Guerrilla Leader Turned Founding President of East Timor Xanana Gusmao Delivers Inaugural Address

May 20, 2002


When Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 Xanana Gusmao went into the mountains, where he remained for the next 17 years fighting the Indonesian military becoming leader of the Falantil.

He was captured by the army in November 1992 and spent seven years in an Indonesian prison. In 1999 as East Timor held its historic referendum on independence, Indonesia released Xanana from prison under intense international pressure.

Last night as the UN flag was lowered, the Timorese red, black, yellow, and white flag was raised. Xanana Gusmao was elected East Timor’s first president in April of this year. This is an excerpt from his inaugural address.


  • Xanana Gusmao, Founding President of East Timor


  • Alan Nairn, journalist and activist in Dili, East Timor