Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Zizek on Tibet

Gof apmam desde mampost yu' guini ginnen Si Zizek.

Gaige yu' pa'go gi i Airport Honolulu, ya taya' tiempo-ku para bei fangge' nuebu.

Pues bai hu "fa'maolek" i halacha na tinaya' Zizek, taiguini:

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No Shangri-La
From Slavoj Žižek

The media imposes certain stories on us, and the one about Tibet goes like this. The People's Republic of China, which, back in 1949, illegally occupied Tibet, has for decades engaged in the brutal and systematic destruction not only of the Tibetan religion, but of the Tibetans themselves. Recently, the Tibetans' protests against Chinese occupation were again crushed by military force. Since China is hosting the 2008 Olympics, it is the duty of all of us who love democracy and freedom to put pressure on China to give back to the Tibetans what it stole from them. A country with such a dismal human rights record cannot be allowed to use the noble Olympic spectacle to whitewash its image. What will our governments do? Will they, as usual, cede to economic pragmatism, or will they summon the strength to put ethical and political values above short-term economic interests?

There are complications in this story of 'good guys versus bad guys'. It is not the case that Tibet was an independent country until 1949, when it was suddenly occupied by China. The history of relations between Tibet and China is a long and complex one, in which China has often played the role of a protective overlord: the anti-Communist Kuomintang also insisted on Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. Before 1949, Tibet was no Shangri-la, but an extremely harsh feudal society, poor (life expectancy was barely over 30), corrupt and fractured by civil wars (the most recent one, between two monastic factions, took place in 1948, when the Red Army was already knocking at the door). Fearing social unrest and disintegration, the ruling elite prohibited industrial development, so that metal, for example, had to be imported from India.

Since the early 1950s, there has been a history of CIA involvement in stirring up anti-Chinese troubles in Tibet, so Chinese fears of external attempts to destabilise Tibet are not irrational. Nor was the Cultural Revolution, which ravaged Tibetan monasteries in the 1960s, simply imported by the Chinese: fewer than a hundred Red Guards came to Tibet. The youth mobs that burned the monasteries were almost exclusively Tibetan. As the TV images demonstrate, what is going on now in Tibet is no longer a peaceful 'spiritual' protest by monks (like the one in Burma last year), but involves the killing of innocent Chinese immigrants and the burning of their stores.

It is a fact that China has made large investments in Tibet's economic development, as well as its infrastructure, education and health services. To put it bluntly: in spite of China's undeniable oppression of the country, the average Tibetan has never had such a high standard of living.

There is worse poverty in China's western rural provinces: child slave labour in brick factories, abominable conditions in prisons, and so on.

In recent years, China has changed its strategy in Tibet: depoliticised religion is now tolerated, often even supported. China now relies more on ethnic and economic colonisation than on military coercion, and is transforming Lhasa into a Chinese version of the Wild West, in which karaoke bars alternate with Buddhist theme parks for Western tourists. In short, what the images of Chinese soldiers and policemen terrorising Buddhist monks conceal is a much more effective American-style socio-economic transformation: in a decade or two, Tibetans will be reduced to the status of Native Americans in the US. It seems that the Chinese Communists have finally got it: what are secret police, internment camps and the destruction of ancient monuments, compared with the power of unbridled capitalism?

One of the main reasons so many people in the West participate in the protests against China is ideological: Tibetan Buddhism, deftly propagated by the Dalai Lama, is one of the chief points of reference for the hedonist New Age spirituality that has become so popular in recent times. Tibet has become a mythic entity onto which we project our dreams. When people mourn the loss of an authentic Tibetan way of life, it isn't because they care about real Tibetans: what they want from Tibetans is that they be authentically spiritual for us, so that we can continue playing our crazy consumerist game. 'Si vous êtes pris dans le rêve de l'autre,' Gilles Deleuze wrote, 'vous êtes foutu.' The protesters against China are right to counter the Beijing Olympic motto – 'One World, One Dream' – with 'One World, Many Dreams'. But they should be aware that they are imprisoning Tibetans in their own dream.

