This site brings together the publications of Dr. Sara Niner about people & politics in Timor-Leste.

16 December, 2013

The new reaction: Xanana and Paulino 'Mauk Moruk' Gama

The new reaction: Xanana and Paulino ‘Mauk Moruk’ Gama

This background explains the original conflict within the independence movement between Xanana and Mauk Moruk or Paulino Gama that took place in in 1984-5 during the Indonesian occupation, after which Gama came under the control of the Indonesian military. He has lived in exile ever since, mostly in Holland. He returned to Timor-Leste recently and established a Revolutionary Council calling for a new government in TL. His recent actions have created a national dialogue on these historical events. Gama’s motivations appear to be recognition of his historical role and ideological position and translating that into a modern power-base in contemporary Timorese politics although he appears to have been gained little traction.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my 2004 PhD Thesis ‘Our Brother, Maun Bo’t:  The Biography of Xanana Gusmão, Leader of the East Timorese Struggle’ ( and book "XANANA: Leader of the Struggle for Independent Timor-Leste ( Chapter 2 explains further the history of this conflict within the independence movement.

The “Hudi Laran Reaction” and “Radical Remodelling” (Mid-end 1984)

There was little doubt the planned national uprising had ended in disaster and the resistance was in an even worse position than ever. Civilian morale had plummeted and many felt the same lack of hope they had after President Lobato’s death in 1978.[1] Xanana must have been haunted by accusations of a lack of judgement leading to the crushing civilian reprisals. Along with his rethinking of political ideology during the ceasefire, these pressures gave him pause to think intensely about the future of the resistance. A conviction began to harden that a political solution rather than a military one was the answer and, for that, the entire political direction of the struggle needed to be changed. After being able to pull off the March 1981 re-organisation, his leadership underwent its second great test.

Xanana made the point that his consultations concerning pluralism during the ceasefire were cut short by Murdani’s ultimatum in May 1983.[2] The unrelenting Indonesian military pressure since that time had allowed no time to overcome any differences over the ceasefire and the disastrous uprising, leading to further discord within Falintil. Although much of the following events are little documented, it is known that an internal coup was attempted by Chief-of-Staff of Falintil, Commander Kilik, supported by his Deputy and Chief of the Red Brigades, Mauk-Moruk (Paulino Gama), and others. Both men, known to be loyal to original Fretilin policies and fierce military commanders and fighters, had had little to do with the uprising in the East. They had been reporting ‘successful’ military operations in the Central Zone direct back to DFSE in Lisbon, suggesting Kilik was bypassing Xanana’s Command and liaising directly with Fretilin externally.[3]

In May 1984 Xanana was staying at a camp on Mt. Matebian and was in communication with resistance groups throughout the territory (Key E; Map 3.1).[4]

I was receiving many, many messages from soldiers and commanders telling me that they were inactive …while in other places they [ABRI] were scared. In the Centre East Falintil was very inactive, while in Ainaro and Same they tried to attack the enemy. I thought something must be wrong. Many companies during 1984 were just talking and talking. Falur’s people had been requesting operations but nothing ever eventuated. One platoon returned to their village frustrated because they had no leadership. It made other companies in the area frustrated because they kept hearing about attacks in other areas that captured weapons and killed enemy soldiers. In my messages, one year after Kraras, I kept warning them, trying to inspire them to do something, to engage in combat, to make some plans, but I had no effect.[5]

Kilik, Moruk and Olo Gari, based in the Centre East, were not usually inactive. Xanana was aware of a problem.

In the middle of 1984 Xanana released his message for the year, a long contemplative piece titled, ‘What is National Unity?’ addressed directly to the DFSE. To them he signed off only as Commander in Chief of Falintil. [6] It opened with a reference to the lack of political unity amongst the East Timorese apparent since April 1974. Although the message still promoted Fretilin, it called for an enlargement of the Front. He offered nationalists two choices, either join Fretilin, “a liberation movement gathering together all nationalists without discrimination on grounds of colour, sex, age, political belief or religious faith or social conditions”, or the establishment of something new, “a common platform for national independence”, which could include other nationalists. He acknowledged for the first time that there were Timorese, “unwilling to belong to a Movement or Party”. He declared what was important was that everyone be moved by a common feeling—that of national identity and that this should underlay the “deep meaning of National Unity as defined by Fretilin”.

