There was a time that His Excellency, Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste and Nobel laureate– was simply Jose to me.
I first met him over breakfast at a quaint hotel in Bangkok sometime in 1992. We were both attending a conference called “Peoples Plan for the 21st Century” that, well, wanted to chart a common framework for the broad social movement in the region at the dawn of the new millennium . He was there to speak on behalf of his forgotten people- some 600,000 East Timorese who were under the yoke of a then occupying force- Indonesia. A third of his people – around 200,000 – had been slaughtered, starved, killed or impaled by the military and police of the dictator Suharto who in 1975 sent in a Catholic army general to lead the invasion of this puny, gentle, territory.