The question is often asked: given the explosion of capitalism in China, when will democracy assert itself there, as capital's 'natural' political form of organisation? The question is often put another way: how much faster would China's development have been if it had been combined with political democracy? But can the assumption be made so easily? In a TV interview a couple of years ago, Ralf Dahrendorf linked the increasing distrust of democracy in post-Communist Eastern Europe to the fact that, after every revolutionary change, the road to new prosperity leads through a 'vale of tears'. After socialism breaks down the limited, but real, systems of socialist welfare and security have to be dismantled, and these first steps are necessarily painful.

The same goes for Western Europe, where the passage from the welfare state model to the new global economy involves painful renunciations, less security, less guaranteed social care. Dahrendorf notes that this transition lasts longer than the average period between democratic elections, so that there is a great temptation to postpone these changes for short-term electoral gain. Fareed Zakaria has pointed out that democracy can only 'catch on' in economically developed countries: if developing countries are 'prematurely democratised', the result is a populism that ends in economic catastrophe and political despotism. No wonder that today's economically most successful Third World countries (Taiwan, South Korea, Chile) embraced full democracy only after a period of authoritarian rule.

Following this path, the Chinese used unencumbered authoritarian state power to control the social costs of the transition to capitalism. The weird combination of capitalism and Communist rule proved not to be a ridiculous paradox, but a blessing. China has developed so fast not in spite of authoritarian Communist rule, but because of it.

There is a further paradox at work here. What if the promised second stage, the democracy that follows the authoritarian vale of tears, never arrives? This, perhaps, is what is so unsettling about China today: the suspicion that its authoritarian capitalism is not merely a reminder of our past – of the process of capitalist accumulation which, in Europe, took place from the 16th to the 18th century – but a sign of our future? What if the combination of the Asian knout and the European stock market proves economically more efficient than liberal capitalism? What if democracy, as we understand it, is no longer the condition and motor of economic development, but an obstacle to it?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hillary's Guam Childhood

The Guam caucus is almost here. Inarajan had there's yesterday, the rest of the villages are having theirs' next Saturday. Thought I'd paste this comic below to help set the mood, but I'll have more on this soon.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Guma'Famoksaiyan Schedule

We're about a month away from the very exciting Guma'Famoksaiyan gathering to take place May 23-25, 2008 in San Diego, California. For those who don't know what this gathering will entail, let me post a description below:

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.

We are hoping to get as many Chamorros, people from Guam and other interested allies involved, so please contact me if you'd like to attend or like more info. Or you can head to the Guma'Famoksaiyan blog.

I'm pasting the tentative schedule below, and there are a few more details that we're looking to take care of, but most everything is already set and ready to go!! We are though looking for help in terms of funding the conference, and so please if you would like to help support us and this gathering, click on this link to make a tax-deductible donation through Paypal.

One more quick update, Famoksaiyan is now on Facebook!!! Check it out here, and if you're interested I'm always looking for people to be in charge of Famoksaiyan's online pages.

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Tentative Famoksaiyan 2008 schedule
MAY 23-25, 2008
San Diego, CA
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May 24th - Day 2 of the Conference @ Joyce Beers Center

8:00 – 9: 00 am: Breakfast, set up time

9:00 – 10:00 am: Introduction, Famoksaiyan and how far we’ve come since 2006

10:00 – 11:00 am: Language Ice-Breaker #1- Chamorro Speed Dating

11:00 am – 12:30 pm: Session 1 (Breakout)

Session A: Updates on the Environment in the Marianas
Session B: Updates on the Military Buildup in the Marianas

12:30 -1:30 pm - LUNCH

1:30 – 3:00 pm: Session 2 (Single)

Guam Feature Film Project
Presenter: Alex Munoz

3:00 – 4:30 pm: Session 3 (Single)

Guam Humanities Council – Guampedia
Presenter: Shannon Murphy

4:30 – 5:30 pm: Closing

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MAY 25 - Day 3 of the Conference – Son’s and Daughters of Guam Club

8:00 – 9:00 am: Breakfast, Setup time

9:00 – 10:00: Second Day opening

10:00 – 11:00 am: Language Ice-Breaker #2: Learning Chamorro through songs

11:00 am -12:30 pm: Session 4 (Breakout)

Sessions A: Traditional Arts
Weaving, Belembaotuyan
Sessions B: Creative Arts

12:30-1:30 pm: LUNCH

1:30-3:00 pm: Decolonization Roleplaying (a group activity where people are divided into different camps on Guam or in the diaspora and must discuss with each other, and convince each other about the importance of decolonization)

