Wednesday, February 27, 2008

There Once Was a Man Named McCain...

I have to post this, because its so funny. I just heard it on The Colbert Report (its so nice that they have their writers back), and couldn't stop laughing.

There once was a man named Mccain
Who had the whole White House to gain.
But he was such a hobbyist
of boning his lobbyist.
So much for his '08 campaign.

This, is not the way things are shaping up however, since the lack of "sexiness" to the "lobbyist sex scandal" seems to make it for people a non-issue.

But as too few people (in particular pundits) are noting, the "lobbyist scandal" isn't so much about sex, but about the intimacy of John McCain's compaign with lobbyists, and how this will impact his attempt to portray himself as a clean politician, whose maverick status is best defined by his long-standing refusal to engage in generic Washington style corruption.

After campaigning so tirelessly against salapen Washington, try your best not to be surprised when you find out the total number of lobbyists that are working on McCain's campaign, and not just in marginal roles, but at the highest levels.

Here's a Youtube crash course for those interested in learning more about the "ethics" of John McCain. Be sure to look at the last link which is a report of George W. Bush attacking John McCain for his close ties to lobbyists in the 2000 campaign!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I may not post much for the next two weeks, because frankly they look really busy.

1. Finish up helping CHELU Inc. with the writing of their application for an Administration of Native Americans Grant to assess the state of Chamorro language in San Diego.

2. I'll be at UCLA this week as a respondent for a panel that my cousin Alfred Flores is on.

3. Early next week I'll be up at UC Riverside where I'll be giving a guest lecture for Professor Robert Perez in the Ethnic Studies department. My lecture will deal with colonialism, militarization and indigenous rights and struggles through the example of Guam.

4. Then starting Wednesday next week the conference we've been planning for months in our department is finally happening! "Postcolonial" Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World: Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies" is almost set to go. Right now, I am literally printing name tags and designing flyers and emailing out the schedules. Tomorrow morning I'll be off to pick up our poster for the conference which looks very nice.
The most recent conference schedule can be found by clicking here.
5. Then next weekend I'll be in Oberlin, Ohio for the 15th Biennial Midwest Asian American Student Conference, titled "Policy, Barriers and Justice."
6. Then during the next week I'll be way up north at CSU Stanislaus where I'll be presenting a paper at a conference there on Empire. The full title of the conference is Empire: Migrations, Diasporas, Networks and my paper's title is "The Fantasies of Empire: American Liberation and the Case of Guam."

Sorry, no more time for blog posting right now. But I will sate you all with images and flyers that we've made for the conference. Na'magof hamyo!
The first is a painting I did for my mother for Christmas a few years ago. The second is a drawing my brother did for flyers for the conference. The third is from the Koba Russell sketch book (Kiowa), graciously donated by Ross Frank from the Plains Indian Ledger Art Project. The last one is the conference logo designed by my brother Jack Lujan Bevacqua. Missing from this list is the artwork created for the official conference poster, designed and printed by Hi Rez Digital Solutions. I'll be sure to post the image soon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Kalentura Oscar

The Oscars are tonight, and so here is a look at two Oscar speeches, both very inspiring, dealing with issues of race and injustice in America.

Siempre meggai giya Amerika mampinacha ni' este dos, lao gi diferentes na manera.

Gi i pinagat Poitier, ha na'hahasso hit na ti apmam desde mampos racist yan annok na racist este na nasion. Ya meggai manungon para u tulaika ayu. Sigun i fino' Poitier, debi di ta honora este na tinilaika yan i taotao ni' manonnek para u na'guaha siha.

Gi i pinagat Brando, ha na'hahasso hit put i estao i mannatibu gi este na lugat. Ya gi 1973 manhinahatme siha ni' i sindalun i Gubetnon Amerikanu, sa' manproprotest i natibu put i direchon-niha ni' ti maresesepta.

Ti makpo' este na kinalamten, sigi ha' mamproprotest. Lao parehu i hinasson pa'go yan hagas. Ti ma kare i taotao Amerika. Kulang mambachet yan mantangga siha. Sina ma silebra ya honora Si Poitier put i bida-na. But this recognition is possible, because it points to the potential end of injustice and not its continuation.

A true change takes place, when people can stare injustice directly in the face and confront it and resolve it, and not simply look for ways to prove that it no longer exists or happens.

Accepting an Honorary Oscar
Sidney Poitier

"I arrived in Hollywood at the age of 22, in a time different than today's. A time in which the odds against my standing here tonight, 53 years later, would not have fallen in my favor. Back then, no route had been established for where I was hoping to go. No pathway left in evidence for me to trace. No custom for me to follow. Yet, here I am this evening at the end of a journey that, in 1949, would have been considered impossible and in fact might never have been set in motion were there not an untold number of courageous, unselfish choices made by a handful of visionary American filmmakers, directors, writers, and producers each with a strong sense of citizen responsibility to the times in which they lived. Each unafraid to permit their art to reflect their views and values ... They knew the odds that stood against them, and their efforts were overwhelming and likely could have proven too high to overcome. Still, those filmmakers persevered, speaking through their art to the best in all of us. And I benefited from their efforts, the industry benefited from their efforts. America benefited from their efforts, and in ways large and small, the world has also benefited from their efforts. Therefore, with respect, I share this great honor with the late Joe Mankiewicz, the late Richard Brooks, the late Ralph Nelson, the late Darryl Zanuck, the late Stanley Kramer, the Mirisch brothers, especially Walter, whose friendship lies at the very heart of this moment. Guy Green, Norman Jewison, and all others who have had a hand in altering the odds, for me and for others.

Without them, this most memorable moment would not have come to pass. And the many excellent young actors who have followed in admirable fashion might not have come, as they have, to enrich the tradition of American filmmaking, as they have.

I accept this award in memory of all the African-American actors and actresses who went before me in the difficult years. On whose shoulders I was privileged to stand to see where I might go. My love and my thanks to my wonderful, wonderful wife, my children, my grandchildren, my agent and friend, Martin Baum, and finally, to those audience members around the world who have placed their trust in my judgment as an actor and filmmaker. I thank each of you for your support through the years. Thank you."


March 30, 1973
That Unfinished Oscar Speech
By MARLON BRANDO (given by Sacheen Littlefeather)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ''Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.''

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one's neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we're not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don't concern us, and that we don't care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.


I couldn't resist this either, Jon Stewart on Larry King Live the other day. Gof na'chalek. He looks so calm and relaxed now, siempre sen magof gui' na ma bira tatte iyo-na "writers" siha. Ai bei sangan hao, annai taigue i writers, guaha gof mappot para bei egga' iyo-na show, sa' ti na'chalek. Estaba annok gi i mata'-na kulang gaige gui' gi entre "a rock" yan "a hard place."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stuff I'm Reading...

