Sunday, November 19, 2017

ChaNoWriMo 2017

This November I am once again participating in ChaNoWriMo or as its known elsewhere as NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month or Chamorro Novel Writing Month. This means that this blog sadly will not be receiving much attention. During this month, the challenge is to write 50,000 words of your novel.

For me, I am continuing my long-standing story titled "The Legend of the Chamurai." I first started it in 2011 and I've been writing parts of it every November since then.

The story so far has spanned over 500 years and a host of characters. It has spanned from the world of the dead, to Okinawa and Taiwan, to the Caroline Islands and to the northern islands of the Marianas. At present, I am writing sections of a great challenge that involves a unique or mysterious task on each of the Marianas Islands. Three champions sailing up the island chain, fighting monsters or finding artifacts on each island. Very fun, getting to use different aspects of the islands to come up with interesting tasks or labors.

Despensa yu' ta'lo.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Adventures in Chamorro #4

On Facebook I have a regular informal series titled "Adventures in Chamorro." It ranges from stories of speaking Chamorro with my kids, protests, decolonization activism and also teaching Chamorro at UOG. I have not been on a hike in quite a while and so here are two stories dealing with hiking and my students at UOG.


Adventures in Chamorro #234: For my Chamorro language classes I often have them write up some simple love poetry. I normally begin those assignments by talking about most elderly Chamorros refer to as traditional Chamorro courtship rituals. As Spanish Catholic influence made it very difficult for young unmarried men and women to interact with each other romantically, so much of the courtship happened in secret or through intermediaries known as "chule'guagua'" or "basket carriers." It was a time of early-morning meetings down by the riverbank, sneaking away to the blindspots behind churches or nights filled with young men, prowling around homes hoping to get the attention of their beloveds sleeping within. Sometimes these stories ended with the families approving the union, sometimes they did not. Students usually remark how different things are today, although one or two makes a connection with the "drama" in relationships today, joking that we still find Chamorro men lurking around homes, although usually for ekgo' related reasons. Here is one of my favorite poems by a student writing in that theme.

Gaige hao gi fi’on-ña på’go
Humåhanao mo’na gi kareran-miyu
Lao gagaige ha’ hao gi halom i korason-hu
Hu guaiya hao
Lao mabokbok i ante-ku
Annai un yute’ yu’
Gagaige ha’ hao gi halom i hinasso-ku
Yan gaige yu’ på’go gi hiyong i gima’-mu

Adventures in Chamorro #207: I recently took my Chamorro classes on a hike to Pågat. For those who couldn't make it, they could be excused if they wrote, in Chamorro, a poem or a reflection paper on the beauty or the importance of the location. Here is an example of a poem which was started by a CM101 student, and then when I shared with with a CM102 student, he added in some extra, humorous details.

Hu hungok na gof bonito i sengsong Pågat.
Ti siña humånao yu’ para Pågat sa’ macho’cho’cho’ yu’.
Bula antigun na latte giya Pågat.
Guaha paopao na flores giya Pågat.
Guaha binådu siha giya Pågat.
Guaha mikulot na guihan gi tasi giya Pågat.
Guaha yommok na babui siha giya Pågat.
Hu hungok na guaha meggai na bubulao na kulepbla siha giya Pågat.
Ti ya-hu kulepbla siha!
Ti malago’ yu’ humånao para Pågat.
Ma’å’ñao yu’ umbee.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

On Assignment

When I am writing or working, I like to have MSNBC playing in the background. Although definitely not on weekends, as I don't find their barrage of prison reality TV shows very appealing. On weekends I watch clips on Youtube and recently they started a new show with longtime foreign affairs and war correspondent Richard Engel called On Assignment with Richard Engel. 

I've enjoyed the first few pieces released on Youtube on his show. They've both been critical of Trump and talked about the international dimensions to his business connections. This is one of the things that makes Trump different from previous Presidents, even those who were also wealthy, his international business empire that he is absolutely using the powers and privileges of the off to enrich and enhance. Here's a few of the clips from On Assignment:


Monday, November 06, 2017

Independent Guåhan Teach-Ins for November

Independent Guåhan to hold Teach-Ins in November, to provide updates on Catalonia and a panel on inter-generational activism

Each month Independent Guåhan (IG) holds a Teach-In at the University of Guam aimed at informing the island community about pertinent issues related to Guåhan’s political status and decolonization. This month IG will be holding two Teach-Ins, the first on November 9th focusing on recent updates on the movement for independence and Catalonia, and the second on November 16th, which will focus on inter-generational Chamorro activism. Both Teach-Ins will take place from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM at UOG Humanities and Social Sciences Building (HSS) Room 106. They are free and open to the public.

The November 9th Teach-In is titled “Som Una Nacio, Nosaltres Decidim: Updates on Catalan Independence.” Long-standing desires amongst the people of Catalonia, Spain for greater autonomy has taken concrete form in recent months. Following violent crackdowns over a referendum on Catalonia’s independence, where the overwhelming majority of voters elected to seek independence, the state declared itself independent last month. This has led to tension and Spain’s dissolution of the Catalan government. This Teach-In will focus on what lessons Guåhan in its own quest for decolonization might learn from recent events on the Iberian Peninsula.

