Posted by: rlearmonth | April 19, 2008

Field Trips

After months of preparation and planning, we are beginning a few trips out of Dili to other parts of the country. A team is leaving today, a Saturday, for the separate enclave of Oe’cusse. Although part of Timor-Leste, Oe’cusse is separated from the rest of the country by part of Indonesia. Until last week, travel to Oe’cusse was difficult because the stretch of Indonesian territory between required two border crossings, currency exchange, and the attendant delays and hassles associated with international travel, occasionally aggravated by a certain animus between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Most Timorese going to Oe’cusse prefer the overnight ferry, which leaves from Dili and arrives in Oe’cusse the next morning.

Last week, agreement was reached and the laws governing the Timor-Leste and Indonesia border crossings were changed to permit freer traffic between the two countries. Our team, accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Justice, including the Minister, will travel overland.

Next week, teams will visit Manatuto, to the east, and Liquica, to the west of the capital toward the Indonesia border. Manatuto has a largely matrimonial family structure, which has some interesting implications for property rights and land tenure issues. Not least, there may be significant differences on how conflict over land is resolved and how disputes are mediated.

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