Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nihi Ta Fan Chat Gi Fino' Chamoru Put Hindi Movies #9

Miget: Ai adai, tinaka’ gof åpmam para ta egga ayu na mubi.

Rashne: Hunggan mas ki tres oras i tiempo-ña.

Miget: Lao, bai hu sangåni hao, gi todu i tiempon ayu na mubi –

Rashne: Hafa?

Miget: Ti hu hulat bumira i inatan-hu.

Rashne: Mana’chetton i atadok-mu siha no?

Miget: Hunggan, gof na’triste, gof na’bibu yan gof na’gaiesperånsa. Todu este siha na sinieñte manmayalaka gi este na tres oras put i lina’la’ este na gof matåtnga na låhi.

Rashne: På’go, put i bidå-ña, guaha ma sångan na mas ki taotao este na taotao. Kulang matata’chong gui’ gi i chi-ña i tinataotao.

Miget: Interesånte.

Rashne: Ya put i gaige-ña guihi guatu na lugat, siña ha li’e todu i prubleman yan i kualidåt i taotao.

Miget: Hu gof hongge enao lokkue. Gi este na mundo, todu ni’ manhihot, ni’ manggaigaige gi me’ñan i mata’-ta siña, fa’babachet. Este ni’ gaige gi halom i hinago’-ta, hinasso-ta na este ha’ todu i mindo. Lao ti ta li’li’e –

Rashne: Ya ti ta espipiha –

Miget: Hunggan, ti ta li’li’e hafa mas, hafa guaha chago ginnen i inatan-ta.

Rashne: I meggaiña na taotao, ti ma li’li’e i liga gi i gima’n iyo-ta society, iyo-ta world. Ma li’li’e’ i litratu siha na manmakakana’ gi i liga, lao manmaya’ i estrukturan i gima’. Taigue gi i inatan-ñiha i liga ni’ gumo’go’te hulo’ i atof i gima.

Miget: Lao ti taiguhi Si Gandhi. Annok ginnen i bidå-ña, ya hafa ha ayuda muna’fanhuyong, na ti ordinat na taotao gui’.

Rashne: Ti hu komprende este. Dipotsi na ta kuentos pat chatñaihon put “Hindi movies,” lao ti mismo kachidon Hindi ayu na Gandhi. Mismo kachidon Western. Ekungok ha’ nai, puru ha’ gi fino’ Ingles.

Miget: Ai, gof fotmat hao na palao’an. Siña ta alok ha’ na Hindi Si Gandhi, pues achokka’ un apå’ka fuma’tinas, Hindi didide’ lokkue’ i kachido put Guiya.
Rashne: Kalang brodie enao.
Miget: Huchom i pachot-mu osino bai hu "nonviolence" hao.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Guam and Okinawa

Japanese activists: Guam will inherent Okinawa problems
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

Japanese activists warned the people of Guam that they will inherit the problems related to military bases currently being suffered by Okinawans once the 8,000 Marines are relocated to Guam.

"The safety of Guam will be at risk. The relocation of the Marines will result in increased crimes on Guam," Hiroshi Goto, head of the Japanese Peace Organization, said through an interpreter.

Goto led a group of nine Japanese activist leaders, representing various organizations based in Kobe, Nagoya and Okinawa, who visited Guam over the weekend to meet with leaders and members of Nasion Chamoru and other local activist groups.
"We are one with Chamorro activists in fighting for the abolition of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty," Goto said.

Former senator, Yasu Take, said that besides an increase in social problems, Guam will also have to deal with environmental issues such as noise, water and pollution and other environmental contamination from military toxic waste.

"We wonder what good the military relocation will bring to Guam," Take said.
The local government and the business community are excited about the impending military buildup, which they expect to spur economic activity on Guam.

But Nobue Kugimiya, president of the Japanese Women's Organization, said the military expansion will not really benefit the general population nor does it promise a windfall for the entire business community.

"The reality is that only big companies will be allowed to take advantage of the contracts for military constructions. This is our experience in Okinawa. The small and medium size companies are pushed to the side with no benefits at all," Kigimiya said.

The Japanese government has pledged $6 billion to defray the partial cost of the Marines relocation, but Hideki Yokeo, president of the Aichi Council Against A&H Bombs, said the Japanese people did not agree to pay for such military expenditure.
Kugimiya agreed. "Japan is suffering from a long economic recession. The Japanese people are carrying many burdens and it's not fair for the Japanese government to use our tax money for the military relocation," she said.

"Through collaboration between members of the Japanese peace movement and the Guam activists, we will try to stop the relocation and tell the U.S. government to bring their troops to the states," Yokoe said.

Chamorro activists gave the Japanese delegation a cultural tour of Guam during their three-day stay on island. They left Guam yesterday.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Guam or Guatemala

I have been out in the states for school for almost five years now. Since being out here I have had alot of time to write, think and research about what life is like for Chamorros out here. At present for a summer fellowship I got from the Cal Cultures Program at UCSD, I am working on a paper which will discuss the presence or absence of "decolonization" and "political action" in Chamorro social organizing in the state. Alot of answers I've gotten over the years as to why Chamorros just don't appear to be political involved in anyways shape or for, deals with how they are comfortable with who or what they are, where they are at, and for those who left Guam, they are glad to finally be "real Americans." Other answers deal with the fact that Chamorro culture is simply food, parties and having fun, and that there's really now room for being politically active or decolonizing there with the busy fiesta schedule.

The reasons for Chamorros not being political, seems to stem from such activities not being the "way Chamorros are," a fear of being called an "activist, or that everything is just todu maolek out here, way, way better than the way things are on Guam. I mean, take for instance, voting and citizenship. On Guam, Chamorros and everyone else are not given the honor or privilege of voting for President or having a voting representative or two in the US Congress. The moment they move to the states, their citizenship and passport magically changes, and once they are a resident of a "real state" then they are full American citizens!

Bolabola este. Despite the apparent fullness of Chamorro life in the United States, in particular their citizenship, they nonetheless feel in multiple ways a similar ambiguity as those on Guam in terms of their relation to “Americaness.” Their status as a non-white minority, as well as their smallness and lack of cultural visibility and invisibility of their homeland, forces Chamorro in the states to shoulder an ill-fitting and frustrating ambiguous Americaness. Although fully enfranchised “political” Americans in the states, as non-white their appeals to belong here are nonetheless constantly checked by questions that pester all non-white groups, “where are you really from?” Yet, as a small, almost invisible ethnic group in the United States, and not part of the main four American racial food groups (white, black, brown, yellow), they are even denied the simple recognition of coming from a place or region that they actually came from.

As other ethnic groups are forced to endure statements, stares and actions which require that they return to an imagined locale where they really belong, Chamorros are constantly informed that they belong to someone else’s place or even no place at all. We can see this on a 2007 episode of the comedy satire show, The Colbert Report, which featured a hilariously painful segment on Guam. The show’s host Stephen Colbert since the beginning of his show has run a regular feature called “Better Know a District,” which consisted of mock, real interviews with various Congressional representatives. The interviews would often create uncomfortably funny situations where ridiculous questions from Colbert would elicit even more ridiculous answers from the representatives. In addition to this feature, in order to accommodate the six representatives from America’s non-voting, insular and colonial areas, the show created another exceptional segment titled “Better Know a Protectorate.”

