Subject: SCMP: VIPs & journalists clamour for an audience w/Gusmao
Date: Sat, 03 Apr 1999 09:05:12 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

South China Morning Post Saturday, April 3, 1999

*East Timor: Gusmao industry working overtime as VIPs and journalists clamour for an audience

JENNY GRANT in Jakarta

It could be described as the Gusmao industry: a trail of bureaucrats, volunteers, guards and activists dedicated to ensuring Xanana Gusmao's well-being, media availability and public image.

With three full-time volunteer staffers, a translator, rotating guards and a line of diplomatic visitors, Gusmao is cementing his place as East Timor's most important independence leader.

It is Saturday afternoon and he is doing a live satellite broadcast to Portugal from the lounge of his white bungalow where he is held under house arrest.

Wearing a white silk tie and blue shirt, Gusmao looks cool under the lights and calmly answers a barrage of questions in Portuguese. The previous day he had spoken live to a television show in Australia.

Applications from journalists clamouring to meet the former guerilla have piled up in the Justice and Foreign Affairs departments.

"Until now he has been in jail and under control by the authorities, so now people cannot get enough of him," said lawyer Antonino Goncalves, one of Gusmao's full-time assistants.

His minders distribute daily e-mails on the Internet with updates on news from East Timor and political statements about the reconciliation process. His staff work round the clock processing the statements in English, Portuguese and Bahasa Indonesia.

Then there is the constant telephone communication with East Timor's political and religious leaders, guerillas and the international network of East Timorese exiles in a half-score of countries.

Sitting on benches outside the house, Justice Department guards admit they are worn out by the visitors Gusmao has had since he was moved there from Cipinang prison on February 10.

On any day plush BMWs and Volvos carrying foreign ministers and diplomats pull up outside his house to bump into East Timorese who have made the pilgrimage from their homeland. They are working with Gusmao to plan for the new country that could be thrust on their shoulders within the year.

Back to April Menu
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu
June '98 through February '99