If you have been keeping up with the news on Guam, then you know that the military is making contingency plans for retaking some of the lands which they had already returned as excess, to make way for new firing ranges in Northern Guam in Finegayan.
Although the information of this only comes from a report, which outlines two plans for building a Marine firing range, one which will require the taking of non-military lands, the other which will not require the taking of non-military lands. For everyone on Guam, this shouldn't even be an issue, in terms of our relationship with the military, we are already way beyond mere accomodation and support, and the taking of even more lands by the military will be a travesty! Especially these lands which were just returned to the original land owners and now might be taken from them, AGAIN! As Jose Pangelinan one of the landowners "caught in the middle" of this land grab deja vu, "My father bought that (land) when he was a young man 80 years ago. The Navy came after the war and chased us out (of) there. They gave it (back) to us, part of it, then they want to use it again?"
Already the potential impacts which crazy people like myself have been trying to shove into people's thinking are beginning to appear. We have increased military activist off-base activity, most notably the live explosives training that took place a few months ago in Tamuning, on land right near where a Chamorro Cultural Center project is underway. We have military planners reprising the roles of their counterparts several generations ago, as they cooly and calmly plan to take the lands of Chamorros. We have received no guarantees for the financial and infrastructure related assistance that everyone assumed that we had to get since we are so loyal and loving of the US. The commitment made by a number of military leaders that the United States will not leave the purview of its "footprint" is ridiculous, it is already spilling out. It has already been buried beneath us, as well as stuck in the air we breathe, and it will only get worse.
With the release of this planning document though, we finally get some very clear numbers, even if from their perspective about what the increases and impacts for Guam will be. For example, the United States military currently controls 40,000 acres of land on Guam. Also, the estimated military population increase will be 14,190 - 40,380, or 185% over the next few years. One of these days I would like to write a post, which would illustrate just how much that will mean, how that will affect all different parts of life, the quality of roads, life, air, water, price of housing, price of goods, the focus of the economy. It will not benefit the majority of us on Guam.
One issue which sadly is not receiving enough island-wide attention and only seems to be an injustice amongst the island's activists is the issue of who "owns" Guam and who has the right to determine whose land is whose, and how land can be used. In one of the articles I've posted below, Dirk Ballendorf puts out for everyone to hear the uncomfortable truth of Guam's political existence, "Guam, in essence, is a piece of real estate owned by the United States. It's difficult for many Chamorro people to accept that and you can understand why -- it's their homeland."
Although I know this is true, and this is the truth all who sleep with American flags in Guam refuse to acknowledge, I for one do not accept this reality. The statement of Ballendorf may be right, but it is ultimately tinged with a patronizing sympathy for Chamorros because they have difficulty "accepting" this reality. They may have a claim, it is their homeland Ballendorf admits, but that fact is basically trumped by the US claim for so many reasons, Ballendorf wouldn't even have to explain because everyone is supposed to know what makes Guam Guam is the United States today. Chamorros are echoes of a possibly noble, possibly corrupt past, who counter and contest the authority of the United States, but always in gasps which become softer and softer as time passes.
To counter Ballendorf I attached also below an editorial on the Tiyan land issue by Jesse Anderson Lujan (JAL). His piece is stirring, although when I read it I often substitute my own points of reference (change the patriotic American pieces to nationalist Chamorro) to make it mesh with what I want for Guam. Yes the land issues which are bubbling to the surface now, where the Feds and the military are making more and more demands are about equality and justice, but an equality and justice which can be found not by the inclusion into the American family that JAL constantly argues with when he makes his fiery points. Already most Chamorros conceive of that equality and justice existing around them, if not politically, then at least emotionationally, the prices for inclusion paid through liberation, patriotism, land loss, language loss and so many other things. This sort of inclusion as I write often times is false and it the reason why the truth that Balledorf so casually discusses about Guam's proper ownership must be thoroughly rejected and repressed. It is for this reason that even though the very "American identities" these Chamorros cling to, should lead them down the anti-colonial path of JAL, they refuse to even tread lightly there, instead suppressing the whole issue as ungrateful, unpatriotic, anti-American or suicide.