4:00 – 5:30 pm:
Famoksaiyan Working Groups
Tentative List: Famoksaiyan website, Famoksaiyan Newsletter, Funding Movements on Guam, Setting up Fiesta Outreach Schedule, Making Youtube videos

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Guam's Intervention

I Nasion Chamoru (The Chamoru Nation)
Julian Aguon, Chamoru Rights Advocate
PO Box 8725
Tamuning, Guam 96931

Seventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues – April 2008 – New York, NY

Item # 6
Topic: Pacific
Presenter: Julian Aguon

Collective Intervention of the Chamoru Nation and Affiliated Indigenous Chamoru Organizations; Society for Threatened Peoples International (ECOSOC); CORE (ECOSOC); Western Shoshone Defense Project; Flying Eagle Woman Fund (ECOSOC); Mohawk Nation at Kahmawake; Cultural Development and Research Institute; Famoksaiyan; Organization of People for Indigenous Rights; Colonized Chamoru Coalition; Chamoru Landowners Association; Chamoru Language Teachers Association; Guahan Indigenous Collective; Hurao, Inc.; Landowners United; Chamoru Veterans Association; Fuetsan Famaloan

Ati addeng-miyo your Excellencies. My name is Julian Aguon and I appear before you with the full support and blessings of my elders. I address you on behalf of the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam, an endangered people now being rushed toward full-blown extinction.
In 2008, the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam brace ourselves for a storm of U.S. militarization so enormous in scope, so volatile in nature, so irreversible in consequence. U.S. military realignment in the Asia-Pacific region seeks to homeport sixty percent of its Pacific Fleet in and around our ancient archipelago. With no input from the indigenous Chamoru people and over our deepening dissent, the US plans to flood Guam, its Colony in Perpetuity, with upwards of 50,000 people, which includes the 8,000 U.S. Marines and their 9,000 dependents being ousted by Okinawa and an outside labor force estimated upwards of 20,000 workers on construction contracts. In addition, six nuclear submarines will be added to the three already stationed in Guam as well as a monstrous Global Strike Force, a strike and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance hub at Andersen Air Force Base.

This buildup only complements the impressive Air Force and Navy show of force occupying 1/3 of our 212 square mile island already. This massive military expansionism exacts devastating consequences on my people, who make up only 37% of the 170,000 people living in Guam and who already suffer the signature maladies of a colonial condition.

The military buildup of Guam endangers our fundamental and inalienable human right to self-determination, the exercise of which our Administering Power, the United States, has strategically denied us—in glaring betrayal of its international obligations under the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN General Assembly Resolution 1514, to name but some.

The unilateral decision to hyper-militarize our homeland is the latest in a long line of covenant breaches on the part of our Administering Power to guide Guam toward self-governance. It was made totally without consulting the indigenous Chamoru people. No public education campaign regarding the social, cultural, and political consequences of this hyper-militarization has been seriously undertaken or even contemplated.

Of the 10.3 billion dollars settled upon by the U.S. and Japan for the transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, nothing has been said as to whether or not this money will be used to improve our flailing infrastructure. Recently, the largest joint military exercise in recent history conducted what were casually called war games off Guam waters. 22,000 US military personnel, 30 ships, and 280 aircraft partook in "Valiant Shield." That weekend, water was cut off to a number of local villages on the Navy water line. The local people of those villages went some thirty days without running water. Across the military-constructed fence, the tap flowed freely for the U.S. military population. The suggestion of late is that Guam is expected to foot the bill of this re-occupation. Meetings with defense officials have proved empty. Military officers we have met with inform us only of their inability to commit to anything. In effect, they repeat that they have no working plans to spend money on civilian projects. Dollars tied to this transfer have been allocated to development only within the bases. Money for education in the territory will again be allocated to schools for children of U.S. military personnel and not ours. Meanwhile, virtually every public sector in Guam is being threatened with privatization.

There is talk of plans to condemn more of our land to accommodate its accelerated military needs. In contrast, there is no talk of plans to clean up radioactive contaminations (strontium, in particular) of Guam from toxins leftover from the U.S.’ World War II activities and its intense nuclear bombing campaign of the Marshall Islands only 1200 miles from Guam. Indeed, the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam suffer extraordinarily high rates of cancer and dementia-related illness due to the U.S.’ widespread toxic contamination of Guam. For example, Chamorus suffer from nasopharynx cancer at a rate 1,999% higher than the U.S. average (per 100,000). To boot, Guam has 19 Superfund sites, most of which are associated with U.S. military base activities as in the case of Andersen Air Force Base and the former Naval Air Station. Nineteen sites is a significant number in consideration of the island’s small size of 212 square meters.