The November 16th Teach-In is titled “Families for Justice: Generations of Chamorro Activists Tell Their Stories,” and co-sponsored by the group Prutehi Litekyan/Save Ritidian. Plans by the US military to place a firing range in the culturally and environmentally significant Litekyan area of Northern Guåhan has helped create a new wave of local community organizing. The emergence of the Prutehi Litekyan/Save Ritidian is closely tied to the work of Chamorro families who have taken up issues of land rights, demilitarization and decolonization and passed this obligation on from one generation to the next. This Teach-In will feature a panel of activists from three different families, the Garrido, Artero and Flores clans, each of which has spent generations protesting, pushing for land return or calling for Guåhan’s decolonization.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Adios Ojibwa Warrior

One of my first introductions to Native American Studies was the book Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement. I was at that point in graduate school in San Diego, and learning a great deal about different ethnic movements around the United States, and while much of the readings focused on the larger groups in the United States, such as African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans, I was grateful that each course had books or readings that situated Native American struggles and experiences as well. I knew the basic, general history of how Native Americans went from being a diverse array of tribes and peoples, to losing almost all their sovereignty and land to colonial settlers across North America and also Latin American depending on how you want to define the terms. But by reading this book and others by scholars and Native American activists I began to understand more of the structural and historical connections. In Banks' book he talked about cultural and linguistic repression, dispossession and land alienation, difficult experiences with military service, all of which should seem very familiar to Chamorros.

Dennis Banks passed away this week. Below is his obituary from the New York Times. 


Dennis Banks, American Indian Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 80
by Robert McFadden
October 30, 2017
The New York Times

Dennis J. Banks, the militant Chippewa who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 and led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Sunday night at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He was 80.

His daughter Tashina Banks Rama said the cause was complications of pneumonia following successful open-heart surgery a week ago at the clinic. Mr. Banks lived on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, where he was born and where he grew up.

Mr. Banks and his Oglala Sioux compatriot Russell Means were by the mid-1970s perhaps the nation’s best-known Native Americans since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who led the attack that crushed the cavalry forces of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory in 1876.

Mr. Banks, whose early life of poverty, alcoholism and alienation mirrored the fates of countless ancestors, led protests that caused mass disorder, shootouts, deaths and grievous injuries. He was jailed for burglary and convicted of riot and assault, and he became a fugitive for nine years. He found sanctuary in California and New York but finally gave up and was imprisoned for 14 months.

He once led a six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, and mounted an armed 71-day occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Wounded Knee was the scene of the last major conflict of the American Indian Wars, in which 350 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by United States troops in 1890.

While his protests won some government concessions and drew national attention and wide sympathy for the deplorable social and economic conditions of American Indians, Mr. Banks achieved few real improvements in the daily lives of millions of Native Americans, who live on reservations and in major cities and lag behind most fellow citizens in jobs, housing and education.

To admirers, Mr. Banks was a broad-chested champion of native pride. With dark, piercing eyes, high cheekbones, a jutting chin and long raven hair, he was a paladin who defied authority and, in an era crowded with civil rights protests, spoke for the nation’s oldest minority.

To his critics, including many American Indians, Mr. Banks was a self-promoter, grabbing headlines and becoming a darling of politically liberal Hollywood stars like Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando. His severest detractors, including law-enforcement officials, said he let followers risk injury and arrest while he jumped bail to avoid a long prison sentence and did not surrender for nearly a decade.
Mr. Banks and Mr. Means first won national attention for declaring a “Day of Mourning” for Native Americans on Thanksgiving Day in 1970. Their band seized the ship Mayflower II, a replica of the original in Plymouth, Mass., and a televised confrontation between real Indians and costumed “Pilgrims” made the American Indian Movement leaders overnight heroes.

In 1972, the two organized cross-country car caravans on “Trails of Broken Treaties.” They converged on Washington with 500 followers to protest Indian living standards and lost treaty rights, occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs and held out for nearly a week, destroying documents and the premises, until the government agreed to discuss Indian grievances and review treaty commitments.
In 1973, after a white man killed an Indian in a saloon brawl and was charged not with murder but with involuntary manslaughter, Mr. Banks led 200 American Indian Movement protesters in a face-off with the police in Custer, S.D. It became a riot when the slain man’s mother was beaten by officers. After he left town, Mr. Banks, who said he had merely tried to ease tensions, was charged with assault and rioting.

It was the last straw. “We had reached a point in history where we could not tolerate the abuse any longer, where mothers could not tolerate the mistreatment that goes on on the reservations any longer, where they could not see another Indian youngster die,” he told the author Peter Matthiessen.

Weeks later, the siege that made Mr. Banks and Mr. Means famous across America began when 200 Oglala Lakota and A.I.M. followers with rifles and shotguns occupied Wounded Knee. About 300 United States marshals, F.B.I. agents and other law-enforcement officials cordoned off the area with armored cars and heavy weapons, touching off a 10-week battle of nerves and gunfire.

Amid wide news media coverage, the significance of the battlefield was not lost on many Americans. Dee Brown’s best-selling book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West” (1970) had recently explored the record of massacres and atrocities against Native Americans on the expanding frontier, undermining one of the nation’s fondest myths.

Proclaiming a willingness to die for their cause, Mr. Banks and Mr. Means demanded the ouster of Richard Wilson, the elected leader of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, whom they called a corrupt white man’s stooge. The government refused. Shootings punctuated the days of stalemate, leaving wounded on both sides. Two Indians were killed, and a federal agent was shot and paralyzed.
When it was over, Mr. Banks and Mr. Means were charged with assault and conspiracy. After a federal trial, with the defense raising historic and current Indian grievances, a judge dismissed the case for prosecutorial misconduct, including illegal wiretaps and evidence that had been tampered with.

By then, Mr. Banks was a pre-eminent spokesman for Native Americans. He mediated armed conflicts between Indians and the authorities in various states. But his own legal troubles were not over.

