Ambassador to the United States from Timor-Leste: Who Is Domingos Sarmento Alves?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Domingos Sarmento Alves was installed as ambassador from the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on May 21, 2014. It’s the second ambassadorial post for Alves.


Alves has a bachelor’s degree in labor and organizational psychology with graduate studies in ASEAN and European Union institutions in Portugal. He made his name during student protests urging independence for Timor-Leste (East Timor) in the mid-1990s. The former Portuguese colony declared its independence in 1975, but forces from neighboring Indonesia rolled through the territory and the Jakarta government declared it to be the country’s 27th province.


Alves was the spokesman for RENTIL, the National Resistance of Students of Timor-Leste, during that group’s 12-day sit-in at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta in 1994, which coincided with a visit from President Bill Clinton. Alves and 28 other protestors were granted political asylum in Portugal. He told a BBC interviewer: “If [the Indonesians] will apply the concepts of human rights and to fight for the rightness of human rights in the world, I think it will be possible to establish peace in East Timor.” He got his wish five years later, when Indonesia gave up control of Timor-Leste, and in 2002 it was declared a sovereign nation.


In 2000, Alves helped found the Democratic Party, which is now part of Timor-Leste’s governing coalition.


Alves has been acting chief of protocol to the president, acting director of bilateral relations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international relations advisor to the president. In 2006, he was named his country’s ambassador to Japan, a post he held until 2012. Prior to being sent to Washington, Alves was political advisor to the vice minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.


Alves and his wife, Odete Genoveva Victor da Costa, have a daughter, Benedita. He speaks Tetum, Bahasa Indonesia, Portuguese, English and some Spanish.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Official Biography


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