There is also no word on whether or not the U.S. plans to pay war reparations due to us since it forgave Japan its World War II war crimes committed against the Chamorus.

Like an awful re-run of World War II, when the U.S. unilaterally forgave Japan its horrific war crimes on our people, the US is back at the table negotiating away our human rights including our right to self-determination. Beyond the B-2 bombers in our skies, the ships playing war games in our waters, the added weapons of mass destruction, and the contamination that has robbed us of so many loved ones by way of our extraordinarily high rates of cancers and dementia-related illnesses, there is a growing desperation back home. A desperate lethargy in the wind. A realization that if the UN remains unable to slow the manic speed of US militarization, Chamorus as a people will pass.

In 2005 and 2006, we appeared before the UN Special Political and Decolonization Committee, alerting the UN organ of these two frightening facts: 1) it was recently discovered that the U.S. Department of Interior purposefully killed a presidential directive handed down in 1975, which ordered that Guam be given a commonwealth status no less favorable than the one the U.S. was negotiating with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands at that time; and 2) a campaign of the Guam Chamber of Commerce (primarily consisting of U.S. Statesiders) to privatize every one of Guam's public resources (the island's only water provider, only power provider, only local telephone provider, public schools, and its only port, on an island that imports 85-90% of its food and where private monopolies of public goods would truly make us captive to the forces of the market) is undermining our ancient indigenous civilization with violent speed. Eating us whole.

Not much has changed since we last were here in New York. Our power provider has been privatized, our telecommunications sold. Our only water provider and one port are under relentless attack. The meager, questionable victories we have had to stay this mass privatization are only the result of indigenous Chamoru grassroots activists who, on their own—with no financial, institutional, or strategic support—holding both their hands up, holding the line as best they can. At great personal cost.

Your Excellencies: Know this—the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam are neither informed nor unified around this military buildup despite dominant media representations. For all intents and purposes, there is no free press in Guam. Local media only makes noise of the re-occupation, not sense of it. The Pacific Daily News—the American subsidiary newspaper that dominates the discourse—has cut off the oxygen supply to indigenous resistance movement. Rather than debating this buildup's enormous sociopolitical, environmental and cultural consequences, it has framed the conversation around how best to ask the U.S. (politely) for de facto consideration of our concerns. Without appearing un-American.

We are not Americans. We are Chamorus. We are heirs to a matrilineal, indigenous civilization born two thousand years before Jesus. And we are being disappeared. Off your radar.

All this, and only two years until the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. And no midterm review by the Special Committee on Decolonization. No designation of any expert to track Guam’s progress, or lack thereof, toward progressing off the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Not one UN visiting mission to Guam.

It is a sad commentary that the Administering Power year after year abstains or votes against UN resolutions addressing the “Question of Guam” and resolutions reflecting the work of the UN on decolonization including the resolution on the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and the very recent Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. With this non-support by Guam’s Administering Power, it is no wonder that the list of the Non-Self-Governing Territories under the administration of the United States has turned half a century old with little progress.

We Chamorus come to New York year after year, appealing to the UN decolonization committee to follow through with its mandate. Indeed, the UN has collected almost thirty years of our testimony, with nothing to show for it. I represent today the third generation of Chamoru activists to appear before the UN, desperately trying to safeguard our inalienable, still unrealized, human right to self-determination.

The failure of the U.S. to honor its international obligations to Guam and her native people, the non-responsiveness of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization to our rapid deterioration, and the overall non-performance of relevant U.S. and UN Decolonization organs and officials combine to carry our small chance of survival to its final coffin.

All this combines to elevate the human rights situation in Guam as a matter not only of decolonization, but ethnic cleansing.

Indeed, when future generations look upon these days, they might label Guam not merely a U.S. colony, but rather, a UN colony.