First time I've ever tried this, but I always see other bloggers doing it, and I want to try it out.

I'm going to list some posts that I've come across lately on other blogs, which have caught my eye, and are insightful, creative or at least interesting.

I'm usually not much for peer pressure, but I'll take this one, because I'm working on a grant right now for CHELU Inc. and so I don't have much time for writing.

Didide' malangu yu' lokkue', ya kulang ti tunanas i hinasso-ku. Yanggen bai hu kefangge', siempre machalapon yan ti komprendeyon.

In case the links below don't sate your thirst for good blog posts, here's a picture of me presenting at the Pacific Worlds and America West Conference a few weeks ago at the University of Utah. Thanks to Trangdai Tranguyen for the photo:

Seeing this photo has actually made me freak out and realize that in three years I will be 30 years old. Lana, kulang bibihu i siniente-ku pa'go, ei adai.

the maile vine - Drinking the Obama Kool-aid
Yes he can! (But why?)

La Chola - the other brown candidate
You won't believe who it is!!!!

Brady Braves - Obama: Pro-"Indian" or Pro-"Indian" Player?
Is Obama truly a friend to the Native American community?

The Command Post - Decolonization of Guam
A serviceman on Guam takes up the cause of the island's decolonization

Galaide diaries - Australia-Guam Connection
One of the key reasons why being a territory sucks

Indigenous Issues Today - February 5-11 : Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues
This blog is a great resource for information on indigenous people around the world.

Long Road - Rudd: "sorry"
On the recent apology by the Australian Government

Avant Dork - 7,999
If only it was just "8,000"

Decolonize Micronesia - Worst Person of the Year, Micronesia Edition
Inspired by Keith Olbermann, now Micronesia has its own...

The Saipan Blogger - Practicing My Culture
A few thoughts on indigenous conservation

Famoksaiyan Blog - Guma'famoksaiyan
The conference date is set, Guma'Famoksaiyan is happening May 23-25, 2008 in San Diego!

Guam Loves Jason Rosenberg - Gov. Dean in Guam
Howard Dean visits Guam.

(No, this is not a photo of Howard Dean visiting Guam. Just something I found on ebay.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Two Scandals: What do Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds have to do with Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton?

I'll give you a clue to the question that is the title of this post, and the clue has to do with the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas scandal.


I hope you're not too confused already, because although nearly all of my readers have heard of Hillary and Barack and their battle to be the heir to all the history that the 2008 Presidential race will make, I'm sure very few of you know who Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds are.

But the point I'd like to try to make in this post, is precisely about the history this election is going to make, and the simplistic way the media and most of the people in the United States understand political identities. In Ethnic Studies, we talk often about intersectionality in order to understand the complexity of society. So for instance, oppression and identities aren't defined in singular ways, even though this is often how we discuss them. It is not simply that Hillary Clinton is a woman, or even just a white woman, but she instead represents a nexus of number of different intersections, different ways of defining or locating people in social/political ways. Common intersections are race, class, gender, sex, sexuality, nation, religion, etc.

The media seems determined to turn this race into a battle royale or death match between two intersections, race and sex. Over the next few months, they will lock horns and duel, and eventually for the Democratic party, on or the other (inattelong pat pinalao'an) will triumph. Then whichever wins, will move onto the next stage of the battle, and against the Republican nominee another battle will take place, between sex (linahi kontra pinalao'an) or race (inattelong kontra inapa'ka).

As Jon Stewart points out in his interview a few days ago on Larry King Live, this match will be decided through the intersection which America is most ready for, or which one they can handle the most effectively without freakin out.

Naturally these sorts of conflicts or debates are felt to be natural. For the Democrats each of these intersections represents groups which have been historically kept out of power, and so they seem to battle on a level playing field against each other. Part of the reason for this illusion of parity, is that both candidates, Clinton and Obama, seem determined to reap the spoils of the particular intersection they are stuck carrying the banner of progress for, without ever wanting to seem as if they are invoking in any constructive way the injustice that that intersection represents. Both Obama and Clinton are building huge popular support because of the way they might seem to represent a sort of resolution of the history of oppression or injustice that their intersection represents.

To put it in overly simplistic terms, if you want to end racism or sexism, vote for either of these people. Gary Younge from The Nation has written several excellent pieces on the national acceptance of Obama. As a black person from Britain, Younge writes that white people from the United States are often initially uncomfortable around him, until they hear his British accent. Once they hear that he is from somewhere else, and not an African American, they seem to relax, to ease up, because his existence (contemporary or historical) is not something they are responsible for, and if either existence is or has been unjust, it is not something that they can be blamed for. Obama, as an African American whose father is from Africa, represents a similar sort of racial shortcut. He has the look of a black man in the United States, but while he is a forced heir to the history of racial injustice in the United States, it is not his legacy, but one which he is shouldered with because of the color of his skin.

I noted that the terms I was using earlier were overly simplistic. Obviously there is more to Obama than simply this desire for racial harmony, but I still think that this should be thrown into the mix of why he is such an attractive candidate for so many different types of people in the United States. He does represent a change, many different types of change, but one type of change which is supposedly taking place through his acceptance, isn't actually taking place, and thats a shift in race thinking in America. This could also be said in terms of Clinton and thinking about gender and sex in America.

Both Clinton and Obama have received incredible amounts of criticism the moment they bring up the idea that race or sexism play any substaintive role in the way they have been treated or mistreated. If a huge shift in the consciousness of America is taking place with the possible election of its first black male or white female president, then shouldn't the country be opening up in terms of discussing the role of racism and sexism in structuring daily life? I can understand the hope associated with electing either of these candidates, but if people aren't willing to open up about why it is so "historic" that these two can be elected, then so what? What is the point if the histories and contemporary realities of racism and sexism can only be integrated into national narratives, through the form of terribly things that happened in the past, but thankfully today can now be overcome through a simple vote?!

I think there is something more to this. That there is something productive in terms of why these two candidates and their positions and identities are played against each other like this.


This is where Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh come in. Because race and sex aren't simply equally opposed opponents which fight while the people of a nation sit on the sidelines waiting for one to emerge the victor. They are ideas which can be used to subvert each other, against each other, they can be the solution to the problem of the other, or that acceptance of one can lead to the erasure or forgetting of the other.

In January of this year, during the Gavaskar-Border Test Tournament between Australia and India, an incident took place between Andre Symonds, an Australian all rounder and Harbhajan Singh, an Indian bowler. The umpiring in the 2nd Test up to this point had clearly been in favor of Australia, and so tensions were very high. While Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh were batting, a brief exchange took place between Symonds and Singh, where Singh reportedly called Symonds a "monkey." This led to a month long scandal where India threatened to pull out of the entire series, and Harbhajan was threatened with a 2-5 test match ban for his conduct. When the charges were eventually dismissed and downgraded to a fine, Australian players responded with outrage at the power that India has over cricket and the rules of cricket because of the incredible economy it represents.

