May 2, 2002
The Honorable Colin Powell
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We are writing to urge you to make every effort to ensure that, in coordination with other donor countries and international financial institutions, the expected financing gap for East Timor's recurrent and development budgets over the next three years is met in full with international assistance through grants. As you know, a pledging conference will be held in Dili on May 14 and 15 to fund the estimated $154 to $184 million revenue shortfall via donations. We also urge that the U.S. commit to the most generous donation possible and pledge at least 25% of the total need.
We are aware that the Administration faces many demands on its financial resources. At the same time, we are greatly encouraged by the Administration's commitment to the importance of increased foreign assistance, and particularly by the arguments made by President Bush and Treasury Secretary O'Neill in favor of using grants rather than loans for countries confronting extraordinary development challenges. East Timor represents a rare opportunity to foster debt-free development in a country emerging from conflict and poverty. Grants provided free of restrictive macroeconomic policy conditions will offer East Timor the opportunity to establish a fresh approach to development, one which may also serve as a model for other countries.
As you know, in 1999, before and after the UN-sponsored referendum on independence in East Timor, the people of East Timor suffered terrible devastation at the hands of Indonesian military and paramilitary forces, which also destroyed 75% of the country's infrastructure. Despite that campaign of terror, 98% of registered voters in East Timor risked their lives to cast ballots in the referendum and 78.5% of those voting chose independence from Indonesia. And just this month, with over 86% of eligible voters peacefully participating, the East Timorese people elected long-time independence leader Xanana Gusmao as the country's first president.
The people of East Timor are strongly committed to democracy, and we believe the United States should remain strongly committed to East Timor and the example of perseverance and democracy that is represents. We urge the U.S. government to assure that East Timor joins the community of nations free of debt by leading a broad international package of financial support for the first new nation of the millennium.
We thank you for your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response.
REP. BARNEY FRANK
cc: George W. Bush, President, United States