decolonization / kuttura / militat / politiku

Liveblogging the Decolonization Forum at UOG, 10-29-15

Si Yu’us ma’ase’to Dr. LisaLinda Natividad of the Social Work program at UOG and her wonderful students who have put this event together; thank you also to Women and Gender Studies and Chamorro Studies for co-sponsoring this event.  Senators Tony Ada and BJ Cruz are in the audience.  The Decolonization Registry is active in the lobby.  Performances by Inetnon Gefpa’go.

5:43 p.m. – Dr. Laura M. Torres Souder-Betances is introduced.

Sovereignty is defined as having supreme power, esp. over a body politic.  Self-determination is the ability of a people to decide what form their governance will take, without reference to a colonizer.  Global context – it is the inalienable right of a people, esp. a colonized people, to assert self-determination.

From the 60s to present, Dr. Souder has been a member of various organizations seeking to raise consciousness about colonization and end it, recognize the rightful place of island nations in the U.N. family.  Decolonization, nuclear-free, and independent-Pacific movements touching the shores of all Pacific nations.  Young activists including Dr. Souder joined post-WW2 leaders.  The Chamorro Generation.  Much of its legacy is now forgotten, romanticized, or taken for granted, though it gave rise to the 1970s-80s Chamorro cultural renaissance and revolution.  Clearly defined and articulated who Chamorros were to the powers that be of the world, revolution of thought, bold action, we would not be denied!  Young activisits including Chris Perez Howard, Ron Rivera, Benit Dungca, Robert Underwood, BJ Cruz, etc.

Voices to empower intellectual discourse – social reconstruction of reality – inalienable right of a people to self-determination.  Village meetings, U.N. meetings, alliances with other nation-states, unrelenting advocacy for Chamorro self-determination.

We went through the motions but had no illusions – the small-c constitution would not significantly alter the colonial relationship with the U.S.  Soundly defeated across class, age, and other lines.

Official Chamorro orthography, rife with controversy to this day.  GDOE – Chamorro cultural and linguistic programs.  Monuments to commemorate indigenous figures.  Retribution for the careless destruction of sacred ancient burial sites, lying in front of bulldozers at the Nikko.  L  Grew in consciousness about the importance and significance of protecting historical properties.  Land trust organizations came into being.  Revival of indigenous dance and song traditions.  Connect with our ancestors and our identity as an indigenous people.

Is that enough?  To sustain and nourish us?

Have come home to roost after flying in and out for nearly three decades.  Hunger in children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, a hunger for the spirit and identity of our people.  Everywhere there is a painful awareness of emptiness so deep, so pervasive, that the cries of anguish are almost audible from our ancestral mother womb.

How are we exercising personal sovereignty in language and culture?  What are we doing to strengthen the spirit and growth of our people with our language and cultural knowledge and being?  What do we put in all the orificies of our beings?  Drug and alcohol addiction, domestic and child abuse, incarceration, and other social pathologies, must not define us.  Bridge the island-global divide while preserving a proud sense of where we came from and where we want to go as a people.  Colalborate with Micronesian neighbors ot develop a sustainable economy with our fragile ecosystem?

Taotao Tano’ – identity and survival is tied to this homeland.  Bloodline descendants of the ancient inhabitants of this Chamorro archipelago.  Without land, we cannot continue to be the people of the land.  Breaking up of clans, commodification of land as personal property, wholescale alienation of people from their lands after WW2, no just restitution or return of ancestral lands.  These injustices must be rectified without further delay.

Without people, the land has no meaning, other than as real estate.  More Chamorros living in diaspora than within our borders.  A shrinking majority in the only place on earth we call our homeland.  Chamorros may well become a disenfranchised minority on Guam itself in the not so distant future.

Cultural ethos is encoded in our spoken language.  Rich and powerful storytelling and apprenticeship traditions.  We cannot survive the cultural hegemony of Westernization.  Chamorro culture must be honored everywhere – not just go through the motions!  Cannot relegate language to twenty minutes a day in schools.  Prioritize culturally relevant and responsible pedagogy.  Support and education in Guam’s schools and post-secondary institutions.  Don’t just use slogans.  Embrace them as principles to live by.

Souder urges Won Pat and the members of the Guam Legislature ot revive the Guam Commission on Language and Culture to guide and promote strategic integration of language and culture in all venues of life in our ancestral homeland.  Learn from Palau, leading the world in ocean conservation.

