Indonesia: UNTEA Party

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The first Europeans to sight New Guinea were two 16th century Portuguese sea captains who were so unimpressed that they did not even bother to claim it for their King. Second largest island in the world (after Greenland), it was a tangle of tropical jungle inhabited by mosquitoes, crocodiles, and man-eating savages. In 1828 The Netherlands claimed western New Guinea, ruled it benevolently but with distant interest; in the words of one observer, it "became a sort of Dutch hobby." Last week, as the Dutch finally abandoned their costly hobby, the place seemed to have changed remarkably little.

On the rain-drenched central plaza of West New Guinea's capital city of Hollandia, Dutch officials transferred temporary control to the United Nations. By the agreement worked out under U.S. pressure, after two years of threats and raids from Indonesia, the U.N. will be in charge until May 1, 1963, when West New Guinea will be handed over to the Indonesians and become officially known as West Irian. Not later than 1969 a U.N.-assisted plebiscite is to allow the territory to choose independence or final annexation by Indonesia.

Sputtering Disorder. As the 20 men of UNTEA, the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority, set up shop under Guatemala's Jose Rolz-Bennett, not even the most optimistic expected that they could accomplish much during their seven caretaker months. Already more than two-thirds of the territory's 17,000 Dutch have gone, despite UNTEA offers to many doubling their salaries. Left in the hands of ill-trained Papuan natives, administration is in a state of sputtering disorder. In Hollandia the water supply is polluted, telephone and mail services have been disrupted, and communication with the interior has broken down. Food is short, and Papuan policemen, no longer commanded by Dutch officers, are reluctant to break up the constant brawls.

In the entire territory there is not one Papuan doctor or lawyer. So unsteady is the economy that a run on the territory's sole bank was averted only when the U.N. announced that it would guarantee the currency. Over the past five years, essential oil exports have dropped by two-thirds. As Dutch businessmen keep pulling out, unemployment figures climb.

Bird & Snake. Life in the interior is still only a step away from the Stone Age. The 700.000 Papuans are scattered into some 200 different tribes, each with its own language and each savagely hostile toward the others. Since killing virtually holds the status of a sporting event among the tribesmen, a Papuan convicted of murder is apt to get only two weeks in jail by a backwoods court, while a European would in all likelihood be hanged. In some areas, pigs are more valuable than women. To get strength, native warriors tie dried pigs' testicles around their arms, later roast and eat them. Their animalist religion teaches them to believe that death comes only because millions of years ago a bird and a snake raced and the snake lost; had it won. man would have changed skins many times.

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