I describe this segment as “painful” because for so many Chamorros, the oblivious willingness of people in the United States to asset what Guam is and isn’t, despite their almost full ignorance of what it is and isn’t, is not something unique to a satirical interview on Comedy Central. It is rather, the way so many exchanges in the United States take place. The Guam segment, which featured an interview with the island’s non-voting delegate Madeleine Bordallo lasted for six minutes of misinformation and misrecognition which brought tears of laughter, anger and sadness to many Chamorros eyes. Through this interview however, we can see clearly the colonial wound that both Chamorros in the states and Guam feel about their relation to the colonizer and his level of knowledge.

Colbert began his interview by greeting Bordallo with an excited “aloha” and then appeared dejected when he was told that Guam isn’t part of Hawai’i. He then went on to equate Guam’s indigenous people as being a type of food, because their name, Chamorro, “sound[s] delicious.” This statement about the tastiness of Chamorros, was followed up by a statement that “Guamanians” or non-indigenous residents of Guam, sounds like a “mental disease.” This sort of lack of knowledge takes on its own infectious forms amongst diasporic Chamorros. After recounting to me a story about how a Post Office employee in Washington state, remarked that she’s always thought Guam was a brain disease, one Chamorro who has lived in the states for the past several years, had this to say, “Out here, Guam might as well be Guatemala, and in fact how many times have idiots told me I’m from Guatemala, when I say I’m from Guam! Where do they get off? We’re their fu-king territory!"

This Chamorro anger, is fundamentally however a feeling of very intense and intimate betrayal. There is an interesting expectation amongst Chamorros in the Pacific and the states, that their relationship, their knowledge between the United States and them, should somehow be equal or should be reciprocal. People on Guam, are raised up knowing plenty about the United States, learning it in schools, watching or reading about it in the media, but sadly, there seems to be little proportional response from the American end. For Chamorros in general then, their identities seem to be continually defined and dissolved through an almost pathological American ignorance. As one Chamorro stated, “Americans who come to Guam are ignorant, people out here are ignorant…The ignorant Americans, ignorant of even other Americans like us.”

This is the source of Chamorro frustration, the bind of misrecognition whereby the Chamorro isn’t supposed to be a part of America, but at the same time isn’t allowed to be from somewhere else. The connection to the United States is clear and well documented, but military bases, court cases, nor even American citizenship does not close the circle of belonging around Chamorros or around their island. In fact, the most rudimentary and pathetic claims, can be used to raze such attempts. Take for instance, this exchange between Colbert and Bordallo, where following the delegate’s assertion that Guam is part of America, Colbert responds by asking her to point it out on a map of America.

BORDALLO: …we are a US territory.
COLBERT: But you’re not part of the United States.
BORDALLO: We are part of the United States.
COLBERT: You…I do not believe you are.
BORDALLO: Well, uh let me say that our people of Guam wouldn’t care for that kind -
COLBERT: I think Guam is probably lovely, but its not a state.
BORDALLO: But we’re still US.
COLBERT: Do you live in the United States?
BORDALLO: Yes, I live in a US territory.
COLBERT: (holds up a map of the continental United States, upside down) Could you please show me Guam on this map?
BORDALLO: Well that’s upside down.
COLBERT: (flips map right side up) Now find it
BORDALLO: If you show me a world map I will.
COLBERT: Okay, but I said, are you part of the United States?
BORDALLO: That’s correct.
COLBERT: That’s correct, so, that’s correct that you are incorrect.
COLBERT: Okay. I accept your apology.

As a place which is neither the United States, nor not the United States, Guam might as well be Guatemala. With this mixture of ambiguity and smallness, Chamorro identity therefore becomes easily swallowed up and engulfed, and a Chamorro might as well be a Hawaiian or a Filipino. We can find a incredibly ignorant example of this in the “definition” of what a Chamorro is from the website Urban Dictionary, which is meant to provide “real” meanings behind slang and taboo terms. Users are able to create their own definitions for words, and gain prominence on the site based on how many other users accept or reject the accuracy of the definition.

People. Indigenous to Guam and a couple of islands north of the Philipines [sic]. Kind of lacking in cultural identity. They are basically Filipinos that speak English [sic], but are kind of Hawaii wanabes [sic]. Pretty decent folks unless addicted to ice or some other shit.

From this perspective, it is obvious why Chamorro identity is such a precarious thing in the United States, they don’t have an identity, they are simply a mixture of other more visible groups. Although one could claim that this definition is simply wrong, it is by far the most popular definition under the seven written for the term “Chamorro” on this site. The fourth most popular definition helps reaffirm this point by defining Chamorros as “Flips who deny they Flips."

In terms of how Chamorros perceive themselves, this smallness, invisibility and simple non-existence is also felt and acted upon, in terms of working to absorb or affiliate yourself with large and more recognized groups. To one young Chamorro from Guam attending school in San Diego, this situation was urgent in terms of culture and identity. To him, “we [Chamorros] have a generation which is basically looking to be anything but Chamorro. Looking for something bigger or better because our parents didn’t give them anything.” One young Chamorro, made clear to me the difficulties of simply being Chamorro in the United States, as follows:

Growing up Chamorro in the states or from Guam in the states isn’t easy if you want a Chamorro identity. No one knows where you come from, no one really cares….If you listen to what everyone else is saying you might as well be Filipino or Asian or Mexican…Our parents don’t say much about where they came from or why they left. Other minorities have stores and movies, all we have to show is the parties.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Guam, GITMO and Diego Garcia

I'm posting below a very sobering article titled "Guantánamo's ghosts and the shame of Diego Garcia," by Andy Worthington, which deals with some of the secret and not so secret military sites around the world which help the United States run its War on Terror. The two sites mentioned, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, are both places with a vaguely similar political status as Guam, meaning ambiguous, and similarly incredible military strategic value.

It is important that Guam and those from Guam pay attention to the other political ghostly sites around the world, whose political ambiguities are outweighed only by their strategic military importance. I like to remind people, in order to make clear part of the value of Guam to the United States, that after 9/11, our island was on the list of places where the "enemy combatants" that are now collected in Diego Garcia, Guantanamo Bay and several other "secret" bases around the world, could be detained. We tend to think of ourselves as this exceptional piece of American real estate, on the edge of the world blessed to be where (with the CNMI) America begins its day. We are exceptional in so many ways, but instead of celebrating how we get to be blessed by being "America in Asia," "the tip of its spear" or a first world colony instead of a third world country, which means we get to be just a tiny bit American, we need to act and protest how we are used by America. We are exceptional in so many ways which frankly shouldn't incite any patriotism or excitement amongst Chamorros and others from Guam, yet for some reason it does.

It still makes me crazy to think that people on Guam actually celebrate and assert happily that we get to be an object, a fragment, the tip of a spear, held by someone else. Not holding the spear alongside them or with the, but a "patriotic" militarily strategic object, held and used by them.


