Live-blogging the “OneGuam Toward Decolonization” Gubernatorial Debate, May 8, 2018, at the University of Guam field house, sponsored by the UOG Regional Center for Public Policy and the Guam Commission on Decolonization
10:05 – Dennis Rodriguez speaking Chamoru! In his closing. He will serve! He isn’t Chamoru, but he will help the Chamoru people on this mission! He truly respects the Chamoru people and will ensure their rights are protected. He mispronounces “yanggen,” though, not pronouncing the “y” the Chamoru way. “Put fabot, bota Rodriguez-Cruz. Hu guaiya Guåhan! Biba Chamoru! Biba Guam!”
10:03 – Carl – speaking Chamoru – Chamoru yu’, haga’-hu Chamoru. We don’t push anyone to the side. “Si Babyface Nelson” – is he making fun of Ray Tenorio? He invokes Geri a lot in his closing. He is the one who will do this. He is the one who has done this type of work before.
10:02 – Lou – “Tonight we have heard a lot of promises, who do you trust to take care of our island’s children? I’ve had lots of experience as a banker, as a mother, as a nurse. I know your struggles. I am ready to be your governor. If you are ready for change, I am ready to be your governor.”
10:01 – Ray Tenorio – “Guam is the most patriotic place, walk amongst the tombstones. We fight and die to promote a democracy we can’t vote in. That is why Tenorio-Ada will move this forward. It is time for the Chamorus to be heard.” Tenorio invokes na Chamoru i korason-ña, mapoksai gui’ Chamoru.
10:00 – Frank Aguon – “Spanish occupation, Japanese occupation and now under US occupation. I believe the time is now for our people to free ourselves from administering powers and exercise our rights to self-determination. I stand as a Chamoru, standing on the shoulders of giants. Who have worked hard for this. I am one vote for independence! Biba!”
10:00 – one minute closings
9:58 – Dennis goes down the tribal route. Reminding us about the federal laws that can put Guam and Chamorus into a better position. He is going down the tribal status route, mentioning “self-goverance,” to get Chamorus to self-governance, which is what the feds say about Native American tribes. He says this is thinking outside the box, when in truth this is thinking inside the Statehood box.
9:57 – Amanda Blas and Ed Alvarez – Ray praises them. He notes that Amanda is in New York right now working with the UN. He will make this his highest priority in 2019, since they have already been doing the work.
9:55 – Frank is reminding us that there were 72 colonies in 1946, but now there are 17. The process works. We need to seek out partners to assist us in this process.
9:54 – Lou promises to appoint people who have the passion and will really do the job. She will completely fund it. I will not defund it. I will not take money away from it. I will attend ALL the meetings. She promises major commitment. A swipe at Calvo who didn’t attend more than three meetings in four years and also a swipe at Gutierrez who funded the commission when he was governor and then defunded it.
9:53 – (from 9:53 to closing – liveblogging notes by Miguet) Gutierrez is mocking the recent resolution in the UN, by saying we get the support of tiny islands. He then switches into talking about North Korea and Spratly Islands and about how important we are for the US defense. He’s all over the place, like he has been for much of the night. He then calls for passing the Constitution that was created in the convention that he presided over as president. He does not want to go the UN route, even though he was the one who started GovGuam on this route in the late 90s
9:46 – Lt. Gov. Tenorio – This administration went to the United Nations. Our people have been funded on every task force on a level never before. Don’t tell me that the Commission on Decolonization hasn’t worked. We’ve been working hard. Need to work with our delegate to DC and governor’s representative as well as members of Congress. We’ll work with the National Governors’ Association and the Washington bureaucrats. It is time to get it done.
9:45 – Sen. Aguon – status option chosen by the native inhabitants — then embark on a cooperative, respectful relationship with the US throughout the decolonization process. In the absence of this, we can go through the United Nations to spark further dialogue, and more importantly, further dialogue.
9:44 – Former Gov. Gutierrez – dealt with Pres. Clinton on becoming more self-governing. Be realistic – how can we get more / some meaningful participation in how the laws are written that govern our lives? Let’s make sure that whatever Congress does in introducing bills, it does not have negative impacts on us.
9:42 – Sen. Leon Guerrero – get Commission on Decolonization back on track – put in the right people on it. Right now, there is not that progress we should be having — current leadership doesn’t have the commitment or passion that we should have. So change the leadership! I will create a comprehensively detailed educational plan.
9:40 – Sen. Rodriguez is asked – How will you approach progress to a self-governing Guam? — He will use federal laws currently in effect that allow us to petition Congress. A colleague has suggested the Native American approach which as of yet hasn’t been explored fully.
