Political mauberense, historical leader of the independence movement in East Timor, born on 20 June 1946 in Laleia. Known by the alias of Xanana Gusmão and Kay Rala since its FALINTIL guerrilla, José Alexandre Gusmão became the first President of the new sovereign State of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on 20 May 2002.
Son of a school teacher, who inherited the passion for reading, attended primary school and some years of secondary education in the school of the town Dare Timorese Catholic mission "Nossa Senhora de Fátima". He/She then moved to the capital, Dili, where he/she attended high school. Fulfilled mandatory military service in the Portuguese armed forces for three years and was then used as a surveying Assistant before starting work, since April 1974, at the radio station "A voice of Timor". That same year entered as militant in the FRETILIN (Revolutionary Front for the liberation of East Timor) and shortly after was appointed Assistant to the Chief of the information Department.
In those months, the nationalist movement gained presence in the Portuguese colony and in mid-1975 de-facto controlled most of the territory. Thus the things, the FRETILIN proclaimed unilaterally the independence of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on November 28, although the sovereignty of the new State was extremely ephemeral as on 7 December of the same year, the Indonesian army invaded East Timor. The annexation, rejected by United Nations, became effective in 1976 and lasted for a quarter of a century.
For years, the Indonesian occupation forces exerted a severe repression of nationalist movements that were drastically depleted. When Nicolau Lobato, Commander of the military resistance organized around the guerrilla group FALINTIL (armed forces of national liberation of East Timor), was killed in combat on the last day of the year 1978, Gusmao picked up the witness of the independence cause in order to reorganize the resistance. Hidden in the jungle, its leadership at the head of the guerrillas against Indonesian occupation soon reached the category of legend and Gusmão became the standard bearer of the sovereigntists hopes for the people of East Timor. In March 1981 he/she was elected commander in Chief of FALINTIL, and promoted the formation of the unit of national policy, common front organized together with the Catholic Church, which would later lead to the establishment of the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM).
On 20 November 1992, the Commander of Gusmão was captured in Dili and Jakarta authorities judged him two months later, under accusations of leading attacks against military, commit murders and robberies against the population, undermining the Government and possessing weapons illegally. On 21 may, the Court issued its ruling and sentenced the ringleader guerrilla to life imprisonment for rebellion and conspiracy against the Indonesian State. International pressure on the Government of Suharto was able to reduce the initial sentence to 20 years of deprivation of liberty in the prison's maximum-security Cipinang (Jakarta).
While in prison he/she studied languages and laws and took the time to cultivate their interests in painting and poetry. From his American exile José Ramos-Horta and the Bishop of Dili, Carlos Felipe Belo, picked up the leadership of the cause of the Timorese people to denounce the atrocities of Indonesian rule in East Timor in various international fora.
In 1992, Ramos-Horta presented in the European Parliament a peace plan, which counted with the express support of the European Union, and four years later was awarded, along with Carlos Belo, the Nobel Peace Prize. Both circumstances accelerated UN involvement in the search for a solution to the problem of East Timor. Portugal, which had broken relations with Indonesia since the occupation, on the other hand, put launched several initiatives to put pressure on the Government of Jakarta and in 1996 the leaders of both countries, Prime Minister Guterres and President Suharto, held the first meeting in two decades to discuss the future of East Timor.
The Indonesian Government gave the first signs of yielding to international pressure from 1997 when, coinciding with the celebrations of the 52 anniversary of the independence of the country, reduced in a few months the condemnation of Gusmao. The fall of the Suharto regime in May 1998 and the coming to power of Vice President Habibie softened isolation measures to which it was subject to the guerrilla. A month earlier, the nationalist East Timorese in exile, gathered North of Lisbon at the National Convention in the Diaspora, had constituted the Council national of Timorese resistance (CNRT), which Gusmao was elected President. Meanwhile, the Interior of the island is worsening armed violence between pro-independence elements and paramilitary militias in favor of annexation to Indonesia.
Finally, the negotiating process between the delegations of Indonesia and Portugal concluded on 5 May 1999 with an agreement, sponsored by United Nations (UNAMET), to secure the holding of an electoral consultation in which the East Timorese people would opt between a separatist character option, proposed by Indonesia, or an independence process. The long-awaited referendum held on 30 August, a historic day for the more than 400,000 mauberenses which went to the polls and were overwhelmingly (78.5%) by the creation of a sovereign State.
In the days after the consultation, paramilitaries, organized and supported by the Indonesian military, launched a scandalous campaign of terror against the civilian population in retaliation for independence victory. Despite the atrocities, the Indonesian occupation forces left unpunished territory that twenty-five years had annexed with identical demonstration of repression and violence. An international peacekeeping force (INTERFET), sent by UN, re-established security in East Timor. On October 25 of the same year, the territory was under transient of the United Nations (UNTAET) Administration as organised the independence process.
Xanana Gusmão, released on September 7, 1999, returned to the island hailed by the crowd. Among its first measures, in the summer of 2000 he/she opted to return to political activity as civil and renounce his position as Commander in Chief of FALINTIL. He/She transferred command of the guerrilla commander Taun kill Ruak and the 23 of October of the same year he/she was elected President of the National Council, a Parliament of transition in which 36 representatives of political forces and social Timorese were integrated. Cargo resigned on 28 March 2001 by the discrepancies that emerged in the Assembly with respect to the elaboration of the first Constitution of the territory.
On 30 August 2001 elections were held to elect the constituent Parliament and FRETILIN won an overwhelming majority. Days earlier, Gusmao had announced his candidacy for the presidential elections of 14 April 2002, which would dispute against Francisco Xavier do Amaral, the ephemeral President who led the country in 1975 during the nine days that mediated between the Portuguese withdrawal and the Indonesian occupation. The former guerrilla and leader of the independence struggle achieved a crushing victory with 82,69% of popular support. On 20 May 2002, date reserved for the official proclamation of East Timor as a sovereign State, Xanana Gusmão was sworn in office as President of the nation.
His political career has been recognized with the award of prestigious awards, including the order of the Portuguese freedom (1993) and the Sakharov Prize for human rights of the European Parliament (1999). Among his literary production, include some poems; Mauberiadas, Mio sea, and political essays;East Timor: A people, a homeland.