Jim Letourneau's Blog

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I've been paying close attention to news of the recent assassination attempt on Jose Ramos-Horta by a band of rebels led by Alfredo Reinado in East Timor. First person accounts are available at the Dili-gence blog

I spent the better part of 3 weeks on the tiny half-island country of East Timor in October of 2006 for a World Bank consulting project. While I met some wonderful people, I wouldn't describe the place as pleasant. Many of my colleagues used creative variations of Dili is a "____hole".

East Timor declared independence from Indonesia in a UN-supervised referendum in 1999. They immediately endured a demoralizing terror-campaign led by Indonesian military-backed militia and paramilitaries. No resident of the island was untouched, most had their homes destroyed and many witnessed atrocities carried out on family members.

It is going to take time to rebuild East Timor - gangs and thugs still hold sway in many regions but they are no longer operating with impunity. The killing of Alfredo Reinado is a baby step in restoring a peaceful existence for the people of East Timor. They certainly deserve it.