Thursday, August 30, 2007


Gof yayas yu' på'go ya triste yu' didide', sa' ti åpmam bai hu dingu Guahan, ya bai hu dingu lokkue' i haggå-hu Si Sumåhi.

Yanggen un atan i mata-ña yan i yommok na fasu-ña siha, siempre nina’triste hao lokkue, sa’ kulang taiachaigua kinute-ña.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chule' I Amot Tata, Yettek Si Nana, Tuge' I Press Release Tata...

I always feel very strange and honored to be one of those kids who come back home to Guam, and amongst all the errands and tasks that they are required to do for family members (manyayabao, mañuñule’ åmot, manyeyettek, manhuhungok estoria siha put i tiempon åntes), I am also asked to write press releases. For those of you who don't know, my Grandfather, Tun Joaquin Flores Lujan (familian Bittot/Katson) is a bit of a celebrity on Guam, as he is the last traditional Chamorro blacksmith. I will post later I'm sure more details on what exactly this means, what tools he makes and what his many accomplishments are.

For the moment however, Grandpa is finishing off year long grant with Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) to train two students, one of whom is i che'lu-hu Si Kuri. In compiling his final report for CAHA Grandpa, wants to include some news coverage of his teaching and passing on this trade, and so he enlisted me in getting some news coverage for him.

I'm pasting below the "press release" that I wrote, ya i nobia-hu Si Rashne Limki gof umayuda yu’ i gi tumutuge’-ña este.


Hafa Adai,

My name is Michael Lujan Bevacqua. I am writing on behalf of my grandfather, Chamorro Master Blacksmith Tun Jack Lujan, to bring to your attention his life and accomplishments in the hopes that KUAM might be interested in raising awareness about the art of traditonal Chamorro tool-making.

A third generation Chamorro blacksmith, Tun Jack Lujan has been making traditional Chamorro survival tools, such as machete, fosiños, si'i, tiheras pugua' and kamyo for over 80 years. He has received numerous local and national awards for his efforts to preserve this important aspect of Chamorro culture and history, including Maga'låhi Art Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Governor of Guam, and the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C. He has also traveled around the Pacific Rim, representing Guam at different cultural fairs and events in California, Australia, Japan and New Caledonia.

Tun Jack learnt blacksmithing from his father, beginning at age 9, but spent most of his adult life as an immigration agent in Guam. However, as his father's health began to fail, Tun Jack became a full-time blacksmith hoping to pass the trade along to his children, thus keeping it alive for Guam.

With the assistance of grants from the Council on the Arts and Humanities (CAHA), Tun Jack has been able to fulfill this dream by training fourteen students in this traditional art. In fact, this year has proved to be historic for Tun Jack's teaching career - he has been fortunate to train his first female apprentice Natalie Pereda (22), as well as Jeremy Lujan Bevacqua (19), the first of his grandchildren to undertake this art.

Once again, I invite you to help raise awareness about the history and importance of traditional Chamorro blacksmithing, and hope that you will be interested in doing so...


Fortunately for Grandpa we received a quick response from KUAM News and last week they interviewed him here at the house, and filmed Kuri doing some light forging. The piece was aired on Sunday night, fortunately when most of the family on island was gathered together here at Grandma and Grandpa's house for the birthday of my nephew Kinboy. I'm pasting the article below. For those interested in the preservation of Chamorro traditions, it is important to remember the centrality of blacksmiths to the lifestyle of Chamorros prior to World War II.


Blacksmith Jack Lujan keeps Chamorro heritage alive
by Ronna Sweeney, KUAM News
Sunday, August 26, 2007

Born in 1920 and going on 88 years old, Tun Jack Lujan says under the guidance of his father he first began to learn the blacksmithing trade at the tender age of nine. But the art of the blacksmith goes back far beyond when Lujan was first starting out - he says the tools he makes first arrived to Guam in the 1500's along with Magellan. Six traditional survival tools are his signature pieces, such as machete, fosinos and kamyo.

Said Lujan, "The six tools that they created are for the needs of the family because most of them before the war spent their lives on the farm." With forging, hammering and firing, Lujan says his craft is not for the faint of heart, noting, "You have to love it because it's time consuming. Number one, when you're forging the metal it's hard. It's hot and dirty and it takes time to make quality tools."

So far Lujan has taught fourteen other men blacksmithing, and for the past nine months his grandson, Jeremy Lujan Bevacqua from California has come to learn the trade that has been passed on from generation to generation. He explained, "Tradition is meant to be carried on by family. Every family has a tradition. If you're linked to that tradition it is very good to know about it and if you can to do something about it so I feel that's what I should do."

Lujan's grandson isn't the only person currently apprenticing with him. For the first time, he's teaching a woman, Natalie Peredo, the craft as well. "I want the public to know that the reason why I continue preserving this is because my father asked me to preserve this and to keep it alive because it's a history that the Chamorro people survived when they created these tools to use," he said proudly.

Lujan has been recognized internationally for his tremendous skill, winning the National Heritage Award in Washinton, D.C. back in the mid-nineties as well as the Maga'lahi Art Award for Lifetime Achievement from the governor of Guam. Further promoting the island's heritage and through the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA), Lujan will be conducting educational presentations in island schools on blacksmithing until September 28.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hafa Na Liberasion? #11: The Invasion of Guam

Mampos yayas yu’ på’go, pues ti bei fanngge’ nuebu. Instead bai hu na’daña’ ya post, dos na tinige’-hu ginnen i ma’pos na summer. I na’an-ñiha este na dos, “Why is the grass greener and the fences better painted on the military side of the fence” yan “From Invasion of Guam to Liberation of Guam.” An dumaña’, este na dos ma sasångan bula na impottånte na kosas put i asunton linibre yan Ha’ånin Linibre.

Despensa put i yinayas-hu på’go, siempre bai hu fama’tinas nuebu na post agupa’.


Several years ago when I first began what I refer to as my "information activism" there was a Chamorro living in the states who would often email me and respond to the things I would in my zine, Minagahet.

One of his statements which stayed with me and profoundly influenced the thesis in Micronesian Studies that I was writing at the time, dealt with the patriotism of our elders. In one piece I wrote about the colonial nature of the American rule of Guam prior to World War II. The wife of a Naval Governor referred to this period from 1898-1941 as a "dictatorship American style," making the autocratic rule over Chamorro lands and lives by the US Navy sound like some 1970's variety show. The list of injustices against Chamorros of this time are many, albeit banal, and therefore often forgotten or excused. Chamorros were kept almost completely out of the governence of their island, yet subject to all the mandates of the US Navy. The health and bodies of Chamorros were controlled, especially in schools and hospitals, the tongues they could speak, the layout and make up of their yards, the lengths of their skirts, the types of plants and animals they could have. Guam during this period was run like a military base.

(if you consider the impact this type of controlled life would have on Chamorros, it explains alot of the annoying complaints about how civilians on Guam and government on Guam can never keep things as nice as the military can. Recently for example, as we were driving by Tiyan (a former Naval Air Base, but since the early 1990's returned to the Government of Guam, and in the past few years, some of the land has been returned to the original landowners), my grandfather upon seeing many of the rundown former military housing, with paint chipping away, mold, tall kala'u na cha'guan, remarked about how beautiful Tiyan once was, when the military had it, but once they returned it to the Government of Guam, it becomes like this...)

(To me, the "beauty" of militay bases, and their neat and tidy yards and glimmering houses, holds no sway. I kustumbre-ku kalang babui, pues taya' minalago'-hu para ayu na klasin ginasgas. But for grandpa, who had grown up into the restrictions of the US Navy on Guam, the appropriate matrix of cleanliness and value was clear. To keep things ridiculously sparkling and clean, even up to the point of wasting huge amounts of money on it and not to mention water and other resources, was incredibly important. For those looking for answers as to why people are the way they are on Guam today, this fact is key to the ways we live and breathe militarization daily, even if we aren't in the military.)

Returning to my initial point, life in a "dictatorship American style" was for the most part tolerable, because the Department of Defense (just like the Spanish Government before them) never truly put any significant amount of funds for development into Guam, to force any massive change. So in pre-war Guam, you could go most of your life without seeing an Marine or a sailor, except for when you entered into the two centers of US military power on Guam, Sumai and Hagatna, or if you entered what I refer to as "spheres of Naval influence" or zones such as schools, hospitals, public offices where you would be persistently combarded with civilizing lessons and techniques of control. A few families encountered trouble with the Navy, having land stolen, being discrminated against, racism, fights with military, one family reported their house being demolished by the Navy for one of their members criticizing the Naval Governor at the time.

It was these methods of surveillance and control combined with the blistering hypocrisy of the Navy (preaching freedom and democracy, lao taya' giya Guahan...), that kept most Chamorros from believing the civilizing lies of the US.