Charged with riot and assault with a deadly weapon for his role in the 1973 melee in Custer, he was found guilty in 1975. Facing up to 15 years in prison, he jumped bail and fled to California.
With 1.4 million signatures on a petition supporting Mr. Banks, Gov. Jerry Brown granted him asylum in 1976, rejecting extradition to South Dakota by saying his life might be in danger if he were sent back. Mr. Banks later became chancellor of Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University, a small two-year college for Indians in Davis, Calif.

Deprived of California sanctuary when Governor Brown was succeeded by a Republican, George Deukmejian, in early 1983, Mr. Banks found a new refuge on an Onondaga reservation near Syracuse. Federal officials said he would be arrested only if he left the reservation. But in 1984, weary of his confined life, he returned to South Dakota voluntarily and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Paroled in 1985 after serving only 14 months, he moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation to work as a drug addiction and alcoholism counselor. He also turned his life around, embracing sobriety, giving talks on public service and organizing cross-country events that he called Sacred Runs, which became popular among supporters of Native Americans in later years.

“We were the prophets, the messengers, the fire starters,” Mr. Banks said in an autobiography, “Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement” (2005, with Richard Erdoes). “Wounded Knee awakened not only the conscience of all Native Americans, but also of white Americans nationwide.”

Dennis James Banks was born on the Leech Lake Reservation on April 12, 1937. He never knew his father. His mother abandoned him to his grandparents.

When he was 5, he was taken from his family and sent to a series of government schools for Indians that systematically denigrated his Ojibwa (Chippewa) culture, language and identity. He ran away often, until, at 17, he returned to Leech Lake.

Unable to find work, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Japan, where he married a Japanese woman, had a child with her and went absent without leave. Arrested and returned to the United States, he never saw his wife or child again. After being discharged, he moved to Minneapolis, drifted into crime, was arrested in a burglary and went to jail for two and a half years.

Released in 1968, he founded the American Indian Movement with an Ojibwa he had met in prison, Clyde Bellecourt, and others to fight the oppression and endemic poverty of Native Americans. He became chairman and national director as the group, based in Minneapolis, forged alliances and grew rapidly. After two years it said it had 25,000 members.

Within a year A.I.M., with its flair for guerrilla tactics, joined a lengthy occupation of Alcatraz Island, the former federal prison site in San Francisco Bay.

After his fugitive years, Mr. Banks had a modest movie career. He had roles in Franc Roddam’s “War Party” (1988), Michael Apted’s “Thunderheart” (1992), Michael Mann’s “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992, with Russell Means), and Georgina Lightning’s “Older Than America” (2008), which explored the devastating effects of Indian boarding schools like those Mr. Banks had been forced to attend.
Mr. Banks also appeared in documentaries: “We Shall Remain, Part V: Wounded Knee” (2009), a Ric Burns “American Experience” television film directed by Stanley Nelson; “A Good Day to Die” (2010), directed by David Mueller and Lynn Salt; and “Nowa Cumig: The Drum Will Never Stop” (2011), directed by Marie-Michele Jasmin-Belisle.

Besides his wife and child in Japan, Mr. Banks had many children with other women. In addition to Ms. Banks Rama, he is survived by 19 children, 11 with the surname Banks: Janice, Darla, Deanna, Dennis, Red Elk, Tatanka, Minoh, Tokala, Tiopa, Tacanunpa and Arrow. The others are Glenda Roberts, Beverly Baribeau, Kevin Strong, D. J. Nelson-Banks, Bryan Graves, and Pearl, Denise and Kawlija Blanchard. Mr. Banks is also survived by more than 100 grandchildren, Ms. Banks Rama said.

Mr. Banks was the 2016 vice presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which identified itself as socialist and feminist. The party’s presidential candidate was Gloria La Riva. As a single-state ticket, they won 66,000 votes.

In recent years, Mr. Banks lived with some of his children in Kentucky and Minnesota. He was an honorary trustee of the Leech Lake Tribal College, a two-year public institution in Cass Lake, Minn. Mr. Means, who also appeared in movies and wrote a memoir, died on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2012 at age 72.

In 1990, both men joined a ceremony at the Pine Ridge Reservation commemorating the centenary of the Wounded Knee massacre.

“Maybe we opened up some eyes, opened some doors,” Mr. Banks told The Los Angeles Times. “And it was at least an educational process here. Fifteen years ago, there was no newspaper here, no radio station. Now there’s more community control over education.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Oh Catalonia!

It is common in Guam to feel very alone in terms of decolonization.

History books and political commentators tend to argue that the age of decolonization is over.

It happened in the 1960s or 1970s, and that those who remain colonized missed the boat.

They missed the decolonial sakman and are therefore stuck, in whatever political status they have.

It is an intriguing way of justifying the status quo.

A way of arguing that the current world order or framework isn't simply something that has happened.

But rather the end.

Teleological or evolutionary, but ultimately that an apex is reached and there can't be any further reconfiguration of power or reality. 

In the 1980s this notion was called "The End of History" after Francis Fukuyama.

It wasn't real or true, but it felt authentic, in the same way each epoch achieves a certain character or feeling of self-realization.

We have seen History continue marching on.

And those who still have claims from the most recent periods of mass human exploitation are still fighting for them, even if they might not seem to have the greatest chances at finding some sort of real justice.

But as the Catalonian drive for independence shows us, there are still many places that don't want to accept the maps drawn around them and with their sovereignty or destiny subsumed within the interests and power of another.

