UN not up to task: Timorese journalists
By the East Timor Press reporting team
Journalists Carlito Caminha and Gil Da Costa are counting the days until the United Nations transitional administration leaves their home, East Timor.
Caminha and Da Costa, both 26 and visiting Australia on 12-month scholarships from the Centre for International Journalism at Queensland University, recently spoke to the East Timor Press team about the problems caused by the UN-led transition team, UNTAET.
During an exclusive interview, Caminha said the UN was trying to lead a “new colonisation” of East Timor. He was alluding to his country’s turbulent history with past rulers Portugal and Indonesia, which controlled the country from the 16th century until 1999.
Caminha added that in his native Tetum language, UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor) translates colloquially as “UN Comes To Destroy East Timor”.
Da Costa said that the UN exploited the local Timorese workers by paying them $US6 a day for jobs for which they themselves earned top international dollars.
As a result of these wage disparities, UN workers were the only people that could afford to visit the sole Westernised grocery store on the island, which is run by Australians.
The shop is known locally as “Hello Mister”,
the greeting commonly given to all foreigners in East Timor regardless
As journalists, Caminha and Da Costa hoped to continue to document East Timor’s transition to democracy when they returned home in 2002.
The pair spoke of a “natural democracy” that they, as human beings, innately knew and appreciated, in spite of Indonesia’s occupation of their country for most of their lives.
They looked forward to a future in East Timor, which will be “better than the last 24 years”.