decolonization / politiku

Being Anti-Micronesian IS Racist

The Guam Daily Post, no less, the same newspaper whose editors so disdained my column yet keep publishing coprolites like Arnold Davis, just released into the world an incoherent and ill-conceived editorial (copied below as well) attacking the FSM government, painting it as “sit[ting] on a pile of cash” while Guam struggles because of COFA migrants.

This is so wrong, misguided, dehumanizing, and divisive, in so many ways.  So racist.  It plays into the same old us-vs.-them narratives Emelihter Kihleng criticizes in the opening salvo of My Urohs, “To Linda Rabon Torres,” when all Micronesians – all Pacific Islander peoples – would be so much better served to work together.  It is especially ironic that this ugly screed was published just when the Governor of Guam and President of the FSM had a productive and positive meeting which is hoped to lead to more collaboration in future.

This is the problem with so much of the news media here . . . a tendency to play to the lowest common denominator, divide and agitate our population, engage in yellow sensationalistic journalism, AND often get their facts wrong in the process . . . hoping to be American, modern, and professional . . . and chiefly succeeding in being horrible to other human beings.

Investigative journalism is needed.  Agent Orange alone is a huge story waiting to be broken.

I appreciate journalists like Anita Hofschneider (of Chamorro and Yapese descent, from Saipan) who seem to use their position and power to make the world better, not worse:

Being Micronesian in Hawai’i Means Lots of Online Hate

Why Talking About Anti-Micronesian Hate is Important

Bear in mind that the hatred and contempt you have for Outer Islanders is EXACTLY how (most) (all) white people (including myself!) have been taught to feel toward you.  Please, forbear.  Help others, and be helped in your turn.

Remember “Mau” Piailug and Manny Sikau, who brought ancestral navigation back to many other places in the Pacific where it may have seemed lost.  Remember that Chuuk was one of the last places to be colonized, because they kept killing the would-be colonizers.  Share the strength.  Unite.

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Artist attribution: Mari Posa


 

Editorial

FSM sits on a pile of cash while Guam struggles to provide services to its citizens

The Guam Daily Post, Sep 21, 2018 Updated Sep 24, 2018

Federated States of Micronesia President Peter Christian met with Gov. Eddie Calvo on Wednesday, and in that meeting, there were at least two notable takeaways.

Christian conveyed to Calvo that law-abiding FSM citizens living on Guam have, in the words of the governor’s office, “communicated with (Christian) their worry that a small percentage of the Micronesian community is causing trouble and casting a cloud of negativity and shame on those nationals abiding by local laws.”

“Everyone is upset about this lack of civility,” the governor’s office quotes Christian as saying.

Christian’s visit is at least one sign that the FSM government may be starting to unbury its head in the sand while the government of Guam has, for decades now, grappled with the responsibility of taking care of FSM citizens who have relocated to Guam.

One additional issue of note from the meeting was Christian’s commitment that the FSM government “will be making a $100,000 donation” to Guam, the governor’s office stated.

The paltry amount is an outrage.

A $100,000 “donation” is far from enough.

It’s not going to cause a ripple in the tidal wave of expenses Guam’s prison, youth detention, courts, public schools, emergency services, health care and many other services Guam taxpayers have to pay.

Some will argue that FSM migrants are taxpayers, too, but the enormity of the cost of Guam’s services to FSM residents have been disproportionately much higher than the percentage of their population on Guam. As an example, more than 20 percent of people in Guam’s prison are from the FSM, but FSM citizens make up 8 percent of the island. And according to GovGuam statistics, FSM citizens have had a 26 percent unemployment rate on Guam, nearly more than five times the jobless rate in general.

Guam is home to 13,019 FSM citizens. The FSM had a population of 105,216 as of 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration. One way to look at this is roughly 12 percent of the FSM population has become the government of Guam’s responsibility.

After many years of Guam being host to Christian’s constituents, he promises a donation of $100,000.

That, by the way, breaks down to about $333 for every person who sought shelter at the Astumbo gym, many of whom are, according to the governor’s office, from the FSM.

Unbeknownst to many on Guam, the FSM government is sitting on a large heap of cash provided over the years by the U.S. government, which is responsible for allowing FSM citizens unregulated entry into Guam.

As of fiscal year 2016, the FSM government had $466.9 million in a pot called the “Trust Fund for the People of the Federated States of Micronesia.” Every year, the U.S. government provides money into this piggy bank. The fiscal 2016 U.S. contribution was $28 million, a $10 million increase from several years ago, according to a March 2017 annual report on the trust fund.

The trust fund agreement between the U.S. and FSM governments states, “The purpose of the Fund is to contribute to the economic advancement and long-term budgetary self-reliance of the Federated States of Micronesia by providing an annual source of revenue, after Fiscal Year 2023, for assistance … with priorities in education and healthcare.”

The trust fund allows some withdrawals by the FSM government, including when the fund’s investments make more than 6 percent in a year. In 2016, the fund posted 9.7 percent gains on investment.

Here’s a message to Christian and the rest of the FSM government: If you’ve heard law-abiding FSM citizens express shame about the recent crimes on Guam, you should, too.

Your shame should extend to the fact that the FSM national government is allowing Guam to shoulder a lot of the burden of the impact of nearly 8 percent of its population taking up residence on Guam, while the FSM government continues to reap more financial aid from the U.S. government, and, thus far, committing to help Guam with only a measly $100,000 donation.

FSM, you can do better than that. Use part of the trust fund money that can be drawn down – to build houses, run schools, reimburse Guam Memorial Hospital and the Department of Public Health and Social Services, and help the jobless FSM citizens on Guam.

The FSM president is right in one respect. He said his government can’t keep FSM citizens from getting passports and leaving home.

But when they end up on Guam and need services in massive numbers, the FSM can’t ignore Guam’s burden for its citizens’ needs, especially when the FSM has the money to help.

Guam residents are hospitable people and embrace FSM citizens who are contributing members of our community.

But as the FSM government sits on a pile of cash from the United States, while the FSM has lost a significant part of its citizenry, many of whom now live on Guam, Guam’s needs cannot be taken for granted.

The U.S. government must reconfigure how much of the money goes to the FSM government, and how much should go to Guam. Guam continues to receive the same token assistance from the federal government year after year, despite Guam’s requests for more reimbursement as the largest host of FSM citizens in the entire U.S.

The U.S. and FSM governments need to take responsibility for an agreement they made and which is now causing hardship on Guam.

They can start with putting some of that cash the FSM is sitting on toward helping Guam.

 

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