On Guam, it is imperative that we keep track of what is happening in Catalonia.

Whether they are successful or not this time around, they help the cause of decolonization in Guam.

They help draw attention to the grievances of those who are tired of the global order decided against them, and want the lines or labels shifted in small, but significant ways to accommodate their dreams as well.


Catalan Parliament Declares Independence From Spain
by Sam Edwards and Julien Toyer

BARCELONA/MADRID, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The Madrid government sacked Catalonia’s president and dismissed its parliament on Friday, hours after the region declared itself an independent nation, in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago.
A new election will be held in Catalonia on Dec. 21, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a televised address on a day of high drama.
As well as removing Carles Puigdemont as head of the autonomous region, he also fired the police chief and said central government ministries would take over the Catalan administration.
“Spain is living through a sad day,” Rajoy said. “We believe it is urgent to listen to Catalan citizens, to all of them, so that they can decide their future and nobody can act outside the law on their behalf.”
As he spoke thousands of independence supporters packed the Sant Jaume Square in front of the Catalan regional headquarters in Barcelona, their earlier celebratory mood dampened by Rajoy’s actions.
In a stunning show of defiance to Madrid, the Catalan parliament had voted in the afternoon to make a unilateral declaration of independence.

Despite the emotions and celebrations inside and outside the building, it was a futile gesture as shortly afterwards the Spanish Senate approved the imposition of direct rule on the autonomous region.
Several European countries, including France and Germany, and the United States also rejected the independence declaration and said they supported Rajoy’s efforts to preserve Spain’s unity.
The crisis has reached a new and possibly dangerous level as independence supporters have called for a campaign of disobedience. Immediately after news of the Catalan vote, which three opposition parties boycotted, Spanish shares and bonds were sold off, reflecting business concern over the turmoil.
The crisis unfolded after Catalonia held an independence referendum on Oct. 1 which was declared illegal by Madrid. Although it endorsed independence, it drew only a 43 percent turnout as Catalans who oppose independence largely boycotted it.
The independence push has caused deep resentment around Spain. The chaos has also prompted a flight of business from Catalonia and alarmed European leaders who fear the crisis could fan separatist sentiment around the continent.

Catalonia is one of Spain’s most prosperous regions and already has a high degree of autonomy. But it has a litany of historic grievances, exacerbated during the 1939-1975 Franco dictatorship, when its culture and politics were suppressed.
In Barcelona, Jordi Cases, 52, a farmer from Lleida province who had driven down with his family for the protest, said he was excited but worried about what came next.
“Now the repression is going to be terrible but we have to take what we can. We must resist and ask for help where needed,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Paul Day, Julien Toyer and Jesus Aguado, writing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Julien Toyer)


Spain's Harsh Crackdown Draws Worldwide Attention to Catalonia
by Nick Robins-Early
Huffington Post

Spanish riot police forcefully descended on polling stations and rallies in Catalonia on Sunday, as the region held a independence referendum that the country’s government in Madrid had attempted to stop.
The referendum saw police use rubber bullets and batons in their operation to seize ballot boxes and shutter voting sites. At least 800 people were injured in the crackdown, according to the Catalan regional government.
The shocking scenes of unrest and violent tactics of the police brought international attention to Catalonia, with the subsequent chaos from the actions to stop the referendum giving additional weight to the symbolic independence vote.
Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull told reporters on Monday morning that 90 percent of Catalans voted yes, but turnout in the disputed referendum was only around 43 percent of eligible voters.
The violence threatens to deepen the longstanding divisions between Catalan separatists and the Spanish government, putting pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and ensuring that the issue of independence will only become more prominent in the days to come.
Images and videos circulating from Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous region, and other cities across the area showed officers violently shutting down a peaceful referendum, albeit one banned by Spain’s central government and deemed illegitimate by the country’s courts. Footage captured police smashing through glass doors and dragging away dissident citizens attempting to protect polling stations.

Some protesters tussled with authorities, leading to several arrests and reports that at least 12 officers had been injured.
In a further sign of the divide between regional authorities, Spain’s riot police got into confrontations with Catalan regional officers and firefighters attempting to allow the rallies and referendum to proceed. Spain’s police closed nearly a hundred polling stations in all, and arrested several protesters.

The clampdown also deepened political divisions between Catalan government officials and Spain’s leadership in Madrid. Tensions over the referendum have been rising for months as the vote approached, and as violence erupted on Sunday both sides blamed one another for the situation.
Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau called for Prime Minister Rajoy to resign following the crackdown, saying “he is a coward who does not live up to his state responsibilities.” Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, meanwhile, claimed that the police actions would eternally shame the country.

Several leftist Spanish politicians also joined in the calls for Rajoy’s ouster, adding to the prime minister’s political woes. He is currently the head of a relatively fragile minority government that has already run into trouble in recent weeks from political partners protesting his handling of Catalonia’s bid for secession.
Rajoy defended the police actions on Sunday as a justified response to Catalonia’s attempts to break “the rule of law,” while denying that a referendum had taken place, emphasizing the lack of participation and the illegality of the vote.
But although Rajoy has always had the support of the European Union and the courts in rejecting the legitimacy of Catalonia’s referendum, the harsh response from authorities could embolden the separatist movement.

The level of support for independence in Catalonia is not entirely clear. Polling was scarce in the lead up to the election, but a survey from July showed that only around 41 percent of people in Catalonia favored independence.
Most major European Union officials were largely silent over the events in Catalonia, although some figures including Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel and the EU parliament’s Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt condemned the violence.
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has pursued a second independence referendum for Scotland in the United Kingdom, called Spain’s actions “wrong and damaging.”
This post has been updated with the Catalan government’s announcement of results and turnout figures.