The war would of course, as I've written many many times, would change all of that, transforming a people who, save for a few Chamorro elites, could care less about being "American" into people who were desperate to be American and in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and elsewhere, willing to die to prove it.

The Chamorro that I mentioned thought my litany of Naval sins was insane, and his weak commonsensical counter-reasoning contained the standard point, the liberation of Guam. According to this Chamorro, if things were so bad under the Navy, why don't Chamorros talk about it? Furthermore, all the Chamorros who lived during that time, are incredibly patriotic, and speak nothing bad about the military, but only good, for helping Chamorros, in particular for liberating them in 1944.

The simplicity of this point, is one of its most frustrating problems. In my research I found so much rage against the United States, whether in writings, articles, interviews, so many people upset and angry at the way Chamorros have been treated. The problem always seemed to be though, bringing that disaffection out, talking to people about it, sharing it. Most manamko' would list their gripes against the military, present and historical, but then ask me not to tell anyone what they had said.

In 2003, I wrote an article titled Nihi ta Fanagululumi: Inferiority and Activism Amongst Chamorros on Guam, which was partially published in The Galaide, from the Guam Communications Network and can also be found on the Minagahet/Kopbla Amerika website. The article tackled this problem, the idea that there is no critical consciousness amongst Chamorros, or that there is no legacy of disaffection or disgust with the United States. My lens for doing this was by discussing the legacy of Chamorro activists throughout history.

It is truly depressing the type of filter that World War II and the crass, ridiculous patriotism that emerges from the war as the most natural expression of a Chamorro, creates in terms of our history and what we value from the past and what we see as important for navigating the future. Following the war, through complex, occassionally intentional occassionally unconscious processes, the gloriously uplifting things about the United States and its military become public knowledge and common sense (liberators, civilizers, keepers of order and justice). On the other hand that which casts the US in a more colonial and less benevolent light, is to be cast on the cutting room floor of history.

So, the way things are supposed to work now is that the US should be remembered as the beacon of democracy who valiantly brought it with them to Guam and shared its wonders with us (positive). We are not therefore to remember how in 1899 the United States revoked the indigenous democracy which had formed itself in response to the power vacuum left by the removal of the Spanish and the indifference of the Americans. Nor are we to remember the tokenist and empty democratic gestures that characterized the pre-war and immediate post war years, where Congresses were created for Chamorros which basically had no actual power (negative).

In the whole of Guam history over the past 100 plus years, we find enough historical material for your average Chamorro to either love or loathe the United States. The coconut Chamorro whom I mentioned, weakly attempts to show that I have gotten reality wrong, that because his elders have never spoken a word of hatred for the United States, my history is inaccurate. He is incorrect however, because he cannot actually question my sources, he can only call me wrong, because my points don't reflect the levithan which has become reality, the common sense frameworks of meaning/history/identity which make the Chamorro a constantly pathetic depedent American in waiting.

For example, if the grandchild of a Chamorro who participated in the Guam Congress Walk-Out in 1949 does not know that his ancestor spoke out and acted out against the United States, does that mean that it never happened? I have encountered so many grandchildren of these brave solons, and few of them had an inkling of this act by their ancestors. The same goes for Chamorros who protested or went on strike after World War II, demanding better wages and an end to the Navy's policies of discrimination. Do the children of these men have any idea about these actions?

The injustice happens, it is felt, it creates a wound, it is remembered by those who cannot deny it and cannot forget it, but what is to be done with it beyond these few? What can be done with it, when the world around you seems to be built upon it remaining unspoken? These acts helped shaped the world that Guam is now, yet why is it that they are passed down in timid and often whispered ways?

History is a process which we take part in making at every single moment, most especially in our inaction, in our self-censorship, in our anticipation of our statements and ideas being rejected and the pragmatic silence that follows. Following the war, as the voices of those closest to the United States rose to deafening levels, the voices of those who didn't care about the United States or did not trust or like the United States were forced into silence.

Sometimes, such as in the case of Jose Camacho Farfan they were threatened into silence, but most of the time, Chamorros chose to silence themselves, to sungon ha', sa' i mesngon u manggana'.

The case of Jose Camacho Farfan is an interesting one, because he is one such voice which has almost completely been forgotten. In 1949 Farfan questioned a group of US dignitaries visiting Guam, about the political mis-treatment of Chamorros by the United States. For this question he was labelled by the delegation as a "communist."

He was truly an interesting person in Guam's history, but sadly one which has been largely forgotten as a larger than life figure in Guam's history. I was first introduced to him in an article from the Guam Daily News in the 1970's, which discussed his meticulous note-taking about historical events and village happenings. Later I found an article, pieces of which I will share today, that he wrote for the Guam Tribune insert Panorama, published in the 1980's under the editorship of Chriz Perez Howard.

In his article titled "Guam Notes and Remembrances of Wartime" Farfan provides one of the most clearest and well balanced accounts of the pre-war and war periods on Guam. When I say clear and well-balanced, I mean that the ridiculous patriotism that often fogs the lens of everyday history in Guam is largely absent. This does not mean that Farfan is a raging anti-American communist, although this is precisely what he was labelled in postwar Guam.

After arriving at this theoretical point, we encounter an interesting paradox. Any clear and balanced re-telling or interpretation of the history of Guam over the past century, will most likely be labelled as "anti-American" or "troublemaking" by the majority of the people on Guam. Why? Because any balanced account of the last century will put the conduct of the United States into a very poor light, making its status as a colonizer undeniable and unable to be covered up by any number of welfare checks or the addition of Guam to the North American Numbering System.

But furthermore, any position which positions itself as balanced in the sense of impartial or disinterested is most likely the most active possible positions. Me and i che'lu-hu Si Kuri were discussing this a few days ago in the context of patriotism on Guam. I was talking to Kuri about my master's thesis and my discussion about Chamorro patriotism and I guess what you would call a critique of those who provide indigenous explainations for why such excited and gushing outbursts of devotion to the United States exist.

In my master's thesis defense in Micronesian Studies, this very issue came up between me and Robert Underwood, whose work I did not directly critique in my thesis, but whose work my thesis nonetheless constantly brushed up against and utilized several dozen times. In his seminal article "Red, Whitewash and Blue: Painting Over the Chamorro Experience," Underwood discusses how the expressions of uber-patriotism that take place on Marine Drive each July, where Chamorros appear to be patriotic beyond belief, aren't really celebrations of America and its greatness, but really celebrations of the Chamorro, and its endurance, its survival.

While I recognize the important truth in this position ya hu tatangga todu tiempo na magahet este, based on what I deemed important in my master's thesis, political engagement and activism working towards the decolonization of Guam, it was meaningless to me what these Chamorros were celebrating. The division between their thoughts and actions, their inwardly indigenous celebration combined with their outwardly pro-American spectacle created a balance, a middle ground, through which political engagement was irrelevant, since the position itself, becomes the post-ideological award. This middle ground that the Chamorro persists in, rational to the core and therefore not fooled by the rhetoric of liberation that the United States trots out each year, may have the game figured out, but is politically useless if this realization is to be the end result of one's analysis or of one's actions.

This middle position, this position of balance is already skewed far on behalf of the United States despite its obvious passivity. To act only in your head, to figure things out there alone is just fine with the United States, its military and the Federales. They win this battle of Guam's exploitation by our inaction, by our inward enjoyment. To wrap this up very simply, whether or not the Chamorro waving the American flag truly believes or loves the United States is irrelevant to me, what matters is what that consciousness does and moves. If it becomes nothing but a source of secret indigenous enjoyment, and its own end, then it is not resistance and it is nothing to celebrate.

Returning again to Tun Farfan his article that I will share with you is definitely of the first balanced forms. The rhetoric of American civilizing did not sway this particular bihu, as he very clearly points out the flaws in American rule on Guam and their colonial character. As he states in his article under a section titled "Invasion,"

Guam was invaded on 10 December 1941 by the Japanese, the third nation to violate the sovereign rights of the Guamanian people. The Spaniards were the first and the Americans the second.