To date the Forum has deferred to the Special Committee. The time has come for the Forum to take the lead. To this end we request the Forum take the following action:

Sponsor an expert seminar in conjunction with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Special Committee on Decolonization to examine the impact of the UN decolonization process regarding the indigenous peoples of the NSGTs—now and previously listed on the UN list of NSGTs. This seminar must be under the auspices of the Forum due to existing problems with the Secretariat of the Special Committee. We request that Independent Expert Carlyle G. Corbin be included in the seminar as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples.

Utilize the Inter-Agency Support Group to begin to implement the Program of Implementation (POI) with UN Agencies, UNDP, UNEP and other agencies and specialized bodies as directed by the General Assembly; and

Communicate its concern for the human rights of indigenous peoples and all peoples in the NSGTs to the UN Human Rights Council and request that the Council designate a Special Rapporteur on the Situation of the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

In Solidarity and Urgency,


The Chamoru Nation and Indigenous Chamoru Organizations of Guam, with support of the above-listed organizations.


Fore more information, feel free to contact the following:

Debbie Quinata, 671-828-2957, dquinata@gmail.com
Hope Cristobal, 671-649-0097, ecris@teleguam.net
Julian Aguon, 808-375-3646, julianaguon@gmail.com
Lisalinda Natividad, 671-777-7285, lisanati@yahoo.com

See also http://decolonizeguam.blogspot.com

Monday, April 21, 2008

Money for Reparations Not War

I saw this a few months ago at an annual activism and social justice conference in San Diego, held each year in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

I'm posting it now because for those keeping tabs on the issue of Chamorro war reparations. After being passed by the House last year, there wasn't much movement on the issue until a few days ago, when it was "stalled" in the Senate.

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The issue of war reparations has always been an interesting one for me, because it is another one of those things which can really put super patriotic Americans from Guam at odds with super patriotic Americans from America. For so many Chamorros who feel that they are very patriotic and love America, and have probably given up a lot of their life to serve in its military, the war reparations issues is nonetheless something very near and dear to them. Something very personal because of its role in describing and making clear why they are Americans, why they chose to serve, why they chose to love and support America despite its colonial history and present in Guam. But for the other Americans, who are most closely associated with this sort of super patriotic position, the issue of war reparations is absolutely UN-AMERICAN!

I think its important to communicate to people these points. You may be serving in the military, loving America with all your heart, but in front of your face, behind your back and on conservative blogs and websites all over the internet, they are mocking you because of the war reparations issue. Your service or your patriotism means nothing to these people, since they know nothing about you, your history, your "love" of this country. And so the thing which makes you American, or supposedly gives you a place at the table of American belonging, the loyalty during World War II, the sacrifices of thousands of Chamorros, isn't something worth anything to them, in fact to them its just a waste of money, another way that Democrats are stabbing the troops in the back, or lazy, primitive backwards savages (like Native Americans and African Americans) asking for justice or restitution for the way they have been treated, when in reality they should be thankful that they even get to be alive.

I wish that more Chamorros took this issue seriously, beyond simply being another way we get to be recognized as Americans, or a big cash windfall the island is gonna get. Frankly, if you scan the pages dealing with this issue, the response from "regular" "patriotic" Americans is that Chamorros are not American and not deserving of anything for what they have been put through. I truly truly hope that, especially as the island is preparing to receive a massive military increase, people are really thinking about what these responses mean, and whether this is the sort of disrespect we should be enduring.

Just to give you an idea of the sort of "disrespect" I am talking about, let me past below an post and the comments from a conservative website on the Chamorro War Reparations issue. Just as a warning, the comments below are not nice, but are perfect examples of racist, ignorant and hateful, blind patriotism. For instance, the poor soul who dumbly joins the discursive pile-on by claiming that the war reparations bill is about "buy votes." A white knight arrives with a small shred of obvious information, namely that this can't be about buying votes since Guam has none to be bought. However this person then joins the ignorant pack, by speaking forcefully about something in a very incorrect way. One thing which is always lost in these sorts of angry tirades about Guam getting this sort of special treatment and why is it that the US has to pay off people for the crimes that another country committed, is simply that the US assumed that responsibility willingly, by making it illegal and impossible for anyone attached to the United States to sue Japan for their actions during World War II. That included Chamorros on Guam and American servicemen.

Thankfully someone does mention this point, and to my incredible surprise, it actually does stem the tide of ignorant hatefullness.

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Posted on Monday, May 07, 2007 2:18:42 PM by enough_idiocy

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and his eight compatriots, all of whom have co-sponsored a bill that would require that America pay reparations to the people of Guam for - get this - the actions of the Japanese in World War II.