In terms of the cricket rules, calling Symonds a monkey potentially merited a Level III offense under the rules of conduct for the International Cricket Council, because players are prohibited from ""using language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethic origin". What Singh was eventually slapped with was a Level 2.8 offense for using "obscene, offensive or seriously insulting language."

While perhaps not the most craven or depraved insult ever spoken on a cricket field, there are two reasons why this was significant. First during a ODI series the previous year in India, Singh and another Indian bowler Sreesanth, had taunted Symonds calling him something similar, which was then taken up by the crowd in Mumbai, who then began yelling racial insults such as "monkey" at Symonds. Second, although Australia is known for being i mas apa'ka na team in cricket today, Andrew Symonds is their only non-white player, and so although if Harbhajan had yelled "monkey" at Adam Gilchrist it might not have resulted in this sort of firestorm.

Response from commentators was universal, in that if this sort of remark was made than it should be punished. These sorts of kinasse' atdet are not sportsmanlike, not appropriate and racist. These insults have no place in cricket. People should not be denigrated based on the color of their skin or their ethnicity.

I think that we can all applaud this, and accept this as true or important. But, as anyone who knows about sports trash talking or what sort of insults opponents hurl at each other during games, this consensus around the undesirability of invoking race, is built upon a tacit acceptance of invoking sex or gender.

Eventually the issue was determined to be far more complex than Singh simply yelling at Symonds (there was a possibility that Symonds had provoked it). But in terms of what Singh actually said, Sachin Tendulkar who was the closest to hearing it, claimed that he had said in his language, which absolutely meant to disparage Andrew Symond's mother. This sort of thing happens all the time, in fact what Singh said is an equivalent of the "MF" word in English or close to chada nana-mu in Chamorro.

Take for instance this exchange between Shahid Afridi and Gautam Gambhir from the 3rd ODI in Kanpur from their series last year.

Although Singh did receive a fine for this sort of language, one has to wonder if all this fuss and drama would have been created if from the onset the accusation was that he had used "offensive sexist language" instead of "racist language." But thats the point isn't it? To invoke gender and sexuality in these terms isn't considered to be an exceptional case, in the way use of a "racist" term is. In fact to attack one's mother or to feminize someone in an "insulting" way isn't even called a "sexist" offense, it is simply called an offense or offensive.

In this scandal then, although both forms of comments are considered to be inappropriate or offensive, there is one which is appalling and absolutely unacceptable, while there is the other which is offensive yes, but all in all, acceptable.

Here, sex and race aren't simply fighting over which is more offensive, or in the case of Clinton and Obama, which is more appealing to Americans. But rather, they are two intersections, two tropes, two social axises through which the world and people are structured, whereby one is chosen and the other isn't just forgotten or dismissed, but that which is chosen in such a way that the other can be dismissed or diminished.


To make this point more clearly, let me bring in the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas scandal from more than 17 years ago.

I hope that everyone has some sense of what the scandal between these two is, but for those who don't I'll give a little bit of background. In 1991, Bush the First nominates Clarence Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court Bench. As part of the nominating process an FBI investigation takes place, and eventually allegations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, who had worked for Thomas years earlier were leaked to the media. During her testimony, Hill described numerous inappropriate and sexually charged statements, comments and overtures made by Thomas to her,

"He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes....On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess....Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office, he got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, 'Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?'."

Allegations of sexual harassment also came from another former subordinate of Clarence Thomas, Angela Wright, who was fired by Thomas when he worked at the EEOC.

Naturally, Thomas flatly rejected and denied all these claims, and against the assertion of Hill as a victim of sexual harassment, or sexism, Thomas articulated himself as a clear victim of racism. As Thomas was being questioned/interrogated by white liberal senators and was being attacked by white liberal groups (such as NOW), and through all of this being characterized as a sexist, aggressive pig, used the claim of racism to defend himself or deflect these criticisms (a quick note, the NAACP was also against the confirmation of Thomas):

This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.

Now here, we see those familiar enemies of race and sex once again locked in a battle over supremacy, which matters more, which is more offensive, which is worse to invoke or use to oppress someone? The logic here might seem obvious, since I've already alluded to it. Thomas is eventually confirmed by a narrow 52-48 vote, whereby 11 Democrats crossed party lines to affirm and 2 Republicans crossed to reject. Thomas uses race as a tactical strategy in order to defend himself and absolve himself of the sexual crimes he may have committed.

But there is more to this than Thomas simply getting himself off the hook. The impact of the Anita Hill testimony had a far greater reach than simply the hearings itself. It resonated across offices across the United States, and gave the issue of sexual harassment and appropriate behavior in offices amongst men and women a whole new character. This hearing helped open up the issue of sexism in the workplace, it in a way threatened to reveal a rupture which was always already there, a problem with the existing comfort zone of so many offices and so many men. It threatened to problematize the positions that women in certain occupations or offices are forced into, the ways they are treated which are often so naturalized, that both men and women may seem them as unfortunate, but don't see them as anything which could or should ever really change.

It is not so much that Thomas use of race allowed just himself to escape the charge of sexism, but in the way it was accepted by the Senate itself and by people across the country as something which rang true, it potentially allowed everyone to escape the charge of sexism. By accepted Thomas' claim that this was a indeed a matter that was "about race" they could take the intersectional aspect out of it, they could erase the sexism part.


Although I am far more of an Obama supporter than a Clinton supporter for the Democratic nomination, with these issues I've discussed in mind, I have to pause. Is the widespread support for Obama another instance of a willingness to take up the issue of race, because it will forestall dealing with the issue of sex or gender?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Life of Liberations and Takeovers

When your political status can be discussed so plainly in the ominous terms that the letter below uses, then you need to recognize that a changed is needed. And if the ominous terms and imagery of being powerless and about to be taken over, comes from the nation which you look to for all things and see as being the source of life on Guam, then a re-evaluation of the very meaning of political life and death is absolutely necessary.

What sort of life is this on Guam, when its defined constantly through an endless series of "liberations" and "takeovers?"


Federal takeover inevitable
Guam Variety
Friday February 8, 2008

During the last two weeks, several historic milestones have evolved.

First, we witnessed the failed attempts of the Democratic eight majorities to wrest the Legislature's control by the six minorities.

Secondly, our delegate from Washington delivers her message on the "need for partnership with the federal government."

Thirdly, today's Variety Article (Feb. 7, 2008) "Guam left out of the loop on military buildup planning."

Perhaps, the three items appear unrelated to each other. The relevancy, however, is the matter of "timing." The clock is ticking loud, and no solution appears to be resolved.

The Legislative leadership's resolution does not appear on the horizon, and our delegate from Washington urged local-federal partnership, while the Feds work on the basis of the "need to know" --- negating the need for real partnership with the military buildup.

