|Subject: AFR: Trouble brewing for Timorese
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 11:24:59 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Australian Financial Review May 15, 1999
Trouble brewing for Timorese
By Tim Dodd, Dili
The political turmoil in East Timor threatens to disrupt the territory's major industry, coffee growing, which is the primary economic support for nearly half the indigenous population.
The annual harvest started last weekend and will last until September, right through the period in which turmoil will increase if the United Nations does not succeed in enforcing security for the ballot on independence due on August 8.
In one of the coffee growing areas, Liquisa, just west of Dili, the Red and White Iron militia have driven an estimated 5,000 people out their homes and into temporary camps, claiming they are offering protection from pro-independence guerillas.
The Liquisa camp has been seen by reliable witnesses. And pro-independence supporters claim that in the rest of the province there are many more camps housing people who have been driven out of their homes by intimidation.
Picking the $40 million coffee crop requires a work force of 40,000 harvesters and any major displacement of people, or fear of violence and intimidation, will play havoc with this year's crop.
Once the coffee crop was monopolised by a daughter of former President Soeharto. But the monopoly ended and now a US aid group, the National Cooperative Business Association, is helping develop the coffee industry in the hands of local producers.
According to the NCBA, more than 45,000 families are involved in coffee production.
If East Timor becomes independent it will be heavily reliant on foreign aid. The best estimates suggest that Indonesia spends about $140 million annually in the province, but raises only about one-tenth of that in taxes.