Fretilin therefore wants to give other political groups the possibility of participating in a mutually compatible way, in the struggle… we need to add to the Armed Front other fronts of resistance, in the political and diplomatic fields. Fretilin therefore calls for National Unity… Fretilin calls for struggle on all fronts. It is in that sense we call for the “enlargement of the front”—for the formation of one and only powerful resistance front against Indonesian occupation, that unites all nationalist movements for a total attack on the various fields of struggle: the armed, political and diplomatic.

He even advocated a provisional government be established. The message also included information some guerrillas were no doubt highly sensitive to, that of the internal arrests and “suffering” caused by Fretilin during the 1975 civil war and the first three years of the occupation. Although he named Alaríco Fernandes as a criminal and recognised these events as ‘sectarian errors that must eventually be dealt with’, he advocated an understanding of the ‘concrete conditions in which they occurred’.

Xanana wrote, “Fretilin in the past had an extremist policy indeed; but from what it has learnt, a new political opening will allow the participation of other nationalist movements.” He promised that Fretilin would guarantee freedom of expression and opposed use of force. His approach to ‘integrationists’ and ‘collaborators’ had also softened.[7] He wrote that, “Fretilin has learnt from its mistakes. Today we have in our ranks the Secret Resistance, composed of Integrationist, ex-Apodeti and also many who have collaborated with the enemy”, declaring that even Mário Carrascalão would be welcomed! Xanana had obviously been in contact with such people during the ceasefire period and had embraced a new philosophy of reconciliation that was anathema to the old Fretilin hierarchy.

Another significant departure was an insistence that political negotiation and diplomatic representation be on an equal footing with the armed struggle. While addressing these issues Xanana had been avidly listening to Radio Australia, following news of an unwelcome change in Australian policy on Timor.[8] He mentioned the importance of regional stability and respecting Indonesian and Australian interests, finally talking the language of international diplomacy.[9]

The reality of the situation must have allowed for little true consultation on these fundamental issues. For some the changes were too sudden, the new policies too sweeping and many resisted the changes he insisted on. However, Xanana, as was his style, looked not to these obstacles but forward, sure of his vision for the new resistance, dragging those in the resistance behind him.

At the time the message was released in the middle of 1984, Xanana made the difficult journey across the cordon and headed south, arriving at Liaruca once again, in June (Key F; Map 3.1). He went to assess the problems reported from the Central Zone and co-ordinate the commanders there. He invited Central Committee members and commanders to a meeting and sent out Taur Matan Ruak to bring them. He received messages informing him that “Mauk Moruk and the other members were meeting, north of Barique” in an area called, Hudi Laran, ‘Banana Tree Forest’ (Key G; Map 3.1).

They knew that I was coming to reprimand them and so they refused to send a courier to collect me. Around June and July we waited and waited for them to come. Matan Ruak came to me in Liaruka and told me about their mistakes and errors, the incapacity of their command, strategy and planning, and that they had dispersed refusing to talk to me. Mauk Moruk had gone to Same and Kilik to Fata Balu. I found out later that they had called me a revolutionary traitor at the Hudi Laran meeting because of my discussions about pluralism with them during the ceasefire, but they were only saying this about me to avoid my criticism of their military strategies, so they condemned me in a political way. They said that although they considered me a nationalist who could be accepted as part of the resistance, I was changing the fundamental ideology, which I was. They considered themselves the true revolutionaries, the inheritors of our predecessors. They dispersed to persuade other companies in the southwest of their opinion saying that I was changing things and maybe I had been corrupted during the ceasefire conversations. Mauk Moruk-Paulino Gama was trying to persuade the military commander, and Lere, the Political Commissar, a member of the Central Committee in Ainaro-Same.[10]

Later Xanana explained more about this time, citing a lack of commitment to duty amongst these leaders. He explained that an organization cannot be measured by its structure but its individual agents and their level of responsibility and commitment.[11] Xanana accused many of being complacent and unresponsive to the new requirements of the struggle, self-satisfied with their positions and unwilling to develop the organization. He decided to shake-up the Command. Growing tired of waiting for a response he called a ‘Reorganisation Meeting’ in Liaruca in September 1984.