9:39 – Sen. Rodriguez – his sons go to their Papa’s house every weekend to learn the Chamorro culture. That’s what we need to do, to support Hurao Academy, which his boy has been to. Start early.
9:38 – Lt. Gov. Tenorio – Hunggan, CHamoru yu’, ma poksai yu’. We want to perpetuate the Chamorro culture — look at Hurao Academy and the resurgence of Chamorro artists on YouTube, blacksmith Frank Lizama, Mount Carmel School, etc. It is in your heart, your korason, it doesn’t matter how you’re born. Let’s look at what brings us together, not what divides us.
9:37 – Sen. Aguon – we are a melting pot – Japanese, FSM, Palauans, Filipinos – they come to Guam and make Guam home. We must make sure the community in totality continues to respect the indigenous rights and the rights of every other individual.
9:36 – Former Gov. Gutierrez – to preserve a culture, a person must have lived through it — for almost three generations, he has lived through it. As governor of Guam, he will make sure to take care of the people of Guam, to have the best of the best. (His supporters cheer enthusiastically.)
9:32 – Return to debate. Former Sen. Leon Guerrero is asked about how cultural identity may be impacted by political status change. She says our culture and identity have been lost. She would ensure our educational sources, we re-learn the language, mandate it in schools and in families, that we would practice our culture and make sure traditions of respect, generosity, being welcoming and warm, our values as Chamorro culture and family — it starts in the home and family. We must not be ashamed of our language! We must make sure we speak it. Yanggen tåya’ kotturå-ta, mantåya’ hit. [The University of Guam, the site of this debate, recently chose to cut Chamorro language requirements for students.]
9:29 – Commercial break for the television studios that are filming the debate. The cheering sections are less active, with the exception of the Tenorio-Ada section. The other sections have lost many members to the onset of later evening.
“Bota, Bota! Guam and Rota!” — Audience member
9:28 – Sen. Rodriguez – I must uphold the law of the land – We must look at other options and think outside the box.
9:26 – Lt. Gov. Tenorio – It is time for us to finally put this to bed. Four hundred years, three hundred under the Spanish colonial power, one hundred under the United States — the Chamorro people need to decide. Let’s go to Congress and ask for a bill. We will fight it to the Supreme Court, the highest court, the United Nations. We must build relationships and build a case for Guam. I will push this as governor with Tony Ada, who has been to the United Nations already.
9:25 – Former Gov. Gutierrez – Leon Guerrero’s argument is losing already in every court. Why do we need to have the people make their wishes known? Let’s just do a petition. It doesn’t have to be in law. Never mind arguing as we currently are, as we are losing that. Let’s send the people’s petition to Congress.
9:24 – Former Sen. Leon Guerrero supports the native inhabitants’ self-determination vote. Davis case is about racial discrimination — our law and federal statutes do not refer to this as a racial vote, however. It is to correct injustice. We have lost almost our race. We were disunited with the Mariana Islands — why? Because we were a colony. Julian Aguon will win the case — let’s all work together to support him.
9:22 – Sen. Aguon – Not everyone was exposed to the collective colonialism — Guam is appealing the Davis decision. Aguon will support that appeal process even to the Supreme Court of the United States. It all comes back to equity — not equality. Even if the Supreme Court denies this, there are international avenues, like the Association of American States, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, etc. The native inhabitants of Guam need to proceed with self-determination and decolonization.
9:21 – In the Davis vs. Guam case, the plebiscite was deemed unconstitutional — what are the candidates’ thoughts on the decolonization registry for native inhabitants?
9:19 – Sen. Rodriguez says it’s not just the negative but also the positive aspects — our Micronesian family is integrated into our community. We need to reprogram funds to take care of their needs. He has spoken with the governor of Chuuk regarding this.
9:17 – Former Gov. Gutierrez emphasizes the positive aspects of COFA also. The federal government needs to send a representative to assess the situation here. Gutierrez is seeking to carve out a place as the policy wonk among the candidates and implicitly attacking the current administration.
9:15 – Former senator Lou Leon Guerrero – the people who come here from our neighboring islands want to be educated, work, and receive healthcare — they and we all want better lives. This has impacted our healthcare, education, public safety, etc. She will work with each of the neighboring islands’ leaders, and she already knows them and they mutally respect one another due to her work with the Bank of Guam. Regional healthcare insurance is important — a spirit of cooperation, relationships, and respect.
