Broken Promises


THE VIEW FROM BELOW: East Timorese jostle to buy subsidized rice in Ermera, 58 km from Dili

Every day, the fancy jeeps cruise past Palmira Pereira's shack on the northern coast of East Timor. Sometimes, the passengers inside the air-conditioned vehicles raise their hands in greeting, and Pereira, or one of her 10 children, waves back. But the occupants of the cars—owned by the government, the U.N. or other organizations that are helping to run this infant country, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002—have never stopped to meet the Pereiras. If they did, they would find a family that has not eaten rice in three months because of shortages that have nearly tripled the price. The younger...

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