decolonization / famalaoan / politiku

“Chamorro genocide”

“Umm, Speaker Won Pat, in the past at least, Chamorro mothers actually gave birth to their children. And if they couldn’t take care of them, their families did. At least that’s what Guam USED to be.”  (Source: Tim Rohr, Esperansa Project)

This statement is not borne out by the historical record.  It is false.

Yo’åmte are recorded to have provided abortifacient herbs.  Mid-1700s documents record Chamorro abortions, one glossing abortion as a method “to save them from subjugation by the Spanish.”  Abortion methods have also been recorded in many other traditional Micronesian island societies.  (Source: Don Rubenstein, “Culture in Court: Notes and Reflections on Abortion in Guam,” 1992.)

Traditional medicine in many other parts of the world is also well known to have provided for women to control their own reproduction.  In the United States, abortion used to be — “in the past at least” — commonly referred to simply as a restoration of menses, and socially acceptable before the “quickening” of the womb, meaning the fourth month or so.

I noticed a reference to “Chamorro genocide” on another website by Rohr, JungleWatch, — meaning the legal right to abortion.

No.  This is the same straw-man argument mistakenly used to corrode African-American women’s bodily agency.

When anyone with a basic understanding of history hears the phrase “Chamorro genocide,” one thinks of what Craig Santos Perez has referred to in his poetry as the Chamorro population dropping from 200,000 to 5,000 in two generations as a result of Spanish military conquest hundreds of years ago.  Dr. Patricia L.G. Taimanglo has spoken of the Chamorro people’s “near total genocide and colonization by the Spanish (1521-1898).”

“Chamorro genocide” in the manner of which Perez and Taimanglo speak happened under the Catholic regime (I would say ancien régime, but Guam is still, of course, intensely Catholic).  It happened culturally under the Spanish and under the U.S., especially when linguistic sovereignty was curtailed and (in the majority of cases) ceded after World War Two.  It could be said to have happened under the Japanese in the many massacres and other horrors of World War Two.  The statistically small number of abortions on Guam (see below) is nothing like what has happened historically under Catholic Spanish, U.S., and Japanese military conquest.

The way to reduce abortion rates is to increase (not decrease) women’s access to healthcare and ability to make their own decisions privately about their own bodies and their own reproduction.  This includes free or easy access to preventative devices such as Plan B (available at K-Mart!), condoms, IUDs, and the pill, and it includes comprehensive sex ed in public schools (which we do not currently have on Guam).  I would refer anyone interested to websites such as Scarleteen or Planned Parenthood.

We do not see a massive lack of babies on Guam, or a massive drop in population during this era of abortion rights.  Guam had a 17.01% birth rate (/1,000 population) in 2014 — more than Russia, more than the United Kingdom, more than Italy, more than Canada.  To put this even more in perspective, there were 262 abortions on Guam in 2012, on an island with a population of about 162,000 at the time, and there were 3590 live births.  (Source.)  That means that somewhat over 93% of all pregnancies ended in live birth.

I’m not sure how this gets twisted to represent “Chamorro genocide.”  It obviously represents 93%+ of all women on Guam (Chamorro women being included in that statistic) carrying their pregnancies to term.  Chamorros are no longer a majority on their ancestral island, but that isn’t due to a statistically minor issue like abortion.  It’s due to colonization, Catholicization, the diaspora, the Compact Impact, the massive influx from the Philippines, U.S. militarization, etc.

Abortion is being used as a smokescreen.

The statistics show that wealthy, industrialized countries (and where women have more political and legal rights) tend to have more controlled birth rates, as opposed to poorer, less developed countries (and where women have fewer political and legal rights).  That is not opinion.  It is statistical fact.

What we see in the statistical evidence is a massive, nationally significant rate of teenage pregnancy, on an island that is 90%+ Catholic and has little more than abstinence in the curriculum.  (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, other U.S. territories, have very high rates as well.  As does Mississippi, one of the poorest and most socially conservative — outwardly, at least — states in the country.)  What we see in the statistical evidence is the second highest rate of reported rapes in the United States, many of young children within the family unit.  We see the immense global tide of reported rapes by predatory Catholic priests of children reflected on Guam as well with accusations poking forth, including the testimony of B.J. Cruz (as Concerned Catholics of Guam is well aware).

There are a variety of factors for this situation.  Excessively politicized religion in the form of Catholicism is very much a major factor in the situation of Guam, as it has been since the advent of the Spanish hundreds of years ago.  I would also mention social stressors (including the Compact Impact) and the major factor of colonization, leading to cultural erosion.  Primarily, I see a lack of education and a lack of access to healthcare and medical resources.


4 thoughts on ““Chamorro genocide”

  1. Reblogged this on unnecessary news from earth and commented:
    Quotes from one of the links inside this article:
    “…Negotiations have been waged between the United States and Japan in the last few years and most significantly in this last year. The focus had been the relocation of 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam. These negotiations are without input from the indigenous people of Guam. In order to accomplish this massive build-up, the U.S. military will require the importation of people to make the relocation possible. In other words, the build-up includes a projected population increase by some 80,000 people in 2014. This constitutes a 45% increase from Guam’s current population of 180,000 people…”
    And I have learned “mata’pang” used to mean “proud and brave” in Chamorro language from the links. I want to say “don’t give up to say the truths!” to “mata’pang” people of the island via your blog, my Earthling friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What you leave out (purposely ?) is the percentage of abortions procured by women identifying themselves as Chamorro. In the year that you quote (2012) 64% of the abortions were “Chamorro.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mr. Rohr, I believe you are correct, that is about 167.68 abortions (?) from ethnically Chamorro identified women. My concern is also that we don’t seem to have statistics for off-island or military abortions, nor self-induced / unreported, nor solid statistics prior to 2000 (or 2003 really?). Also, what causes the jump between 2006-2007? I would need to do more research to really analyze that number.


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