Guantánamo's ghosts and the shame of Diego Garcia,
by by Andy Worthington

A parliamentary committee is to investigate claims that the British colony - shamefully cleared of its native population to make way for a US base - has been used to hold "ghost prisoners" in the "War on Terror."

One of the more sordid and long-running stories in Anglo-American colonial history – that of Diego Garcia, the chief island of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean – reared its ugly head again on Friday when the UK's all-party foreign affairs committee announced plans to investigate long-standing allegations that the CIA has, since 2002, held and interrogated al-Qaeda suspects at a secret prison on the island.

The shameful tale of Diego Garcia began in 1961, when it was marked out by the US military as a crucial geopolitical base. Ignoring the fact that 2,000 people already lived there, and that the island – a British colony since the fall of Napoleon – had been settled in the late 18th century by French coconut planters, who shipped in African- and Indian-born labourers from Mauritius, establishing what John Pilger called "a gentle Creole nation with thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a prison, a railway, docks, a copra plantation," the Labour government of Harold Wilson conspired with the administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to "sweep" and "sanitize" the islands (the words come from American documents that were later declassified) .

Although many islanders traced their ancestry back five generations, a British Foreign Office official wrote in 1966 that the government's aim was "to convert all the existing residents ... into short-term, temporary residents," so that they could be exiled to Mauritius. Having removed the "Tarzans or Men Fridays," as another British memo described the inhabitants, the British effectively ceded control of the islands to the Americans, who established a base on Diego Garcia, which, over the years, has become known as "Camp Justice," complete with "over 2,000 troops, anchorage for 30 warships, a nuclear dump, a satellite spy station, shopping malls, bars and a golf course." So thoroughly were the islands cleared – and so stealthy the procedure – that in the 1970s the British Ministry of Defence had the effrontery to insist, "There is nothing in our files about a population and an evacuation."

Suffering in exile, the Chagos islanders have struggled in vain to secure the right to return to their ancestral home, winning a stunning victory in the High Court in 2000, which ruled their expulsion illegal, but then suffering a setback in 2003, when, with typically high-handed authoritarianism, Tony Blair invoked an ancient and archaic "royal prerogative" to strike down their claims once more. Although the appeal court reversed this decision in May 2006, ruling that the islanders' right to return was "one of the most fundamental liberties known to human beings," it remains to be seen how this belated judicial recognition of their rights can be squared
with the Americans' insistence that their military-industrial archipelago must remain unsullied by outsiders.

In their resistance to the islanders' claims, Blair and the Foreign Office were clearly protecting the interests of their American allies, for whom the geopolitical importance of Diego Garcia as a strategic base had recently been augmented by its use – and the use of some of the ships moored there – as fabulously remote offshore prisons in which to hold and interrogate "high-value" al-Qaeda suspects.

The suspicion, which the foreign affairs committee has pledged to investigate, is that on Diego Garcia the Americans found a far more compliant partner in torture – the British government – than they found in most other locations chosen for secret CIA prisons. According to various reports over the years, the Americans' other partners in the offshore torture game – Thailand, Poland and Rumania, for example – were only prepared to be paid off for a while before they got cold feet and sent the CIA packing.

Whether the committee will probe deeply or not remains to be seen. The British-based legal charity Reprieve, which has called for such an investigation for some time, has already told the committee in a submission that it believes that the British government is "potentially systematically complicit in the most serious crimes against humanity of disappearance, torture and prolonged incommunicado detention." Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, told the Guardian that he is "absolutely and categorically certain" that prisoners have been held on the island.

When questioned by diligent MPs like Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP for Chichester, who is a staunch opponent of the CIA's use of "extraordinary rendition," the British government has persistently maintained that it believes "assurances" given by the US government that no terror suspects have been held on the island, but there are several compelling reasons for concluding, instead, that the government is actually being economical with the truth.

Studies of planes used by the CIA for its rendition program have established that on September 11, 2002, the day that 9/11 plotter Ramzi bin al-Shibh was seized after a firefight in Karachi, one of the CIA's planes flew from Washington to Diego Garcia, via Athens. Bin al-Shibh did not resurface again until September 2006, when he was moved to Guantánamo, and he has not spoken about his experiences.

Unlike his supposed mentor Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he refused to take part in his tribunal at Guantánamo earlier this year, but this is not the only piece of the torture jigsaw that has been reconstructed by diligent researchers.

In June 2006, Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who produced a detailed report on "extraordinary rendition" for the Council of Europe, also concluded that Diego Garcia had been used as a secret prison. Having spoken to senior CIA officers during his research, he told the European Parliament, "We have received concurring confirmations that United States agencies have used Diego Garcia, which is the international legal responsibility of the UK, in the 'processing' of high-value detainees."

Anecdotally, Marty's findings have been confirmed by other sources. Manfred Novak, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture, declared that he heard from "reliable sources" that the US has "held prisoners on ships in the Indian Ocean," and detainees in Guantánamo have also told their lawyers that they were held on US ships – in addition to those held on the USS Bataan and the USS Peleliu, which are discussedin my newly-published book "The Guantánamo Files." One detainee told a researcher from Reprieve, "One of my fellow prisoners in Guantánamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship; they were all closed off in the bottom. The people detained on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo."

The most incriminating evidence of all, however, has come not from opponents of Guantánamo, or, indirectly, from those subjected to some of the regime's most horrendous abuses, but from an upstanding insider. Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star US general, who is now professor of international security studies at the West Point military academy, has twice let slip that Diego Garcia has, as the administration' s opponents have struggled to maintain, been used to hold terror suspects. In May 2004, he blithely declared, "We're probably holding around 3,000 people, you know, Bagram air field, Diego Garcia, Guantánamo, 16 camps throughout Iraq," and in December 2006 he slipped the leash again, saying, "They're behind bars ... we've got them on Diego Garcia, in Bagram air field, in Guantánamo."

Do we need any further proof?

Andy Worthington' s website is: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Islamo-Fascism Week!

Its unfortunate that because of the fires that are tearing through San Diego right now, we at UCSD (which is closed for the next few days) probably won't be able to celebrate Islmo-Fascism Awareness Week. I was really looking forward to learning about how I by being leftist or critical of the current order of things, is supporting and promoting Islamo-Fascism. This week is being organized primarily by David Horrowitz's conservative college political machine, and their job in this instance, like with most others, is to connect the efforts of ethnic studies scholars, critics of domestic and international American imperialism, colonialism and exploitation, feminist scholars and people who error on the side of the "loony left" with those who are the most recent ultimate evil of the world. So the point of this week, is sure to demonize Islam, Muslims and people in the Middle East, but also to make clear that those of us who want social and economic justice and equality for women, for non-white groups in the United States and the world, be identified as the people who are working with "the enemy" and who are making us weak to we will get hit again, or worse yet, we will simply dissolve and break from within by our lost "values."

A week dedicated to something as mythical or wrong as "Islamo-Fascism" will not be much about the Middle East or Islam, but much much more about the United States itself, and defending it from itself. It will be a sort of collective amnesia or self-absolution session, where the role of the United States in causing any problems in the world, and even within its own borders, will be displaced and blamed onto those "radical" elements of its society and onto the pathology and evil of those that have been deemed America's enemies of the moment.