I was in contact with the company commanders in the Centre East and many other political cadres and I felt that we could not wait for much longer because we needed to start preparing the forces for action. In September I held a meeting on the south coast between the Dilor River and the Luka River. I called on Kilik, Moruk, all company commanders and political cadres from the Centre East to come to this meeting. Matan Ruak met some who said they would come but they did not turn up. Kilik said, ‘Yes,’ but never came either and instead went to Same to meet Mauk Moruk, trying to persuade the commanders there that I was a traitor.[12]

Xanana emphasised the lack of military will of Kilik and Moruk, but his view of them is not reflected elsewhere. Kilik and Moruk were well-known as a fierce Commanders and it maybe that it was opposition to Xanana’s leadership and political reforms that led to the military stalemate.

On 4 September, a resolution was passed at Liaruca to restructure the military command completely, along with the “radical remodelling” of CRRN and the Fretilin Central Committee. Kilik and Mauk Moruk along with three others were expelled from the Fretilin Central Committee because they attempted “to stir up the forces who renounced them as the Central Committee of Hudi Laran”.[13] As Commander-in-Chief Xanana also declared himself Falintil’s Chief of Staff.[14] He believed that the pressing “situation of war” dictated this.[15] The restructure removed both the rebel’s political and military authority.[16]

Xanana described the actual “reaction” or coup attempt.

The Hudi Laran Group started to complain and cause problems, telling people loudly that, ‘Xanana is a traitor…’ The reaction started to become obvious and in that way it became known as ‘The Reaction of 1984’ lead by Mauk and Kilik. It concluded when Kilik committed suicide because their actions and political accusations were not accepted. He shot himself because of psychological problems. He was the sort of man who could keep revenge repressed, who could not recognize his errors and mistakes.[17]

António Campos stated he was part of the mixed platoon of representatives from all three military regions, which Xanana sent to disarm the rebels. Campos said Kilik disappeared and Moruk discovered, “he had no support…. [and] managed to escape with four guns and then finally surrendered to the Indonesians.”[18] Other guerrilla commanders reported that Kilik was killed in a battle with Indonesian forces.[19] This purge of hardliners by Xanana can be seen as the beginning of his longer-term split with Fretilin.

Xanana established a firmer grip on command. He had begun to reject the Marxist ideologies of the previous era and became set on a path of non-partisan inclusion of all political beliefs in a primarily nationalist resistance structure.[20] Although he dated their “diminishing revolutionary opinions” as early as 1982,[21] he wrote that by 1984 they were politically obligated to change their ideology, although it was difficult to change and the declaration of the Marxist party proved to be an enduring position.[22]

I myself created a Marxist-Leninist party, transforming the Fretilin movement into a party [in 1981], but very soon I realised that the ideology did not serve us. So we changed our previous thinking and enabled Fretilin to regain its former nationalist character… If you ask me what my political philosophy is, [it is] only the liberation of my country.[23]

He had given up the rhetoric of revolution, of which he was never truly convinced, in favour of his own vision of the nationalist liberation of the Homeland and the People, who would then be free to choose their own political beliefs.

A Miracle (1984)

Amongst the harsh decisions and actions required of a guerrilla Commander in the midst of a bloody war there was a more spiritual side to Xanana’s leadership emerging. Sometime in 1984, a major transformation occurred to his spiritual beliefs. Not since his epiphany in a mountain hut just after the invasion had the power and strength of the Timorese sacred world touched him so deeply. He had always protested this world was slavish Timorese superstition, however, in 1984, he witnessed a “miracle” after a battle.

