Timor-Leste Makes Headway – Slowly

Timor-Leste Makes Headway – SlowlyBendita Ramos grimaced as she pointed over the rickety roadside fence in the Timorese hamlet of Kaitehu. On the other side was a field of bedraggled-looking maize plants, some stooped as if sheltering from the steady drizzle falling from the slate sky above. “The corn we plant is damaged because of the long dry season…

Timor-Leste: Lessons of a Failing State?

Timor-Leste: Lessons of a Failing State?The leader and founding father of Asia’s youngest nation, Xanana Gusmao, announced in November that he was resigning as prime minister and leaving politics. The announcement comes amidst growing state failure and rampant mismanagement. Since Timor-Leste’s independence from Indonesia in 2002, Gusmao has dominated the small nation’s politics. His intention to resign has led many…

Justice For All?

Since the dawn of time justice in East Timor has been measured in water buffalo. Generally a goat theft costs one buffalo and a rape is worth two, although it varies from town to town. Though traditional justice was never institutionalized, it has remained an underpinning of village life here. Before Indonesia’s 1975 invasion Timor…

Keeping East Timor’s Catholics on Side

A few years ago, in an obscure East Timorese border town called Tunubibi, Domingos Pereira and his wife did something they later discovered was dangerous. They quit the Roman Catholic Church. It started in 2004 when a handful of Jehovah’s Witness missionaries showed up in their tiny village. Every week the missionaries held services in…