Contested histories and solidarities from the South: the East Timorese diaspora in Mozambique (1975-1999)
Marisa Ramos Gonçalves Centro de Estudos Sociais - Universidade de Coimbra (CES-UC), PORTUGAL
Portuguese colonialism, which extended from Africa to Asia until the twentieth century, prompted, even if inadvertently, a circulation of people and ideas who questioned the colonial project and who envisioned post-colonial futures. This paper analyses the solidarity relations developed between the nationalist movements in Mozambique and Timor-Leste, united by the struggle against the colonial project. During the occupation of Timor-Leste by Indonesia (1975-1999), the Portuguese-speaking African nations were important moral and material supporters of the East Timorese struggle for independence.
Nevertheless, the histories of the encounters between the two peoples from 1975 onwards, marked by the Mozambique’s solidarity with the movement for Timor-Leste’s self-determination, are largely absent in the local and international historical production. Part of a contested chapter of the country’s history, the support by the first FRELIMO-led Mozambique government to the training of FRETILIN (East Timorese) cadres during their exile in the country, has been often at the centre of political competition between political parties in Timor-Leste, portrayed unfavourably, and even devalued in the context of the international solidarity movements with Timor-Leste’s self-determination.
This paper will analyse the everyday experiences of East Timorese who lived in Mozambique in exile during the Indonesian occupation and Mozambicans engaged in setting up the solidarity networks, as a result of archival research and interviews conducted in 2018 and 2019.