Published on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 by The Nation
It’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week!
by Barbara Ehrenreich

I’ve never been able to explain Halloween to the kids, with its odd thematic confluence of pumpkins, candy and death. But Halloween is a piece of pumpkin cake compared to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which commences today. In this special week, organized by conservative pundit David Horowitz, we have a veritable witches’ brew of Cheney-style anti-jihadism mixed in with old-fashioned, right-wing anti-feminism and a sour dash of anti-Semitism.

A major purpose of this week is to wake up academic women to the threat posed by militant jihadism. According to the Week’s website, feminists and particularly the women’s studies professors among them, have developed a masochistic fondness for Islamic fundamentalists. Hence, as anti-Islamo-Fascist speakers fan out to the nation’s campuses this week, students are urged to stage “sit-ins in Women’s Studies Departments and campus Women’s Centers to protest their silence about the oppression of women in Islam.”

Leaving aside the obvious quibbles about feminist pro-jihadism and the term “Islamo-Fascism,” which seems largely designed to give jihadism a nice familiar World War II ring, the klaxons didn’t go off for me until I skimmed down the list of Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week speakers and found, incredibly enough, Ann Coulter, whom I last caught on TV pining for the repeal of women’s suffrage. “If we took away women’s right to vote,” she said wistfully, “We’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream; it’s a personal fantasy of mine.”

Coulter is not the only speaker on the list who may have a credibility problem when it comes to opposing oppression of women in Islam or anywhere else. Another participant in the week’s events is former Senator Rick Santorum, whose book, It Takes a Family blamed “radical feminism” for pushing women into the workforce and thus destroying the American family. A 2005 column on that book in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, began with: “Women of America, I hope you look good in a burqa. If Senator Rick Santorum, R-PA, has his way, we will all be wearing the burqas discarded by our recently liberated sisters in Afghanistan…” (This was the before the Taliban re-emerged.)

Not quite in the burqa-promoting league, but close, is another official speaker for the week, Christina Hoff Sommers, who has made her name attacking feminism for exaggerating the problem of domestic violence and eliminating opportunities for boys. These are the people who are going to save us from purdah?

Another disagreeable feature of jihadism–anti-Semitism–is also represented on the list of speakers for Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week, again by the multi-faceted Coulter. Just last week on CNBC, she referred to America as a “Christian nation.” Asked where this left the Jews (not to mention the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans and atheists), she said they could be “perfected” by converting to Christianity.

You might imagine that this view of Jews as “imperfect” would bother Horowitz, who is famously alert to any hint of anti-Semitism on the left. But no, he defends Coulter, writing that “If you don’t accompany this belief by burning Jews who refuse to become perfected at the stake why would any Jew have a problem?” Sure, David and if that’s the threshold for intolerance, Osama bin Laden could probably win an award for humanitarianism.

Maybe none of this should be surprising. When Mel Gibson, who is not known to be a member of the Hollywood left, unleashed a drunken anti-Semitic tirade on his arresting officers, Horowitz also rose to his defense, arguing that ensuing outrage reflected a “hatred”–not of anti-Semites but of Christians.

As for the anti-feminism of Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week: This fits in neatly with the thesis of Susan Faludi’s brilliant new book, The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America. She shows that, in the wake of an attack by the ultra-misogynist Al Qaeda, Americans perversely engaged in an anti-feminist campaign of their own, calling for an immediate restoration of traditional gender roles. Coulter was part of that backlash, opining in 2002 that “feminists hate guns because guns remind them of men.”

Before you put on your costumes to celebrate Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week, let me set the record straight. American feminists do not condone, defend, or ignore jihadist misogyny. In fact, we were warning about it well before Washington turned against the Taliban and have been consistently appalled by the gender dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

But if the facts don’t fit in with Islamo-Fascist Awareness, they have to go. For example, in a May ‘07 column in The Weekly Standard Christina Hoff Sommers listed me as one of the “feckless” feminists who refuse “to pass judgment on non-Western cultures.” What? If Sommers had even done ten minutes of research she would have noticed, among other things, a column I wrote in the New York Times in 2004 stating that Islamic fundamentalism aims to push one-half of the Muslim world–the female half–”down to a status only slightly above that of domestic animals.”

Yes, feminists tend to hate war and sometimes even guns and this may be why Horowitz and company hate us. They should know, though, that we especially hate a war that seems calculated to inflame Islamic fundamentalism worldwide. If many Muslim women around the world willingly don head scarves today, it’s in part because our war in Iraq has, tragically, pushed them to value religious solidarity above their feminist instincts.

Or maybe I’m missing the point of Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week. Maybe it’s really an effort to show that our own American anti-feminists (and anti-Semites) are just as nasty as the ones on the other side. If so, good job, guys! No need to continue with the trick-or-treating, you’ve already made your point.

Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickel and Dimed (Owl), is the winner of the 2004 Puffin/Nation Prize. © 2007 The Nation

Friday, October 19, 2007

Adios Sarutobi!

I've got a busy next couple of days ahead. I'm driving up north to attend Famoksaiyan meeting on Sunday, and I've also got a paper that I'm writing on the presence and absence of decolonization amongst Chamorro organizing in the diaspora, that I've got to finish by the end of the weekend.

Don't know when I'll be able to post again for reals, so for now let me sate all of you with some Naruto videoes. I used to hate Naruto, gof taimamahlao na lahi, gof a'gang yan na'estotba. He's so annoying to read, sa' mampos ti kalamya gui', lao todu tiempo manggagana! Todu tiempo ha na'hahasso yu' put Yu-Gi-Oh GX. Ya ayu mampos gof ti ya-hu!

What I'm posting below is a battle between Orochimaru and the Third Hokage (from the TV show), and just happens to be the fight from the manga that finally got me hooked into the Naruto universe. Over the summer, my nephew Kinboy left volume 14 in my room on Guam, and over a few weeks I flipped slowly through it. Even though I knew nothing really about Naruto the manga, I could tell that this battle was epic, and so I kept wanting to see how it ends. But as it usually is with these sorts of battles in mangas, it happens over several chapters and possibly even several volumes. So I resisted as long as I could, but eventually gave in, and started buying other volumes.

Just a reminder, for those interested, in mixing manga and the Chamorro language, I've still got my Chamoru fanslation of Kekkaishi, that I'll email to anyone interested. Just let me know, and Si Yu'us Ma'se to the few who have contacted me so far.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Biba Sumahi!

På’go na ha’åni bai hu silebra i mina’sais na mes desde tumåta yu’. Esta sais na mes i idat-ña i hagga-hu, ya fihu ti hu “recognize” gui.” Todu tiempo linemlem yu’ as Guiya.

Tåya’ propiu na palabra para i sinilebra på’go sa’ ti magåhet “Biba Kumpleaños.” Lao sinembåtgo bai hu alok “Biba Sumåhi!” Nihi ta silebra på’go i binitå-mu! I kinute-mu! I sinieñte na un pega gi halom i korason-måmi kada na in atan hao.