Having worked for the military as a civilian planner for several years, I learned that the military's mission function on Guam rest on the island's geographic location to serve our nation's defense interest.

This mission would be accomplished with or without the consent of the local population. And if, by circumstance, this benefits the locals, all is well, but not necessarily a contingent requirement.

Our delegate has repeatedly demonstrated this fact, through the several visitations of congressional delegations to Guam to primarily evaluate the capacity of the local military establishment, including the "scrapping of the CNMI Covenant with the U.S. Government" by the passage of the federalization law in CNMI, as part of the total military planning within our Asia-Pacific region.

The next apparent federal "targets" would be the FSM, Republic of Palau and Marshals. The eventual federal takeover is a matter of timing - it may not be in our time, but it will happen.

Joe T. San Agustin
Dededo, Guam

The Spies Who Love You

I could not resist posting this.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Guam: Where America's Military Empire Begins

An article I wrote recently for Draft Notices, which is the newsletter for the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft. As I mentioned earlier in the week in my post "Militarism in the Land, the Water and the Schools," I've been working alot lately with the group ProjectYANO, and so it was through them that I was asked to write this piece to inform people in the United States about what is going on in Guam.

From Draft NOtices, January—March 2008
Guam: Where USA’s Empire Begins

— Michael Lujan Bevacqua

A part of the U.S., yet apart from it; a colony in a world where colonialism supposedly no longer exists; the “tip of America’s spear” in Asia — welcome to Guam, USA. This is a place where the residents, including its indigenous population, the Chamorros, are U.S. citizens, yet cannot vote for president and have no voting delegate in Congress. And notwithstanding the promise of American democracy, all federal laws apply to Guam and supercede all local laws.

Despite this colonial relationship, or perhaps because of it, most U.S. Americans know nothing about Guam – not only that it is a colony, but that it is their colony. The place of Guam in the U.S. American consciousness is constituted through a paradox of everyday popular ambiguity and ignorance along with an almost solid military certainty. Because of this, in U.S. popular culture (such as blogs, movies, newspapers, magazines, and novels), Guam has been represented as literally anything – a foreign country, a tropical paradise, an island full of cannibals or exiled homosexuals, and Guatemala.

If the average U.S. American is unaware of or unclear about Guam, this perspective is not shared by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), for whom Guam is one thing only: a military installation. From the moment it was first taken during the Spanish American War in 1898, in order to provide a transit point for U.S. military and economic interests into Asia, this mindset has governed U.S. policy and control over the island.

In the century since it was taken, Guam has played a critical role in every U.S. conflict in the Asia-Pacific region, including as a forward base; a site for the transportation of U.S. troops and bombs into Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East; and a transit site for the evacuation of refugees from Vietnam, Iraq or Burma. This role continues today, evidenced most recently in the magazine Foreign Policy, which listed Guam as one of the six most important U.S. bases in the world.

In both of these mindsets, the will and presence of the island’s indigenous people, who have long endured the poisons and disruptions of U.S. colonialism and militarization, are largely absent. This is most troublesome in terms of the DoD’s control over Guam, which has consistently dismissed or rejected the interests and demands of the Chamorros in order to capitalize on the strategic nature of their island.

The importance of Guam can be expressed in a number of ways. The first, according to former U.S. Pacific Command Leader Admiral William Fallon, can be found by simply looking at a map. In terms of targets in Asia, which is where the Pentagon sees most of its future threats, Guam provides a secure base for land, naval and air forces, and it is much closer than the continental U.S. or Hawai’i.

The second way we can see this strategic importance is one that Guam shares with places like Diego Garcia Island and Guantanamo Bay – political ambiguity, the fact that Guam is neither a U.S. state nor a foreign country. Returning to Admiral Fallon, the advantage of having bases in Guam is that it is an “American territory” and that “the island does not have the political restrictions, such as those in South Korea, that could impede U.S. military moves in an emergency.” In other words, the U.S. military can do things here it can’t do elsewhere, and as a bonus, those who call it home have no say in any military decisions.

From the perspective of the DoD, Guam appears to be an ideal example of a patriotic, militarized society. Despite the fact that (a) 30% of the island’s 210 square miles are covered by Navy and Air Force bases, (b) the entire island has been severely contaminated by military dumping and use, and (c) federal policies have kept the island economically dependent to keep it from seeking independence, most on Guam don’t consider the U.S. to be a malevolent, militaristic colonizer, but rather a benevolent liberator. The most common reason for this is the U.S. role in expelling the Japanese who brutally occupied the island for 32 months during World War II.

On the surface, the Chamorros and other residents of Guam seem to overwhelmingly support the U.S. military and its missions. This is manifest most prominently through “Liberation Day,” the island’s largest annual celebration that brings together massive parades, parties, carnivals and beauty pageants every July 21 in celebration of the U.S. return to Guam in 1944.

To the Pentagon, Guam appears to be an oasis in a world where the tide of sentiment against U.S. bases is rising. In contrast to populations in the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Iraq, who have protested U.S. presence on their lands, Guam appears to understand the role of the U.S. military in the world today. Hence, rather than resist the militarization of their lives or challenge the role of Guam as “the tip of the spear” of the U.S. war machine, the island seems to enthusiastically welcome military presence and actively participate in it.

Thus, while military recruiters in the U.S. are finding it increasingly difficult to convince people to join America’s “War on Terror,” they find no such problems in Guam. The combination of feelings about the U.S. role in World War II with the poor economy in Guam has created, in the words of many military officials, a “recruiter’s paradise.” In 2005 for example, four of the Army’s 12 highest enlistment “producers” could be found in Guam.

The DoD is capitalizing on all of this. In October 2005, the Pentagon first announced its intention to relocate 7,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. The following year, this number increased to 8,000, plus as many as 9,000 of their dependents, who would also be joined by an undisclosed number of Army battalions from South Korea. These transfers, which should be complete by 2014, will be added to an island that already hosts several thousand military personnel, and which since 9/11 maintains at least four dozen fighter planes, a half dozen bombers, the next generation of Predator spydrones, and an unknown number of attack submarines and cruise missiles.

For the past few decades, a small but increasingly active movement among Chamorros has focused on stalling the militarization of their island by pushing for its decolonization. These efforts are often invisible to people in the United States and elsewhere across the globe. Guam is nothing to most Americans, and to those who maintain its military power, it is nothing more than a military installation. To the rest of the world, Guam simply belongs to the United States.

So long as this veneer of power, ignorance and indifference surrounds Guam, the prospects are slim for Guam’s decolonization and the aspirations of its people for a life not governed by the national insecurities of the United States. This is perhaps the most valuable lesson that we can learn from the militarization of Guam. Those invested in the machinery of death and war will always seek out places like Guam that are distant from the mainstream. Out of the sight and mind of the majority of the population, it is in these places where they can set up shop and recruit, poison, and project their power and authority without protest or limits.