70s and 80s generation have aged or passed away – can we become wiser?  Leverage our wisdom to ensure our continuity of peoplehood is in good hands.  Personal sovereignty, language and cultural self-determination.  Feed the hunger that plagues our younger generations and threatens our very susrvival.  We are called to collaborate, cooperate, and put aside that which has divided us in the past.  We can’t do it if we don’t do it together.  Don’t belittle or discount those who disagree with strong opinions you have.  How can we love Guam and hate Chamorros?  Increase proficiency in Chamorro language and build knowledge of Chamorro values.  Souder visits all schools, addresses them in Chamorro, they could not answer in the most basic ways, the students.  It broke her heart.  More education – are you ready to be an authentic nation-builder, young people?  Prove it.

Former Senator Hope A. Cristobal, created Commission on Decolonization and the Chamorro Registry 19 years ago.  Professor of Guam History.  Actively involved in the preservation of Chamorro heritage.  Many U.N. forums, New York, Fiji, New Caledonia, etc.

Sen. Cristobal is a UOG product.  Don’t question the value of a UOG education.  The Guam Constitution did not recognize nor respect the Chamorro people’s fundamental right to self-determination.  “No status, no constitution.”  1991 – People for Indigenous Rights – protect and advocate for basic human right as people of Guam to self-determination.  Ron Franquez Tiyan, Chris Perez Howard, Robert Underwood, worked alongside her to represent Guam in the international forum.  Guam’s participation at the U.N. increased in the next 25 years.  Need to impact policy decisions at the international level.  OPI-R – educate about Chamorro self-determination.  The esteemed late Ron Rivera and Dr. Laura Souder were the chairs of People for Indigenous Rights.  Ron Rivera’s work led to a UN resolution expressly identifying who the colonized are and recognizes the Chamorro people’s human right to self-determination.  After the 1987 Guam plebiscites, from 1989-1997, encouraged by Guam’s farsighted political leadership then, Sen. Paul Bordallo, Gov. Joseph Ada, worked for local legislation to ensure this fundamental human right was enshrined in law GCA Ch. 21, Commission on Decolonization for the implementation and exercise of Chamorro self-determination, Oct. 29, 1997, U.S. Congress held hearings and it became evident, that they would not report it out of committee, the U.S. administration did not support this act in the final analysis.

Little public interest in the people of Guam’s expressed desire for decolonization.  Guam does not have a role in the U.S. governance of this island, little momentum.  Must not be daunted, in 1946, lack of status, the day Hope Cristobal was born, the US freely and voluntarily inscribed Guam on the list of non-self-governing countries that needed to be decolonized.  Wake Island was not so inscribed but it was a US territory, it just had no native inhabitants or a unified cultural group as the legitimate heirs.

We are the people who have been colonized, denied our basic human rights, and must decolonize our countries. Deliberate attempts to erode our identity as a group with a separate, distinct political category on Guam.  Miseducation and misinformation on the plebiscite, the tiring usage of the term “Guamanian” by the governor himself as if we were all one and the same (it’s all very confusing), does it mean the Chamorro people who live in Guam, as opposed to the Chamorro people in Saipan?  US Office of Naval Intelligence and US Census use it so.  But governor uses it for all residents of Guam, to make people believe they are now equal and the same as the Chamorros – this is wrong.  To make them believe in a lie.  This is part of the miseducation now happening, regressive, when we should all be working to educate everyone about who the SELF is in self-determination.  Who are the people who have a dependent status, who have yet to decolonize?  Must ocntinue to educate everyone about the three status options made available to us.

Rhetoric about the military buildup being good for Guam residents, for the economy, that we should be glad the military and Marines are coming.  The people of the world have argued internationally that militarization infringes on people’s rights to self-determination.  Increased crimes in militarized communities.  Those of us who have been here for generations, the cost in infrastructure, the human cost in living in a toxic island, 95 toxic Superfund sites on this island, formerly used military sites not cleaned.  Our people are dying from cancers.  1900 times more nasopharyngeal cancer than the standard population in the United States.

October 9, 2015, governor stated that non-Chamorros on Guam would be allowed to participate in the plebiscite.  The most egregrious and flagrant form of discrimination is to participate in someone else’s right.  October 9, Government of Guam surrendered its position to rightfully represent our people.  We need political leaders with fortitude and political courage.  We are colonial subjects!  We carry the baton of Hurao and Agualin!

