This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Attribution: Isabel Nolasco

Xanana Gusmão, the founder and former president of Timor-Leste, Asia’s youngest democracy, will host a public dialogue on the future of his country when he visits the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy on Monday, Sept. 18.

The 11 am discussion, to be held at the Young Building, corner of Bellevue and Ruggles avenues, will also feature U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC (Ret.), Jon Stivers, formerly of the U.S. Agency for International Development; David Bosco of Indiana University; Kristin Johnson of the University of Rhode Island, and John Watts of the Atlantic Council.

In the 1990s, Rhode Island’s colleges and its Portuguese-American community helped make the military occupation and oppression of what was then known as East Timor a national issue.  Longtime Sen. Claiborne Pell invested unprecedented time and energy on the issue, helping pave the way for the birth of Asia’s youngest democracy.

Sen. Pell even held a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing under the dome of the State House in Providence to give his constituents a chance to be heard on this vital issue. All the while, the freedom-fighter Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste was imprisoned in Indonesia, communicating secretly with the resistance and inspiring his fellow Timorese as “Timor-Leste’s Nelson Mandela.”

The event itself will explore issues facing Timor-Leste after the recent diplomatic break-through with neighboring Australia to settle their maritime border.

For more information on the Pell Center, visit