For more information:

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (

Saturday, February 16, 2008


At long last, I am pleased to announce, the date, location and details for the next Famoksaiyan gathering!!!! Sen magof hu put este, sa' pa'go na sakkan, esta i mina'tres na dinana'!!! Guaha nai ti hu hongge este na chalan yan karera. Taimanu na manmatto ham gi este na chinago, gi este ti apmam na tiempo?
In honor of the occasion, I've even started a new blog just for the conference, where myself and the conference committee can post updates and other news. Click on this link to head over there, apologies for now, since there isn't much posted up there, Guma'Famoksaiyan.
Alot more details soon, lao para pa'go nahong ha' na in na'hiyong este na mensahi!!


Gathering Strength for our Journey Ahead
May 23-25, 2008
San Diego, California

Famoksaiyan is a group comprised of dedicated and passionate people who work on issues of decolonization, cultural and language revitalization and the dissemination of information regarding the proposed military build up of Guam. The organization’s first conference was held in San Diego, California, on April 14-15, 2006, and was titled Famoksaiyan: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures. The people who attended that first gathering left with the desire to transform the energy and excitement of the conference into something more sustainable.

Famoksaiyan translates into “the time or place of nurturing or growing,” or “the time to paddle forward.” And it was in this spirit that more than 70 Chamorros and individuals of other ethnic identities from Guam gathered together to share their work, ideas and stories in hope of effecting a positive change for Chamorro communities in the Marianas Islands and the United States.

In a short period of time, Famoksaiyan has organized and assisted in organizing several historic meetings, trips and conferences. Most prominently amongst these have been the following:
· Three trips to the United Nations to testify to the international community on the question of Guam.
· The “Decolonizing Our Lives” forum held at the University of Guam, which gathered more than 250 people. The event served to educate individuals about what different organizations are doing to facilitate Guam’s political and cultural decolonization.
· A second Famoksaiyan conference held on April 20-22, 2007, in Berkeley and Oakland, California. Titled Famoksaiyan: “Our Time to Paddle Forward,” Summit on Decolonization and Native Self-Determination, the conference brought together more than three hundred people to share and learn about the struggles of indigenous people in the Pacific and the Americas.

As part of Famoksaiyan’s continuing commitment to the decolonization of Chamorro lands and lives, we are pleased to announce:

Gathering our Strength for the Journey Ahead

Day 1 Friday, May 23, 2008 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Famoksaiyan Sustainability Meeting
San Diego Chamorro Cultural Center
334 Willie James Jones Ave
San Diego, CA 92102

Day 2 May 24, 2008 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
I Salud i Taotao yan i Tano’
Joyce Beers Community Center
1220 Cleveland Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

Day 3 May 25, 2008 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Ma’cho’cho’cho’ para i Mamamaila
Sons and Daughters of Guam Club
334 Willie James Jones Ave
San Diego, CA 92102

In times past, knowledge, skills, family and village histories were passed down to the younger generations through different guma’ or houses, such as the guma’saga’ or the family home, or the guma’ulitao, the bachelor’s house. In these spaces young Chamorros, would be given the crucial knowledge of their family, clan and village genealogy, and also be imparted the necessary skills for tasks such as planting, fishing, navigation, debate and weaving. Through this inter-generational sharing, young Chamorros would be prepared to be productive, respectful and active members of both their clan and their village.

As Chamorros and their islands face uncertain futures due to various economic, health, environmental, military and social concerns, it is crucial that we come together to work towards developing progressive solutions to these problems. This year’s gathering hopes to continue the spirit of our ancestors by creating a guma’famoksaiyan, or a house where we can nurture each other, grow and strategize ways to continue paddling forward. We will do this by first, providing presentations and facilitating discussions about fundamental issues that are affecting our people and our islands, whether it be health and diet issues, the impending military buildup, the reality of Guam’s physical environment, the decolonization of Guam and the plight of the Chamorro language. Second, in the hopes of building a more progressive and critical Chamorro / Guam community, we will also convene working groups to discuss different projects and strategies to creatively and effectively confront the existing problems that face our island.

There is no fee to attend the gathering, but donations will be collected throughout the weekend. Please contact Michael Lujan Bevacqua ( or Leiana San Agustin Naholowaa ( for more information.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Political Mix

From the politics of Guam and its legislature, to the politics of Executive vs. Legislative power, and onto the politics of the most exciting American Presidential race in years...

Robert Underwood once said to me that on Guam in times past, the mas ya-niha na pastime was "politics" and the "political season." Although I was always a great follower of politics on Guam when I was living there, prior to coming out to the states for school, I've never felt so much of the excitement and tension as I do this year. Guaha linikidu gi este na sakkan yan este na botashon Amerikanu. Buente ti para Guahan (sa' cocolony ha' hit), lao para i US, hunggan sina u matulaika bula gi i hinasson Amerikanu.

I'm in the middle of a roundtable discussion of all of us grad students who received the Cal Cultures Summer Research Fellowship last year. The presentations are very diverse and interesting, which is why I shouldn't be typing on my computer right now.

Despensa yu', sa' pa'go bula iyo-ku mitengs yan fina'nu'i, pues taya' tiempo-ku para bei fannge' nuebu guini. Siempre agupa'!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Famalao'an Okinawa yan Guahan

Some updates put i estao-niha yan kinalamten-niha i famalao'an Okinawa yan Guahan.

A few days ago, in response to another rape in Okinawa, a group of women there penned a letter to President George W. Bush, bringing to light, both the violence of the US militarization of their island, but also the empty promises to fix or resolve these issues, which have marred the past sixty years of Japanese and American control over Okinawa.

For more information on the situation in Okinawa, click the links below:

Protests Spreading in Okinawa

US Marine Charged in Japanese Rape


February 13, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
Consul General Kevin Maher
United States Consulate General in Naha, Okinawa
Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer
US Military’s Okinawa Area Coordinator

We protest the sexual violence against an Okinawan girl by a U.S. Marine
We demand withdrawal of the U.S. military from Okinawa

We, people of Okinawa, particularly women, are outraged at another heinous crime committed by a U.S. serviceman on February 10th, 2008.

We have been imposed the burden of hosting U.S. military and bases. For long 62 years, the lives of women and children in Okinawa have been made insecure by the presence of the U.S. military and bases.

The fact that the perpetrator took the victim from city center where local residents spend their leisure time on holidays and weekends, demonstrates the close proximity between our daily life and the violence and danger caused by the U.S. military. The perpetrator, a Marine who belongs to Camp Courtney lives outside of the base in a local residential area. Why should U.S. soldiers be allowed to freely enter a residential area at any time? Why is a safe environment for children and women not assured in Okinawa? The fear of the victim, the anger of her family, the shock and anxiety of the local residents are all immeasurable.