I saw men with clothes and rucksacks with bullet holes but the men had not even been grazed. The bullets had passed through their bodies without hurting a single life cell of their being. And I saw other such things.

I realized my mistake and started to defend the use of talismans. I conducted a study of the talismans of which there were many kinds. In essence a woman’s presence is in opposition to the talisman, taking all supernatural power, and the capacity to armour the body against bullets. For that reason the basic rule is the prohibition of contact with women….

Amazing things happen that are difficult to believe! As you can see these events ‘affected’ me into believing the total opposite. Fundamentally I just let myself embrace these beliefs for practical considerations. I did not have the capacity to guarantee that my men were not exterminated and we all needed that ‘protection’ to continue our existence, to carry on the armed resistance.[24]

Xanana explained that it was only during war that he came into contact with the mythological thought of the Timorese and he grew to understand how it sustained them. [25] Their mythology and culture was part of their identity, which manifested itself in a modern political sense as the basis of their nationalism.[26] With this new perspective Xanana enhanced the Timorese nationalist term, Maubere, with a greater cultural and spiritual depth.

After ten years living in the mountains the only thing that made sense was the belief system that radiated from them. Xanana became profoundly connected with the sacred ancestral land of Timor, the lulik rai. He had come to believe that, “what links the people with the land, the elements of earth, stone, of water and air, is the reason they could fight on, the reason they could give their lives for their country.”[27] Faced with the most fundamental issues of life and death and survival as a people Xanana opened his heart up to a belief system able to sustain him spiritually and mentally.