Similarly, the war is not whitewashed and American not cleansed of all its sins, as it is for most Chamorros. Instead Farfan recounts the sins of the Americans just as clearly as he accounts the sins of the Japanese. He provides in a section titled "Manifestation of Loyalty" one of the many moments which have almost been expelled from Guam/Chamorro history, this particular instance being the retaliation against Chamorro sailors on Guam who in 1941 had petitioned the Naval Governor of Guam for the opportunity to support the United States in other locales and in other forms then merely serving on Guam. For this expression of loyalty from more than a hundred sailors who were paid less than their white counterparts and considered an inferior form of human life by US law, the Chamorros were actually punished for submitted this petition of overzealous loyalty. Here is an excerpt from Farfan's article:

“On 3 March 1941 most Guamanians were prompted with a desire to serve beyond Guam in the war efforts, 128 members of the “Irregular” Navy petitioned the Governor-Commandant, volunteering to be transferred anywhere in the event of war. Instead of praise of their action, they were black-listed for violating Section 65 of the Naval Courts and Boards…Some of the leaders and instigators were punished by reducing their proficiency rating in seamanship, mechanical ability, ability as leader of men and conduct. In retaliation, since Navy Yard Piti had the maximum members of Insulars signing the petition, their work routine was drastically changed…When the Japanese invaded Guam the work routine was intolerable, much worst. This generation of men were not old enough to taste the Spanish lashes so evaluation analysis could not determine which was more severe. The right to petition was 768 years old, as old as the Great Charter of Liberties, the Magna Carta. The U.S. Congress had no power to curtail people from petitioning the government for a redress of grievance…"

What Farfan creates through his text is that position which is constantly lost on Guam, but always sought to be remade and maintained by those such as myself, the position of the Chamorro, politically independent.

When a number of Chamorros and non-Chamorros of the patriotic persuasion read an article such as Farfan's or even some of mine, their most common response to this sort of gentle critique of the United States is as follows, "Would you rather be under the Japanese?"

(One of my most common responses to this vapid and pointless point is, "Sure, they were much much better at economic development in Micronesia than the US was.")

What should be obvious to anyone who takes this ultimatum seriously is that it assumes that regardless of the time, history or circumstances, the Chamorro must be ruled by someone! That the Chamorro must be under the authority of someone, never standing on its own!

That is the simple beauty of Farfan's position, is that the Chamorro he represents and the Chamorro he writes from, the history he creates through his writing, is a Chamorro who stands between empires, and who sees them not as liberators but as they are, as they have treated us for so long, whether it be Spain, Japan or the United States, as empires, as colonizers.

The history that Farfan represents is such a crucial one for the future of Guam, and one which must not be hidden or renounced. It is a history which produces a Chamorro who can see through the rhetoric of liberation. I am reminded here of a letter to the PDN editor from Brandon "Kaluko" Cruz during the whole Marine Drive renaming mess. In his letter Cruz tells us readers that he has a copy of a photo from World War II with Marines on the beaches of Guam holding up a sign that says “Invasion of Guam." His response to this sight was a casual but obvious, “Doesn’t that sound awkward to you? I mean if they liberated us, then they should say “liberating of Guam?"

From the history that Farfan proposes, the truth "Invasion of Guam" remains, and is not reformulated and reworked to become "Liberation of Guam." The crass strategic intentions of the United States military remain in the history of Guam and are not replaced patriotically with rhetoric of care and concern and desire for liberating loyal Chamorros which cannot be found anywhere in any military planning documents from the day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hafa Na Liberasion? #10: Hayi Ta Silelebra?

There's a possibility next year, that my master's thesis which I did in Micronesian Studies at the University of Guam a few years ago will be published into a book. With this in mind I've been reading over parts of it throughout the summer and both marvelling at how much work I did to complete that thesis, but also how stupid and lazy I could be at times. I think that the thesis will be an important contribution to the general community, even if the theoretical parts people have trouble understanding. The title itself however might intrigue, confuse and upset people, These May or May Not Be Americans: The Patriotic Myth and the Hijacking of Chamorro History in Guam.

The basic question which my thesis was written around is, how did Chamorros who were for the most part indifferent to being Americans prior to World War II, become after World War II the super-patriots that we all know today? Through an analysis of pre-war education systems and a description about how the ways in which Chamorro history has been hijacked or twisted to reflect a timeless and inevitable love and devotion to the United States. The prominence of Liberation Day in Chamorro life and "history," can help us understand this twisting, since it above all others is the event which enthusiastically transforms the Chamorro into an object of eternal dependency and need. Although the way I'm phrasing this sounds very abstract and academic, my point isn't. If Liberation Day is the central event that characterizes the relationship between the United States and Guam in good ways, such as a moment where the benevolence of Uncle Sam is best felt or that the devotion and loyalty of the Chamorro is most patriotically obvious, then why wouldn't it also be the scene or the metaphor, which best expresses or captures the worst possible aspects? Its easy to forget when staring at all the cheap flags around the island, that Liberation Day is fundamentally a celebration of Chamorro dependency and eternal debt to the United States for everything from life, to toliets, to electricity, to internet, to education and to happiness. It is an event which freezes the Chamorro in that moment when during the ravages of war it is stuck, helpless, sick and starving, waiting for the arrival of the United States to save it and set it free.

I've decided to post the introduction to the fourth chapter of my thesis here, to give a sense of my thesis but also to continue my discussion about Liberation Day and its place in Chamorro history and life. I began this chapter with the following statement, which gets to the core of what my point is. For Liberation Day, “A more important question than what we are celebrating is who are we celebrating.”

The Only Ism on Guam is Americanism
The Hijacking of Chamorro War Experiences

I hadn’t attended a Liberation Day event in more than a decade when I took my younger brother to see the parade on July 21st, 2002. I had no idea when the parade was supposed to start or end. I wasn’t even sure there was going to be a parade at all. It had been raining a lot, and most people doubted it would take place. Although my brother had lived on Guam as a small child and was raised by my grandparents, he knew little of Guam and Chamorro history, and therefore little of Liberation Day. I figured that the best way to introduce him to Liberation Day was to take him to witness its more celebratory aspects, and at the same time tell him about the ugly, less jubilant parts.

From all the fanfare leading up to the day, it was already obvious to my brother that July 21 seemed to bring out the super-patriot in everyone. American flags could be seen everywhere, as if constituting their own force and will, on everyone’s hats, shirts, and cars. Slogans of patriotic luster could be found on nearly everyone’s lips at events such as these. In 2004, I walked along the Liberation Day parade route, asking simple questions of meaning and symbology with regards to the celebration to Chamorros young and old. “Liberation Day = Freedom” was the most common proposition, however, expressions of love and loyalty to America were nearly as pervasive. “We are here today to celebrate America and the Marines and all that they’ve done for us,” one Chamorro said to me, “without them none of us would be here today!”[1] His cousin visiting from California chimed in, “America is what makes Guam great, and we love them for it!”[2]

A bubbling and energized love of America seems to create this environment of wonderful and blissful patriotism and devotion to America and to the American military. At least that’s what you would think or feel if you read the local newspaper or watched the specials on TV. According to the late Master Chamorro Storyteller, Clotilde Castro Gould, immediately following the war, liberation day was a celebration of militarism and patriotism,[3]

…during my early years, the only thing that I can remember of Liberation is fun, fun, fun, fun, fun and military, military, military, because most of the participants were military and all it did was remind you of war. With guns and ammunition…and how you fight a war, and jeeps after jeeps, army jeeps and then reconnaissance trucks…but as the years progressed…we started slowing down with the military, and it’s becoming more local…[4]

But things have changed, and certain non-military traditions have slowly evolved around the holiday. It is traditional in recent years for families to bring tents or canopies to set up along the parade route and then gather to party and celebrate, sometimes days before the event takes place. They bring meat and barbeque pits, portable tables and chairs, and plenty to eat and drink. Manggupot yan mandana.[5]

On that Liberation Day 2002 morning, despite the poor weather, the crowds were still present.[6] They were huddled beneath their tents and tarps, or sheltered behind huge banners tied to canopy posts that informed all who passed by which family is camped there and who is sponsoring them.[7] I had parked well beyond the crowds, near the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Aniguak, where we patiently waited for the parade to start. In the meantime I lectured to my brother about Liberation Day, telling him some of the problems with how the day is remembered and how it still affects our lives. My brother tried his best to listen, but a rainy day lecture isn’t much fun (especially without a parade), and after an hour or so, he pleaded for us to go. I took one last look back down Marine Drive to see if a parade was on its way, but none was. I did see something else though, something that I should have expected, but didn’t. Through the splashes of rain, I saw Chamorros celebrating.

This was Liberation Day, etched in infamy as the day Uncle Sam saved the Chamorro people. But this year I could see no parade, no floats, no public celebration, no enlisted men marching in clean suits with guns on their shoulders. On that drizzly, soaking wet morning, the Chamorros lining the streets seemed to care less that there was no parade. The United States military and all its might was the last thing on these people’s minds.

