Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975
Fretilin and UDT
Fretilin and UDT
If this united front had kept together it would have formed the basis for a peaceful transition to an independent East Timor. What was the nature of these two groups.
First, UDT. UDT receives its main support from the Portuguese community and the Timorese who were most closely associated with the previous Portuguese regime. Stephen Hoadley in The Dominion identified these groups as "the higher civil servants, the native chiefs who serve as petty territorial officers, villagers who regard the Portuguese flag as a mystical symbol, (and) some Chinese businessmen". UDT originally had a platform of federation with Portugal. Its support has varied between 10% and 15% of the population. It is in no way radical, nor can it really be said to be anti-colonial when its major supporters come from those who benefited in one way or another from colonialism.
Second, Fretilin. Fretilin grew out of a radical grouping of lower civil servants, teachers, students (some of whom were educated overseas) and some educated tribal chieftains. This grouping was responsible for organising the first strike in East Timor's history just after the Portuguese coup. Its formation came fairly late after the April coup but it came up with the most far-ranging and radical policy of any of the political parties. This policy was geared towards achieving Fretilin's main aim, that of building an independent, self-reliant, East Timor. At first it demanded independence Now'. The Fretilin policy has gained incredible support among the East Timorese people (over 80% support Fretilin). In particular support from recent migrants from the country areas to the northern towns and the tribal chieftains (who are still the authority figures in the countryside) helps ensure a firm mass base. Fretilin has seen the Armed Forces Movement as little different from the old fascist regime and has had little to do with the Portuguese.