The new Portuguese solidarity group, Comissão dos Direitos para o Povo Maubere (Commission for the Rights of the Maubere People or CDPM) organised a solidarity conference in Lisbon on the first anniversary of the ceasefire, 23 March 1984. Mari Alkatiri and Abílio Araújo spoke and all present agreed to support Fretilin’s 1983 Peace Plan. Alkatiri informed the conference of the intense fighting in the Central and Western Zones (‘Fretilin outlines East Timor situation’, East Timor News, Sydney No. 81-82, Autumn 1984 edition, p. 3; Jill Jolliffe, 1984c, ‘Fighting raging in Timor: Fretilin’, The Age, 26 March 1984, East Timor News, Sydney No. 81-82, Autumn 1984 edition, p. 7).
[1] Pinto and Jardine, 1997, p. 94
[2] Gusmão, 1999b
[3] They must have resisted Xanana’s push for Fretilin to become a broader, more pluralist movement with a new inclusive ideology. Xanana said he wrote to DFSE to consider these issues many, possibly three or four times, in 1984 (Gusmão, 1999b). Few of these messages survive.
The origins of the dispute between Xanana and Kilik appear to go back to problems political leader Commissar Sera Key (Juvenal Inacio) faced as Kilik’s Commander in 1978, in which Xanana intervened. Xanana also accused Kilik of lack of responsibility when he retreated to look after his family after the fall of Matebian. One can assume the two men had little respect for one another. Xanana had last been in conflict with Kilik and Olo Gari just prior to the March 1981 Conference when they accused him of having fled the East in fear of Indonesian military operations and demanded different military tactics (Gusmão, 1994a, p. 67). As previously stated (p, 105) during the 1981 Reorganisation Kilik became the Chief of Staff of Falintil, with Mau Huno as his Deputy. Mauk Moruk was also appointed as Deputy and the First Commander of the Red or Shock Brigades.
This unsuccessful coup has often been portrayed as political struggle between Xanana and Mauk Moruk who was dissatisfied with Xanana’s openness to negotiated ceasefire. Horta commented, “Paulino Gama was a Fretilin hard-liner, an ideologue. He opposed the dialogue and believed in a military solution so later he defected” (Ramos Horta Interview, 1998). However, additional comments written by Xanana in the column of my notes on this section read, “Kilik… the real brains…” (Gusmão, 1999b).
[4] He explained, “I was located in Matebian receiving information from Ainaro, Same and everywhere. I had a permanent link with Ainaro, which usually took three months to return a message. To other places it might only take two or three weeks depending on the military situation” (Gusmão, 1999b).
[5] Gusmão, 1999b
[6] Gusmão, 1984a. East Timor News noted that this message had been received before radio contact began but was now being published in full because they believed it was a very important message but had not published it before because of the sensitive information it included.
[7] Although a large chunk of the message was addressed to Mário Carrascalão as representative of the collaborators attacking their weakness and selfishness and calling them back to the nationalist movement.
[8] Gusmão, 1999b. At the 1984 ALP Conference Hawke and Hayden had forced a reversal of party policy of self-determination for East Timor (see Footnote 392 above). In August 1985, Hawke recognized Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor on behalf of his Labour Government. Two months later the Australian and Indonesian Governments began discussions for joint explorations in the Timor Gap. Combined with the recent conniving of the Morrison delegation to Timor, the blatant self-interest of the Australian Government bred bitterness and cynicism. Australian foreign policy in regard to East Timor was to feature prominently in Xanana’s declarations and he did not mince his words in a 1986 message in a classic example of his mordant style. “Senhor Bob Hawke… stated that Indonesia should arrange an opportunity to legitimise the annexation by the ‘will of the population’. This was a clear indication of the policy of Senhor Bob Hawke trying to save the honour of Australia while at the same time killing our People. As we have said, Australia is attempting to try and tidy away the problem of East Timor with honour, not only as Senhor Bob Hawke has the honour of participating in the plot and in the genocide practiced by Jakarta, but also because he will secure the honour of guaranteeing the exploration of oil and natural gas (that are ours)! Senhor Bob Hawke’s hands are stained with the blood of the East Timorese, a people who since his declarations in August last year have felt an increase in the murderous repression of the occupiers, whose vandalism is such that they will even castrate and rip out their hearts of the dead. We are certain that Senhor Bob Hawke will argue at the next Australian Labour Party Conference that all this is a lie, and that [Indonesian Foreign Minister] Mochtar had assured him that human rights in East Timor are more respected than in Australia itself. For this reason Bob Hawke will not be sorry, even for a moment, for being responsible for this extremely important step in foreign policy and that the ALP should continue to pursue a pragmatic policy to maintain the already ‘solid’ relations with Jakarta, never forgetting to emphasis the extremely important fact of the current negotiations concerning the oil explorations of the Timor Gap” (Gusmão, 1986a).