Looking at the soaking wet kids splashing in pothole puddles and watching old ladies smile and laugh as they tried to stay dry, I thought about the original liberation day, and the little liberations that went on around the island as Chamorros encountered the arriving American troops. It must have been an atmosphere much like this, with masses of Chamorros celebrating nothing more than the fact that they were still alive. Thinking about these images reminds me of Robert Underwood’s 1977 article on Liberation Day titled “Red, Whitewash and Blue,” a compelling and still-important essay that provides perhaps the first formal critique of its celebration. According to him,

On Liberation Day, when the Chamorros wave the flag and thank the Marines (and appear to be patriotic beyond belief) they are in reality celebrating themselves, and their own experiences.[8]

That dynamic described by Underwood easily came to mind as I watched these Chamorros -- some who were sons and daughters of the war generation, and others who were their children and grandchildren – celebrate. The deep and personal debts we are all taught to feel to the military and to the United States by media representations and by patriotically drenched histories had been washed away in the heavy rains. All that seemed to be left were the pieces that the patriotic myth couldn’t cut off completely, but could find ways of hijacking, namely the Chamorro pieces. Watching these Chamorro families, I realized that they were celebrating themselves, their being alive, their survival, much as Liberation Days in 1944 would have also been.

Sadly, traditional tellings of Liberation Day tend to forget this Chamorro component of liberation. Despite the dues ex machina arrival of the Americans that we learn about each July 21st, it wasn’t the American troops who endured the occupation. It wasn’t the Marines who were whipped, beaten, beheaded or humiliated. And it wasn’t the military who worked all day to feed the Japanese, and who were then forced to forage for food in the jungles to feed their families and friends.[9]

A series of simple questions dawned on me as I watched the Chamorros celebrate on that rainy Liberation Day. Why is it that the American aspect of the war, their return on July 21, is given such a holy status? Why is it that the public discourse about this day and about the war is so drenched in American patriotic rhetoric? More questions arose. Did Chamorros just forget the racism from the pre-war years? Did they forget about the oppressive fines for infinitesimal infractions or the crackdowns on culture and language? Did they forget about the Navy’s abandonment of Guam in 1941?

Yet directly following the war, even in the midst of the actual “liberation,” some forms of discontent were recorded. In her publication entitled America to the Rescue, Crecencis Cespedes reprinted dozens of newspaper articles celebrating the American return and their benevolence towards Guam and the Chamorros, all of which she collected while attending school in North Carolina during the war. One article, however, slips through the otherwise rosy, American-loving rhetoric. In it, an unnamed Chamorro bihu dares to remind his readers that life may not have been that wonderful before the war or under America. In an article entitled “Liberation,” one Chamorro said, “High Jap officers would come in and eat with us. I liked Jap equality better. The Americans made us feel as if we were inferior.”[10]

Did the war erase these things from Chamorro memories? Is that what it would take to turn an island of reluctant American nationals into the sometimes rabid jingoists and super-patriots of today?[11] According to the late Guam Senator, Maga’lahi I Nasion Chamoru and Chamoru rights activist, Angel Santos,

Our history has been rewritten. We were brainwashed into thinking we were liberated but when you look back at the facts after the war, and at what happened before the war, then you realize the lies.[12]

I saina-hu Si Anghet magahet gui’[13]. The questions racing through my mind were ultimately questions about the canons of history, historical memory, and power. And although I was painfully aware of the “lies” and “brainwashing” that accompany our history, I also realize that the presence of advanced discursive weaponry like the myth of patriotism makes any attempt to re-take or liberate this part of Chamorro history mampos mappot.[14]

This chapter will show the shifts that took place in Chamorro consciousness, shifts that enabled them to overcome the ideological distance they had kept between themselves and the American regime in pre-war Guam and later become susceptible to the control of the patriotic myth. In terms of culture and identity, the distance that Chamorros had commonly felt and experienced in the pre-war period gave way to the trauma of the war. Gone for the most part was their suspicion and their minassa’[15] towards America and its offerings that had characterized the pre-war period. During the war and escalating after Liberation, Chamorros began to look to America for salvation, both physical and mental. The deeper that Japan invaded their culture and their lives, the more they longed for American belonging and the “freedom” it implied. It is in this shift closer towards America that the patriotic myth begins to take shape around Chamorro minds and discourse.

It was this belief of belonging, facilitated by the patriotic myth, which allowed Chamorros to feel, think and act patriotically. The myth pushed Chamorros in a sense to forget the past or forget pieces of the past, thereby ignoring the misdeeds of the Navy and allowing them to accept the inferior and subordinate position that America had created for them through its pre-war discourse on things such as education or politics. With this belief and the acceptance of American hegemony, America is absolved of its sins on Guam, giving the historical past and present that the myth proposes a feeling of naturalness.

As this chapter will demonstrate, as a result of Liberation, a close emotional and psychological interaction with America emerged. This intimacy led to feelings of Americaness which after the war assisted in forming an acceptance amongst Chamorros on Guam of American hegemony over them. The establishment of this hegemony is what made possible the creation of the patriotic myth, which has facilitated the hijacking of both Chamorro discourse and the retelling of the war experience. This hijacking of the Chamorro war narrative has created a mythologically Americanized version of the war that serves as the foundation for justifying contemporary Chamorro patriotism. As the war was the most traumatic and influential event in recent Chamorro history, even the smallest shifts of value or meaning from war experiences or memories can have huge effects on both the production of knowledge/discourse and historical memory. What these shifts amount to is the elevating of the American presence in the war, at the expense of and effectively marginalizing a more Chamorro-focused or more local narrative of the war.

In my research I uncovered several basic narrative and power-based points from which meaning, value, inspiration and strength were drawn from to endure the war. In particular, these are Si Yu’us, Minetgot Chamorro, and the idea of America.[16] Throughout the war, discourses around these narratives were invoked for psychological, and therefore physical, survival. All were used to navigate the reality of daily humiliations and intimidations. This chapter will examine the ways in which these narratives were hijacked and then distorted to reflect ideals of loyalty, devotion, indebtedness, and patriotism to America.



[1] Fulanu, Interview with author, Liberation Day Parade, Marine Drive, Hagatna, Guam 21 July 2004. I cite this speaker as Fulanu because his name is unclear in my notes, as later in the day I was sprayed with water by one of the parade floats, making some of my notes difficult to read.
[2] Frank Salas, Personal Communication, Liberation Day Parade, Marine Drive, Hagatna, Guam 21 July 2004.
[3] Clotilde Castro Gould is well known on Guam and deservedly so for her many accomplishments in protecting and promoting Chamorro culture. She helped in getting Chamorro taught in schools, wrote the famous Chamorro comic strip Juan Malimanga which can still be seen in the Pacific Daily News each day (except Sundays), and was recognized by the Guam Council on Arts and Humanities Agency (GCAHA) as being a Master Storyteller of Chamorro culture.
[4] Cecilia Taitano Perez, “A Chamorro Re-Telling of Liberation,” Kinalamten Pulitikat: Sinenten I Chamorro: Issues in Guam’s Political Development: The Chamorro Perspective, (Political Status Education and Coordinating Commission, Hagatna, Guam, 1996), 73.
[5] Translation: “They party, they get together.”
[6] Benigno Palomo, “Raining on our Parade,” Guahan Magazine, (2:1) July 2004, 16.
[7] A common banner will read the family’s last name, then the nickname of their clan, and then the name of the alcoholic beverage distributor that sponsored the family and paid for their banner.
[8] Robert Underwood, “Red, Whitewash and Blue: Painting over the Chamorro Experience,” Pacific Daily News, 17 July 1977, 6.
[9] I am not saying that the hardships and experiences of Chamorros receive no reporting or are undiscussed each Liberation Day, but rather that these hardships are recounted as a vehicle for emphasizing and celebrating liberation. The liberation celebration, as this chapter will explore, does not feed into the survival of Chamorros, but rather their survival feeds into America.
[10] Crecencis Cespedes, America to the Rescue, 1994, 38.
[11] It is an interesting response to history that makes Liberation Day the central celebration of the Chamorro connection to America, rather than the moment they actually became somewhat Americans politically, with the signing of the Organic Act.
[12] Angel Santos quoted in, De Ishtar, Zohl, Daughters of the Pacific, (Australia, Spinifex Press, 1994), 80.
[13] Translation: “My elder, Anghet is correct.”
[14] Translation: “Extremely difficult.”
[15] Minassa’: “discomfort or uneasiness.’
[16] Si Yu’us: God. Minetgot Chamorro: Chamorro strength.

Lost Worlds

Published on Thursday, August 16, 2007 by Democracy Now!
Lost Worlds: Is Another World Possible?
by Naomi Klein

AMY GOODMAN from Democracy Now!: The State Department is coming under criticism this week for refusing to allow a prominent South African social scientist to enter the country. Adam Habib was scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York this past weekend, but the government refused to give him a visa.

Ironically, the theme of this year’s sociology conference was “Is Another World Possible?” At the conference, the ASA planned a series of sessions to assess the potential for progressive social change both in the US and in the world and to invite a serious discussion of “economic globalization” and its consequences.

One of the most highly anticipated sessions was to feature Jeffrey Sachs, an internationally known economist and a former special advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, versus Naomi Klein, the Canadian journalist and author. But shortly before the ASA conference opened, Sachs pulled out. Unclear if it was related to the fact that Naomi Klein takes him on in her forthcoming book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The theme of her talk was “Lost Worlds.” This is Naomi Klein.


