Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Guinifen i Mañainå-ta

Guam is no different than most places in the United States empire, in that it doesn't think kind about, or simply doesn't think about the United Nations.

Although, people on Guam may think of themselves as the most American things in the world, and not see any real fundamental problems with how their island exists in relation to the United States, legally we are still a problem and we are still the United Nation's problem. People argue all the time about whether Guam's status as a colony is good or bad. And for those who find this unbelievable, I'm sad to say its not, I get emails or comments on my blog all the time, from people, Chamorro and non-Chamorro who argue that colonialism in the case of the Guam is actually a good thing! In everyday life, we hear this argument through "corruption talk." For my research on my dissertation I regularly search the internet for blogs that are from Guam or discuss or mention Guam. For non-local blogs from Guam, meaning blogs by military and evangelicals who are stationed on Guam, it seems like its a requirement that you have at least one post where you discuss just incredibly how decrepit and corrupt the island is. How everything is falling apart, how people are ruining things. For these people, it is precisely colonialism, a heavy presence and level of control which keeps all this corruption and destruction at bay. If not for colonialism, then it would wash over the island and wiping away all that is good that America has brought here. Sadly, people on Guam, who live on Guam and are from Guam tend to hold these same limiting ideas, in the way they link "decolonization" and "suicide," together to resist any fundamental change, because such actions might cause the island to explode and slide into the Marianas Trench. Para este siha, taya' mas na'ma'a'nao nu este na fina'pos. Destrosa todu, chule' todu i kuttura-hu, lenguahi-hu yan taotao-hu, lao mungga mapacha i inamerikanu giya Guahan! Manmatai hit todu sin enao!!!!

But whether you think colonialism is good or bad, it doesn't touch, doesn't tamper with, doesn't not affect, no matter how many fantastic things you say about American colonialism, the fact that Guam exists, in a very ordinary and regular way, a colony of the United States! "State-like" treatment is what Virgin Islands Congresswoman Donna Christensen called the way that Guam and the other territories of the United States are treated by the United States Congress. During the meetings she had with people on Guam last year, she invoked this phrase in order to put to rest fears that Guam was being mistreated or being abused by the Feds, the military or Congress. The image it creates is that everything is basically fine, your status isn't colonial, isn't disenfranchised, after all you are treated "just like states." This nice label, can be added to all the other nice labels that Guam is shouldered with, Guam, USA, Where America's Day Begins, America in Asia, Tip of the Spear, which all create feeling of Guam being part of the United States, but not really a part.

In this gap between Guam being "a part" and "apart" of the United States, we find the obligation of the United Nations to helping assist Guam in getting out of the this ambiguous and semi-voiceless position. Yet on Guam, the United Nations is treated as if its just a little bit better than Al Qaeda or Gloria Estefan in terms of local hatred. But people on Guam actually know very little about the United Nations, as do people in the United States. Their reactions tend to be of the most primal nationalist/imperialist or in the case of Guam colonist character. It doesn't matter what the United Nations can do, might represent or what spirit or hopes for a better world it was born from, all that matter is that the United Nations in some exists as a challenge to the sovereignty of the United States, and dares to limit it power. The next step of this hatred for the UN could be termed "ego-imperial" because, not only is this disgust derived from the challenges to the "nation" of the United States and its sovereignty, but the UN is also a challenged to the imperial idea that so many American are invested in, that the only thing which can actually lead this world or make it better, is the United States.

Despite this stubborn resistance to see that America exists as a member of the world of nations, and not the king of such world, there are those who are still working with the promise of global justice, democracy and decolonization that the United Nations is supposed to represent. Gi este na espiritu, In 2007, Chamorros and their allies traveled twice to the United Nations to speak on behalf of Guam, and inform the world as to its political status and the resistance of the United States to the decolonization of their own colonies. Over the next few days I will be posting on my blog the testimonies of these invidiuals, the first three which were given in June before the United Nations Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization, and the last three which were made in October to the Fourth Committee.

I guinifen i mañainå-ta para ta fanmanlibre ta’lo, achokka’ mafñas, ti ma’pos. Gi i kinalamten este na manhoben siña ta li’e, siña ta pacha, ta siña ta na’la’la’ gui’ ta’lo.

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