Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Question of Guam

The press release from my visit to the UN last month. I'll be pasting soon the full testimonies from the three of us who spoken on behalf of the people of Guam.

_______________________________

FOR IMMEADIATE RELEASE

Contact: Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero
510-967-9872
Email: decolonizeguam@gmail.com

Chamorro Delegation Urges United Nations Intervention on Guam’s Decolonization, Military Buildup.

New York City, November 9, 2007 — Chamorros from Guam testified October 9, 2007 before the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee about Guam’s current political status. They insisted that the international community pay closer attention to the island as it faces a massive U.S. military build-up; accompanied by enormous indifference as to the effect this buildup will have on the island and its residents.

The Fourth Committee is responsible for overseeing the decolonization of the world’s 16 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT), including Guam.

Delegations from Guam have appealed to the United Nations for more than 20 years regarding the island’s political status and the United States’ refusal to respect the Chamorro people’s right to self-determination. Today’s delegation represents a second wave of Chamorros demanding their right to sovereignty.

Rima Miles, a Refaluwasch from the island of Saipan, speaking as a representative of the Guahån Indigenous Collective, shed light on the dangerously high level of military use the United States has planned for Guam, which it hides beneath a veneer of supposed environmental stewardship.

“Currently, we are preparing for a projected population increase of 55,000, more than a quarter of the current population, to the 212 square mile island of Guam. This is in conjunction with the growth of military facilities and the addition of new air and sea machines of destruction. At the same time, there are plans to step up the exploitation of what the US refers to as the Marianas Islands Range Complex (MIRC) through the proposed development of training areas for underwater mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare, an underwater training range, new small arms and mortar ranges and military operations on urban terrain. Public documents available at the initial MIRC meeting to fill the public in on US plans called our home a ‘century-old safe testing and training environment for the US.’ The same document also said, ‘The land, air and sea areas of the Mariana Islands are irreplaceable.’”

Marie Auyong spoke on behalf of Chamorro author and activist Victoria Leon Guerrero from the Guahån Coalition for Peace and Justice. Leon Guerrero noted that the effects of the increased US militarization of the island is further marginalizes the Chamorro people through the selling off of Guam’s land and resources.

“The militarization of our island has sparked a capitalistic boom. American companies and expensive chain restaurants like Home Depot, Chili’s and Ruby Tuesdays are being constructed on the island,” Leon Guerrero stated. “Untapped beachfront and other pristine property is up for grabs all over Guåhan. Indigenous Chamoru families struggling to survive the island’s poor economy and high cost of living have begun to sell their land to U.S. and foreign companies, who hope to profit from the military build-up. It seems as though Guåhan is for sale. The island’s most vital resources – our water, commercial port and landfill – are all slated for privatization. And U.S. officials are traveling Asia to make the sale.”

Michael Lujan Bevacqua, a scholar and activist speaking for the Chamorro organization Famoksaiyan, urged the United Nations to not allow the United States to escape its moral and legal responsibilities to the people of Guam, and encouraged that if the United States continues to engage its own forms of impolite resistance to Guam’s decolonization, then the United Nations must follow suit in impolitely insisting it take place.

“First, Resolution 1541 must be upheld and the United States must not be released from its moral and legal obligations to work with Guam and the UN in bringing about the island’s decolonization. Second, given the very open and disdainful rejection of the United States to any substantive discussion of the decolonization of Guam, there is no chance of the administering power requesting a fact finding mission to the island in order to further the decolonization process. This lack of earnestness is the largest current obstacle that we are facing. Therefore, given the principle that each of the Non-Self-Governing Territories should be dealt with on a case by case basis, it is imperative that the UN “impolitely” and without proper invitation send a fact-finding mission to Guam, in order to help jump start to this process.”


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