As we think about reaching this other possible world, I want to be very clear that I don’t believe the problem is a lack of ideas. I think we’re swimming in ideas: universal healthcare; living wages; cooperatives; participatory democracy; public services that are accountable to the people who use them; food, medicine and shelter as a human right. These aren’t new ideas. They’re enshrined in the UN Charter. And I think most of us still believe in them.

I don’t think our problem is money, lack of resources to act on these basic ideas. Now, at the risk of being accused of economic populism, I would just point out that in this city, the employees of Goldman Sachs received more than $16 billion in Christmas bonuses last year, and ExxonMobil earned $40 billion in annual profits, a world record. It seems to me that there’s clearly enough money sloshing around to pay for our modest dreams. We can tax the polluters and the casino capitalists to pay for alternative energy development and a global social safety net. We don’t lack ideas. Neither are we short on cash.

And unlike Jeffrey Sachs, I actually don’t believe that what is lacking is political will at the highest levels, cooperation between world leaders. I don’t think that if we could just present our elites with the right graphs and PowerPoint presentations — no offense — that we would finally convince them to make poverty history. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe we could do it, even if that PowerPoint presentation was being delivered Angelina Jolie wearing a (Product) Red TM Gap tank top and carrying a (Product) Red cell phone. Even if she had a (Product) Red iPhone, I still don’t think they would listen. That’s because elites don’t make justice because we ask them to nicely and appealingly. They do it when the alternative to justice is worse. And that is what happened all those years ago when the income gap began to close. That was the motivation behind the New Deal and the Marshall Plan. Communism spreading around the world, that was the fear. Capitalism needed to embellish itself. It needed to soften its edges. It was in a competition. So ideas aren’t the problem, and money is not the problem, and I don’t think political will is ever the problem.

The real problem, I want to argue today, is confidence, our confidence, the confidence of people who gather at events like this under the banner of building another world, a kinder more sustainable world. I think we lack the strength of our convictions, the guts to back up our ideas with enough muscle to scare our elites. We are missing movement power. That’s what we’re missing. “The best lacked all convictions,” Yeats wrote, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Think about it. Do you want to tackle climate change as much as Dick Cheney wants Kazakhstan’s oil? Do you? Do you want universal healthcare as much as Paris Hilton wants to be the next new face of Estee Lauder? If not, why not? What is wrong with us? Where is our passionate intensity?

What is at the root of our crisis of confidence? What drains us of our conviction at crucial moments when we are tested? At the root, I think it’s the notion that we have accepted, which is that our ideas have already been tried and found wanting. Part of what keeps us from building the alternatives that we deserve and long for and that the world needs so desperately, like a healthcare system that doesn’t sicken us when we see it portrayed on film, like the ability to rebuild New Orleans without treating a massive human tragedy like an opportunity for rapid profit-making for politically connected contractors, the right to have bridges that don’t collapse and subways that don’t flood when it rains. I think that what lies at the root of that lack of confidence is that we’re told over and over again that progressive ideas have already been tried and failed. We hear it so much that we accepted it. So our alternatives are posed tentatively, almost apologetically. “Is another world possible?” we ask.

This idea of our intellectual and ideological failure is the dominant narrative of our time. It’s embedded in all the catchphrases that we’ve been referring to. “There is no alternative,” said Thatcher. “History has ended,” said Fukuyama. The Washington Consensus: the thinking has already been done, the consensus is there. Now, the premise of all these proclamations was that capitalism, extreme capitalism, was conquering every corner of the globe because all other ideas had proven themselves disastrous. The only thing worse than capitalism, we were told, was the alternative.

Now, it’s worth remembering when these pronouncements were being made that what was failing was not Scandinavian social democracy, which was thriving, or a Canadian-style welfare state, which has produced the highest standard of living by UN measures in the world, or at least it did before my government started embracing some of these ideas. It wasn’t the so-called Asian miracle that had been discredited, which in the ’80s and ’90s built the Asian “tiger” economies in South Korea and Malaysia using a combination of trade protections to nurture and develop national industry, even when that meant keeping American products out and preventing foreign ownership, as well as maintaining government control over key assets, like water and electricity. These policies did not create explosive growth concentrated at the very top, as we see today. But record levels of profit and a rapidly expanding middle class, that is what has been attacked in these past thirty years.

What was failing and collapsing when history was declared over was something very specific in 1989, when Francis Fukyama made that famous declaration, and when the Washington Consensus was declared, also in 1989. What was collapsing was centralized state communism, authoritarian, anti-democratic, repressive. Something very specific was collapsing, and it was a moment of tremendous flux.

And it was in that moment of flux and disorientation that several very savvy people, many of them in this country, seized on that moment to declare victory not only against communism, but against all ideas but their own. Now, this was the Fukuyama chutzpah, when he actually said — and it seems so strange to read it now — in his famous 1989 speech, that the significance of that moment was not that we were reaching an end of ideology, as some were suggesting, or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as Gorbachev was suggesting, it was not that ideology had ended, but that history as such had ended. He argued that deregulated markets in the economic sphere combined with liberal democracy in the political sphere represented the endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution and the final form of human government.

Now, what was interesting and never quite stated in this formulation was that you basically had two streams: you had democracy, which you can use to vote for your leaders, and then you had a single economic model. Now, the catch was that you couldn’t use your vote, you couldn’t use your democracy to reshape your economy, because all of the economic decisions had already been decided. There was only — it was the final endpoint of ideological evolution. So you could have democracy, but you couldn’t use it to change the basics of life, you couldn’t use it to change the economy. This moment was held up as a celebration of victory for democracy, but that idea, that democracy cannot affect the economy, is and remains the single most anti-democratic idea of our time.

Now, I was drawn to the slogan that was chosen for this year’s ASA gathering, because I think, as many of you know and have read in the program, it comes from the World Social Forum. And I was at the first World Social Forum six-and-a-half years ago — more than six-and-a-half years ago in January 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. I was one of only a handful of North Americans who attended. And we gathered under that same slogan, but I think it’s significant and interesting that it wasn’t posed as a question back then. There was a proud exclamation mark at the end of the sentence: “Another world is possible!”

I wrote a feature article for The Nation when I came back from Brazil, trying to explain to readers in the US — the event wasn’t covered at all in this country, although it was covered very heavily in the international press — what it felt like to be there with 10,000 other people. And a lot of people were saying that they felt like we were making history. And what I wrote was that what it really felt like was the end of the end of history. That’s what it felt like to be in that room. It was this powerful gust of wind that you could suddenly breathe more deeply. You were free to imagine. Our minds were unleashed.

And it wasn’t just Porto Alegre, because Porto Alegre was the culmination of these types of spontaneous — often spontaneous uprisings that were happening around the world whenever world leaders were gathering to advance the so-called Washington Consensus, whether it was in Seattle at the WTO meeting in 1999, whether it was the IMF/World Bank meetings a few years later in Washington, then in Genoa during the G8. And, of course, the Zapatistas and the MST in Brazil were at the forefront.

And the theme in Porto Alegre was democracy. That was the — it was about redefining democracy to include the economy: deep democracy, participatory democracy. And it was a challenge to this idea that these two streams could not intersect. The right to land as a form of democracy, the right to biodiversity, to independent media. But what was most extraordinary about Porto Alegre was that — you know, certainly there were some politicians there, there were some big NGOs there, but the people who were at the podiums, who were shaping the discussion, were the people who were the casualties of this economic model, who were themselves discarded, made landless, forced to occupy pieces of land, chop down fences and plant food and make decisions democratically.

So, you know, Jeffery Sachs talks about these model villages that he’s building in Africa. And many of them, you know, are making tremendous progress. But I can’t help thinking back to these field trips that we made in Porto Alegre to MST villages, where it was the people themselves, the landless people themselves, who were showing us their own model villages and were asking for our solidarity. And I think as sociologists, you understand this key distinction, that it was the actors who were the protagonists of their history, and that was what was historic. It was breaking the charity model in a very real way.

Now, I look at where we are now, six-and-a-half years later, and it does feel that we have moved backwards in many areas. Talk of fixing the world has become an astonishingly elite affair. Davos — now, Porto Alegre was in rebellion against the Davos Summit every year in January. This was the anti-Davos. Davos has been re-legitimized, and now solving the world’s problems appears to be a matter between CEOs and super-celebrities. And the idea that we don’t need to challenge these mass disparities, what we need is sort of noblesse oblige on a mass scale, that is very different than what we were talking about in Porto Alegre those years ago.