I have to admire JAL though because he at least is using his American identity and desires to critique the United States, as those 30 Chamorros did in 1901 when they criticized the establishment of a military government on Guam, because it was against the democratic principles of the country doing the establishing. But there are limits to my admiration and my agreement. For JAL if we were part of the government that oversees this military build up, if we voted in Congress or for President then things would be fine, but for me a simple inclusion is not the kind of justice or equality I want. What I want is sovereignty, the choice to choose not just with the United States, but if the need arises, against the United States.
For more info on the possible and probable land re-takings going on right now, check out the links and articles I've pasted below.
The following two are things I already have on my blog:
Update on Tiyan Landowners
The Federal Bitchalism
Land use depends on needs
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News
The military development plan for Guam, made public recently by the U.S. Pacific Command, lays out two military training options for the Finegayan area of Dededo -- one that requires the use of non-military land for live-fire training and one that does not.
The non-military land in question is ancestral land located between the military's South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan properties. It currently is owned by two families and the Guam government's Ancestral Lands Commission.
When asked who will decide which option to use and when that will happen, PACOM public affairs spokesman Army Maj. David Doherty yesterday said the Joint Program Office, which will be set up under the Navy, will be responsible for further refining the military's plans for Guam.
"The Guam Integrated Military Development Plan is a planning document and not a program document," he said, adding that program documents will come from the Joint Program Office.
"This is an overall strategic plan," he said.
The development plan for Guam was approved by PACOM in July, but was released this month.
In a September letter accompanying the plan, PACOM deputy commander Air Force Gen. Dan Leaf states, "This document contains the operational force laydown requirements for military development expected to occur on Guam over the next decade and beyond."
Leaf added that additional planning is needed to develop specific facility and infrastructure requirements here.
Governor's spokesman Shawn Gumataotao yesterday said military development plans are preliminary, noting that environmental assessments first must be completed during the next two years.
"In meetings with (Defense) Undersecretary Lawless, (Leaf), as well as Adm. (Joseph) Leidig, all three have committed to the governor that they would stay within the footprint of the current federal properties where Navy and Air Force activities are currently under way," he said. According to the plan, the military currently holds 40,000 acres on Guam.
During an interview with the Pacific Daily News earlier this month, Leaf said each branch of the armed services normally handles its own construction projects, equipment and training requirements, but he said the scope of the work to be done on Guam required the creation of a program office to tie everything together and to address broader issues.
It is expected to cost the Japan and U.S. governments about $10 billion to transfer 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam -- a move that is not expected to happen for at least 6 years, but which first requires additional military facilities on Guam to accommodate the shift.
"The nuts and bolts of military development on Guam will be the responsibility and authority of the Joint Program Office," Leaf said. "They will provide a key interface and work with people in the government of Guam ... It will have representatives from all the services."
According to the development plan, the military expects the current population of military personnel and dependents to increase from 14,190 to 40,380 -- an 185 percent increase. The Marines and their families would account for 18,250 of that increase.
To handle the additional personnel and their dependents, the Department of Defense would need to build more schools here, in addition to the new DODEA high school already being built at the Naval Hospital property, the plan states.
The Defense Department's school system on Guam would need two new elementary schools, a middle school, and a new northern Guam high school -- possibly at Finegayan -- to handle 4,160 school-age dependents.
The northern high school would be for students from military facilities in northern Guam, the plan states, and reduce the impact on the high school at Naval Hospital.
Military may retake land
Finegayan area to be used for firing ranges
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News
The pending transfer of thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam means the military needs to create more live-fire ranges here for training, according to a 91-page military development plan from the U.S. Pacific Command.
Among other things, it could mean mortar rounds being launched at a target range in Naval Magazine and the creation of machine gun and rifle ranges in the Finegayan area of Dededo, where the 8,000 Marines would be relocated. Every Marine must be able to use a rifle well, and their skills are tested regularly on the range.
If the Marines want to conduct "fire and movement" training at Finegayan, it also could mean hundreds of acres of recently returned ancestral land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan would once again be needed by the military. Excess military and other federal land since 2002 has been returned to its original owners or their heirs as part of the Guam government's ancestral land process.
The Guam Integrated Military Development Plan spells out two options for military weapons training in the Finegayan area -- one that uses only existing military land in the area for target practice, and one that would require additional non-military land to provide a safe zone downrange of a "fire and maneuver range" and for additional housing and other quality-of-life development for the base.