According to the bill (HR.1595, the "Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act"), the people of Guam:

suffered unspeakable harm as a result of the occupation of Guam by Imperial Japanese military forces during World War II , by being subjected to death, rape, severe personal injury, personal injury, forced labor, forced march, or internment.

For this reason (?), "the Secretary of the Treasury shall make payments" to WWII survivors and their descendants on Guam for the brutal actions of a third party.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? After all, the US is the largest aid donor on the planet; it's only logical that we should rebuild, repatriate, and reparate every country that has been hurt by every war that we can find. Let's not stop with Guam - let's include everybody from Carthage on up to the present. Should we pay reparations to the Koreans for the Mongol invasions of the 14th century, and to the Spanish for the loss of their Armada in 1588? Why not?

And while this bill holds up $126,000,000.00 for the repayment of the people of Guam for what the Japanese did (as well as $5,000,000.00 for "the Secretary of the Interior [to] establish a grants program [to]...award grants for research, educational, and media activities that memorialize the events surrounding the occupation of Guam during World War II, honor the loyalty of the people of Guam during such occupation, or both, for purposes of appropriately illuminating and interpreting the causes and circumstances of such occupation and other similar occupations during a war"), our soldiers can't even get a dime in supplemental appropriations.

Way to go, Democrats. Your "blame America first" (even for things we have nothing to do with), anti-US soldier attitudes, actions, and mindsets have just been taken to a new level."

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My rep's office could not explain to me why we're spending Americans' money to compensate Guam for what Japan did.

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What kind of lunacy is this...? Oh yeah, the Democratic kind.

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I think Steny Hoyer and his eight cronies should have to pay the reparations. Their savings and investments can be liquidated for the purpose, and their wages garnished until their debt is paid.
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Easy.. it’s called buying votes.

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Makes perfect sense...
In a bid to one-up his compatriot, Harry Reid, the Hon. Mr. Hoyer has found a way to retroactively surrender to Japan for WWII...

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Liberal logic says if we had been ready for the Pearl Harbor attack, we could have stopped Japan in it's tracks and the Japanese would have never needed or been able to occupy Guam.
So, yes it was our fault.

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I am so ashamed!! Why wasn’t I there to protect Guam? Why? Why?...Oh yeah, I wasn’t even born yet. Sheesh

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Does the word “KICKBACK” come to mind? Someone other than the people of Guam is getting some of this money. This is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard of in a long time. How about all the other countries that Japan invaded? Like China? How about all the countries that Germany invaded? And.....where in our Constitution does it give these idiots the right to do this?

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My grandfather lost a couple of toes and partial hearing in the Ardennes during WWII. Apparently he wasn’t loyal enough for me to get reparations.

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Easy.. it’s called buying votes.

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Votes for what? Guam is a U.S. Territory that elects a non-voting representative to Congress. It has no electoral votes for President. The current representative is a Democrat. And a Democrat has held that seat since 1993.Why aren't the Japanese paying these "reparations"? They are the ones who invaded our sovereign territory in 1941. The United States has already paid reparations in blood, liberating the island in 1944.

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I wonder how many Guamians are still alive from WWII. I would expect that most of these people would be in their 70s and 80s by now. If they survived that long, then what’s the problem? The Dems are outdoing themselves on the pork - at least the Repubs seemed to keep their pork in the USA.

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Wait until the next Democrat apologies to Germany for us winning WWII.

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Who wants to bet that Steny Hoyer and/or his cronies have Guamianian relatives?

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I don’t ever want to hear another liberal complain that we don’t have the money for this or that program.
This is so stupid, so incompetent, so ridiculous it will (and should) define congress for decades to come. I would rather dine on hay with horses than sit down at a dinner table with a single member of congress.
When do we start kicking their doors in?

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Using ‘democrat-logic’ the presence of US forces in Guam mad Guam a ‘target’ for the Japanese. You see? It’s the same thinking that says that Iraq would be a rose garden if only the US forces currently there would just... leave.

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Bullsh!t.Pure and simple bullsh!t.

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Please tell me this is some sort of parody, or joke. Please.

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It’s called the San Francisco Peace Treaty. It was signed in 1951 between Japan, the United States and most of the other allied powers.

You can find the text here.