Now, we know what closed that window of possibility, that freedom that opened up in 2001, and it was September 11th in this country. And the window didn’t close everywhere, but it did close, at least temporarily, in North America, that sense of possibility, that putting these issues and the people affected by these policies at the center of the political debate. Now, the shock of those attacks, I think we can see with some hindsight, was harnessed by leaders in this country and their allies around the world to abruptly end the discussion of global justice that was exploding around the world. There was a door that had opened, and it was suddenly slammed shut. We heard that phrase again and again: 9/11 changes everything. And one of the first things we were told that it had changed was that trade, privatization, labor rates, all the things we were fighting for just so recently no longer mattered. It was Year Zero. Wipe the slate clean. And it was another one of these rebooting history moments. History was apparently starting all over again from scratch, and nothing we knew before mattered. It was all relegated to pre-9/11 thinking.

Now, the Bush administration justified this by saying that all that mattered was security and the war on terror. And in Canada, we were told that — by the US ambassador — that security trumps trade. That became the new slogan, that before 9/11 it was economic priorities that drove the US administration, but post-9/11 the only thing that mattered was security. So talk of economic justice, corporate greed, the loss of the public sphere, the talk of Porto Alegre, was suddenly retro, so 2001.

Now, the irony that we can now see is that, while denying the importance of this economic project, the Bush administration used the dislocation of 9/11 to pursue the very same pre-9/11 radical capitalist project, now with a furious vengeance, under the cover of war and natural disasters. So forget negotiating trade deals at the World Trade Organization. When the US invaded Iraq, Bush sent in Paul Bremer to seize new markets on the battlefields of his preemptive war. He didn’t have to negotiate with anyone. He just rewrote the country’s entire economic architecture in one swoop. But, of course, if you said that the war had anything to do with economics, you were dismissed as naïve. It was, of course, about security, about liberating Iraqis from Saddam.

Meanwhile, at home the administration quickly moved to exploit the shock that gripped the nation to push through a radical vision of hollow government, in which everything from waging wars to reconstructing from those wars to disaster response became an entirely for-profit venture. This was a bold evolution of market logic. Rather than the ’90s approach of selling off existing public companies, like water and electricity, the Bush team was creating a whole new framework for its actions. That framework was and is the war on terror, which was built to be private, privately managed from the start. The Bush administration played the role of a kind of a venture capitalist for the startup security companies, and they created an economic boom on par with the dotcom boom of the 1990s. But we didn’t talk about it, because we were too busy talking about security.

Now, this feat required a kind of two-stage process, which was using 9/11, of course, to radically increase the surveillance and security powers of the state, concentrated in the executive branch, but at the same time to take those powers and outsource them to a web of private companies, whether Blackwater, Boeing, AT&T, Halliburton, Bechtel, the Carlyle Group. Now, in the ’80s, the goal of privatization — and in the ’90s — was devouring the appendages of the state. But what was happening now is it was the core that was being devoured, because what is more central to the very definition of a state of a government than security and disaster response? Now, this is one of the great ironies of the war on terror, is that it proved such an effective weapon to furthering the corporate agenda precisely because it denied that it has, and continues to deny that it has, a corporate agenda at all.

Now, it had another benefit, too, which was the ability to pay anyone who opposed this system as aligned with potential terrorists and so on. So our movement, which was already facing extreme repression before 9/11, was put on notice as traitorous. Looking back, it’s clear that the shock, the disorientation caused by the attacks, was used to reassert this economic agenda, to reassert that consensus that never really was. The window that was opened at the end of the ’90s in the movement known as the anti-globalization movement, but which was always a pro-democracy movement, was slammed shut, at least in North America. And it was terror that slammed it shut. The alternatives started to disappear.

Now, I want to use the rest of my time just to say that this was not the first time, that this — if we look back at the past thirty-five years, we see this slamming of the door on alternatives just as they are emerging repeating again and again. Many of you were here for the opening address from Ricardo Lagos, the former president of Chile, who talked about another September 11th, which was another one of those moments, a far more significant one, when a very important democratic alternative, the real third way, not Tony Blair’s third way, but the real third way between totalitarian communism and extreme capitalism was being forged in Chile. And that was the great threat.

And we know that now through all of the declassified documents. There’s a really revealing one: a correspondence between Henry Kissinger and Nixon, in which Kissinger says very bluntly that the problem with Allende’s election is not what they were saying publicly, which was that he was aligned with the Soviets, that he was only pretending to be democratic, but that he was really going to impose a totalitarian system in Chile. That was the spin at the time. What he actually wrote was, “The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on — and even precedent value for — other parts of the world…The imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it.” So that alternative, that other world, had to be blasted out of the way, and extreme violence was used in order to accomplish that.

Now, this kind of preemptive attack on our democratic alternatives, the persistent dream of a third way, of a real third way, has come up again and again. And this is what I discuss at length in the book, but I want to mention a couple of examples — unless I’m totally out of time? OK — examples of moments where there was a similar sense of effervescent possibility of being able to breathe more and dream more fully.

One of them was in Poland in 1989. June 4th was the day of the historic elections in Poland that elected Solidarity as the new government. They hadn’t had elections there in decades. And this was the event that really set off the domino — what’s now referred to as the domino effect in Eastern Bloc countries — and ultimately resulting in the breaking apart of the Soviet Union. But it’s worth remembering what it actually looked like in June of 1989. In Poland, people didn’t think that history was over, because they had just elected Solidarity as their government. They thought that history was just beginning and that they were finally going to be able to implement what the movement, which was a labor movement, had always seen as the third way, the third way not taken. Now, Solidarity’s vision was not a rejection of socialism. They said that they were calling for “real socialism,” as socialists often do, and it was a rejection of the Communist party. They were everything that the party was not: dispersed where it was centralized, democratic where it was authoritarian, participatory where it was bureaucratic. And Solidarity had ten million members, which gave them the power to completely shut down the state.

So when people went to the polls and elected a Solidarity government, what were they voting for? What did they think they were voting for? Did they think that they were voting to become a free market economy on the model that Francis Fukuyama was talking about? No, they didn’t. They thought they were voting for the labor party that they had helped to build.

And I just want to read you a short passage from Solidarity’s economic program, which was passed democratically in 1981. They said, “The socialized enterprise should be the basic organizational unit in the economy. It should be controlled by the workers’ council representing the collective” and should be operated — cooperatively run by a director appointed through competition, recalled by the council, workers’ cooperatives. So the idea was to get the party out of control of the economy, to decentralize it and have the people who were doing the work actually control their workplaces. And they believed that they could make them more sustainable.

Now, did they get the chance to try that, to act on that vision of a worker cooperative economy as the centerpiece of the economy, to have democratic elections but still have socialism? Did they get that chance when they voted for Solidarity? No, they didn’t. What they got was an inherited debt, and they were told that the only way that they would get any relief from that debt and any aid is if they followed a very radical shock therapy program. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the person who prescribed that shock therapy program was Jeffery Sachs. And I — no, I say that because I really had hoped that we could debate these different worlds, because there are differences, there are real differences that we must not smooth over.

Now, in 2006, 40% of young workers in Poland were unemployed, 40%, last year. That’s twice the EU average. And Poland is often held up as a great success story of transition. In 1989, 15% of the Poland’s population was living below the poverty line. In 2003, 59% of Poles had fallen below the line. That’s that opening of that gap. That’s what these economic policies do. And then, we can say we’re very, very worried about the people at the bottom, let’s bring them up, but let’s be clear about what we’re talking about. These jarring levels of inequality and economic exclusion are now feeding a resurgence of chauvinism, racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, rampant homophobia in Poland. And I think we can see, actually, that it’s inevitable that this would be the case, because they tried communism, they tried capitalism, they tried democratic socialism, but they got shock therapy instead. After you’ve tried all that, there really isn’t a whole lot left but fascism. It’s dangerous to suppress democratic alternatives when people invest their dreams in them. It’s risky business.

Another one of these powerful dreams was Tiananmen Square, and it’s a sort of a very sad fluke of history that on the same day that Solidarity won those historic elections and that dream was betrayed, what they voted for was betrayed, tanks rolled in Tiananmen Square, and that was the day of the massacre: June 4, 1989. It was another bloody end to a moment of effervescent possibility.

Now, the way those protests were always reported on in the West was that students in Beijing just wanted to live like in the United States. And they, you know, put a goddess to democracy that looked a lot like the Statue of Liberty. So it was reported on CNN as just kind of pro-American–style democracy protests.

But in recent years, an alternative analysis of those events has emerged. And what we’re starting to hear from what’s being called China’s New Left, and people like Wang Hui, who’s a wonderful academic, is that this was a vast oversimplification of what was driving the pro-democracy movement in 1989 in China. What was driving it was that the government of Deng Xiaoping was radically restructuring the economy along with the lines that had been prescribed by Milton Friedman — economic shock therapy — and people were seeing their quality of life devalued. Workers were losing their rights. And they were taking to the streets and demanding democratic control over the economic transition.