Hu guaiya hao nene-hu, sen mahalang yu' nu Hågu, aya hu tutufong yan hu hohokka’ todu i ha’åni siha esta ki umali’e hita ta’lo.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fanslation Chamoru #1: Kekkaishi #56 - I Ettimo na Tinina

I wrote several weeks ago that I was working on a fanslation Chamoru or a Chamorro fan translated comic book to help with the work of revitalizing our language. The one I was working on was only to be the first, I'm already working on translating several more. This year is looking very busy and very academic for me, so I actually enjoy setting time aside for this, because it allows me to practice my Chamorro and also just write something a bit more relaxing than my usual stuff on decolonization, imperialism, colonialism and the production of sovereignty.

The first fanslation that I've completed is titled "I Ettimo na Tinina" or "The Last Praise," and its a chapter from the manga Kekkaishi. The story is a beautiful one in its own simple way which is why I chose it for the first one I would fanslate. So many manga stories drag on for several issues, hundreds of pages, but this one was a quiet, contained, but still in its own way deep little vignette.

If you would like to get a copy of this fanslation, just email me and I'll send it to you.

For those of you interested, my next fanslation will probably be Naruto # 131, "I Na'an Gaara," or "The Name Gaara." If there are any in particular that you'd like for me to try and fanslate, just let me know.

One more thing, apologies ahead of time as in the fanslations I occassionally make up terms or misuse terms just to be creative or create a more casual sense of the language.


Just a quick warning though, so hopefully I can avoid getting those dozen or so senseless emails I get from those I call "language losers." The Chamorro used in these fanslations are my own, and therefore may be different than the way you speak, or may be different then what is "normal" "authentic" or "natural" Chamorro. Regardless of these ideas, the Chamorro I used here is still Chamorro. It is still the language which has been passed down by our ancestors for centuries, and just as it changed over the course of those centuries, it continues to change as I type today. Although I do speak Chamorro, I do not profess to be a Chamorro language expert, and so do not criticize me for posing as one. By making these, I am doing my part in making sure our language survives and is healthy by creating ways in which young people and others who are learning, will find media through which they can practice their language comprehension and acquisition skills. If you cannot appreciate this point, but instead would like to cling to notions that I am "killing" the language by using this "word instead of that word," making the grammar too English, or killing it because I'm writing it down, when the language is "supposed to be" oral, then please do not bother emailing me. I encourage you to go out and make your own fanslations where the language will live and survive in the purity of being which only you know and have power over.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Language and Imperialism

I'm back from New York now and have plenty of things to do and stories to tell. (Doesn't it look that way from my "security" pass I got there?)

My testimony at the United Nations on the Question of Guam the day before yesterday dealt with issues of decolonization, sovereignty, American obstructionism and self-strategic self-interest, and how those of us who are indigenous people or contemporary colonial people, struggle behind a wall which the United States and other nations today seem determined to defend. For those of us behind this wall, which I called the "Fourth World Wall" we are condemned to live without independence, without sovereignty, without nationhood and without decolonization. I made connections between case of Guam and the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and noted that those who openly rejected that declaration, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, are those who stand tallest and proudest atop the Fourth World Wall, rejecting the idea that indigenous and colonized people should have self-determination or should have the right to determine their own destinies.

While in New York I still had to read and present for my Indigenous Epistemologies class that I'm taking this fall at UCSD. My assigned book was Remember This! Dakota Decolonization and the Eli Taylor Narratives by Waziyatawin Angela Wilson. There are a number of beautiful and intriguing aspects of this book which make it fall in line with my own beliefs about language and decolonization. I'm sure I'll end up speaking more about it later, but for now to give you a sense of why I might like a text such as this, the author discusses how American Indian scholars have tried to make terms in their languages for concepts such as "sovereignty" or "decolonization." One of the suggestions that they came up with, was roughly "tearing oneself away from all things white." For me, what makes this an important formulation is not the distance from "white things," but rather the highlighting of the tearing part, the active painful and potentially self-destructive element of decolonization. This is what is easily lost today in almost all articulations of what decolonization is or should be. It is not a process where one comfortably collects the fragments of a culture and sets them up nicely on their wall or mantle. It is a painful and dangerous process, which dissolves the self, breaks attachments and refdefines what is normal and what one needs to survive.
Before I get too carried away with this, let me get to the original point I intended to quickly make. In her text, Wilson used a quote from Kenyan intellectual Ngugi Thiong'o, which really hit things home for me, on why I do many of the things I do in terms of writing in Chamorro, using the language in as many ways as I can, and therefore not just promoting its preservation, but more importantly its revitalization! More on this later as well, but for now, let me share the quote.

"What is the difference between a politicians who says that Africa cannot do without imperialism and the writer who says that Africa cannot do without European languages?"

Gof impottånte este na finayi para Hita ni’ Chamoru sa’ manmadedesi hit kontra este na fuetsa lokkue’. Bai hu admite na esta kulang manmapayon i taotao-ta nu i fino’ Amerikånu, lao hafa i apas para este na tinilaika? Humuyongña na ta hahasso todue tiempo gi bula na manera na taibali hit sin i nina’i i Amerikånu siha ya tåya’ hit sin i lenguahin yan gineftao-ñiha. Estague i mas taimaolek na mata’ imperialism, i mas piligro na dinagi. Ma fa’geftao ya ma fa’mangge hit, lao gi minagahet, manmalago siha sumakke i lina’la’-ta, i tano’-ta yan todu i ginefsaga’-ta! Ya kada na ta aksepta na takhilo’ña pat baliña i lenguahin-ñiha kiñu iyo-ta, ya tåya’ hit sin Siha, ta na’i siha todu sin yinaoyao, sin minimu. Kada ta cho’gue este, ta na’mas libiånu para u ma funas hit todu.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Act of Decolonization #10: Breaking the Circle of American Greatness

Not a lot of time right now to post, my battery is running low and the wireless at the hotel where I'm at sucks.

I'm in New York for the next few days, scheduled to testify either tomorrow or the day after before the 4th Committee at the United Nations on the question of Guam.

It is an understatement of Mount Lamlam size proportions to say that I am excited and nervous about this. The United Nations as an institution has this incredible reputation for being almost completely useless, and yet at the same time so incredibly inspiring. Chamorros and others from Guam have been testifying before the UN for years seeking its help in pushing the United States to support the decolonization of Guam. As should be obvious to all and expected by all, this has not been very successful.

To date the United States' official position on Guam and its other insular "possessions," territories or colonies, mungga' maentaluyi! To be put politely, the political statuses or needs of the territories of the United States, are domestic concerns, and the United Nations has no right to interfere. This position, for anyone who knows anything put i guinifen decolonization or what hope decolonization is supposed to offer, is sen mampo kaduku yan taibali!