The U.S. military has promised over and over “the requirement for the highest standards of conduct,” every time a crime was committed. It is evident that these promises resulted in nothing. It needs to be reminded that in the past, during long weekends such as Independence Day weekend, many girls were revealed to the violence of U.S. soldiers. Behind the crimes that have been made public are many more women and children who could not speak out about the violence they were exposed to.

We call for withdrawal of the U.S. military in order to abolish such violence. We argue that the military is a violence-intrinsic institution. And true security cannot be realized by the military in our community nor between nations.

We demand:
careful and adequate psychological care of the victim,
apology and compensation to the victim,
strict punishment of the perpetrator,
tighter discipline and control over soldiers living in off-base housings.

The realignment and transformation of the US-Japan military alliance will only intensify the functions of the U.S. bases in Okinawa. We demand withdrawal of the U.S. military from Okinawa and closure of the U.S. bases in Okinawa.

Co-chairs, (Ms.) TAKAZATO Suzuyo, (Ms.) ITOKAZU Keiko,
Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence
3-29-41-102 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa, 900-0015
Ph. Fax. 098-864-1539


Also, a few days ago, i ga'chong-hu ginnen Famoksaiyan was able to edit into a short documentary, some video we shot last year of a meeting between Congresswomen Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and Donna Christiansen (D-VI), and the women's group Fuetsan Famalao'an. This group, whose name means "the strength of women" formed in 2005, shortly after the Department of Defense announcement that they were planning to huge "transfer" of Marines from Okinawa to Guam over the next few years. At this meeting in August of 2006, these women made their own set of demands to the United States Congress and the department of defense, that the military be more transparent in its planning of the military buildup on Guam, and that the people of Guam have more of a role in this buildup beyond simply "providing feedback."

The video can be found in two parts below, with some information on it.

Guam's Women Leaders Say No to U.S. Military Build-Up

By 2014, the United States plans to spend $10 billion to move 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam, increasing its presence there by more than three fold. The small island of Guam, where only 172,000 people live, will be flooded with the burden of 40,000 more people associated with the military build-up.

On August 13, 2007, in a meeting with U.S. Congressional representatives, a group of Guam's maga'haga raised their hands and voices against the movement of thousands of marines, sailors and airmen, and more nuclear submarines and bombers to their island home. In Ancient times, "maga'haga" were the eldest daughters of a clan, who shared the responsibilities of running the clan's affairs and governing its resources with the "maga'lahi," or the eldest sons. Today, the term refers to a strong female leader.

Maga'haga, a short film that documents the meeting, shows how the decision to increase the U.S. military presence on Guam is being made without the consent of Guam's people. The film also illustrates the unwavering strength and determination of the island's women.

Maga'haga (the film) can be viewed on youtube in two parts. Here are the links:


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Militarism in the Land, the Water and the Schools

I am constantly surprised at the ways in which people are surprised at things.
I suppose that anywhere, you go, you can find things which are normal there and abnormal or incomprehensible elsewhere. Coming from Guam, a pretty little American territory/colony in the Western Pacific, I find alot of things which "shock" regular Americans, aren't so strange to me.
Often times, when people remark that Guam is so gof gof suette because we don't have to pay Federal income taxes, my response is a very sincere request that our positions be changed then. That this person I am talking to and whatever state they call home, switch its political status so that it becomes like that of Guam. So yes, by all means, take the no Federal income tax rule, but, you simply can't just take this benefit alone, you also have to accept with it, the overall dinimalas of being a colony. You have to take the lack of a voting Congressional representative, and also regardless of your population, no representation in the Senate whatsoever.
What generally shocks people, however and makes them realize the unsavoriness of becoming like Guam, is the fact that, then your state must give up 30% of its area to the United States military to be transformed into Air Force, Navy and soon to be built Marine Corps bases. Most of these people, who think very simplistically about the fortune of being the colony of Guam, never make it to considering this point, and even if they are patriotic, flag waving Americans, who profess a profound love and respect for the troops, this idea of having 1/3 of their states controlled by the military, tends to shake them to their very core.
It is almost as if, they are forced to see past their rhetoric, their illusions, and confront what they truly feel about something. That while the military defends, protects, it is also a fearsome creature, in many ways what Giles Delueze called the war machine (i makinan gera). In addition to protecting life, the military destroys life, and not just the enemies lives, but the lives of those it protects as well. The military sucks away resources, and rarely in very balanced or well managed ways. For instance, in my department, someone has on the door of their office a cartoon that wishes for the day when public schools will be well funded, and the military will have to hold bake sales. This is the sort of illusion that the military actively engineers in order to protect itself, and to keep its image positive.
In high schools for instance in California, JROTC programs are advertised as bringing in income and money to schools. They are advertised as being important programs for getting kids into college as well. Both of these points however are rarely true. In fact, JROTC programs can end up costing schools far more than they bring in, because of the gap in what the Department of Defense reimburses the school, and what they require the school pay in order to set up the program. Furthermore, in the California state college system, military science courses taken through JROTC do not count towards college. As if to make things worse, the money put up to establish JROTC in schools, tends to get taken away from actual college prepatory programs.
In Guam, we have the idea that the United States military is an "environmental steward," or a good and loving caretaker of the environment. While in some ways, we can see this, as certain pet projects such as the eradication of the brown tree snake or the protection of endangered species on Guam become central to the public relations campaigns of the military. We also get this impression of the military as being better at watching out for the environment because of dikike' na kosas, such as the pristine conditions of their lawns, the lack of abandoned cars by the roadsides in their bases, and in an almost ridiculous way, the better paint jobs on their houses.
All of this evidence in favor of the idea that the military is simply mampos kapas gi i umadadahi i tano', i tasi yan i aire, is nonetheless contradicted by the actual poisoning of the earth the military perpetuates in times of war and peace. Agent Orange, Depleted Uranium, Nuclear Fallout, Toxic Waste, Mustard Gas, these are all weapons of mass destruction of chemical warfare which have been brought to Guam and affected the health of its residents, and as some cancer research indicates, has affected our health and environmenta in catastrophic ways.
I think that when I ask people to imagine what it would be like if 30% of California or Oregon or New York was military bases, it shatters that sort of positive illusion that surrounds the military, and forces these people to think about what the military means in their lives, and to think beyond the platitudes about defense, and also see what other less "patriotic" impacts it can have.
Recently, as I've become involved with the group Project on Youth Alternatives and Non-Military Options or Project YANO, I have found another point which can shock people into rethinking what the military means in daily life.