So democracy wasn’t an abstract idea. It wasn’t just “We want to vote.” It was, “We want to control this transition. We want to have a say in it.” It was a direct challenge to the Fukuyama formulation, which, by the way, was made that same year: the idea that you would have these two streams and that they wouldn’t intersect.

I just want to read one other thing, which is another one of these paths not taken, because we know how that one ended in Tiananmen Square: that dream was crushed. Another historic moment of possibility, when we look back on our recent history, was 1994, when the ANC government won landslide elections in South Africa. That was a victory for people power. That was one of the most hopeful days that I can remember.

I think we should remember what South Africans thought they were voting for in those historic elections. You know, it was just portrayed as something very simple: it was an end to apartheid. But what did an end to apartheid mean to South Africans? And we can get an answer from that actually from Nelson Mandela, who wrote a little note two weeks before he was released from prison. And he wrote this note because there was a growing concern that he had been in prison so long that he had forgotten the promise of liberation, which was not just to have elections, but to change the economy of the country and redistribute the wealth. And Mandela was under so much pressure that he had to release this very short statement just to clarify this point. And what he said was, “The nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industry is the policy of the ANC and a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable in our situation. State control of certain sectors of the economy is unavoidable.” And this was a reiteration of South Africa’s Freedom Charter, which is the platform of the ANC, which calls for the national wealth of South Africa, the heritage of the country, to be restored for the people, the mineral wealth and so on.

Now, I say this because this was one of those worlds that wasn’t chosen, one of those paths that wasn’t chosen. And I spent the past four years pulling these stolen and betrayed alternatives out of the dustbin of our recent history, because I think it matters. I think it matters that we had ideas all along, that there were always alternatives to the free market. And we need to retell our own history and understand that history, and we have to have all the shocks and all the losses, the loss of lives, in that story, because history didn’t end. There were alternatives. They were chosen, and then they were stolen. They were stolen by military coups. They were stolen by massacres. They stolen by trickery, by deception. They were stolen by terror.

We who say we believe in this other world need to know that we are not losers. We did not lose the battle of ideas. We were not outsmarted, and we were not out-argued. We lost because we were crushed. Sometimes we were crushed by army tanks, and sometimes we were crushed by think tanks. And by think tanks, I mean the people who are paid to think by the makers of tanks. Now, most effective we have seen is when the army tanks and the think tanks team up. The quest to impose a single world market has casualties now in the millions, from Chile then to Iraq today. These blueprints for another world were crushed and disappeared because they are popular and because, when tried, they work. They’re popular because they have the power to give millions of people lives with dignity, with the basics guaranteed. They are dangerous because they put real limits on the rich, who respond accordingly. Understanding this history, understanding that we never lost the battle of ideas, that we only lost a series of dirty wars, is key to building the confidence that we lack, to igniting the passionate intensity that we need.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hafa Na Liberasion? #9: Manenggon Memorial

In the hopes that my daughter Sumåhi will grow up to be someone who is clear-eyed and well informed about the history of her people and her island, and not someone who speaks of yellow ribbons or tiny American flags as her most prized cultural artifacts, I took her to a number of historic sites around the island today. Although she is young and as many have told me, she won't remember anything that happens to her now, I think its more important that I get myself into the habit of communicating to her, no matter how old she is, issues of history and issues of what must be done, no matter hard or difficult it seems. I've realized that when we have kids, no matter who we are, we have a literal world of dreams of what we will do for our new baby, and what we will do to help her grow as a person. On Guam over the past few decades, so many new parents have made plans that their children will have a different life then they did, and often times make these promises to the universe in economic terms but also in cultural and languge terms. The economic promise is one which is rarely forgotten, as each generation in some way hopes to make things better for the next. In terms of culture, history and language however, these promises are quickly forgotten or cast aside, because of the difficulty in teaching children Chamorro language today, fear that they will turn into "activists" or simply fears that if they are "too" Chamorro, it will hurt their economic or social chances in life.
Although I've only been a father for a few months, I'm doing my best not to give into this logic, doing my best to ensure that they better life I am trying to prepare for Sumåhi involves her loving her island and her people, regardless of whether or not it or they are the tip of America's spear, and also using the language that she has inherited from grandparents, great-grandparents, great great grandparents, yan todu i mañainå-ña desde i tinituhun i hinanao i taotao-ta.
Here is part of the text for the panel which stands in front of the Manenggon Survivors Memorial Monument in Manenggon Valley in Yo'ña, Guam, one of the sites which I brought her to:
Ta honra yan rekoknisa i Manchamorro ni' manmaså'pet yan manmåtai guini na lugat iya Manenggon, duranten i gera. Inasi’i fumufunas i lagu gera. Mungga hit ta fanmaleffa.

July 10, 2004

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hafa Na Liberasion #8: I Kantan I Gera

Gi duranten I Tiempon Chapoñes giya Guahan, meggai na kanta siha manmafa’tinas nu i Chamoru siha. Considering the intense stress of the war and the fact that other than kantan gima’yu’us, Chamorro songs before the war were primarily Chamoritta, or improvisational songs made up at the top of one’s head to a familiar tune and then passed onto a rival or partner for the next verse. Given this context, songs and stories designed to give hope or release tension were constantly created.

Some were humorous and poked fun, not only at the Japanese, but also at Chamorros who collaborated with them. Other songs were harsh and angry, and ridiculed the Japanese and pined for an American return. All were in Chamorro, both because at the time Chamorro was the primary language or Guam, but also because anyone speaking English on Guam could be punished by the Japanese.

Most of these songs however were lost or not passed on, and the entire war period tends to be hegemonized or narrated through the elevation and immortalization of a single song, Sam, Sam, My Dead Uncle Sam Won’t You Please Come Back to Guam. A few other songs however have been recorded, but none of them are ever remembered or memorialized in the ways that the Uncle Sam song is. Below I’m pasting the lyrics to the Uncle Sam song as well as the lyrics to another song “Ilek-ña Si Sensei," which makes the same basic point as the Uncle Sam song, namely na ga’o-ñiha i Chamoru, i Amerikånu siha kinu I Chapoñes. Sigun i fino’-ña i kanta, Mantatanga todu i Chamoru esta ki matulaika i Kachap yan i Miso.

Most people reason or rationalize that the Uncle Sam song has been canonized or elevated to almost mythical status in telling this section of Chamorro history, because of how it best expresses feelings of Chamorro gratitude, devotion and love to the United States. There is some validity to this, but I would also like to suggest that the almost holy memorialization of the Uncle Sam song is not simply because it reflects the reality of Chamorro sentiments, but rather that the choosing of it by Chamorros, historians and otherwise as the song through which the war should be remembered, is itself an act of entangling Chamorros in the framework of eternal debt and dependency.

In describing Chamorro reactions to the return of the Americans in 1944, Chamorro scholar Laura Souder notes that, “In deeply felt acts of Chamorro reciprocity, our people extended the most valuable of their possessions, albeit the only possessions they had to give- land and their very spirits, to Uncle Sam.” The elevation of the Uncle Sam song is another such instance, however here it is not the land of Chamorros or even just their spirits that they offered up to the United States, but rather their very language. The thing after all which distinguishes the Uncle Sam song from nearly all other songs created by Chamorros during the war, is that it is the only one in English!

I lenguahin-ñiha, ma ofresi i Amerikånu siha, kontodu i tano’-ñiha, i antin-ñiha put i dongkolo’ na dibi na ma siesieñte. Ekungok nu i eriyå-mu på’go ya siña un hungok i hiniyong. Mamamåtkilu i bes i taotao Chamoru. Manachamalingu todu, ni' manmana'i despues di i gera, ya achokka' ta tungo' hafa debi di ta cho'gue, tribiha ta chule' tatte' hafa mismo iyo-ta.


Uncle Sam, I’m sad and lonely
Uncle Sam, come back to me
Uncle Sam, I love you only
Oh, please come back and set me free

Early Monday morning
The action came to Guam
Eighth of December
Nineteen forty-one

Oh Mr. Sam, Sam, my dear Uncle Sam
Won’t you please come back to Guam?

Our lives are in danger
You better come
And kill all the Japanese
Right here on Guam

Oh Mr. Sam, Sam, my dear Uncle Sam
Won’t you please come back to Guam?


Ilek-ña Si Sensei
Na Guiya Yu’us-måmi
Lao mandagi Si Sensei
Sa’ batchigo’
Dami Danaika
Siempre u matulaika
I misu yan i kachup
Put i pan yan matikiya
Ga’ña-ku i Amerikånu
Ki Chapanes

Friday, August 17, 2007

Yanggen Guaha Humalom Kulang Hagu gi Lina'la'-Hu...