The colonized people, the Chamorro people of Guam, must be allowed to exercise their basic human right to self-determination.  It will take your voice, your pressure, to get our government back on the right track.  Know the facts of your rights, be willing to speak up in all circumstances, uphold the truth.  Si Yu’us ma’ase’.

Dr. Judith Won Pat, first female Speaker of the Legislature for the past three and a half terms, Senator for a ninth term.  Daughter of the first Speaker of the Legislature and representative to the U.S. Congress, Antonio B. Won Pat.  Doctorate in educational leadership from the University of San Diego.  Master’s in counseling from UOG.  Strong advocate for women’s affairs and quality of life throughout Micronesia.

Member of Commission on Decolonization, found out in October that the C4 UN committee would hear from heads of state and petitioners at the UN.  Wrote to ambassadors to lobby but no one responded.  Sen. Tony Ada, representing the governor, and Dr. Won Pat, as a petitioner, sought to call in the ambassadors.  But many of them were going off island, it was a bad time, conferences in Europe on climate change.  Was able to speak to some.  Testified as a petitioner and sought to bring to light the effects of militarization on Guam.  Only four minutes for a petitioner to give her statement.  Turned off the mic exactly at four minutes.

She reads her speech to us —  (1) large-scale unilateral militarization of Guam by the colonial Administering Power, US; (2) distortion of the “self” in self-determination by the US in the self-determination referendum; (3) military activities inhibiting the people of Guam’s right over resources in access to lands and seas.  The US has ignored the UN’s orders to scale down existing military installations and refrain from new installations in Guam.  U.S. plans to increase military on Guam, a new Marine Corps base, relocation of 5000 Marines, conduction of war games and testing, over 984000 square nautical miles of land, sea, and air, for various training exercises.  This will cut off our people’s access to important natural and cultural resources.  Pass a Guam-specific resolution reiterating to the US that this is an unlawful impediment to self-determination.  US has failed to provide resources for a plebiscite campaign – pressure it to adequately fudn and support such an educational campaign.  Davis vs. Guam, court case, include non-native or even temporarily relocated residents in the plebiscite – please call on DOJ to file an amicus brief to clarify this is only for Guam residents made US citizens by 1950 Organic Act and their descendents.  US’s controversial maritime boundary treaty between Guam and FSM, at no point was Guam consulted, during years of discussion and negotiation.  Urge General Assembly to remind Guam of its right as a non-self-governing territory to at least be consulted on issues that affect its access to its own resources.  She was cut off before she could finish.

Tony Ada received 10 minutes as the representative of a head of state.  Governor set aside $100,000 for educational campaign.  That’s all he said.

Western Sahara had 84 petitioners!  Four minutes each!

Met with some deputy ambassadors, committee heads, experts, including Dr. Carlyle Corbin, a friend of Guam.  Gave them a personal tour and insights into the UN.  In November the committee will put together their resolutions, and refused to do any Guam-specific ones.  No place, no legislative body, to go.  Dr. Corbin said the decolonization resolution with the Guam section was adopted by consensus in the Fourth Committee though.

Met with ambassador from FSM and her deputy.  They revealed that the US mission would make their way around throughout the Micronesian ambassadors to make sure they vote with the US and never for Guam.  Very upfront about it.  We need to do more lobbying.

Fiji mission to the UN – first secretary – met with him, and the Palauan ambassador, and a special advisor to the president of the General Assembly.  Also with the US decolonization unit.

They all recommended:

  1. You missed the vote for this year but there will be a section for Guam
  2. You need to start immediately lobbying
  3. You must find someone in the UN to take Guam under their wing and show us the ropes and run with our resolutions. Several possibilities.  Fiji and Papua New Guinea.  They actually are members of the Small Territories and Pacific Islands Committee, understand, empathize.  Should also communicate with New Caledonia to learn from them.  RMI, FSM, Palau – must work closely with them.  Should visit all of these places to create and develop relationships.
  4. Every May – special regional seminar for GA – must attend, interact with C4 members, not a brief testimony, sit with them, talk with them, lobby them. US excuses itself from these C4 meetings and seminars, for twenty years now.  They monitor votes but they don’t come to this seminar.
  5. Meet with US mission, DOI, State Department. Need to know what they are thinking, what is their perspective.
  6. Talk to UN C4 chair. Every year it changes in January.
  7. Meet with C4 members. Decolonization unit – four members – asked for more data from Guam, Bureau of Statistics and Plans, they only get the DOI info and it is skewed, they need to compare with Guam’s info to get the full picture.
  8. Governor meets with National Governors’ Association annually. Those governors could call their state representatives and senators.
  9. Need someone in Washington to introduce a resolution to Congress that when the people of Guam have their plebiscite, the US Congress must accept the people’s choice. That needs to happen!
  10. Must meet with US ambassadors, US mission to UN.
  11. Need two offices in Washington, D.C., not just governor’s office.
  12. Legislature must have a presence with the National State Legislatures conference.
  13. Regional and international organizations – need a presence AS GUAM. UNESCO, Secretariat of Pacific Community, Pacific Islands Forum (Guam currently only an observer), Pacific Island Development Forum.  Guam was invited but did not accept – lost opportunity

Really inspired by the young people here.  Look around the room.  You maybe didn’t recognize the names Dr. Souder mentioned as activists on Guam.  I pass the baton to you.  I’ll be there with you, we’ll be there with you.  But I need you to hold the baton, run with it, because this will be your future.  I may be gone tomorrow, when Hope leaves, Loling leaves, the vice speaker leaves, Tony leaves.

Thank you very much for your presence and attendance here.

Dr. Carlyle Corbin, U.S. Virgin Islands, developed tools for UN to measure decolonization and treatment of non-self-governing territories.  Advisor to several Pacific and Caribbean governments on self-determination.

Pay respect to the indigenous people of this land – thank you to the Chamorro Studies program, Social Work program, and Women and Gender Studies program, who put all this together.

Senior fellow, the Dependency Studies Project.

“Decolonization: What Happens to a Dream Deferred?”  Langston Hughes poem, inspiring during his undergraduate days, top writer of the Harlem Renaissance.

Deferred – postponed, delayed, ignored even indefinitely.  If we wish hard enough, maybe it will come true – Peter Pan philosophy.

Aspiration that we will someday reach the level of decolonization.  Rather amazing how we have been shifted around through the years from one colonizer to the next.  Fulfill the dream of self-government and full political status.  Ironically, this inalienable right has long been guaranteed through historical commitments for over a century through lateral and (bilateral?) treaties.  Are these commitments to decolonize taken seriously?  By France, the UK, the US?  Do they insist the rule of law does not apply to them?  “Do as we say, not as we do”?  Legal and political, and moral, obligations for self-determination of the indigenous people.

Global context.  France is a fundamental example with regard to French Polynesia.  The issue of 5 million square kilometers of undersea minerals has made the issue of self-determination difficult.  France doesn’t want to lose those resources.  Or, the U.S., of course, what si the federal thinking on Guam and the CNMI?  The strategic development and Pacific Pivot, the South China Sea current issue, are those mitigating factors, stopping decolonization, inconsistent with geopolitical strategy?  The UK, six territories in the Pacific, what happens if they return the Falklands to Argentina – lose offshore oil.  No incentive to deal with the true sense of self-determination.  Pitcairn Marine Sanctuary (UK territory), UK can claim resources from that territory.

Answers – any decolonization must be seen in light of such geo-specific strategic interests.  Has the dream of decolonization become “an unattainable illusion” (Pope Francis)?  “lost illusions”?  Have territories been lulled into the illusion of inclusion?  As Luke Duenas would say in UOG class last summer, we are living in The Matrix and the only way to get out of the Matrix is to unplug!

Commitments internationally and locally to the inalienable right of self-determination.  UN Charter, Art. 1,55,73, specifically deal with this.  Self-determination of peoples – not populations – not just residents.  Very specific term.  Art. 73-B, countries administering territories must recognize the will of the people.  1945, charter, some 80 colonies have since been decolonization, independence, integration, etc.  Philippines is the only (former) US territory to have become independent.  Hawaii annexed (prob. illegally).

Guam, Am. Samoa, Virgin Islands, CNMI, Puerto Rico – have yet to attain the full measure of self-government that others have.  “The Gang of Five.”

Political representation.  Not just unilateral US federal control.

As early as 1800s, commitments by Pacific colonizers in treaties to self-determination, to recognize the traditions and customs of the people.  Tahiti, French Polynesia – the treaties were broken, though.  Oscar Temoru (sp?), French Polynesia, has spoken a great deal on those.  Former Sen. Mark Forbes, article in Issues in Guam’s Political Development book, discusses this.