The plan states that rifle and machine gun ranges are feasible without additional land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan. It states that the military would prefer most of the training on Guam to be available at home base, "within foot-marching distance." It rules out live artillery training on Guam, and states that the former Andersen South Housing area should be used for training with blank ammunition only.
Military officials in recent months have said that none of the plans for military expansion on Guam are official, and much of what happens here depends on the amount of funding made available for the transfer.Air Force Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf, deputy commander of Pacific Command, earlier this month told Guam lawmakers "most, if not all," of the development will happen on land currently held by the military.
Caught in the middle
If the military decides it needs the land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan, caught in the middle would be ancestral landowner Jose Pangelinan, 82, and five siblings, who currently are having the property boundaries surveyed as part of the ancestral land return process.
Their land, as well as the ancestral land of the San Nicolas family, would be in the path of the military's "surface danger zone" for the "fire and movement" range, which according to the Marine Corps basic training manual for officers, is the area used when individuals, teams or squads provide cover fire while other individuals, teams or squads advance toward or assault an enemy position.
Most of the land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan is former Spanish "crown land" which means it was not privately held when it was condemned by the federal government and it is being held by the Ancestral Lands Commission to develop for the benefit of those whose family land cannot be returned.
Pangelinan yesterday said it would be an "injustice" if the military decides to again condemn his family property, and said the military should use the property it already has farther north.
"The Navy took it for a long time -- for the last 50 years. They took a lot of our property. Why in the hell do we have to go through that trouble again when we're trying to build a place ourselves?" he asked.
"My father bought that (land) when he was a young man 80 years ago. The Navy came after the war and chased us out (of) there. They gave it (back) to us, part of it, then they want to use it again?"
He said his family has spent two years working on the land return, and, "I was looking forward to finish the job."
The plan also states that the military-held area at Naval Magazine in southern Guam could be used as a range for 60mm and 81mm mortars. The ability to use that area for a mortar range is limited by the nearby storage of munitions, the plan states, so it might be necessary to remove and relocate some storage facilities there.
Camacho pleads Tiyan case in D.C.
Governor seeks compromise solution to land dispute
By Oyaol Ngirairikl
Pacific Daily News
March 2, 2006
Gov. Felix Camacho is pushing for a middle ground in the Tiyan land issue in Washington, D.C.
"Our people can have their land and we can build a road," Camacho said before the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs yesterday.
Leaders from U.S. territories, including Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa attended the annual meeting with representatives from federal agencies, such as the Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense. The interagency group's task is to recommend policy to help territories address issues that require the approval of more than one federal agency. The property along the Tiyan cliff line was among many parcels that the U.S. military took after World War II for defense purposes. In 2000, the federal government returned the property to the local government, which in turn returned the parcels to heirs of the Chamorro people documented to have owned the property.
Last year, Federal Highway Administration Division Administrator Abraham Wong sent a letter to Camacho, saying the property was given to the local government in order to build a highway, and unless the property is used as a highway, it must be returned to the federal government.
Camacho has said federal officials fail to recognize the suffering and sacrifice of Guam's people.
"Our people allowed (the) U.S. military to use this land for defense purposes, but that is clearly not their need anymore, so it rightfully belongs in the hands of our people," he said in his plea for help.
Camacho and Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo expect to meet with U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta today.
Descendants of the previous landowners have either moved in to the Tiyan homes or have started working on plans to use the property in some other manner. Some of the descendants have said they want to retain their newly received properties.
Descendants have voiced their displeasure at the turn of events that threaten to remove them from Tiyan by staging peaceful demonstrations.
Land is an emotional issue throughout Micronesia because of its ties to the island cultures of the region, said Micronesian historian, author and University of Guam professor Dirk Ballendorf.
Ballendorf said the land issue goes deeper for the Chamorro people, who have been under American tutelage for more than a century.
"Guam, in essence, is a piece of real estate owned by the United States. It's difficult for many Chamorro people to accept that and you can understand why -- it's their homeland."
Airport, feds consider plight of original landowners
by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM News
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
After decades of waiting for the return of their property in Tiyan, original landowners have become the focus of concerns by the Airport and the Federal Highway Administration. While the local government returned the Tiyan land to their rightful owners, it appears there's no security as the feds and Government of Guam already have a plan for their property.
