Dienstag, 12. Februar 2008

a desperado goes down in flames

"desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
oh, you're a hard one,
and i know you've got your reasons,
but these things that are pleasing you
can hurt you somehow."

-johnny cash, "desperado"

the other night as i was working away on my ph.d. and writing a sentence to the effect of "one shouldn't overgeneralise about violence being the main way in which political differences are settled in timor leste..." when the bbc world service that was running in the background reported that "according to reports just coming in from dili, there has been an armed attack on the residence of president jose ramos horta..." i stopped mid-sentence... so much for that well-meant caveat on my part.

the attacker was none other than the mercurial major alfredo, who as some of you might remember has made his appearance on these pages as well. in what was a dual attack, reinado and his men attempted to kill both the president and the prime minister, but in the end it was alfredo himself who got killed. jrh was shot in the chest and stomach and is, at the time of writing, in intensive care in australia. a further man was killed, though it is unclear whether he was one of the attackers or one of the president's bodyguards.

so the man went down in flames and perhaps it was the only way he could go if he wanted to preserve his almost mythical aura, an aura that was already in the process of losing its shine. did he really think he could pull off a coup? was he "manipulated"? did he just lose the plot? i guess we'll never know.

other questions also remain and from what i hear dili is (surprise, surprise) abuzz with rumours, gossip and conspiracy theories. why was only 'unlucky alf' killed? what about the time discrepancies? why did the attack happen now? how and why were all the attackers (minus alfredo) able to escape? wasn't alfredo's death just a bit too convenient for 'some people'? those wishing to discuss these matters further over a beer or three are more than welcome to contact me anytime...

on a personal note, i tuned in to bbc world service again late last night for the latest update. i was mentally so immersed into the broadcast that i had one of those audio flashbacks that i haven't had for about 10 months: while listening intently to the news broadcast from dili, a woman walking past my window down a cobblestone street in high-heeled winter boots made a steady clack-clack-clack-clack sound with her heels and a part of my mind immediately thought: sustained automatic rifle fire, single-shot mode... i snapped out of it within a fraction of a second, but the unwelcome feeling of having been touched by the ghost of christmas past lingered on for a while longer

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