Perhaps though the Labour government’s most cynical act was then to appoint Bill Morrison as Ambassador to Indonesia (Dunn, 1996, p. 347-8). Beginning a new phase of an enmity that could trace its roots back to the Second World War, Portugal condemned Australia’s actions and withdrew its ambassador (Ramos Horta, 1987, p. 80-1; 83). Xanana grew ever more bitter about Australian foreign policy when an agreement was signed in September 1988 between Australia and Indonesia establishing a ‘zone of co-operation’ in the Timor Sea. The new Indonesian and Australian Foreign Ministers Gareth Evans and Ali Alatas became personal friends in a new era of bi-lateral relations, sealed and photographed when they drank champagne and signed the treaty in a plane flying over the oil and gas fields. Australia had already received $31 million from the sales of oil company permits (Taylor, 1999, p. 170-71). In February 1991, Portugal began proceedings against Australia in the International Court of Justice over the treaty.
[9] Gusmão, 1984a
[10] Gusmão, 1999b
[11] “An agent’s capacity can be measured by his reaction to the development of activities of the resistance, and measuring his level of responsibility, the spirit of determination and dynamism, the spirit of initiative and of sacrifice, factors which mark the spirit of struggle of a guerrilla soldier. Because some companheiros were satisfied with their “posts”, judging that their position had “already been developed” and were self-satisfied and had left it up to the “virtue” of “better cadres”, we needed to proceed, in 1984, with a radical remodelling of the structure of the Resistance with reflection on our Party Organisation… People should not treat their positions as if they have some kind of immunity from making errors and accepting criticism” (Gusmão, 1988c).
[12] He continued, “Many people who defected around Kraras complained that they had joined Falintil to fight but that is not what had happened. They asked me to restructure and to give them the opportunity to prove their capacity and follow the example of their brothers in the East. Kilik was Chief-of-Staff and Mauk Moruk was Vice-Chief of Staff, as well as First Commander of a Brigade composed of four full well-armed Companies….” Xanana described the role of the Brigade was to “assist smaller guerrilla groups, and help prepare them for action.” He discovered that the Brigade was negligent in carrying out this function and the guerrilla groups had received no such help. They complained to Xanana and unassisted, “were preparing military targets, planning the actions”. He was told Kilik, Moruk and Olo Gari maintained their Companies for their own safety carried out no operations (Gusmão, 1999b).
[13] Commander Lere, whom Moruk had tried to co-opt, made the choice to follow Xanana, but was reassigned from political to military duties. Xanana believed Lere would make a better Commander than Political Commissar removing him from the Fretilin Central Committee too and appointing him the “Commander of Hudi Laran” with his own Company of guerrillas (Gusmão, 1999b). Lere became a loyal lieutenant to Xanana and by 1988 Xanana praised Lere for exercising, “much responsibility and clarity, in the functions of the Commander of Unity” (Gusmão, 1988c, Section III, No. 3, part C). In 1999 Xanana believed the reassignment of Lere was the right decision as, “Today he is the Vice-Chief of Staff, in Iliomar” (Gusmão, 1999b).
[14] Gusmão, 1988c (Section III, No. 3, part B). Xanana appointed no replacement Chief of Staff, only various Regional Commanders below him (Gusmão, 1985d).
[15] Within CRRN, he wrote, “there were various ‘bureaus’ that were not productive… because of certain members of the CC”. He portrayed these members making petty comments and shamefully shirking their responsibility (Gusmão, 1988c, Section III, No. 3, part B).
[16] He demoted Kilik from Chief-of-Staff to a simple commander, assigning him one company. He transferred the responsibility for strategic planning and co-ordination to other commanders, who were, he wrote “so happy with the new prospective of action, to be able to do what they wanted to do so far away from their brothers in the East” (Gusmão, 1999b).
[17] Gusmão, 1999b
[18] Diplomatically António Campos put the restructure of the leadership down to the harsh attacks of the Indonesians, remembering the coup d’etât as a response to the restructure, but, he says, “the support for Xanana was… so great, was so amazing, that finally the attempt just melted away like ice” (António Campos Interview, 1998).
[19] Mauk Moruk explained that after, “…differences with my fellow resistance comrades over the correct strategy to be adopted for the liberation of our homeland, I decided to go down from the mountains and rejoin my people in the areas under Indonesian control. I thus surrendered to the Indonesians, and, as a political prisoner, I was deported to Jakarta on 2 February 1985 where I was detained in the isolation ward of Psychiatry Department of Jakarta Army Hospital where I stayed until 9 September 1989. I was then cared for by several national and international humanitarian and human rights organizations, inter alia the ICRC and JRS, before arriving in Lisbon as a refugee on 1 October 1990” (Paulino Gama, 1995, ‘A Fretilin Commander Remembers’, Timor at the Crossroads, p. 103).