I draw your attention to Article XIV. To make a long story short, the signers of the treaty agreed that Japan would turn over certain assets to the Allied Powers, and that all further claims against Japan would be waived. The details are in the treay.

Why did we do that? Because demanding massive war reparations from Germany under the Treaty of Versailles worked out so well. You may remember the consequences of that brilliant idea by Woodrow Wilson. If not, you can look it up. The United States wanted a free Japan that could be an American ally, not a country burdened by economic troubles that would probably wind up having a revolution and going over to the Communists.

So, among other peoples, Guamians cannot claim compensation for losses from Japan. So the only country that can compensate the Guamians for their WWII losses is the United States, which has somewhat of a moral obligation, since the U.S. signed away the Guamians rights to get compensation from Japan.

That is why this is happening this way. You can agree or disagree that the U.S. should pay this compensation. I'm not interested in arguing either way. So nobody complain to me about it.
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Ican see why Queen Plastic Pelosi wants Guam's delegate to have full voting rights in the House. This is Guam's second go-around at the public trough known as the United States Treasury for damages caused by the Japanese.

You can find the The Guam Meritorious Claims Act of 1945. I especially draw your attention to the final sentence of Sec. 1 - "Provided further, That any such settlements made by such commissions under the authority of this Act shall be final and conclusive for all purposes, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary."

In short, they already got their money. Why do we need to toss another $162,000,000 at them?
************************
From Today’s ‘ Neal’s Nuze’ (05/07/07):
http://boortz.com/nuze/index.html
MORE OF YOUR TAX MONEY AT WORK

Brace yourself for this one. Your tax dollars are being called upon to pay for reparations to the people of Guam for the Japanese’s actions in WWII. That’s right. You read it correctly! Americans will pay for what Japanese did in a war that was fought over 50 years ago.

Here’s the story. A bill will be introduced this week in the House called the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act. This act calls for reparations—costing about $135 million—for the “unspeakable harm as a result of the occupation of Guam by Imperial Japanese military forces during World War II, by being subjected to death, rape, severe personal injury, personal injury, forced labor, forced march, or internment.” Now mind you, these are terrible things that happened to the people of Guam, but why do I have to pay for it? And why now?

Well it turns out that Truman signed an agreement with Japan in 1951 basically stating that from then on, Japan is not responsible for “individual American war claims.” Because Guam is a U.S. territory, the burden to compensate for Japanese abuses falls on U.S. taxpayers. Thanks a lot, Harry Truman. You are a great American Democrat.

But in 2003, Bush authorized the appointment of the Guam War Claims Review Commission. I guess we can assume that this was the result.

Now here’s an interesting question. I have heard, though I have never taken the time to verify, that there was only one major war engaged in by the U.S. where U.S. taxpayers didn’t fork over huge sums to rebuild the loser. That would be the War Between the States .. sometimes erroneously referred to as the “Civil War”
**********************
This is nothing compared to the monies we spend on Guam because of Guam's mismanagement and inability to maintain what the Federal government has already built. Ask anyone who has lived on Guam for any length of time and you will hear the same story of local government incompetence.

The Ordot dump has been scheduled for closure for 20+ years and the locals can't decide where to move it, thus costing mounting fines by the EPA. The Guam Public School System is a federal money pit that can compete with any pork program in the US. The island's infrastructure is in such disarray, because of no planned maintenance programs, it will take the Federal government to come in AGAIN to rebuild it.

The only governmental corruption cases to be prosecuted and won were cases brought by Federal prosecutors because the local judicial system can not convict their own, such as x-governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez.

The taxpayers need to know exactly how much money has already been spent on Guam.
The people of Guam need to stop depending on their Uncle Sam for their government officials incompetence.

**********************************
Thanks for this enlightening post. What say you to the post below yours?---The 1945 Act appears to be capped at $5,000. In other words, (hypothetically) you lose your mother, father, three brothers and sisters and you get: $5,000. In 1945 dollars. On Guam. Is that adequate compensation? I can't judge that.
But a look at the present act and it screams PORK!!!!
Maybe some more money is justified, but not the amounts they're talking about. And a 5 billion dollar fund is a sick joke.