Spain Sets Stage to Take Control of Catalonia in Independence Fight
by Raphael Minder
October 19, 2017

BARCELONA, Spain — The standoff over Catalonia intensified significantly on Thursday as the Spanish government said it would take emergency measures to halt a secessionist drive in the economically vital and politically restive northeastern region.

The announcement came almost immediately after the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, facing a second deadline to clarify Catalonia’s intentions since it held an Oct. 1 referendum on independence, warned that regional lawmakers were prepared to break from Spain.

The government in Madrid, in turn, announced that it would convene an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday “to defend the general interest of Spaniards, among them the citizens of Catalonia.”

The rapid succession of events moved what was already one of the gravest crises in Spain’s relatively young democracy to a far more serious and unpredictable stage, with the prospect that Madrid could take over the running of Catalonia. At the most extreme, the Spanish government could arrest Mr. Puigdemont and charge him with sedition, as it has done with two other separatist leaders.

But such a step would risk provoking a popular backlash and new street demonstrations in a region where many are already bridling at what they see as a heavy hand by the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The latest statements from each side now move the dispute to the brink of a potentially explosive confrontation.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, spokesman for the Spanish government, said at a news conference that Madrid was ready to use “all the means within its reach to restore the legality and constitutional order as soon as possible.”

Yet such steps are fraught with uncertainty in a country that adopted its democratic constitution only in 1978, after the death of its longtime dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco.

Last week, Mr. Rajoy initiated a request to invoke a broad and forceful tool that has never before been used — Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — which would allow him to take direct control of Catalonia.

He said he could resort to such a step if Mr. Puigdemont did not clearly back down from a threat to declare independence.
But on Thursday, Mr. Puigdemont sent a defiant letter to Mr. Rajoy, blaming him for escalating the conflict by refusing to meet and negotiate.

“If the government continues to prevent dialogue and maintains the repression,’’ he wrote, “the Parliament of Catalonia could go ahead, if it deems it opportune, and vote the formal declaration of independence.”

Officials in Madrid have repeatedly warned in recent days that Mr. Rajoy would consider anything short of a clear withdrawal of the declaration of independence to be unacceptable, after what he deemed an unsatisfactory response from Mr. Puigdemont on Monday.

Article 155 would give Madrid the authority to suspend Mr. Puigdemont and other Catalan lawmakers, and to take charge of the region’s autonomous administration, including the Catalan broadcaster and autonomous police force, although Mr. Rajoy has not publicly committed to an emergency intervention.

It is unclear what Mr. Rajoy will propose to his cabinet on Saturday, but he may try to gradually raise pressure on the fragile coalition of Catalan separatists rather than risk a forceful intervention that could further galvanize the independence movement.

José Luis Ábalos, an official from the main opposition Socialist party, indicated at a news conference on Thursday that the party would support Mr. Rajoy — as long as the prime minister made limited and short use of Article 155, and also somehow kept “self-government” in Catalonia.

Using constitutional powers, Mr. Rajoy could appoint a caretaker administration in Catalonia. Mr. Puigdemont, on the other hand, could face sedition charges and ultimately a long prison sentence for presenting a unilateral declaration of independence that violates Spain’s Constitution.

Politicians in Madrid have recently demanded that Catalonia hold regional elections as soon as possible, but Mr. Puigdemont made no mention of such a vote in his letter on Thursday.

The separatist leaders of Catalonia are already claiming that Madrid has used disproportionate means to push them out of office, with the help of the Spanish police and the courts.

About 200,000 demonstrators gathered on Tuesday in central Barcelona, according to the local police, to demand the release of two separatist leaders who were sent to prison without bail, pending a trial on sedition charges. In his letter on Thursday, Mr. Puigdemont mentioned the arrest of the two leaders as evidence of Spain’s repressive stance.

Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, is an important engine of the Spanish economy. Independence aspirations have built in recent years over a host of social and economic grievances.
Those tensions grew as Mr. Rajoy and Catalan leaders talked past one another, turning the kind of dispute that might have been defused years ago into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

The rising uncertainty and the threat of declaring independence have already prompted hundreds of companies to relocate their headquarters outside Catalonia, further straining the unwieldy separatist coalition that holds a majority of the seats in the regional Parliament.

Hard-line secessionists want an abrupt and unilateral rupture with the central government in Madrid, while conservative and more moderate separatists are increasingly worried about the economic consequences for Catalonia.

Luis de Guindos, the Spanish economy minister, told Parliament on Thursday that the relocation of Catalan companies was “only an appetizer of what could happen if independence was confirmed — something that the government will not allow.”

Mr. Puigdemont sent his latest letter after an emergency meeting of his conservative party late Wednesday, during which lawmakers gave clear support for not withdrawing the declaration of independence, according to local news reports.

Still, secessionism has divided Catalonia. Separatist parties won control of the regional Parliament in 2015, but with only 48 percent of the vote.

Núria Marín, the Socialist mayor of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, the second-largest city in Catalonia, just southwest of Barcelona, said on Thursday that politicians on both sides should take the blame for plunging Catalonia into a crisis.

“I believe that with threats on the part of one side or the other, we won’t now solve this situation,” she said. “We are sadly seeing that companies are leaving while we are sending letters to one another.”
Whatever the government decides on Saturday, the Catalan crisis is set to drag on: Mr. Rajoy would need approval from the Senate before intervening in Catalonia.