Ten years ago the Federal Aviation Administration turned over more than 1,400 acres of property in Tiyan to the Guam International Airport Authority. Executive manager Jess Torres says that property extends from the Airport runway to the Police Chief's Office. He explained, "When it was deeded back to the airport there were certain restrictions on those deeds among other things that I'm aware of that whatever property we got back from the FAA, from the navy via the FAA to the airport is to be used for Airport needs and airport uses."
But since the deed was signed, the Camacho Administration recently returned a large portion of the Tiyan land back to original landowners. So with an agreement with the FAA to use the property for Airport operations and original landowners occupying their property, Torres admits he's in a dilemma. "That's the challenge among other things that we need to look into. The airport on that specific issue has not taken a position officially. I haven't had the opportunity to bring this before the board," he said.
When the GovGuam official was asked if original landowners who have recently moved into those Airport properties should be concerned that the Airport will have to take that back, Torres replied, "I can't speak for them but I would imagine that they should exhibit some degree of concern. But like anything else if it requires us to sit down and try to resolve it that's the direction we will go."
In fact discussions are slated to take place on Thursday. But there's a twist as the Tiyan properties in question are also the subject of concerns by the Federal Highway Administration. Department of Public Works acting director Larry Perez confirms a FHA representative will arrive on island on Wednesday for a quarterly visit.
While a portion of the talks will focus on DPW's federally funded highway projects, Perez admits the feds have received concerns from original landowners. While the local government returned their property, that same land is the part of DPW's master plan to construct an access road between Route 1 and Route 8. Perez explained, "They have concerns about how the 2020 master plan is going to be implemented and their quote unquote rights to these properties and what's the government stance on a remedy for this."
What that remedy will be and what the future holds for original landowners settled in Tiyan are questions officials hope will be answered before the end of the week.
"Fight For Tiyan is Also a Fight For Equality and Justice"
Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan
February 16, 2006
THERE has been much said and written about the recent federal attempt to confiscate our Tiyan land once more.This saga of injustice extends back to December 8th of 1945. On that date, our peaceful island was invaded and our land in Tiyan was taken at the point of a bayonet. Our people were used as slave laborers on that very property. When the U.S. Marines stormed our shores to retake our island, we thought justice would replace the bayonet. Instead, the injustice born on the tip of a bayonet is continued by the tip of a federal pen.After waiting many decades, the Tiyan families finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel, only to be told this is a mirage. Once again, the federal bureaucracy is exercising its heavy hand to kill our dreams and aspirations.In reaction, some have expressed anti-American feelings and opinions. I say this is not the way to go. We are Americans— all of us. We must demand that we be treated with the dignity and respect that any human being should be entitled and that an American should take for granted.I say we must demand our equal share of the American pie instead of opt out of the American family. We must demand equal treatment as that given to statesiders. We must demand an equal seat at the American table and an equal share of the meal of representative democracy. Something all Americans should take for granted but sadly we cannot.This must start with more home rule. These federal officials, crushing the living daylight out of our every aspiration or dreams, have been put there and kept there by people we did not elect. We, in short, are ruled by laws and a bureaucracy without our consent. If we had the democratic right to elect leaders with influence over those with such heavy handedness towards us, we would have a greater and more effective right to redress our grievances by petitioning our elected leadership for intervention. This basic human right is denied us.As a result of this unbearable situation, we are subjected to a tyranny whose practical effect is no less obscene than that found in such countries as Cuba and the former Soviet Union. Because of this undemocratic atmosphere in which we live, it is incumbent upon federal officials to exercise their power over us in consultation with us, even to a larger extent than if they were exercising the same power in any of the 50 states where democracy reigns. Instead, we are treated worst then they treat their own dogs.It is my guess that if Guam were populated mostly by European Americans, we would not be treated so shabbily. Well, we must demand our equal rights and peacefully revolt. We must shout and agitate until the blood of our patriotic sons and daughters who have given their lives for the democracy so easily and gleefully denied us, is honored, when democracy becomes ours, too. We must not waiver in this determination to be treated equally and with dignity.Many will try to deter us, and many statesiders especially, will gang up on you, like a tribe protecting its special interests, when you demand equal treatment to that given to them. They will call you racist. But do not be deterred. It cannot be racist to demand equal treatment. It cannot be racist to demand democracy. It cannot be racist to demand just treatment. It cannot be racist to point out racist treatment.In this effort, history is on our side. We will fight for Tiyan and for equality and dignity.