1899, Treaty of Paris, annexation of Guam etc.  Article 9 – political rights and status of the native inhabitants of the territories are ceded to the U.S. Congress.  Supreme Court asked to determine how US would govern these new, non-contiguous spoils of war.  Notorious Insular Cases (1901-1905), to defer rights from treaties.  Full constitutional rights did not extend to all areas under American control.  Democracy and colonialism somehow compatible in this view.

Military governance of Guam till 1950.  Insular Cases would be considered bizarre today.  Second-class political status, not guaranteed by the U.S. constitution.

John Oliver made great light of this recently on HBO.  You may have heard of that.

Framework of the Insular Cases remains both applicable and of pragmatic use in assessing the rights of unincorporated territories – still applies today.  Not the people of the territories, but the people of the U.S. would determine the rights of the people in the territories.

What if the Supreme Court struck down the Insular Cases?  Do we become incorporated territories by default, in transition to statehood, but does that violate right to self-determination?  Easiest thing then – be joined to an existing state.  Must not just sign on to things that on the surface seem to be enticing.

We need a permanent status of political equality via process of self-determination.

Such arrangements were never meant to be permanent, given their undemocratic nature.  Only a transitional process.  UN Charter, Decolonization Declaration (1960).  Organic Act, Guam, 1950; USVI, 1936, 1954.  These were intended originally to be transitional, preparatory to a permanent status.  Now are viewed as permanent by Washington.  Legitemate status, no longer transitory.  Elected governments and (non-voting) Congressional representative are cited – the UN dances around this, never acknowledging it.  This has served to future defer the dream of decolonization.

Constitutions in these territories are subordinated to the governing powers.

Mau in 1920s, Samoans, courage and spirit of Chief Hurao and others in the Spanish period, walk-out of Guam Congress in 1929 (?), we acknowledge those with deep respect as building-blocks, earliest human rights defenders.  Ron Rivera, who named Dr. Corbin the man to keep alive the connection between Guam and the USVI.

No motion on pushing this forward.  It is dependency status but the people wish to stay there – this is what the US reports to the UN.  Keeps the territories in the status-quo Matrix.  UN is presented with a rosy narrative where statements are made describing our territories as new, progressive forms of self-government.  The procedures of the UN do not allow for that to be questioned.  Reagan – it may be worthwhile to find out how images are created, and even more worthwhile to find how false images come into being.”

1960 – Decolonization declaration – questions of independence, free association, and integration.  Generally acknowledged by nations of the world, a number of territories in the Pacific and around the world proceeded to independence during this time.

BJ Cruz and Carlyle Corbin were working together in DC during 70s and 80s on this for Guam and the USVI.  Early 90s – self-determination became less interesting, was considered only a Cold War issue.

France, the UK, and the US tried very hard to convince the UN and world that their territories were just new forms of self-governance.  French – Noumea Accord, Kanaky, currently seeking to manipulate voter rights, so their French settlers can vote more easily.  French Polynesia, only the second territory since 1986, put back on the list in 2013 after having been removed earlier.  France does not accept that French Polynesia is independent, rushes out of the room if the name is mentioned.  Some people don’t accept that the rule of law applies to themselves as well.  Britain, in the Caribbean ,changed names of governing bodies but not their actual roles.  U.S. has projected the fact that governor and legislature in Guam are elected to hide the truth of its colonixzation.  Don’t deal with the Jones Act, which causes everyone’s bills to be higher than they might otherwise be.  We could not change this unless the status changes.  Done unilaterally by the US.

Up to 2012, tried five times to update constitution.  Areas of accommodation necessary for governing ourselves cannot be found in the box marked “unincorporated territory.”

Our Administering Powers have withdrawn from the process.  Saying UN committee is outdated, not the concept of territories.

Democratic deficit in our relationships with the U.S. Autonomy of CNMI is under attack.  Federalization has reduced their powers. French speak of “Autonomy Statutes” – but all the power is with the French, not the territory.  A false title.  The Netherlands have their own version.  So many examples of this.  Methods and strategies to circumvent decolonization.


– geostrategic and geoeconomic considerations (Jimmy Carter said – all options for political development should be available to the people of the Trust Territories, 1980).  Little evidence today of the US government promoting decoloniation in any way.