Mr. Rajoy’s governing Popular Party has a majority in the Senate, and Podemos, a far-left party, is the only major opposition group that is opposed to using Article 155 in Catalonia. Instead, Podemos has suggested that Spain should hold a nationwide referendum over Catalonia’s future statehood.

Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, said Thursday morning that “Spain can’t appear to be like a banana republic that has problems of democracy.” He added, “We don’t want to threaten or repress Catalonia, but we want to convince Catalonia that Spain is a collective project that is worth it.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

UN Report Back

Independent Guåhan to host United Nations Report Back Event, Provide Updates on Recent Historic Trip

For Immediate Release, October 23, 2017 — Independent Guåhan is hosting a Report Back on October 26 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration Room 131. At the forum, a group of delegates, who recently traveled to the United Nations in New York, will provide updates on their testimonies and meetings concerning Guam’s decolonization.

Independent Guåhan organized a group of twelve members and volunteers, who petitioned the UN Special Political and Decolonization Committee (4th Committee) at their annual meeting to discuss the situation in Guam. This trip was especially historic, because the Commission on Decolonization also sent a strong delegation — Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje, Senator Telena Nelson and Dr. LisaLinda Natividad all testified before the 4th Committee. Senator Fernando Esteves attended the 4th Committee meeting and joined both Commission and Independent Guåhan members in several days of meetings with ambassadors and representatives from a dozen independent nations and other non self-governing territories.

Independent Guåhan organized presentations about Guam at several universities in the area including Columbia University, New York University, Rutgers University and Barnard College, where both members of Independent Guåhan and the Commission on Decolonization were able to talk with diverse groups of students and professors about Guam’s quest for decolonization.

Both IG and Commission members will share their experiences in New York at the Report Back. A short video documenting the trip will also be shown and a complimentary compilation of the testimonies delivered at the UN will be disseminated at the event. Independent Guåhan’s involvement in this trip to the UN trip was made possible through generous donations from supporters of Guam’s decolonization in the Marianas and the United States. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

My Testimony Before the UN Fourth Committee

Testimony to the Fourth Committee of the United Nations
From Michael Lujan Bevacqua, Ph.D.
Co-Chairperson, Independence for Guam Task Force
October 3, 2017

Buenas yan håfa adai todus hamyo ko’lo’ña si Maga’taotao Rafael Ramirez Carreño i gehilo’ para i kumuiten Mina’Kuåtro, gi este na gefpå’go na ha’åni. Magof hu na gaige yu’ guini på’go para bai hu kuentusi hamyo yan kuentusiyi i taotao Guåhan put i halacha na sinisedi gi islan-måmi. (Hello to all of you on this beautiful day. I am grateful to be here now so that I can speak to you, in particular H.E. Rafael Ramirez Carreño, Chair of the C24, and speak on behalf of the people of Guam about recent events that transpired in our island home.)

My name is Michael Lujan Bevacqua and I am a professor of Chamorro Studies at the University of Guam. I am also the co-chair for the Independence for Guam Task Force, a community outreach organization tasked with educating our island about the possibilities should we at last achieve self-determination and become an independent country of our own. I have testified before this body once before in 2007 and I have provided interventions as an academic and expert on affairs in Guam to the Committee of 24 in its most recent regional seminars in Ecuador (2013), Nicaragua (2015 and 2016) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2017).

Today I will discuss the ways in which the administering power of our island, the United States has not faithfully sought to fulfill its sacred trust to assist Guam and in particular its indigenous people the Chamorros, on a process towards decolonization. This has manifested most prominently around the administering power ignoring resolutions and calls from the United Nations to refrain from implementing immigration and militarization policies in their territories that would likely become impediments towards meaningful decolonization.  

Guam has been a territory of the United States for 119 years now and on the list of non-self-governing territories for 71. The administering power’s policies have continually delayed, deferred or minimized efforts by local activists and the Guam government to make progress in this regard. As we come to the close of the Third International Decade of the Eradication of Colonialism, it is more important than ever that the administering powers be willing to work with their territories, other nations and the UN to bring about an end to this wicked period of human history. This can only happen if administering powers are willing to cooperate and also recognize that certain policies delay or inhibit these efforts.

Calls by the UN on administering powers to not pursue particular immigration or militarization policies in their territories represent one of the guiding principles of he UN. Namely that international cooperation and restraint in the name of peace and the protection of the most foundational rights that humans have come to recognize and cherish, must take priority over narrow national interests. Should administering powers implement policies that increase the number of settlers in a non-self-governing territory or increases its military presence, it creates the conditions by which that same administering power will resist fulfilling its sacred duty to support decolonization. It may claim that such a process cannot happen because of new populations that have settled in the non-self-governing territory or because of the role the territory now plays in its strategic interests.

Guam has been used as a port of entry to the United States since World War II and in that time tens of thousands of migrants from Asia and other islands in Micronesia have made the island their home. In 1946 when Guam was listed with the UN by the US, the population of the island close to 20,00 with 90% being Chamorro. Today Chamorros have become a minority and now represent 37% out of a total population of 166,000.

All on Guam, Chamorros included are proud of the multicultural tapestry that our island has become. We do not begrudge anyone who came to Guam seeking a new or a different life. But the government of the administering power has recently come to use the diversity of the island as a means of depriving the Chamorro people of their basic human rights. In the past year federal courts and agencies have begun to try to erase the rights of Chamorros in their own land. This began in March when a federal court ruled that any decolonization plebiscite must include the participation of all US citizens on island, even if they have only been on the island for a few days or weeks. Current Government of Guam law had sought to limit participation in this non-binding albeit important plebiscite to native inhabitants. The Government of Guam is currently appealing this decision in US federal courts. 