9:12 – Ray Tenorio is asked about the impact on social services from Compact of Free Association migrants. He says we all appreciate those seeking better opportunities on our island — the Chamorros are spiritual and loving people — his own children have come and contribute to society here, the military, etc. We need to settle this. About $400 million per year is poured into caring for those who have come, and the federal government needs to reimburse us as required in the Compact. The federal government is responsible for this funding.
9:11 – Moderator returns to stage, Dean Santos of SBPA.
9:08 – Joe Guam leaves the stage after a lovely performance and the candidates are asked to make their way back up to the stage.
8:49 – Twenty-minute intermission begins
8:47 – Former Sen. Leon Guerrero – Self-determination means we will have control of our fate, our laws, our culture, our language. Those are the greatest benefits of the determination that we can make in any political status. We can expand tourism, military — negotiate with foreign countries, make alliances, bring in investors, increase aquaculture, transportation, etc.
8:46 – Former Gov. Gutierrez says we need a vision for the business community to optimize the use of our resources.
8:45 – Sen. Aguon says decolonization is a process and we must do a self-governance study. A constitution must be studied. It will take some years.
8:43 – Sen. Rodriguez says tourism and the military will continue to be major pillars of our economy. We must improve our self-sustainability in terms of our rich natural resources. His microphone cuts out briefly; the audience cheers to encourage him. Col. Dave Cruz and he will give every home the knowledge of how to grow our own food.
8:40 – Lt. Gov. Tenorio is asked what he will do to build Guam’s economy during a political status change, and in what ways the current economy may be affected. He refers to the successes of the current administration, tourism, and agriculture. He says we should not have to import things we can grow ourselves. He is in support of free higher education at UOG and GCC. Many in our community simply don’t have the skills to work in jobs that will give them the qualities of life they desire. He refers warmly to a couple of the other candidates.
8:37 – Short commercial break again. Loud chants from most of the groups of supporters in the audience. Vox populi, vox Dei. This is the sound of the mobs of democracy, as my companion says.
8:35 – Former Sen. Leon Guerrero – Reunification with the Marianas Islands is what she hears. We were at one time a united Marianas, active commerce, trade, visiting each other on our galaides. One Micronesia will make our voices stronger and we will be more powerful and more competitive.
8:34 – Former Gov. Gutierrez – The Sunshine Candidate says he has been there and done that. We together have a bigger area in Micronesia than the size of the United States. Coming together as a group, we can draw from each others’ strengths — for example, the Micronesians have the strength of being at the United Nations. We need a unified council of Micronesian chief executive to be used as it should be.
8:33 – Lt. Gov. Tenorio – Marilyn Salas and Ansito Walter are an example of reunification of the Micronesian region. Tenorio’s daughter is “part Pohnpeian, part Chuukese, and part me”! We have unification. Let’s get along and make our island great.
8:32 – Sen. Rodriguez – reunification is happening today – Guam Micronesia Island Fair – we are one Micronesia. Our brothers and sisters come here for a better life, education, healthcare, some bad apples in any ethnicity. Reunification is coming together, one Micronesia.
8:31 – Sen. Aguon – reunification – requires for someone to have been unified once. We have to recognize our geographical location — connected with all of Micronesia. We are not divided. Guam is part of this sphere. We are all brothers and sisters and have an obligation to support each other.
8:30 – Question on the perspectives from the candidates on the words “reunification” and “Micronesia.”
8:28 – Former Gov. Gutierrez – The military owns us lock, stock, and barrel. We are so important to US national security. We can negotiate. They will say they have to stay. Sometimes we feel unsafe when they are here. Honestly – we are so far and deep into the US, the people of Guam want status quo – yet that gives us no meaningful representation – we don’t want “one size fits all” any more — a reference to the Commonwealth negotiations where each territory was allowed to develop a unique relationship based on what was best for that individual territory.
8:27 – Sen. Aguon – The health and safety of our people is paramount – most likely, in terms of defense, nothing will change. As an independent country, we can negotiate treaties with others; in free association, we can negotiate with the US; with statehood, would remain defended.
8:26 – Lt. Gov. Tenorio – No matter what status we take, the US will stand with us. We can have a representative making sure our needs are met. We are resilient.
8:25 – Sen. Rodriguez – Guam is the tip of the spear.
8:23 – Sen. Leon Guerrero says any status choice will affect our defense, except statehood. Independence would require our own internal defenses, perhaps with alliances with other countries, as, to a lesser degree, would free association. But how can we select a status when our financial house is not in order? She refers to the underpaying hospital and other challenges.
8:22 – The debate resumes. Question for former Sen. Lou Leon Guerrero – the questions are randomly selected. How will you ensure Guam’s safety during a political status change — how will its defense be affected?
