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Cablegate: Social and Security Conditions in Baucau Improved From 2007

VZCZCXRO7209
OO RUEHCHI RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHDT #0313/01 3510841
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 160841Z DEC 08 ZDS ZUI RUEHSD0098 3510841
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4173
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1241
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0915
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0981
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 1086
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1090
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 1018
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 3667

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DILI 000313

CORRECT COPY - CAPTION

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

POLADS,EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TT
SUBJECT: SOCIAL AND SECURITY CONDITIONS IN BAUCAU IMPROVED FROM 2007

DILI 00000313 001.2 OF 002


Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Poloff visited the district of Baucau from December 3-4
to deliver sports equipment to residents in the Suco of Fatulia,
sub-district of Venilale, and to meet with Catholic Church and
National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) officials in the district.
In contrast to previous visits, economic activity was thriving
in local markets, farmers tended to their fields, children in
school uniforms filled the streets, cars, buses, and motorcycles
jammed the roads, and new businesses opened indicating economic
progress due to increased political stability. More
significantly, previously open political tensions were absent.
Church and police officials expressed confidence that after a
recent turbulent history, "the worst is finally over." End
summary.

Sports diplomacy
----------------

2. (SBU) On December 3, Poloff traveled to the Suco of
Fatulia, sub-district of Venilale in the district of Baucau to
donate sports equipment to the community and meet with local
officials. The trip also served as a follow-up visit seven
months after a contingent of engineers from the 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit (MEU) visited that community to perform
humanitarian work. Suco Chief Constancio Rego and community
residents thanked the U.S. for its support of Timor-Leste, and
offered special praise for the humanitarian assistance provided
by the 31st MEU to their community in April 2008.

3. (SBU) During their visit, the Marines conducted repairs and
refurbishments to the community primary school. In addition,
U.S. military doctors and dentists conducted a clinic in
Fatulia, and treated upwards of 1,500 patients from the local
area. The community clinic remains stocked with supplies and
medicine donated by the Marines, and treats an average of 15
patients per day. Community nurses Juvita da Costa and Joaquim
dos Santos expressed hope for U.S. troops to return in the near
future and described their work as "invaluable for our
community," adding that "our people would love to welcome them
back."

Catholic Church "optimistic"
----------------------------

4. (SBU) During a visit on December 3 to the Salesian
Pre-seminary Academy in Dom Bosco, Poloff met with school
director Father Justiniano de Sousa to deliver sports equipment
to students and discuss Catholic Church views on Baucau's
security conditions. Father de Sousa observed that "conditions
are thankfully different than a year ago. People live in peace
and life has returned to normal for our citizens." He added
that "it is very unlikely" that the violence that engulfed the
district, especially the city of Baucau itself, in August 2007
will be repeated.

5. (SBU) As signs of progress, Father de Sousa noted that
children are attending schools, new businesses have opened, and
"people are generally violence fatigued and ready to move
forward with a stable life." However, he added that education
continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing
Timor-Leste as the few books available in schools are in
Portuguese, and teachers who lack Portuguese language skills are
required to teach in that language. In spite of the presence of
"a few score Portuguese language teacher volunteers from
Portugal and Brazil" in the country, the overwhelming number of
students are taught by Timorese teachers proficient in Tetum and
Bahasa Indonesia.

PNTL emerges from setback
-------------------------

6. (SBU) On December 4, Poloff met with Baucau's acting
National Police (PNTL) Commander Joao Sanches Pires, who
replaced former PNTL Commander Aderito Neto. (Note: Neto was
relieved from command last October by Secretary of State
Francisco Guterres. Mr. Guterres was urged by the United
Nations Police (UNPOL) to relieve Neto following human rights
abuse allegations against him by a subordinate officer. The
investigation against Neto remains open.) Sanches Pires noted
that the PNTL continues to face challenges in the district, such
as lack of good infrastructure, low salaries, and lack of enough

DILI 00000313 002.2 OF 002


patrol vehicles. However, he praised the mentorship from UNPOL
and noted that "the morale of the police remains high in spite
of our challenges because we are (Timorese) patriots committed
to serving our people."

7. Acting Commander Sanches Pires also observed that the PNTL
abides by equal treatment standards, and noted that many women
form part of the force (approximately 30 percent). Looking
ahead, he expressed optimism that the government will provide
the PNTL with the tools they need to enhance their service and
performance, and observed that the President had recently called
this a priority (Note: In a November speech, President Jose
Ramos-Horta underscored that the government must give priority
to improving the workplace and living conditions of PNTL
members.) On his predecessor's fate and ongoing investigation,
Sanches Pires said that no one knows for sure the details of
what happened, but force members are not talking about the case
or speculating on its merits. During a separate conversation
with Poloff, a UNPOL Australian Federal Police officer assigned
to Baucau praised the professionalism and dedication of Baucau's
PNTL force "in spite of their challenges," and noted that their
work with UNPOL is close and professional.

New leadership in the district
------------------------------

8. (SBU) Also on December 4, Poloff met with previous FRETILIN
Baucau District Administrator Luis Aparicio Guterres. Minister
for State Administration Arcangelo Leite replaced Mr. Guterres
as District Administrator last September. The move has been
described by political observers in Timor-Leste as normal, since
it also occurred in other districts. Mr. Guterres' replacement
did not generate local political backlash from FRETILIN, which
traditionally enjoys strong support in Baucau. The new District
Administrator, Antonio Guterres, was visiting Jakarta at the
time of Poloff's visit, hence a meeting was not possible.

9. (SBU) While lamenting his replacement as "unfortunate and
political," Luis Aparicio Guterres said that he was "content" to
work in Baucau for the Ministry of Education, and enjoy his
leisure time to write a new poetry book and reflect on life in
peace. However, he added that municipal elections are scheduled
for next July 2009 and that "if the people and FRETILIN draft me
again as candidate for District Administrator, I am a slave of
the people and will sacrifice my comfort to serve them again."

Conclusion
----------

10. (SBU) Security conditions in Baucau have improved during
the past year, in part due to a decline in political agitation
against the national governing coalition. That the District
Administrator's and PNTL Commander's replacements this fall
occurred without any political backlash underscore that times
may have changed for the better in Baucau as observers have
noted, and raise hope that this momentum will continue.
KLEMM

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