Secondly, just this past week the Government of Guam is being sued by the US Department of Justice in an attempt to eliminate a Guam program meant to provide land to landless Chamorros. This program, the Chamorro Land Trust was created as an attempt to fix the injustices created when the US military displaced thousands of Chamorros in the years following World War II. In both examples the US government claims that these activities or programs violate the US Constitution and that the only rights allowed in Guam for Chamorros are those determined by the US Congress.

The problem with this position should be apparent to anyone, even absent any legal training.  In general, a process of decolonization that must follow the rules of the colonizer is not decolonization: it is an extension of colonization. It is a transformation of colonization into a seemingly different form, while protecting the same structures of power and inequality.

A similar situation has emerged in terms of Guam’s military value to the US. Since WWII the island has been referred to as Fortress Guam, an unsinkable aircraft carrier, the world’s largest gas station and most recently The Tip of America’s Spear. With current proposals to transfer US Marines stationed in Okinawa to Guam and the construction of new training areas in cultural and environmentally treasured sites, the US has been keen on sharpening its spear.

Taking advantage of Guam’s non-self-governing status, the US enjoys Guam’s harbor, airways, location and proximity to Asia, without the people having any representation in the halls of Congress or these stories chambers at the UN. It is part of Guam’s strategic value to the US, is that it has no voting politicians to meddle or foreign governments to interfere.

The position of the United Nations on this issue has always been clear, but is scarcely reported locally in particular territories or something acknowledged by the administering powers themselves. In its resolutions, military increases or strategic military importance should not be considered as reason to not decolonize territories, but this is generally used as an excuse to delay or deny action. We can find this point made in their numerous resolutions on the Question of Guam, such as this one from 1984:

The General Assembly of the United Nations “Reaffirms its strong conviction that the presence of military bases and installations in the Territory  [of Guam] could constitute a major obstacle to the implementation of the Declaration and that it is the responsibility of the administering Power to ensure that the existence of such bases and installations does not hinder the population of the Territory from exercising its right to self- determination and independence in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

UN Resolution 1514 (X/V) in 1960 called upon all colonial powers to assist their colonial possessions in moving towards decolonization. It does not mention specifically military bases or military training. But by 1964 the United Nations had begun to notice that in non-self-governing territories like Guam, the colonial power’s military controlled a great deal of resources and had a great deal of sway over the destiny of the colonies. Since 1965 the United Nations has approved numerous resolutions calling upon all administering powers (including the United States) to withdraw their military bases as they represent series obstacles to the exercising of self-determination by colonized peoples.

Bases help to enable to colonial power to see an island like Guam, not as a place in need of decolonization and redress, but as a strategically valuable piece of real estate, one necessary for the projection of military force and the maintaining of its geopolitical interests. Military facilities help colonial powers to deemphasize the inalienable human rights of colonized peoples and instead focus on the instrumentality and necessity of controlling their lands. Current proposals by the administering power to expand their training areas and in the process destroy or cut off public access to environmentally and culturally rich locations are exactly the type of activities the United Nations has long cautioned against.

In light of recent threats to Guam from North Korea, we must also recall that the United Nations has long called upon member states such as the US to refrain from using their colonies in offensive wars or aggression actions against other nations as could lead to retaliation against the people in the colony and could also potentially make enemies on behalf of the colony when it achieves decolonization.

Community members in Guam have regularly informed the US Department of Defense about these concerns and the way their attempts to increase their military presence on Guam affect the basic human rights of Chamorros. But as with most concerns related to the United Nations and decolonization they have chosen to wash their hands of this and argue they have no responsibility or obligation in the matter.

The most compelling evidence for why military value and militarization negatively impacts decolonization efforts can be found in this building and this body. Namely the flags of those countries from Micronesia that can be found here and those that cannot. Guam’s strategic military value has long affected what we can and cannot get from our administering power. For decades the members of the Trust Territory of Micronesia negotiated with the United States, a process that led to the formation of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and three nation-states that have seats at the United Nations: the Republic of Belau (Palau), the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. The United States did not allow Guam to participate in similar negotiations as its strategic value to the United States as a base, has consistently led to a denial of this basic human right.

The more the US increases its presence, the troops it moves, buildings it constructs and vehicles it stations, the less likely it is to take seriously its obligation, its sacred trust to faithfully assist the colonized people through their process of decolonization. The more it militarizes, the less likely it is to take seriously its own alleged ideals of liberty, democracy or freedom.

In conclusion, I offer the following two recommendations.

1. Considering the escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, which continue to put the people of Guam's lives at risk and a lack of meaningful engagement from the United States in Guam's decolonization process, it is imperative for the United Nations to send a UN visiting mission to Guam as was requested by Guam Governor Eddie Calvo in a letter dated August 1, 2017 to Chairman Ramirez Carreño. The UN must use its influence to engage the United States in Guam's decolonization process in a way that ensures genuine decolonization and cooperation. 

2. We offer our support of the draft resolution on the Question of Guam and ask that this body approve it in full with the inclusion of language specifically condemning the serious, irrevocable damage that the administering power is planning in the Northern part of Guam to build facilities and firing ranges for U.S. Marines. The U.S. intends to destroy over 1,000 acres of limestone forest, prevent access to an incredibly significant historic, cultural and sacred site, and will contaminate the island's largest source of drinking water for their military interests and without our consent. This threatens our natural resources and the health of our community and violates international law and our human rights. We urge you to take a strong position against these destructive plans. 