8:17 – Short commercial break is announced.
8:16 – Former Sen. Leon Guerrero suspects that federal programs may be lost, as some of our local programs also. Yet, not to be worried, for in any status, she would make sure we would expand our economy. We could get more revenues to provide the social service needs of our people. We can do for ourselves and we can do it proudly!
8:15 – Carl Gutierrez speaks of how in his experience, Washington did not want to give us anything. He was speaking with Pres. Clinton and asked for a meaningful relationship and a federal commission concept which could review bills going forward to see the impact on the territory of Guam before it becomes law.
8:13 – Frank Aguon speaks of self-governing study supported by the three task forces of the Commission on Decolonization, and public education.
8:12 – Rebuttal from Lt. Gov. Tenorio – “BOTA” chants from supporters in audience. He speaks of medical bills and Medicare/Medicaid issues, Compact Impact, veterans getting treatment, homelessness, lack of education to get a job — these social issues can be seen every day. Self-determination must address these issues long-term, including welfare and how our people can survive.
8:10 – Sen. Rodriguez says it’s most important to support Chamorro right to self-determination. As a Filipino, his ancestors had that, and so Chamorros should also. There are other options to get our Chamorro people’s voices heard, like the Native American route. It’s a serious option we must take a look at.
8:10 – The candidates are asked about the impact of decolonization on social issues regionally and locally.
8:08 – Former Sen. Leon Guerrero – protect our human resources, provide for education of the labor force that can stay here in Guam. It begins in families and with public awareness and respect in our children. She will fight against militarization that will endanger our island and natural resources.
Comment in audience – other than Rodriguez, everyone was so manso (“cautious”).
8:07 – Frank Aguon Jr. and Alicia Limtiaco – recognize the organizations out in our community that work hard to protect our environment out of love for their home. It is every citizen’s duty.
8:05 – Lt. Gov. Tenorio – beautifying this island for seven years — will continue — Tony Ada and he will continue. Must protect those who can’t afford to dispose properly of their trash, protect our aquifer, protect waterlands. We also need to work on agriculture as the third leg of Guam’s economy — bookkeeping and taxes assistance for farmers. We have a lot of people who work hard every single day, as he sees around the island.
8:04 – Rebuttal from Sen. Rodriguez — To protect natural resources — refers to some actions protecting Tumon Bay as senator.
8:01 – Former Gov. Gutierrez is asked a question: How will he preserve and develop Guam’s natural resources? We named this place Guahan – we have. He is the elder statesman on stage. He’s not saying he wants independence. He’s saying take care of our people first — veterans, homeless — save the resource that is our people, not just land, fish, etc. We must not limit ourselves to thirty-second spots and soundbites. He is interrupted by the bell.
8:00 – Amazing expressions of support for self-determination, and especially for independence!
7:58 – Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. comes to speak. He describes the plebiscite as a non-binding vote, that would occur only once, to determine the shape of Guam’s political future, and that afterward every resident will have the opportunity to vote to approve Guam’s first constition, the UN Resolutions reaffirmed the human right of colonized people to self-determination as fundamental and inalienable. He wants colonized people to realize the full measure of self-governance and supports public education initiatives. Our “Administering Power,” the U.S., must be faced and negotiated with. We need a collective acceptance from every member of our community to actualize Chamorro self-determination. A populist approach
7:56 – “Håfa adai, mañaina yan mane’lu-hu!” Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio describes the successes of the Calvo-Tenorio administration. He supports the fundamental right of the native inhabitants of Guam to pursue self-determination and will continue the passion which Gov. Calvo and the Commission on Decolonization have pursued it.
7:53 – Former Sen. Leon Guerrero thanks the organizers of the debate. Decolonization is complex. Today, the vote to decolonize Guam rests in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A future Supreme Court challenge is ahead. I commit that if elected governor, I will continue the fight to hold a vote and correct the historic injustice against Guam. Is Guam prepared for whatever option we might choose? Her administration will prepare Guam for a future!
7:51 – Former Gov. Gutierrez approaches to speak. He says we have come to a stumbling block in our quest for decolonization, which he has been involved in for over five decades. You need someone who can hit the ground running. The only solution is independence! You cannot negotiate with your government when you’re holding on to a US passport. We have to come together to find out if you want it or now. The Filipinos fought and died for it. We’re going to go for independence so we can negotiate. “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re looking at the true maga’låhi” (says Gov. Gutierrez). His side of the room may be taken slightly by surprise by his expression of support for independence as they do not respond to cheer for it.
