politiku

“Join the Decolonization Discussion”

Miget’s column this week in the PDN:

On the fourth Thursday of each month, Independent Guåhan holds a general assembly at the main pavilion at Chamorro Village in Hagåtña. Independent Guåhan is an arm of the Independence for Guam Task Force, which in turn is connected to the Commission on Decolonization. Its mission is to conduct education about the need for Guam’s decolonization and the possibilities for independence. Victoria Leon Guerrero and I are the co-chairs for the Task Force.

In each general assembly, we provide educational presentations and also honor maga’taotao, or those that we consider to be heroes in the movement for decolonization. In the January assembly, the discussion focused on the economic impact of The Jones Act and the legacy of the late Anthony Leon Guerrero, former president of the Bank of Guam.

In addition, each month we offer teach-ins, where we lead an informative discussion on a pertinent issue. Since last year, we have held meetings on war reparations, the impact of Trump’s election and Liberation Day. Our next teach-in will be a check-in, an extension of our Trump teach-in last November. We’ll provide updates on how Trump’s governing style and proposed policies may affect Guam.

Last year, Independent Guåhan launched its weekly podcast series, “Fanachu!” It grew from an educational outreach effort, our Decolonization Coffee Shop Convos. Since October of last year, we’ve organized four coffee shop conversations at Java Junction in Hagåtña.

Our first coffee shop conversation was recorded by Independent Guåhan media co-chair Manny Cruz and converted into our first podcast episode. The podcasts are available for free download through iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud. Episodes to date feature UOG President Robert Underwood and Jason Datuin of DFRNT GU. The next episode will feature an interview with former Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta.

For those of you who find it difficult to attend public meetings but still want to become more involved in the discussion or simply just learn more, we offer Faninåyan meetings, where through your assistance we bring the conversation into your home or workplace. The root word in Faninåyan is ina, which means “to cast a light on,” “illuminate” and also “to enlighten.”

Community members organize the meeting and members of Independent Guåhan facilitate and also provide educational materials to supplement the discussion. They are not one-sided presentations but organic discussions. Attendees can express their opinions or concerns and share their own ideas. Feedback is collected by Independent Guåhan and used to shape future outreach and educational materials.

This past week, Independent Guåhan sent invitations to each senator of the 34th Liheslaturan Guåhan, offering to hold Faninåyan meetings in their offices. After centuries of continuing colonial rule, it is imperative that we prepare the island to move ahead to the next stage of political development through decolonization. Each senator will play a critical role in making this long-deferred dream a reality.

Everyone will play a role in making this happen. To get involved or learn more, please attend any of Independent Guåhan’s meetings or host a Faninåyan meeting. Contact us as independentguahan@gmail.com to learn more.

Michael Lujan Bevacqua is an author, artist, activist and assistant professor of Chamorro studies at the University of Guam. 

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