CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shari Villarosa, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Burma, talked yesterday about her experiences in Burma during a news conference at the East-West Center's Burns Hall. Villarosa was in Honolulu to attend a meeting with other heads of U.S. embassies in the region. She flew back to Rangoon last night because of ongoing events and could not attend the meeting.
Burma change due, envoy says
An American diplomat says the crackdown should end sometime
The military rulers of Myanmar will not continue their current level of repression forever, the U.S. envoy to the Southeast Asian nation predicted here yesterday.
"I think the generals are going to change," said diplomat Shari Villarosa. "I'm convinced of that. I just don't know when."
Villarosa was in Honolulu to attend a meeting with other heads of U.S. embassies in the region. She flew back to Yangon (Rangoon) last night.
Before her flight, Villarosa gave a public update on the situation in Myanmar at the East-West Center, where she was a diplomat in residence in 2000-2001.
The street protests that started in August when the government drastically increased fuel prices culminated last month with the military killing, injuring and arresting Buddhist monks and others.
The protests were an expression by the people that they are fed up with the military's mismanagement of the country and its economy, making it difficult for them to survive, Villarosa said.
While the generals enrich themselves with money from neighboring nations eager to exploit the country's natural resources, most of the population earns just $20 per month, she said.
The United States already has economic sanctions in place. Villarosa said the key to change is persuading Burma's major trading partners -- India, China and Japan -- to apply pressure on the regime.
As charge d'affaires, a term for the official in charge in the absence of an ambassador, Villarosa is the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat in the country. The United States has not assigned an ambassador to the country since 1990 and continues to refer to it as Burma since it does not recognize the ruling military junta, which renamed the country Myanmar.