Decolonization, in this formal sense is not something which is to be limited by the willingness or comfort zone of the colonizer, nor is it a process meant to cram the lives, hopes, dreams, cultures and rights or colonized or indigenous people into some corner of a nation-state where they won't bother anyone. It necessarily requires that the colonizer give up the claim that they are the benevolent or necessarily limits that define and make possible the colonized. They must abandon the self-aggrandizing claims that they give life and possibility to the colonized, whether through their modern gifts of education, democracy, capitalism, or through the civilizing, whitening or militarizing of their lives and lands. Decolonization is all about life beyond the colonizer, about the life that he sought in so many ways to keep from you, and to hide beyond his back and told you did not exist, or only existed through him.

But the position of the United States is precisely a refusal to admit to the fact that it might not be the greatest thing to ever happen to the world and to Guam. Not only does it refuse to admit to anything beyond its borders or its control, but it also refuses to accept that the indigenous people or the colonized people it holds in check, have any rights which it does not give to them, or any rights which supersede or compete with the claims of the United States.

Because the United States, in dealing with its indigenous groups and its colonial citizens refuses to even if at least temporarily break the circle of its greatness, there is basically no hope right now for any formal forms of decolonization to take place for Guam.

These are the sorts of things that I'm hoping to discuss in my testimony. Wish me luck! I'm writing it tonight, while mampos sinagu yu' ya didide' maigo'-hu desde nigapna.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Why I Can't Take My Eyes Off of Paul Krugman

October 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
Conservatives Are Such Jokers

In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.

On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.

In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.

Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said Mr. Bush in July. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

And on the day of the veto, Mr. Bush dismissed the whole issue of uninsured children as a media myth. Referring to Medicaid spending — which fails to reach many children — he declared that “when they say, well, poor children aren’t being covered in America, if that’s what you’re hearing on your TV screens, I’m telling you there’s $35.5 billion worth of reasons not to believe that.”

It’s not just the poor who find their travails belittled and mocked. The sick receive the same treatment.

Before the last election, the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s and has become an advocate for stem cell research that might lead to a cure, made an ad in support of Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for Senator in Missouri. It was an effective ad, in part because Mr. Fox’s affliction was obvious.

And Rush Limbaugh — displaying the same style he exhibited in his recent claim that members of the military who oppose the Iraq war are “phony soldiers” and his later comparison of a wounded vet who criticized him for that remark to a suicide bomber — immediately accused Mr. Fox of faking it. “In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it’s purely an act.” Heh-heh-heh.

Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Guampedia: Maneguihan

For a few years now I've been working as a writer for the still be developed but hopefully soon completed website Guampedia, which promises to be an sen maolek na resource for those in Guam and elsewhere who are searching for information on all sorts of aspects of Chamorro history, language and culture. Over the summer I finished an entry on "Religion During I Tiempon Chapones" which I am very proud of, and the year before that I completed several entries about the lifestyles of the Chamorros from several hundred years ago. I am by no means the only writer on the project, several dozen people are working on different parts of who we are as a people, where we have come from, and those who have (for better or worse) come to Guam to take or share our island.

At present if you click on the link above, you'll see a skeletal outline of the project, and some demo entries of what the encyclopedia will look like. You can also find a number of easily accessible and sometimes rare images of life on Guam over the past century. Since I'm not feeling well today, and don't have many coherent thoughts to put out on my blog, just thought in order to introduce you to the website itself, I'd paste one the entries I worked on, for you to check out.

Maneguihan: Fishermen

Ancient Chamorros were avid and skilled hunters both on land and sea. As i tasi (the ocean) was their primary source of sustenance, Chamorros developed dozens of methods of eguihan (fishing). The basic methods of catching fish were etupak (line fishing), laggua (net fishing), fisga or pulus (spearfishing) and lalago (fishing by hand). These were enhanced by different techniques or devices meant to trick or lure fish.

One such device, made from coconut shells and stone was a poiu. An e’eguihan (fisherman) would lower a poiu filled with ground coconut into the water. Holes were drilled in the shell and stone, so as the poiu was raised and lowered, small bits of coconut would escape, attracting huge schools of fish. For weeks they would return to the same spot, each day lowering the poiu a little less. On the last day, a laggua achuman (large net) would be set beneath the spot, to catch the feeding fish, who were by now close to the surface.

Ancient Chamorros used fish themselves as lures. Catching them, feeding them, attaching a line to them and thus treating them as pets. Once the fish was trained and tamed it would be used to lure other fish in the Chamorro’s nets.

Ancient Chamorros also constructed structures in order to trick fish. They built fake shelters for fish to hide in at night, and then surrounded them with a net and speared them. They also built gigao made from wood or stone, which would channel fish into certain spots where they could not escape.

For centuries, visitors to Guam marveled at the skills of Chamorro maneguihan (fishermen). The fact that they were one of the few Pacific peoples who successful caught deepwater fish attests to this. According to one account, a Chamorro caught a marlin with a hook and line, and so as not to break the line, began to tire it out. A shark soon appeared and attacked the marlin. The Chamorro capsized his boat, tied his line to it and then swam out to the marlin and diverted the shark away from his prey. After the shark was gone, the Chamorro returned to his craft with the marlin and sailed home.

The labors of i tasi was divided by gender and class. Women were responsible for fishing within the reef, while men, beyond it. Furthermore, the lowest class, manachang, were prohibited from fishing.

On land, Chamorros hunted the fanihi and ayuyu. E’efanihi (fruit bat hunters) used a laggua attached to a long wooden pole to snare the creatures as they flew by searching for fruit. E’eayuyu (coconut crab hunters) used ponne’ or stale coconut meat to lure out the crabs and then sneak from behind and catch them. Since the Spanish introduction of binadu (deer) and babui (pigs), Chamorros have become skilled hunters of them as well.

In 1919, Chamorros became e’echa’ka (rat hunters) after Governor William Gilmer decreed that all Chamorro males must deliver five dead rats each month or pay a fine.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Culture of Life


Published on Monday, October 1, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Bolivia’s Evo Morales Wins Hearts and Minds in US
by Deborah James and Medea Benjamin

While Iranian President Ahmedinejad stole the headlines during the United Nations meeting last week in New York, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales - a humble coca farmer, former llama herder and union organizer - stole the hearts of the American people. At public events and media appearances, Bolivia’s first-ever indigenous president reached out to the American people to dialogue directly on issues of democracy, environmental sustainability, and social and economic justice.

Morales appeared at a public event packed with representatives of New York’s Latino, labor, and other communities, speaking for 90 minutes - without notes - about how he came to power, and about his government’s efforts to de-colonize the nation, the poorest in South America. At first, he said, community organizations did not want to enter the cesspool of politics. But they realized that if they wanted the government to act in the interest of the poor Indigenous majority, they were going to have to make alliances with other social movements, win political representation democratically, and then transform the government.

Now having been elected to office, they have a clear mandate based on the urgent needs of the majority: to organize a Constitutional Assembly to rewrite the Constitution (controversial with the traditional elites, but well on its way), engage in a comprehensive program of land reform and decriminalize the production of coca for domestic use (in progress), and reclaim control over the oil and gas industries (mission accomplished.)