7:48 – Sen. Rodriguez comes to the podium to speak in support of Chamorro self-determination. He refers to the right of the colonized people of the Philippines also to be decolonized, his ancestors, and says he is in full support of the Chamorros likewise. He says Filipinos on Guam know what it is like to be free and must support it. If we love America and all that she stands for, especially if we want a closer relationship with her, we must want the freedom of its people and of colonized peoples. There is a famine of identity among us; we hurt and judge and take from each other. We did not create the conditions by which the guests of the Chamorros were made to feel unwelcome. He will ensure self-determination for the Chamorro people as governor. He is cut off by the bell.
7:48 – The audience is asked to be polite. How boring that would be!
7:43 – the debate is about to begin; Dean Annette Taijeron Santos comes to the stage to introduce the rules and moderate the debate.
7:42 – Amanda Blas, director of the Commission on Decolonization, offers welcoming remarks.
7:34 – Speech from university president Robert Underwood on “the colony of Guam.” He offers some platitudes on the importance of understanding the past. He encourages the next governor to take up the matter of decolonization seriously. He says decolonization is a process that frees us from the experience of colonialism, that the Chamorro people of Guahan who have been colonized are the legitimate inheritors of the right to decolonize. Self-determination must define the self, and by almost any reading of history, the self is the Chamorro people. Opposition to Chamorro self-determination and legal challenges cannot be ignored, but the future can be based on an understanding of an uninterrupted history of colonialism. Three of the gubernatorial candidates qualify to vote in a self-determination election, and two do not — he hopes those who qualify can explain why the others do not, and hopes those who don’t can support it nonetheless. He calls on the candidates to explain how their administration will fulfill the process of decolonization. This forum is meant to reveal the candidates in their innermost feelings, not just prepared plans. From cockfighting to elections — Håyi gayu-mu? Who is your rooster / candidate? In this election, we can also include a punidera or a hen, a female candidate. Underwood says idealistically that an election is not made up of cheering sections [He is wrong in that!].
7:32 – welcoming remarks promoting the self-determination of the people of Guam.
7:26 – “Fanoghe CHamoru” is sung by Andrew Gumataotao. He concludes, “Biba Guahan!”
7:24 – The audience is asked to rise for the singing of the U.S. national anthem, despite the nature of the event. Some Independence supporters, among a few others in the audience, are not standing. The majority of the audience rises obediently for the anthem.
7:21 – Final candidate Senator Frank Aguon Jr. is welcomed to the stage.
7:19 – Lieutenant Governor and current gubernatorial candidate Ray Tenorio is welcomed to the stage. He is interested in promoting college opportunities.
7:17 – Former senator and current gubernatorial candidate Lou Leon Guerrero is welcomed warmly to the stage. She will be Guam’s first female governor if elected. The crowd cheers for her.
7:14 – Former governor and current candidate Carl T.C. Gutierrez is welcomed to the stage by wild applause from supporters in the audience. He promises to bring inafa’maolek to the people of Guam. There has as yet been no mention of a platform on decolonization from Rodriguez or Gutierrez.
7:12 – Gubernatorial candidate and current senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. is introduced and welcomed warmly by his supporters in the audience; he promises a progressive new era of leadership and an end to public corruption, with Guam’s people put first, and self-sustainability.
7:08 – Norman Analista at the podium recognizes Dr. Robert Underwood, President of UOG, in the audience, former senator Nerissa Bretania Underwood, Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez (Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs), Dean Annette Santos of SBPA, Dr. John Rivera, Prof. Ronald Aguon, Dr. Kevin Ho, Dr. Ron McNinch, Dr. Ansito Walter, and Dr. Fred Schuman from SBPA. Also present is Mr. Chang, treasurer for the Board of Regents, and Ms. Toni Sanford of the BOR. Many professors are acknowledged as present. The Hon. Eddie Calvo (Governor of Guam) is present, along with his wife. The Vice Speaker of the Legislature, Therese Terlaje, is present, with Sens. Lee and Castro, and many former senators. Mr. Tony Babauta, formerly of the Department of the Interior, is present.
7:06 – There has never been a debate like this, focused solely on decolonization. What will the candidates share?
7:01 – The event is about to begin.
6:56 – a guitar player is entertaining the crowd with “Hagu” and “Brown-Eyed Girl.”
6:47 – The energy in the room is high, with “I’m In” and Aguon supporters out in force, leading competing chants that shake the air. A podium for each candidate is set up on state with their slogans and logos. Signs for Independence, Free Association, and Statehood are featured in the Limtiaco camp.