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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Jose Ramos-Horta

Interviewed January 8, 2010

Communication between the outside world and the resistance in Timor-Leste were next to impossible in the ´70s and ´80s. By the ´90s, we had– broken through the Indonesian control. The island was open– easier– to– smuggle information in and out.

I, personally, whenever I wanted to send information to Xanana (PH), to the resistance, I did– in the beginning, I would do audio cassettes that were smuggled into Timor with– reports about what was going on in the world to them– so that they are kept very well inform. Or– a bit sophisticated, later– videocassettes where I would talk direct to the people.

And they would then duplicate and all over the country they start using their cameras, showing to other. Because that was more a boost — to them. They would do the same– smuggle audiocassettes abroad– print material. They would smuggle all– video– messages of the fighters.

And because the Indonesian Army was so corrupt, they– the Indonesian– military themselves, they take picture of torture and do sell to the resistance. We got– photographs of torture. And we printed them by tens of thousands, you know– and dis– distribute around the world. So– we– were able to make use of the electronic media by– also– s– smuggling– years ago, a– s– satellite phone.

One of the first satellite phones that existed in the world, we bought it. Well, we– we, meaning our friends. It was actually the mayor of Lisbon at that time, Mr. João Soares– very well known, very good man. He raised $30,000 because that phone costs $30,000, the size of a briefcase, attaché case. And we smuggled to– Timor-Leste. Who brought it here was a friend of Timor-Leste– his wife is Timorese– Mr. Juan Federer from Chile, from Australia. His wife is Sarah Lapis.

He was the one who smuggled it from Jakarta to Timor-Leste. But as it—turned out for a while it didn´t work, because we send the instructions and– somehow they couldn´t really figure out how– it work. It didn´t take long. A few years later, that same satellite phone was already costing much less. It was smaller and it cost only $3,000. And the price went further down.

So, that´s how we– able to communicate. I was able to communicate by satellite phone with– some of the resist commanders in the mountains. When Xanana Gusmão, resistance leader who was captured in– ´92 and– put in prison– we lost contact with him for awhile– but soon after, we were able to establish contact with him through corruption in the prison system. It was amusing sometimes.