decolonization / politiku

Chamorro ethnicity

JULIAN AGUON, Guam Coalition for Peace and Justice, stated that he belonged to the indigenous group of Chamoru of Guam and was an international law scholar schooled in the subject of self-determination, and wished to comment on the “pressing and misrepresented” issue of “who constitutes the appropriate electorate in any self-determination plebiscite now or in the future held in Guam”.

Some had sought to racialize and so prejudge the issue, he stated, by phrasing the question as: ”Is it impermissibly racist or otherwise illegal to limit the electorate to ‘native inhabitants’ as that term is presently envisioned in Guam law, i.e., those persons who became United States citizens by virtue of the authority and enactment of the 1950 Organic Act of Guam and descendants of those persons?” The correct approach required the understanding that, for purposes of self-determination, “native inhabitant” was a history-based, not race-based, designation. International law was not concerned with blood and ancestry, but with providing a people with a remedy for the historic wrong of having been denied by others the right to exist on their own terms.

The legally significant question, he added, was: Who had been harmed by colonization, so as to be entitled to the prescribed cure of decolonization?

Thus, only those persons and their descendants living on the island on the date of onset of colonization might be considered victims of colonization. The assertion that the United States Constitution required a colour-blind compilation of the electorate was ignoring the fact that the anticipated self-determination act fell under the aegis of international law, not United States domestic law. Further, the United States, as Guam’s administering Power, could not first exploit its control over Guam’s immigration to flood the island with its own non-colonized expatriates, or even third-party settlers, and then claim that every person residing in Guam was entitled to vote in a decolonization plebiscite. In conclusion, he recommended that Guam remain on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories until its people had the opportunity to exercise their inalienable human right to political self-determination.

. . . The Committee would also have the Assembly call upon the administering Power of Guam to continue to recognize and to respect the political rights and the cultural and ethnic identity of the Chamoru people of Guam . . .

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.


I really think Julian Aguon said this much better than I could . . .

With the new push toward a plebiscite, the Dave Davis sympathizers are coming out again.  I have to say it’s very ironic to see non-indigenous people on Guam complaining that they need to be represented in a vote on decolonization.  The U.S. colonized Guam by military force, without regard for the people’s democratic rights and process.  The U.S. then unilaterally opened up almost unchecked immigration on a massive scale.  We no longer have the same population composition because the U.S. has deliberately changed the face of the island.  The Chamorro people are no longer a majority in their own ancestral land.

Sorry, expatriate colonial/occupier Americans on Guam, you are not the ones who were damaged by colonization.  You benefited from oppressing the indigenous people.  It’s not appropriate for your voice to be equal to a “native inhabitant’s” voice in a situation of American colonialism.

* Saina må’åse’ to the reader who suggested rethinking “expatriate” in this context!


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