Gama has suffered serious trauma from the horrific murder of his wife and children and his long stay in the Indonesian hospital where they apparently tried to poison him. After initially working with Horta and the international resistance in Lisbon he withdrew and went to live in Amsterdam. On 13 July 1994 Gama made a pro-integration statement to the UN and became aligned with the Indonesians (José Ramos Horta Interview, 1998; Jolliffe, 2001, p. 155). Gama has gone on to make accusations that Xanana took part in executions and massacres perpetrated by Fretilin, and more specifically that Xanana ordered the death of Kilik on 24 September 1984 although few take his accusations seriously ( These allegations persist.
[20] José Ramos Horta Interview, 1998. Xanana felt they were on their way to change their political thinking by removing communist and revolutionary notions and replacing them with pure nationalist ones.  “… because of our growing perception of the consequences of our ideological problems of the process of Liberation of Our Nation we were on our way to a persistent change in the line of our political orientation. We placed the war of Resistance to Indonesian military occupation in a more national and nationalist context… We re-established the capacity of Fretilin as a Movement not necessarily communist, and immediately abandoned the tendency to re-place our intentions and actions with revolutionary calculations or party politics” (Gusmão, 1988c—Section IV; Part 1).
Agio Pereira believed that Xanana came to realize years later it was a mistake to have resurrected Sahe’s plans to develop the resistance movement along pure Marxist-Leninist principles. Agio believed these were not ideas Xanana formed himself but that he knew, “it was of critical importance to have a head, a centre of command” rather than the diversity of opinions existing in a front.… they undid it afterwards … and then Xanana evolved as the leader. Xanana had this reverse transformation from Marxist-Maoist back to Marxist… Xanana had a reversal and freed himself from the party system. [Xanana turned to] what I would call, in the context of East Timor, Maubere Marxism. It was popular in the sense it is national, for the people, by the people, not popular as an instrument to conquer power, that is the political difference in it” (Agio Pereira Interview, 1998).
[21] Gusmão, 1987a, p. 132. Horta thought the PM-LF had lasted for only a year in Timor (Horta Interview, 1998) whileAgio Pereira believed that Marxist-Leninist revolutionary concepts were prevalent up until 1984-85 with Xanana and others “freeing themselves gradually” from these beliefs. Agio felt Xanana’s priorities at the time were hardly political ideology but “survival as a resistance” (Agio Pereira Interview, 1998).
[22] Xanana believed the PM-LF did not have the capacity, “to change into a nationalist movement with the capacity to guide the process of liberation of the Motherland. He said they were already thinking about ‘dumping’ the heavy ‘cargo’ of such an ideology, “because of our incapacity to carry it all on our shoulders!” (Gusmão, 1987a, p. 130).
[23] Gusmão, 1990c, p. 11
Xanana wrote that by 1985 the Fretilin Central Committee leadership was made up of Abílio Araújo as President (also called Secretary-General); Mari Alkatiri as Vice-President and Ramos Horta as Secretary of External Relations and himself, “still suffering from ambiguity… only inscribed as Commander of Falintil” (Gusmão, 1988—Section IV, Part 1). He was, as ever, uncomfortable with having his political authority prescribed by others.
[24] Gusmão, 1999a
[25] Horta believed that through Xanana’s work as a labourer in Dili and the years in the mountains he became closer to the people, unlike other leaders, such as himself, who had developed no such attachment. He declared Xanana acquired a “profound sensitivity towards the culture and the beliefs” (Ramos Horta Interview, 1998). Conversely Mari Alkatiri believed Xanana, “was always spiritual, even before” (Mari Alkatiri Interview, 1998). Agio Pereira tied Xanana’s understanding and closeness to the Timorese people and their view of the world to the decline in Fretilin’s political “apparatus“. “Xanana started to be closer with the people and the soldiers in a very genuine Timorese way, in a Maubere way. One of the words that became almost sacred in the mountains is the ‘brotherhood’, in the sense that people call each other brother and sisters and everybody is part of the family. That to me was very important and Xanana was the motivation force to make it acceptable and understood world-wide and he echoed that through the language. He is very attached to the Mauberes that died in the mountains, he sees them as his family. For him they never died because they are still alive as plants and trees, it’s in his poetry. The person may die but their soul goes back in to the earth, they fertilise the environment, so you continue to be part of the system although physically you disappear. And what is left of you is the purity of you, like the purity reflected in a beautiful flower in the mountains. It is a great way to think to keep going as well. It is not just a religion or philosophy, it is real, it is what makes all these people sacrifice their whole lives, their families, their wives, husbands, sisters, brothers” (Agio Pereira Interview, 1998).
[26] Gusmão, 1999a
[27] Cristalis, 2002, p. 121

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