Mutual consultation is not mutual consent.  Mutual agreements, people power in the U.S. system, relations defined through international treaty.  A Congress in which we have no vote, a president for whom we cannot vote.

Must examine the implications.  Self-determination under international law, render irrelevant the unincoporated territory status – send to the dustbin of history.

If we remain in the status quo, even a modernized form, we will not achieve self-determination.

Equal rights and justice, Peter Tusk, reggae artist.

Complacency disgraces the ancestors.  We deserve only the future which would be dictated to us.  History forgets those, first, who forgot themselves.

And a Q&A with the audience:

Question for Speaker Won Pat – why is there still a delay on informing the public of our status options?

— Response: We don’t have the actual resources to be able to go out and start conducting this educational awareness.  Lot of back-and-forth on commission, difficult to get them to move forward.  My fear is that they didn’t want to move forward with that question in particular.  Some points I feel would derail where we are moving and need to be settled.  Nonbinding issue; 70% of registrants; whether it will include the diaspora.  Those questions need to be answered.  Need to move forward with a comprehensive program.  Puerto Rico got $2 million.  We’ve gotten $250,000, only a technical grant, which of course includes an appropriation, governor has pledged to request another such sum.  Funds now given to each task force to move forward, to get the high school students aware of a plebiscite, take positions on the three different status options.  Normally the lead is by the executive branch which chairs the commission.

Question for Dr. Corbin – UN is not ultimate authority on decolonization, but some vocal citizens claim it frowns on a native-only vote?

— Response: UN doesn’t take a position on that, just identification of who the peoples are, and that is clear.  The Charter makes it very clear, and the subsequent resolutions of the committee.  Identify in the Virgin Islands who was present in the territory and their descendants at the time of the transfer from Denmark to the US.  One could obviously infer that you do the same for Guam, but more flexible actually ,moved to time of Organic Act.  Different ways of doing this.  New Caledonia allows for long-term French settlers before a certain time.  Contested in European Court of Human Rights.  Upheld.

— Question: What do you advise us, the students, to do about our issues?  What can we do to help?

— Response: Dr. Souder – first and foremost, know the issues, be educated, be able to speak with coherence, be informed, be grounded.  Become voracious readers and learn about what is happening in the rest of the colonial world.  Be well equipped to answer the hard questions and hold your own.  Be well grounded, well informed, well read.  That’s the best way to represent Guam’s best interests and the Chamorros’ best interests.

— Question: How can the process of decolonization happen outside the colonizer’s framework?  Can UN intervene?

— Response: Dr. Cristobal – many models.  East Timor, an NGO conducted a plebiscite.  They had international media assistance incorporated.  Texting, popular and new.  Now they have full control of their country and returned to their original name, Timor Liste.  They are independent.  The governor of Guam who basically threw in the towel at the UN recently, we could organize ourselves and conduct our own plebiscite, perhaps through an NGO process.

— Question: what contributed to the death of commonwealth as an option for the people of Guam?

— Response from Speaker Won Pat: The US felt Guam should not be given that power to come to the table with the US.  Guam wanted more control of immigration to determine who might enter Guam.  Very important to do plebiscite even if nonbinding, hold congressional people and senators, DOI, State Department, to account, put them in spotlight, do you support Guam in its self-determination.

— Question for Dr. Corbin – If US, UK, and France all pride themselves on democratic values, why doesn’t this hypocrisy diminish their geostrategic hopes?  Are they seeking a violent war with the indigenous peoples?

— Response: Not sure about that last part.  Clearly, no political price to pay for those countries removing themselves from the decolonization debate.  They are unable to justify the unjustifiable.  Cannot justify dependency arrangements at UN.  Rather than engage, they have strategically removed themselves.  So far, no political price has been paid.  System has not yet decided they need to force them . Mechanisms will be put in place at some point.  Ten-point colonization plan of UN, to be reviewed on basis of self-governance indicators, to give foundation for reopening discussions with the colonial powers.

— Question – would reunification with the CNMI make changing Guam’s status more possible, or only lead to more colonization?

— Response, Won Pat: Even before political reunification, must re-unify our families, still some bad blood between both.  They have done their self-determination, we have not.  This could lead to another political status, statehood perhaps.