For instance, when I tell people that in San Diego the JROTC has built and is building firing ranges at San Diego high schools, most people react with almost pure shock. Although these firing ranges aren't using real weapons, but just air powered rifles, the idea that young high school students are being trained to handle weapons, forces people to recognize not just the violent aspects of militarism, but more so the predatory aspects of it, which we see through the recruitment of students at increasingly young ages in order to meet recruitment targets.
In order to build these firing ranges and fund the JROTC programs, money has been taken away from college prep courses such as AVID and Advanced Placement. In addition, in the hopes of giving the impression of enthusiastic student support for JROTC, at Mission Bay and Lincoln High Schools, students were enrolled in JROTC without their or their parents' consent.
For the past few months, The Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft has been conducting public meetings in order to gauge community outrage over the firing range issue, and has ciruclated petitions, held protests and built up a diverse coalition, with the hopes of addressing the following issues:
1. Removing the firing ranges from San Diego high schools (since they violate the no weapons ban in schools)
2. Stop the violations of California Education Code 51750, which prohibits involuntary enrollment in military science classes.

3. The inadequate offering of college prep classes and academic electives that students can take instead of JROTC, and require that parents and students be informed that military sciences classes do not count towards college admissions.
On Feb. 12th, San Diego parents, students and teachers held a protest as the city school board met, hoping to receive a full and fair hearing on this issue, and that their concerns be addressed. I'm pasting below photos from the protest:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pacific Worlds in Snowy Utah

I might not post much for the next few days.

I'm freezing i dagga-hu off right now at the University of Utah, attending and presenting at the Pacific Worlds and American West Conference, that's taking place as I am typing.

As I'm typing I'm actually listening to one of the panels (hunggan achagigu, ya cha-mu uma'alok na tairespetu yu'. Hu e'ekungok mientras mantypetype yu'). The panel that's going on right now is very interesting, exploring issues of gender and sexuality in the Pacific, focusing on mamfloritas in Guam, the life of Chamorro modern na maga'haga' Agueda Johnston, and the linking of haka dances with aggressive masculine sexuality through football. The conference in general is very exciting, I'm seeing alot of friends since the circle of Pacific Islander scholars out here isn't very large. I'm also learning alot about other Pacific Islander groups in the United States, in particular Samoan and Tongan who have large populations in Utah.

I spent part of the morning talking with a scholarship program director from the University of Utah here who has worked for many years with the 200 + Pacific Islanders that attend this university. Despite a fairly large Pacific Islander population for a large university and with Pacific Islander male students holding alot of social capital because of their visibility on the athletic teams, getting the students organized has been a constant battle. There are the same old issues of authenticity vs. modernity, where those from the islands feel the ones raised out here aren't "really" Tongan or Samoan. While those from the states feel that those from the islands are backwards and FOBish.

Then there are the issues of the cultural vs. the political, where students differ over what their role in a multi-cultural America is supposed to be. Pacific Islanders are becoming more visible in the United States, as I've already mentioned as atheletes, but also in certain cities as gang members or violent youth. You add these two forms of structural/racial recognition to the long established expectation of Pacific Islanders as exotic bearers and performers of culture, and Pacific Islander students on college campuses are more and more being put into a difficult position.

As small minorities, small, largely invisible groups, this new visibility can be very seductive and even comforting, as if at last because a High School football team is doing the haka before their games, Pacific Islanders and their rich traditions and histories have been recognized!! These forms of recognition, where Pacific Islander cultural forms, norms, ideas, icons and practices are being "liberated" from their narrow existence attached to a single island group, or a larger collection of groups, and being circulated by a larger more national community, seem to infer that a rite of passage is taking place.

As Pacific Islander clubs pop up around colleges in Utah, Oregon, California, Arizona and Washington state, its as if a place setting at the multi-cultural table of America, has at least been made for Pacific Islanders, and so now islanders every where are eagerly , with their cool tattoos, bulky bodies, flowers in their hair and sometimes hard to pronounce names, accepting this new place.

Returning to the cultural and the political problem, this new place setting for Pacific Islanders in America, is absolutely a cultural one. It is one which acknowledges that islanders have "really cool" culture, and that they contribute to richness of the United States by having luaus, performing at parties, providing great food, and kicking ass at football. The dilemia that Pacific Islander student groups find themselves in, is whether to accept and celebrate this position, or to try and go beyond it.

What this scholarship director related was how, for so many islanders at Utah, they like the attention they get as carriers of exotic culture. They like being invited to perform everywhere, participate in so many events, and therefore share their culture. Trying to get the students involved in more political concerns, is difficult, because it feels for so many to be inauthentic. It feels that they are treading into someone else's territory, white people's territory, angry people's territory, oppressed people's territory, and that taking up political causes or working for social/political change, isn't for islanders.

As I often write on my blog, this is a struggle I find all the time with Chamorros, in Guam, but mainly in the United States. And interestingly enough this conversation that I had, is very closely related to the paper I'll be presenting tomorrow at the conference here. My paper will discuss these divides between the political and the culture, and their role in continuing the colonization of Chamorros, even when they leave Guam. It will also discuss what Chamorro organizing is going on in the United States, is it social or political? Does it use decolonization, and if so, how? I'm pasting my abstract below.

Wish me luck, not so much with the paper, but more with the cold and the snow!!!!


“Decolonization and Diaspora:” The Resistance and Insistence of Decolonization Amongst Chamorros in California.
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Graduate Student, Ethnic Studies
University of California, San Diego

The island of Guam remains one of the world’s last “official” colonies. Its indigenous inhabitants, the Chamorros exist as ambiguous subjects within the margins of American Empire, distant geographically and neither foreign nor domestic. They are colonial citizens, with no representation in the U.S. Federal Government, yet live at the mercy of its mandates and its military, who occupy 1/3 of their island.

A century of American colonialism in Guam has helped create a large Chamorro disapora in the Western United States concentrated primarily in California. This diaspora has been produced in successive waves since World War II, driven primarily by military service and now consists of some 90,000 people with the largest populations being in San Diego, the Bay Area and Long Beach. Over the years, various social, religious and civic organizations and community groups have formed to bind Chamorros in the diaspora to each other and through different village associations Chamorros to their islands in the Pacific.

This paper, primarily through interviews will provide an overview of this California Chamorro diaspora, and answering the following questions. First, how have Chamorros in California, traditionally either engaged with or rejected notions of decolonization in their community development given the continuing colonial status of their island? Second, how have colonial binaries such as political/cultural, social/political helped structure the ways in which Chamorros in the United States would organize themselves? Lastly, how are young Chamorros today, in their activism using the concept of decolonization, and is this usage relevant and effective?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fuetsan Famalao'an

Watch these videos if you're worried about the future of Guam.

Guam's Non-Voting Delegate to the US Congress, Madeleine Bordallo says that her and others are in Washington D.C. are fighting right now in the best interests for the people of Guam. I sincerely doubt this. The only way in which we can assume this to be true is if that old colonial mantra, "what's good for America is good for Guam" is also true. But given the complex colonial history and present of Guam, we should all know this not to be true. There are moments where it can be so, where what the US wants with Guam, can benefit Guam, but there are also moments when this isn't true.