While other heads of state were meeting with bankers and billionaires, Morales asked his staff to set up a meeting with U.S. grassroots leaders so he could learn about our struggles and how we could work together. The meeting included high-ranking labor leaders, immigrant organizers, Indigenous leaders, peace activists and environmentalists. “I’ve lived in New York during a lot of UN meetings, and I’ve never seen a president reach out to the labor community like Evo did today,” remarked Ed Ott, Executive Director of the New York City Central Labor Council.

The President listened patiently while U.S. organizers talked about efforts to stop the war in Iraq, injustices in the prison system, organizing efforts of low-wage immigrant workers, struggles for Indigenous rights and the difficulties of getting the Bush administration to seriously address the crisis of climate change. “For a farmer to become President, that is a dream come true!” commented Niel Ritchie, president of the League of Rural Voters. “Listening to President Morales, it’s so easy to see how our current trade model has wreaked havoc on farmers in the U.S. as well as in Bolivia.”

His most widespread outreach, however, was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who also seemed captivated by this Indigenous farmer-turned-president. Speaking through an interpreter, Morales told millions of Americans how his government’s policies have brought hundreds of millions of dollars for the nation’s poor - that would have gone to foreign corporate coffers - through the nationalization of oil and gas. Revenues from hydrocarbons, mostly natural gas, have increased from $440 million in 2004 to over $1.5 billion in 2006 - a significant amount in Bolivia’s economy, as it is an increase from 5 percent of GDP to over 13 percent of GDP. This year revenues will likely top $2 billion, he said. With a twinkle in his eye as he made a measured critique of the Bush administration’s policies, he said that in this new century, armies should save lives through humanitarian aid, not take lives.

Throughout Morales’ media appearances (including a lengthy segment on Democracy Now!), official speeches at the United Nations, and public meetings, he focused on three main points. The most salient was on the urgency of the need for comprehensive solutions to climate change while simultaneously improving the lives of the poor. “We have to be honest about the causes of this global warming. Overconsumption in the developed countries. Overpollution in the developed countries.” At the same time, he argued that the poor still need more access to energy: “Just like we fought to make water a human right, we need an international campaign to make access to energy a human right.”

These sentiments resonated with Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth US, who participated in the meeting with Morales. “We need to find solutions that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the countries of the global north, while fighting for clean energy and poverty reduction in the global south.” Van Jones, Founder of Green for All agreed. “We’re fighting for social justice and climate solutions within the U.S., and we can join forces with and learn from our allies, like President Morales, with the same vision globally.”

Morales also emphasized the importance of the struggle for the right to life, which in Bolivia refers to the fight against corporate globalization and for access to water, food, education, and health care. Specifically, before Morales was elected, Bolivia suffered tremendously under two decades of programs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, including the privatizations of water services and the hydrocarbon industry. Bolivia has now had much of its debt cancelled and is no longer bound by an IMF agreement, thanks to the anti-debt movement and a lot of help from Venezuela.

Although Bolivia is rich in natural resources, the Indigenous majority has rarely benefited from their exploitation, and the country remains vastly unequal and majority poor. The Bolivian government’s efforts to ensure a more fair distribution of the natural resource wealth has resulted in their being sued by foreign multinational corporations for “future expected profits” from their investments.

Under international trade and investment agreements, these cases are adjudicated - not in Bolivian national courts, as would be the case for national companies - but through the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID. (This is similar to the “rights” given to foreign investors to sue sovereign governments in bilateral and regional trade agreements, called “Chapter 11″ investor-to-state provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement.) ICSID does not have the transparency, checks and balances, or openness of a real judicial system, yet its findings are binding.

This past May, the Bolivian government announced it would withdraw from ICSID. Although most Americans are unaware of ICSID, it is regularly used by U.S. and European corporations to counter efforts by developing countries to re-nationalize natural resources and the provision of public services like water, according to a major report by the Institute for Policy Studies and Food and Water Watch. During his talks, Morales called on the international community to support their efforts for “an ongoing global campaign against this type of investor rule.”

The third point highlighted by Morales relates to bilateral relations with the United States. The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) currently operates an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Bolivia. (OTI offices are usually designed to help enable Washington-favored regime change; the only other one in Latin America is in Venezuela.) The Bolivian government has accused the United States of using USAID money to build opposition to the new government and its political party, the MAS, something the U.S. had done in the past. According to the Associated Press, “A declassified 2002 cable from the U.S. Embassy in La Paz described a USAID-sponsored ‘political party reform project’ to ‘help build moderate, pro-democracy political parties that can serve as a counterweight to the radical MAS or its successors.’”

But Evo’s main argument was regarding the former president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, commonly known as Goni. During the “gas wars” of 2003, troops fired on protesters, killing 67 and wounding over 300 people. Days later, Goni abdicated the presidency and flew to Washington, DC, where he now resides. The Bolivian Supreme Court is seeking extradition of Goni, and two of his former ministers, not for revenge, according to Evo, but “so that they can be held accountable for their crimes by standing trial in Bolivia.”

While it seems unlikely that the United States would consent to the extradition, considering their lack of cooperation with the Venezuelan government’s request for the extradition of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, the recent agreement of the Chilean government to extradite former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori to face trial in Peru does set a precedent that will be hard for the United States to ignore. The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has worked to educate the public about this issue, and the Center for Constitutional Rights just announced a new major lawsuit against Goni and former Minister of Defense Jose Carlos Sánchez Berzaín for compensatory and punitive damages under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) on behalf of families of the victims.

After decades of politicians who robbed the country’s coffers and left the people in poverty and despair, Bolivia now has a leader who is known to be honest, sincere and trustworthy. Bolivia also has a leader who inspires hope in the Indigenous population. This hope is now embodied, worldwide, in the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a brand-new declaration approved in the United Nations this September, after a 25-year struggle. At the grassroots meeting with Morales, Tonya Gonella Frichner, President and Founder of the American Indian Law Alliance, highlighted Bolivia’s helpful role in the passage of the declaration, and both she and Morales agreed that “the next step is ensuring that the declaration is implemented.”
Morales, anxious to apply Indigenous wisdom to solve the global climate crisis, is calling for the United Nations to convene a world indigenous forum to “foster a new approach to economic relations based on an appreciation of natural resources and not their exploitation.”

The world has much to learn from the sustainable lifestyles of Indigenous people and from the grassroots movement that has come to power in Bolivia. At a time when our planet is crying out for leadership with vision and integrity, Evo Morales and the Bolivian example should give hope to us all.

Deborah James is the Director of International Programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Medea Benjamin is a Co-Founder of Global Exchange and CodePink: Women for Peace.


Monday, October 01, 2007


The word lemlem in Chamorro, is one I rarely hear spoken, but am nonetheless regularly made to feel its meaning is being invoked. This is especially so in the diaspora, when people constantly, tragically circle around the term when they speak of Guam and how its changing, losing its culture and its flavor, and never going to be like it was when they were there.

"Lemlem" means roughly "to fail to recognize something because of how it has changed" or "to be surprised at how different something is when you see it again." I remember during my research years at the Micronesian Area Research Center, finding an article from the Guam Daily News in the late 1960's about my great grandmother's brother Jose Pangelinan De Leon, who after spending more than twenty years in the states following World War II, was returning to Guam to visit relatives. A section of the article towards its end, dealt with how surprised Jose was about the look and the composition of Guam, linemlem gui’ ni’ i matulaikå-ña Guahan.