— Response, Cristobal: There are many cooperative agreements with our CNMI brothers and sisters, many indicators that we can get along well, get the families together.  We have agreements ourselves, Farmers Cooperative, on board of directors, looking for an agreement with Rota brothers and sisters, form a more sustainable manner of living, help each other out, export and import to each other, reunification is already happening at this level . At political level, of course, that question – Eloy Inos will meet with POTUS, last week, encouraged Gov. Calvo to go with Gov. Inos to talk to the president about the needs of the Chamorro people in all the Marianas. Need to cooperate, help each other out.

— Response, Souder – dependency and division are two of the most insidious legacies of colonialism . We can reach out.  Discussions are already taking place.  Conferences, fora, with the CNMI.  We are the same people, the Chamorros of the Marianas.  In many cases, related, just fractured by colonial experience, Japanese occupation, etc.  Doesn’t take much to begin those important conversations.  Reality of social pathologies, diaspora, is shared in all our islands.  In Luta, maybe 2-4000 people just ten years ago: now, less than 1000.  Businesses, stores, closing.  Scary.  While we seek our inalienable right to self-determination, must strengthen our spirit, our wills, our capacity as a people, inside.  Personal sovereignty.  Cultural and linguistic self-determination.  If we’re not strong, what are we fighting for political self-determination for?  Our very existence and survival as a viable nation of people.  Divide and conquer – it happens all the time here – we participate in it as well.  We separate ourselves from each other because we don’t share the same ideas or ideologies . . . we must wrap our heads around this idea that it takes all of us to lessen the deferment of the dream.  Hard to collaborate, hard to stomach people saying absurdities and lies, but if we don’t figure out a way of getting together and making sense of this collectively, we really need ot reexamine our commitment to peoplehood.

— Response, Cristobal – we need the help of those from countries already having exercised right to self-determination.  We need the help of the people who have come and made Guam their home.  Need you to thoroughly understand our rights need to be respected.  Help educate other people like yourselves.  I want a big sign outside the airport – You have just arrived in an island of people who have yet to exercise the right of self-determination.  Many of our new residents do not know!  They do not know Guam is trying to decolonize and her people are hurting.  We suffer all the colonial “dis-eases” as Anne Hattori would say.  We occupy the lowest rungs of our society, we are the most incarcerated people in our own home.  Dr. Betances said in the 70s, when I took classes from him, a Harvard sociologist, UOG used to bring out very esteemed people to teach about this right of self-determination, as a student working on my master’s, I learned to love myself.  I used to go around trying to speak fancy English and not be who I was, I was suffering a lot from those colonial dis-eases.  Learned about who I was, strengthened who I was, working out there with our own people.  Dynamic, young people then and now, interested in bettering our island for everyone.  When the Chamorros are healthy as a society in their own homeland, everyone would benefit.

— Question: How do we explain this decolonization to our ancestors and people who have given their life, health, sanity in the defense of our country, which is the US, and our island which is Guam,when they have sacrificed so much to bring this island where it is today?

— Response, Won Pat – Not an easy question to answer.  I have to use my family, personally.  Every branch of the military is represented by my family, my father in Congress, testified, wanting to be a part of the legacy in April 1950 of the U.S.  Important as Loling mentioned – education.  We must educate our people, including our veterans.  I had to educate my family for them to understand.  They are very loyal, serve, ultimate sacrifice for some in their lives.  Our verterans I speak to feel the US is ignoring them, their needs after they leave the service.  Biggest thing is education.  Our people have never ever had the opportunity to say what Guam wants to be, to be associated with.  Many times, they come around.  Granted of course, they may want full integration with the US, but veterans also say they want independence.  Just because they have served doesn’t mean they take a very US-centric perspective.  All discussions about the military buildup – they were the ones giving us all this information about what the military has done that they don’t want to see happen to future generations.

Cristobal – We are alive and we will keep the light burning till our deathbeds.

Souder – What we’re talking about is the most American thing we can think of.  Look how the US sought the right of self-determination in its own beginnings.  All our ideas in our discussions come out of that reality, the quest of the thirteen colonies to become independent from England, the concept of this inalienable right of self-determination is enshrined in the constitution of the United States.  Very American Thing.  Sometimes we feel “schizy,” my dad was military, are we being un-American, disrespectful to those in our families who fought, shed their blood, died?  A difficult thing to talk about.  Keep focusing on the principle.  Read the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson, Federalist Papers.  They provide a way for discussing these issues that does not impugn the sacrifices of veterans.  Holds it in the greatest esteem.  People have shed blood.  Wars not of our making have taken place on this land.  Fuels our passion, not just an intellectual exercise.  This is about our whole continuity of peoplehood.  This is a very serious matter and we need to learn how to talk about it.  Good education can provide that foundation.  Only when we talk about it like this do we build our ability to speak more carefully and clearly about it.