The impending military build-up, despite all of the glorious, drunken talk about how much "freakin" money it will bring to Guam, is one instance where frankly, we need to break away from the colonial logic that America and Guam's interests are the same. What Congresswoman Bordallo is doing in Congress right now shows a clear lack of fighting or defending of the interests of Guam, and more of a marketing of Guam, a selling of it off, or a advertising that its existence is for sale, for cheap and patriotic prices!!

If, you would like to see some people fighting for Guam and its interests, then please look at the videos below, of a meeting with Bordallo and the women's group on Guam, Fuetsan Famalao'an. In their confrontation with Bordallo, they know very clearly, the history of Guam, and that it is not one which would indicate that whatever America wants for Guam, is great and wonderful. They understood and know that the track record of the US military is Guam is mixed at best, with some successes and some failures, and any dealings with them, can't be approached with idealistic, optimism and trust. But instead with caution, and with a willingness to call out the military if it isn't being truthful or transparent, and a willingness to let it know that Guam has demands and they cannot simply be ignored or subsumed within whatever the military assumes or wants.

The meeting that is documented in the video took place last August on Guam, during the visit of Virgin Islands Congresswoman Donna Christensen. I had the privilege of attending the meeting and seeing the fireworks fly. I've pasted the article regarding the meeting which appeared in the Marianas Variety.

Women's group demands impact study on troop buildup
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

MILITARY expansion must come with a thorough study of its impact on the island's environment, healthcare, education and other social issues likely to be affected by the population surge on Guam, according to women activists.

They are also demanding transparency and an open line of communication with U.S. leaders.

The women's group, called Fuetsan Famalao'an, met with Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and U.S. Virgin Islands Rep. Donna Christensen at the Outrigger Hotel on Sunday and discussed their concerns about the impending relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The Sunday brunch meeting, hosted by Bordallo, saw a gathering of 35 women representing various sectors of the community.

"We seek to bring to the center socio-cultural issues which tend to be marginalized in public discussion of the impact of military expansion," Fuetsan Famalao'an member Nicole Santos said.

Another member, Therese Terlaje, noted that "because this proposed military buildup is unprecedented, unprecedented attention must be given to all its consequences and impacts."

Members of the group are scheduled to hold another dialog with Bordallo and Christensen at the town hall meeting to be held at the Hilton Resort and Spa tomorrow.

"Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo seemed surprised by the concerns that women presented during the Sunday meeting. She probably hasn't heard of them before. She was surprised to find out that many of us are opposing the military expansion," former Senator Hope Cristobal told Variety.

Lisa Natividad discussed the environmental degradation that resulted from the presence of toxic chemicals left by the military and the various diseases contracted by Guam residents as a result of the contamination from nuclear tests conducted in the Pacific in the 1950s.

"The reckless military practices of the past have taken their toll on the health of our people. Now Guam is again being asked to continue making sacrifices in the name of national defense," Natividad said.

At tomorrow's town hall meeting, Cristobal will present a list of recommendations to address a number of issues linked to the military buildup.

"Congress must responsibly address the cumulative effect of all proposed military projects together with past and current military activity and presence. The effectiveness of past mitigation efforts by the military should be assessed in order to determine the prudence of allowing future mitigation where adverse impact is expected," Cristobal stated in a written statement.

She also demands that the people of Guam be fully informed of the results of any environmental studies done or being done on Guam.

"A cumulative study is particularly important relative to past military use of our landfill and over 80 contaminated dump sites still existing on Guam that have yet to be cleaned up by the military, despite their placement on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup lists for many years," Cristobal said.

At Sunday's meeting, Bordallo pointed out that impact studies, funded by the federal government, will be conducted, and reassured the group that "a final decision has not been made."

The women activists are also demanding the federal government revisit other recurring issues that have not been resolved, including the return of ancestral lands to their original owners and war reparations.

Friday, February 08, 2008


For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Lujan Bevacqua

‘Postcolonial’ Futures in a Not-Yet Postcolonial World:
Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies

Conference Will Look at the Futures of Indigenous, Ethnic and Postcolonial Peoples Across the World

(San Diego, February 10, 2008) On March 5-7, 2008, the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego will be hosting a conference titled “Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World: Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies.” This conference will bring together scholars and activists from the United States and from around the world, who are engaged in organizing and scholarly work across ethnic, indigenous and postcolonial communities.

Traditionally, Ethnic Studies deals with minority peoples in first world nations. Postcolonial Studies is about the formerly colonized, now developing world. Indigenous Studies engages with communities that claim ties to land which the modern world rarely respects and they constitute nations, but are not nation states. Each of these disciplines is widely thought to be divided because of the specific segments of the global population they represent.

Yet across the world, these communities are far from divided, but rather exist entangled with each other. Indigenous people, while often numerical minorities are nonetheless fundamentally different than other ethnic minorities around issues of sovereignty, citizenship and immigration. Postcolonial nations, which were born from fiery revolutionary fervor, now assume the violence of their former colonizers, against indigenous peoples. At the same time, in places such as Central and Latin America, a resurgence of Third World Leftist politics is being accompanied by a resurgence of indigenous populism.

The goal of this conference is to bring scholars and practitioners from each of these disciplines, as well as those who work at the intersections of these disciplines, into conversation with each other, in hopes of finding better ways to address the structures and systems of violence which mark the contemporary world.

Our conference will open with a panel of representatives from different local organizations who will discuss the ways in which San Diego, fits into the theme of the conference by addressing issues related to immigration and borders, militarization, and local Native American tribes.

The conference is made possible through support from the following UCSD offices, departments and programs: Dean of Social Sciences, California Cultures in Comparative Perspective, Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor, Graduate Student Association, The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, and the Departments of Ethnic Studies, History, Visual Arts and Literature.

What: “Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World: Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies”
Time and Place: Wednesday to Friday, March 5-7, 2008. Social Sciences Building and the Institute of the Americas Complex, University of California, San Diego
Admission: Free and Open to the Public

For more information please contact Michael Lujan Bevacqua at

Keynote Speakers:
Angana Chatterji, California Institute of Integral Studies
Renya Ramirez, University of California, Santa Cruz
Jesse Mills, University of San Diego
Vince Diaz, University of Michigan
Chandan Reddy, Washington State University
Denise Da Silva, University of California, San Diego
Annette Reed, Sacramento State

Local Org. Panel:
Louis Guassac, Kumeyaay Border Task Force
Bernice Paipa, Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee
Andrea Guerrero, American Civil Liberties Union
Mshinda Nyofu, Education Not Arms Coalition


Some reasons that we feel that this conference is important:


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