After a decade and a half of little to no funding for the Commission on Decolonization, this year at long last we have a budget and we have projects on the horizon. The Commission on Decolonization is tasked with leading the educational campaigns for Guam’s decolonization process. The budget this year is minute compared to what was received in the past, but at least it is a start.
With this budget there will be the opportunity for each of the political status task forces, which have long received no formal support from the government of Guam, to start to organize the community. When a political status plebiscite is held, those eligible to vote in it will be able to pick from one of three options, statehood, free association and independence. For each option there is a task force made up of members of the community who want to advocate for that particular option. For the past three years I’ve been the task force chair for Independence. We started off with several community projects, but due to lack of funds couldn’t sustain our activities. These funds will allow us to start working again.
For independence our educational efforts must begin with countering many of the myths that are in the community about the frightening and terrifying nature of Guam possibly becoming independent. Many people feel that independence would mean traveling back in time or radically changing life, but in truth independence means no such thing. All it means is that Guam become a locally sovereign nation, where its people, and not a government thousands of miles away hold the authority over life there. Independence would mean many changes to Guam, but so would the other statuses.
Beyond this, we have to make a case that the desire for independence is not based on the past, but rather the future. We have to offer a vision for independence that makes clear that this status is not solely about resolving the injustices of the past, but it is about the people of Guam, Chamorros and non-Chamorros as well, establishing the type of future for this island that they would want. It is important to note that even though only those who meet the definition of being legally Chamorro can vote in the plebiscite, it will be up to both Chamorros and non-Chamorros to help get us to whatever status is chosen. There are a long list of reasons why Chamorros should support an independent Guam, but there are just as many reasons why a non-Chamorro should support it as well.