Cristobal – We need the principles and the practices of democracy to be brought together as close as possible.

— Question – Since militarization is an impediment to self-determination, what does it mean that our high schools are so militarized, JROTC, etc.?

— Response, Won Pat: Discussion right now regarding legislation of high school curriculum – be able to expand Guam history – what is covered – include a chapter on self-determination. Everywhere you look the military is coming around to the schools.  Career Day – middle schools – kids asked for the military to come in.  Individuals with uniforms, fascinated with police force and fire department as well. Very difficult.  One-third of our island houses military bases.  Everywhere you turn you see the military.  Educate our children.  Let them know they have other options.  Parents walk their sons to military recruiters at the age of seventeen to be straightened out, made a man of.  We tell them there is nothing else to do here in Guam.  Very good campaign to recruit kids into military – travel the world, get all these benefits.  Girls say they want to marry a military guy for commissary privileges, or to get off this rock.  We need to stop those campaigns and slogans.  Parents – be careful what you’re telling our children, that they can’t live here, they don’t have opportunities here.

— Cristobal: big difference between being in them military and militarization.  Fight for self-determination of Iraqis and Afghanis, they themselves do not enjoy those same rights.

— Dr. Souder: Let’s not confuse participation in military for economic or patriotic reasons or because of family tradition, with institutionalized militarism or the militarization of the island of Guam, ie., taking over lands we could be using for economic development and access and so on and so forth.  Very different things.  Hopie, you’re absolutely right.  Very different from the US military as an institution inflicting its unilateral power of bringing 5000 Marines here with no input from Guam.  Commissary, BX, military family – not in same basket, let’s not confuse the two.

— Question: How do we develop a strong enough economy to no longer need “white money”?

— Response, Cristobal: Everyone talks of the two-pronged approach of our economy, tourism and the military.  But there is a third leg we can develop, agriculture.  [Audience applauds.]  That’s why I’m a farmer.  I realized in order to keep our people healthy, to sustain ourselves on our island, we need to do a lot of work.  Dirt in your nails.  Hard work.

— Souder: Ecobusiness, solar energy, the sea provides tremendous treasure of resources.  We’ve gotten away from that, like the air-con-cooled office jobs.  Elderly people, saina like me and Hopie, she farms, real farms, I lancho in my house every single day, we talk about this.  You can’t imagine going outside and picking your own donne’, bananas, how good that feels.  We don’t need to.  I want to.  We know that being the people of the land, you have to be connected with the land.  Mantaotao tano’ hit.  Mantaotao tasi hit.  Who fishes?  Do the kids know all the different kinds of fish?  Kadun dogas [sp?]?  People look at you as if you’re speaking Chinese or sometimes.  Be grounded.  Hooks that keep us strong.

— Cristobal: Saturday, we begin a six-Saturday series with veterans to farm training, CNAS building, room 202, at UOG, all veterans invited to learn how to become farmers.  Certificate.  Nails in the dirt.

— Question for Dr. Corbin – What are the economic ramifications of beoming indepnendent?  What would you say to those who will lose financial assistance?

— Response, Corbin: Determined by many factors.  The Philippines was formally a territory.  The same types of military installations were there.  Difference – they were rented.  One-third of Guam is now under military jurisdiction.  Context of negotiations – need some kind of compensation for that.  To utilize as a means of revenue.  Jones Act, applies now, would no longer apply – new opportunity to develop trade relations with close neighbors in region, certain products would be more competitive from neighboring companies than from now a far distance based on US restrictions.  Opportunity to utilize the educational facilities such as UOG and others, develop a regional approach to educating and providing technical cooperation with other countries which may not exist now.   For any of the three options, a high-level UN panel to determine nature of economy, project over time, make recommendations.  Transitional period, not overnight.  Opportunity to devise and plan and strategize.  Plans often aren’t 100% the same as reality, but one can plan for the future.  Already being done in many respects.

Munhayan hit!  Finakpo’ i forum.  8:18 p.m.

Saina ma’ase’ for your patience.  Ginen si Isa.  I will edit shortly.  Just wanted to get this up quickly.  🙂


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