Si Yu’us Ma’åse para i tiempon-miyu.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Adventures in Chamorro #3

Through my Facebook page and this blog,  I often share what I refer to as “Adventures in Chamorro.” Gof takhilo’ i lenguahi-ta gi lina’la’-hu. Much of my work is dedicated to the revitalization of the Chamorro language and for my two children, Sumåhi and Akli’e’, from the days they were born I have only spoken to them in Chamorro. As such, in both work and the home, my life is filed with lots of interesting and hysterical Chamorro language moments. These are what I refer to as our “Adventures in Chamorro,” named for the adventure we take every day trying to talk about the world around us in the Chamorro language. Every couple of months, I would also share some of them in my Guam Daily Post columns. Here are some that I shared in my column published on August 17, 2016.

Adventures in Chamorro #266: The other day Isa (i nobia-hu), the kids and I were walking along the beach and looking up at the moon. It was a crescent moon, which many people translate to "sinahi" today. I prefer the word "chatgualafon" for crescent moon (and several other meanings), but the increasing prominence of sinahi has to do with the renewed use of the symbol in jewelry made from hima (giant clam shell). While gazing up at the crescent moon each of us mused in Chamorro, what it reminded us of. For Isa the moon was "un chinalek," or a smiling mouth. For Sumåhi she saw "un apå'ka na galaide'," or a white canoe. For me, it reminded me of "un gasgas na papåkes," or a clean fingernail. For Akli'e', the moon reminded him of "un mansåna" or "un aga,'" an apple or a banana. We all laughed at him as I said, "Siempre ñålang hao lahi-hu." (My boy you are definitely hungry)

Adventures in Chamorro #263: We've been playing the horror-action game Resident Evil 6 at the house for the past few weeks. Sumåhi and Akli'e' are scared to death of the game, which focuses on fighting and surviving against hordes of zombies. But both enjoy watching me play and struggle, screeching and yelling obscenities in Chamorro. Here's one of our exchanges, during one level when I had reached my fear limit and didn't want to continue on with the level.

Akli'e': Ayugue zombie! Paki gui'! (There’s a zombie! Shoot him!)

Miget: Åhe', mungga yu'. (No, I don’t want to.)

Sumahi: Hunggan! Sigi sigi mo'na! (Yes! Forward! Keep Going!)

Miget: Åhe', ti malago' yu. Ya-hu este na kuatto. Bai hu såga' mo'na guini. (No, I don’t want to. I like this room. I will stay here from now on.)

Sumahi: Ti siña un cho'gue enao! (You can’t do that!)

Miget: Oh hunggan bei gof cho'gue este. Bei fanhåtsa guma' guini ya ti bei dingu este na lugåt ta'lo. (Oh yes, I can totally do this. I’ll build a house here and I will not leave this place again.)

Akli'e': Lao håfa para na'-mu? (But what will you eat?)

Miget: Bei fanorder pizza kada diha. (I’ll order pizza.)

Sumahi: Ya hafa para un cho'gue anggen i zombie muna'na'i hao iyo-mu pizza? (And what will you do if a zombie is the one bringing it to you?)

Adventures in Chamorro #262: This is a short story that Sumåhi shared with my CM202 class at the University of Guam. There is a moral to the story. Enjoy!

Guaha kabåyu gi lancho. I na’ån-ña si Lothar.

Guaha sapble-ña. Lao ti gof kalaktos.

Gi unu na ha’åni, ha fa’nu’i i ga’chong-ña un chiba ni’ atmas-ña.

Gof malago’ i chiba i sapble.

Ayu na puenge annai mamaigo’ si Lothar humålom i chiba ya ha såkke’ i sapble.

Annai makmåta si Lothar ha hungok na mambururuka todu i ga’ga’ gi lancho, ma sodda’ i chiba måtai gi cha’guan.

Sa’ ha kekånno’ i sapble.

Adventures in Chamorro #257: I am not a fan of dragonfruit, but Isa loves to buy them at the store. When the kids and I saw them the other day, even though Sumåhi adores eating them we still had fun trying to figure out what they most resembled in appearance. For my part I said they were kulot lila na bomban frutas, or purple fruit bombs. Sumåhi went with the more menacing moniker of chada' birak, or monster eggs. Akli'e' had the most imaginative and disgusting description when he said they are kulot lila tåke' na guihan, or purple poo fish.

Adventures in Chamorro #255: In July I took a family who hadn’t been on Guam in over 20 years on a hike to Hila’an (known to most as Lost Pond). Meggai na latte guihi yan gefpå'go na lugåt para muñanagu. Kada manhånao ham guatu hu estoriayi i famagu'on-hu put i "sikretu na hula'" guihi, sa' guaha ma såsangan na i lugåt ha chuchule' i na'ån-ña ginen i sen dångkolo' na hula' siña un sodda' guihi. Gi fino'-ñiha i famagu'on-hu, "Ayu i Hila' Puntan!" (ginen i estorian Fu’una yan Puntan).

Adventures in Chamorro #254: The Jamaican Grill commercials are back playing before some movies in Guam theaters. In the ad, a group of animals, such as a fish, a chicken, a pig and a cow all sing a very catchy tune where the virtues of the restaurant's "serious food" are extolled. While watching the commercial we all found ourselves singing along mindlessly, until Sumahi stopped me and grabbed my arm saying "Nangga!" When I asked her what was the matter she said in an enlightened manner, "Gof båba este! I ga'ga' siha, ma kombidida hit para ta kånno' siha!"


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