Esta chatangmak guini giya Guahan, ya sigi di humasso i nobia-hu Si Rashne. Gof fotte este na sinieñte, pues bai hu dedicåyi gui’ ni’ este na kachido. Hu guaiya hao Baloo-hu.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hafa Na Liberasion #7: Language and Liberation

Last week I posted an newspaper advertisment written and published by the Organization of People for Indigenous Rights (OPI-R) in the Pacific Daily News in 1985. The ad, titled Kao Magåhet Na Manlibre Hit? was written in Chamorro and discussed briefly the minagahet and chatminagahet of the yearly celebration of "Liberation Day" on Guam.

For me, these sorts of writings, which are absolutely political and absolutely written in the Chamorro language, are important because they break that stupid stereotype which so many Chamorros, even those who are interested in or at least say they are interested in protecting and perpetuating the language, are stuck in believing. Namely the "socialness" of the language, or that the language is primarily a means of communicating relaxation, kicking back, family business, gossip, and other fun, but generally unimportant things. To believe that there are things, such as politics, history, activism, which Chamorro is not intrinsically or suitably meant to describe or articulate, means to condemn the Chamorro and his or her language, to that same destitute state of needing constant and perpetual liberation, in this instance by the language of the colonizer.

I remember this hitting me most surprisingly during a presentation of one of Guam's fiercest and dedicated language activists. While speaking to a group of Chamorro teachers, she said that although teaching the language to our children is important, it must never get in the way of their learning English. First off, for anyone who knows the way language actually works and how language works on Guam in particular, this idea is silly because English needs no help from anyone to be learned or taught. A child growing up on Guam today, no matter if they are Chamorro, Chuukese, Filipino or Chinese will learn functional English, they might pick up another language along the way, but they will learn English as well. Second and more importantly, if this is the base assumption that this activist works from in her efforts to revitalize the Chamorro language, then her efforts are worthless from the very beginning. Desde i tinituhun, esta taibåli i kinalamten-ña.

Its very important to note here that what this activist is saying is not that children should learn both English and Chamorro, but rather that English will be a central and necessary part of their lives, and therefore their learning of Chamorro is by definition secondary and must not get in the way of what is truly important.

The healthy revitalization of the Chamorro language however, by definition means contesting the dominance of English in Guam, its prominence and its perceived position as the language that binds all the different people in the island together, in history, in the present and into the future (as the language of globalization, commerce, etc.) To have Chamorro be a healthy and vital language on Guam again, means that the proposition that English "liberates" us from the local, the parochial, the squalor and isolation, limitedness of Guam be rejected.

To return to the socialiness of the language, whenever we say, even in jest or just in everyday speech that Chamorro isn't a language which can speak about economics, about governing the island, about feminism, about modernization, technology, globalization or anything else which seem important today or will be important in the future, we hand over our lives and the order of things to the United States. Thus, the learning and using of the English language isn't simply an issue of practicality, but one of perpetual and eternal liberation. As the lowly Chamorro from Guam moves forward in time, their language falls by the wayside, unable to keep up, unable to grasp and capture the ever-shifting and evolving world around them. As new things arrive, as new words and concepts emerge the Chamorro language cannot keep up, its too simple, too limited, too backwards, meant not for the world as Joe Murphy stated of "K-Mart and terrorism." The Chamorro therefore needs to constantly be liberated from the limits of his or her language, and saved through the primacy of the English language in Guam, from the inability to progress, to change, to evolve.

Hassuyi este i otro na biahi na un sångan na “ti pula’yon este gi fino’ Chamoru.” (ti sina ma translada)” Tåya Yu’us pat espiritu ni’ dumisisidi i chi-ña i lenguåhi-ta. Hita la’mon, Hita ni’ muna’sesetbe i lenguåhi.

Yanggen pon ko’lat i lenguåhi-ta, yanggen pon fa’sahnge gui’ gi un banda ni’ “mismo iyo-ña” hun, un pupuno’guan i lenguåhi. Buente ti un hasngon chumo’gue este, lao pon puno’ ha’ gui’ sinembatgo. Yanggen pon kebense i pumalu siha na “ti nahong i lenguåhi-ta” pat “ti mafa’tinas gui’ para i kosas på’go” mismo un sasångan na “ti kabåles i lenguåhi-ta” yan “ti magåhet na lenguahi i fino’ Chamoru-ta.” Lao gi minagahet, maseha na “ti kabåles” gi fino’ Chamoru, Hågu fuma’titinas. Nahong ha’ i lenguåhi-ta, kontat ki sigi ha’ ta tulaika gui’ ya dinuebu gui’.

Hafa Na Liberasion #6: We Cannot be Partially Free

From the August, 14, 2007 Marianas Variety


'US obligation unfulfilled'

HOW much more remarkable, and most honorable, if all the excitement, anticipation, planning and due diligence to seemingly busy work by all the leadership, both local and federal, if all this activity would be engaged in the decolonization of our homeland and our people, instead of warp speed toward complete destruction?

I almost cannot articulate the revulsion I feel as I see our leaders and business community nearly jumping for joy to cut the best deals in the further exploitation of our people, our lands, and our resources for their personal gain, with no thought to our noble quest for our fundamental, inalienable right to self-determination, so we may finally experience our full measure of freedom.

Increased militarization of Guam is surely an impediment to this quest, as is already so simply evident even in the planning of hearings and meetings, that we the people would have to make a ruckus for inclusion, for participation, however limited.

That for more thousands of military and their families and base support systems, there will be thousands upon thousands upon thousands of more people needed to meet reciprocal workforce requirements, including many more might slither up and down a metal pole. And that's just the human side.

What of weapons of mass destruction and contaminations that always accompany military conditions? How much more do we have to endure pollution and degradation of our environments and threat of nuclear annihilation?

We watch as leaders scurry about in frenzied reaction mode identifying needs: that we need better utilities infrastructure, we need better schools, we need better health systems, we need better roads, etc. We are dumbfounded by their energy to ineptness. Don't we deserve these improvements anyway? Don't we deserve an excellent quality of life anyway? Why can't we be frenzied and frazzled making these happen for ourselves, anyway?

If this massive military buildup suddenly cancels, what will we do? I submit that the United States is ALREADY OBLIGATED to support and promote the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of our people and must be compelled to meet this obligation — agreed to in the Treaty of Paris in 1898, proclaimed again in 1946, when Guam was inscribed as a Non-Self-Governing colony of the U.S. at the organizing of the United Nations – that the United States accepted as their sacred trust, that the interests of the inhabitants of Guam be paramount!

I submit further: America, if our homeland Guam is that strategically important to your defense and we are part of THE most important region in the world — if the Department of Defense will spend:

o $101.8 (up from $51.8) million to build Phase 1 of Kilo Wharf extension
o $59.4 million to improve security of electrical systems at Naval Base
o $57.2 million to replace Naval Family Housing at Naval Base
o $45.2 million for a fitness center at Naval Base
o $40.8 million to repair and upgrade the Naval Base wastewater treatment plant
o $31.4 million to build Phase I of a potable water distribution system at Naval Base
o $10 million to upgrade Northwest Field infrastructure

And these are just the amounts in DoD's fiscal year 2008 budget that we don't know are included in the $10 billion Japan will throw in for the Marines' relocation, or the $5 billion U.S. share. What also of the TRILLIONS, and counting, in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, America, again, if Guam is so important, then realize these:

o Fulfill your obligation to us that you can no longer ignore!
o Return our lands not now being used and just sitting idle, unconditionally!
o Pay war reparations with urgency!
o Include Guam in the RECA program, immediately, so our people can be helped with their suffering from nuclear radiation exposure!
o Guarantee your financial support and non-intrusion in the exercise of our political self-determination, with concurrence for the presence of United Nations experts to assist us, within the immediate future!
o Guarantee a safe and dignified evacuation of every single Chamorro from Guam and islas Marianas, as you would your families in the event of peril! Our people will not be sacrificed again in world battles for supremacy.

America, you may ask, who am I? Our own leaders would ask, who am I? Some of our own people prostituting themselves now for profit from war would ask, who am I? You already know! And The Ancient Ones will help us, their children, whose psyche is being battered, to RESIST this accelerated marginalization of our people, as we are led down the path of destruction!

Martin Luther King said: "All history teaches us that like a turbulent ocean beating great cliffs into fragments of rock, the determined movement of people incessantly demanding their rights always disintegrates the old order." We want a new order!

We cannot be partially free — we are either free, or we are not! America, put out or get out! And to those of you who would sell your very souls in selling us out, STAND DOWN! Our hands do not extend for a few pieces of silver, but rise in quest for freedom!

Guelo yan Guela, u sangan, Saina Ma'ase! Biba Chamorro! Biba Guam! Never let them rest!

Ñaton, Guahan, Harmon


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