In the diaspora it is almost commonsensical and automatic to invoke the meaning of this word when speaking about why you or your family are in the states, and why despite the fact that there are regular flights and decent opportunities on your island homeland, you aren't returning home. For these Chamorros, or even other people from Guam, who are out here, but feel ashamed because they left, lemlem becomes a way of jusitfying leaving and staying away. Although you can use lemlem to refer to how marvelled or simply surprised one is by something's changing, it can also be used to put down or show disgust or sadness at how something is just so drastically different and will never go back to the way it once was! You can find waiting in the discourse of nearly every Chamorro out there (and even sometimes on Guam), they will lament the changes that are taking place, how people are no longer close, how the island is so complicated and fast moving now, and doesn't run like it did back in the day at the pace of a bullcart. Ai linemlem yu' ni' taimanu ma tulaika Guahan, sen na'ma'ase.

For these people the island will never be the same, never the simple ways it was in their memories. In a more practical way of approaching this topic, anyone who understands the stakes of the current course that the island is on right now, knows that things will never be the same. I mean this both in terms of the local governing of the island but also the increases of military personnel and presence that the Department of Defense is proposing and currently enacting. For those who want more military, and see nothing but dollar signs and economic recovery and prosperity, then the fact that things will never be the same is fantastic! For those who see the military as posing a general political, social, economic and environmental threat to the island, the fact that things will never be the same is a terrifying and dangerous possibility!

Therefore, if you only listen to fragments of the speech of both Debbie Quinata, Maga'haga i Nasion Chamoru and Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, they might sound exactly the same. And because of this similarity of positions despite being on opposite ends of political opinion and ideology, it is very easy for the idea that things will never be the same to lose alot of its meaning or impact.

Regardless of how people may get tired of hearing this point, it is nonetheless true and is not something that should be dismissed just because people are manggagu pat mano'sun.

The island is on the edge of some very drastic, very dangerous and potentially irreversible changes. And when I say this, I am speaking somewhat to the dangers that the military poses to the island, which we are already feeling economically and politically, and in fact in health terms, have been feeling and being poisoned by for decades. But I am also talking about the dangers that we are facing in terms of private development. Over this summer, I witnessed firsthand how much literally, the landscape of Guam is being gutted, bulldozed, and built upon. The economy is shifting in anticipation of the military increase and the windfall it will bring. Land is being sold (or trying to be sold) left and right, and carpetbaggers and vultures from the United States and Asia are moving in swiftly and quietly to take advantage of our island. Corporations and franchises from the United States are moving in very quickly, to open up shop, establish themselves for the Americans that are going to be transferred to the island from Okinawa, who will be looking for friendly American businesses to spend their pay on. As the economy of Guam is already fragile, many existing retail stores and restaurants will be savaged by these franchises.

The population increase to the island is discussed with almost no sense of what it really is. If the 50,000 number is accurate. then roughly 30,000 will be military and dependents, and the remaining 20,000 will be mostly by laborers from the Philippines and Micronesia, joined by a handful of random people who follow the opening of Guam's market here from Asia and the United States. Those which have the spending power to support the burgeoning economy of Guam, will spend the majority of their money on base and not off.

Julian Aguon wrote last year in The Marianas Variety about the "Myth of Military Money" and he was right on. We are led to believe by businessmen and by military spokespeople that the Marines and their families will be lining all of our pockets, just basically handing over all of their money to the local merchants and millionaires. Such is not the case. What Guam will get from the military is what it always gets, a trickle here or a trickle there. Yes, the island will benefit from the increased tax revenues, but that is hardly the economic miracle and orgasm that everyone from the PDN to Madeleine to Gerry Cruz to David Cohen is promising. The real estate industry will most likely benefit, although these profits will go to those who already have means and money, and most likely se'se' these who don't. The rest of it will be bits and pieces here and there, the majority of which will be snatched up by the corporations, such as Hooters, Home Depot, Chilis, Ruby Tuesdays, Coldstone and Motherhood Maternity, which are all rushing to open up shop on Guam. They reason they are rushing, is because they've learned the lesson that when Americans are "overseas" they prefer to shop at places that are familiar to them.
But as the island is being developed at rapid pace, it is important to ask ourselves a number of questions, and then push ourselves to act. What is being lost in all this development? Is that which we are losing worth it? Is this development good for Guam? Or more specifically who is this development good for and not good for, and who is benefiting from all of this? Should they benefit, is it right that they benefit? If you believe that these are real questions and issues, and that things which should not be lost are being lost, or that people who should not profit are profitting, then the next step is not to simply find a way of tragically lamenting everything, while doing nothing!

Island economies, island ecosystems are fragile, everyone must do their part in order to maintain them. We know this from our history, and the ways in which people had to always come together to help each other and help shelter and feed each other. One could not thatch your roof by yourself, nor plant your farm and feed your family by yourself, there were networks which helped you do it.

Today it is very very different, because of notions of private property, and the idea that whatever is someone else's, they should do whatever they want with it. If a corporation from the United States or Asia wants to come into Guam, they simply can, no matter how large they are, or how much potential damage they can do to existing businesses, they can just set up shop without any real oversight as to how they will impact the island. Life on an island cannot be like this, we saw this with the brown tree snake and its destruction of most of the bird life on Guam, and the principle is the same for our island environmentally and economically. You cannot simply just let everyone in, and let everyone do whatever they want. There have to be limits, and there has to be a process whereby we on Guam, who are not rich, who are not powerful, whether its Home Depot, the US military or Wal Mart, can in the name of the greater good, say no!
Will this ever happen though? I doubt it. Managing an economy in a sustainable way is difficult and requires that people not see corporations as buddies or friends, or saviors or liberators, or worse yet, sites where they can, through purchasing things, make themselves more American! Furthermore, it requires that people be engaged with the future of their island, beyond just complaining about the government or voting every two years. I don't know if Guam is at that place yet, but I dream that it will be someday like that. That people will discover or re-discover community, and think differently about what their roles as people of Guam are, and become far more active in running and maintaining their island, beyond simply griping about the poor state of Guam's public toliets or complaining about litter. When that happens, then I will be overjoyed and proud to use the word lemlem to describe, with tears in my eyes, the incredible ways that Guam has changed, and how I no longer recognize it.


This post was rambling and ranting, and spurned on by my frustration and anger over the destruction of Chamorro remains that has been taking place at the construction at the Okura hotel in Tumon, and also the planned development of Gun beach into a massive condo, shopping mall and hotel structure. The Gun Beach development is especially depressing, as a beautiful part of the island will now be sacrificed to create a glut of condos that few people on Guam will be able to afford. At present, the Okura remodel has been put on hold due to insufficient funds. After reading about this, one of my friends said her mother's response was "this is the curse they get for what they have done to my ancestors."

Si Yu'us Ma'ase nu Si Fanai Castro, sa' guiya gumuahayi i litratu siha ni' manggaigaige gi este na post.


Related Posts with Thumbnails