade


EAST TIMOR needs fair trade to turn its economy around, says peace and environmental activist Ego Lemos.

The Timorese man arrived in Taranaki yesterday for the Parihaka International Peace Festival.

East Timor's main cash crop was coffee, he

said. "But if you look at the real situation, the coffee is monopolised by an American company, selling to Starbucks. They buy the raw bean for (US) 18 cents per kilo . . . we are very, very exploited.

"These companies, they just want to rape the people," he said.

"Sometime we really want to have fair trade, for example coffee. If we want to sell to New Zealand people, we could sell to a community organisation here."

Mr Lemos spoke at the G8 conference in Scotland last year as part of the "making poverty history" campaign.

After that, he spoke to England's Parliament about the need for Western countries not only to send aid to Third World nations, but also allow them to decide how to spend that money to build up their own economies.

There had also been a major issue concerning oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea being taken by Australia.

Mr Lemos said the governments of East Timor and Australia had just signed a treaty to share the revenue 50-50.

Part of that treaty meant the issue of maritime boundaries would not be revisited for 50 years.

"It's a very long time," he said.

"I'm not worried about the gas, but where is the sovereignty?"

The country's independence, gained in 1999 after 24 years of Indonesian military rule, was not total because East Timor did not have control of its surrounding waters.

"So that means East Timor has only half independence," he said.

Mr Legos is also a permaculture trainer and community worker, who teaches East Timorese about agriculture and making home gardens.

At the three-day Parihaka festival, which begins today, he will be part of the peace forum and also play acoustic music from his band, 5 Do Oriente.

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