********************************
The 1945 Act appears to be capped at $5,000. In other words, (hypothetically) you lose your mother, father, three brothers and sisters and you get: $5,000. In 1945 dollars. On Guam. Is that adequate compensation? I can't judge that.
Actually, it wasn't a hard cap, and it didn't apply to death or injury claims. The $5,000 (which is somewhere north of $52,000 in 2007 dollars) limit applied only to what the Department of the Navy could approve on its own authority. Anything beyond $5,000, as well as all death and injury claims, could still be pursued, only the approval of the settlement of such claims needed to go through Congress.

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The agreement that Clinton signed re: Nazi eras crimes wasn’t any better than that, and that was implemented in the 1990s. Clinton, without going to Congress, worked with Shroeder to create the German Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future”, people get 5 and under from the cases I’ve read, and US courts don’t allow victims living here or their decedents to sue in federal courts opting instead to defer to that program.

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This act calls for reparations—costing about $135 million
This $135 million is close to the local Guam government's operating deficit and needed amount to balance its budget. What is interesting is the Supreme Court just decided a case that went against Guam's governor wish to borrow large amounts of monies. This government will be declared bankrupt in the near future and the US taxpayers will have to bail it out anyway.

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>>My rep’s office could not explain to me why we’re spending Americans’ money to compensate Guam for what Japan did.<<>
***********************************

Its souns like you know a lot mnore about Guam than I do so I’ll defer to you there.
However, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission money is supposed to go directly the effected individuals. These things take a long time. It wasn’t until 1995 that we finally paid the Americans effected when communists took Albania in 1945. And it wasn’t until 1998 that Germany paid us back for money we distributed in the 50’s.
This new amount is really large, though. There is something odd going on. The Albanian money in 1995 was only a couple of million.


******************************


Sorry, but we actually signed a treaty with Japan regarding this. We assumed responsibility for payments.Naturally, this was a Democrat President, Truman.But, since Guam can’t make any claims against Japan, we have to pay.Given the behavior of the Japanese during WWII, $126 million is probably pretty cheap.

**************************************

It’s all part of the great compromise.....................
There will be many more of these wealth transfer initiatives that will benefit democrats either personally or politically.
Any rational person would realize that these sorts of spending bills are wrong for a number of reasons.
Yet many of them will be signed into law, along with subsequent earmarks, by a republican lame-duck president..............................................
In exchange for “emergency” “war-cost” funding that does not include any strings.
Yep, both sides will posture and make threats and accusations before quietly satisfying their own agendas behind closed doors.
wait and see...................
( of course I hope I’m wrong...... )

***********************************
Apparently the buck didn’t stop at Truman.

*****************************

You sound like a local.
The time I spent on Guam was perhaps the best education I could ever have had in just how badly even the most effective part of the American government—the military—can f things up. That island is an oligarchic kleptocracy. And notwithstanding the efforts of some here to claim American innocence for Guam’s ills, we sure didn’t provide them with a good example of how good government is run or elected. Just imagine the years in which we showed them how bureaucracy is supposed to run (1950-1970) and how government is supposed to run (1950-1980). Not that it helped having us dump the some of most corrupt Vietnamese and Filipinos on the island, after the fall of Saigon and the rise of Corey Aquino, either.
That place reminded me of Miami—without the art deco charm.

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Just got off the phone with my congressman’s office (Connie Mack) and he said that this bill passed, 288 to 133. It now goes to the Senate where it is in committee. They will decide either to attach to another bill, not vote on it, or put out as a separate bill.
CALL your Senator and tell him or her you are against this bill. If Congress wants monies to be paid to the Guam residents for actions caused by Japan, they should contact Japan. Send the monies from this bill to the tornado victims.
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mud and Maga'haga'

If this video can get 25,000 hits in the next five days, then it'll have a shot at being on MTV. Click on it to support yet another band with Guam roots and pride. The director of the video is Alex Munoz who has a couple of different projects going on right now. In May, he'll be giving an update on his latest documentary and feature films at the Guma'Famoksaiyan: Gathering Strength for the Journey Ahead conference in San Diego.



I like the song, but personally, my favorite song of theirs that I've heard is this their version of the song "Apartment 4," which I saw on KUAM Extra.



**********************************

Speaking of videos that need more clicks on Youtube. The Maga'haga' video documentary that me and Famoksaiyan helped film and produce are very much in need of some more attention. At present its at 911 hits, which isn't bad considering that most Guam videos out Youtube have just a handful. Put fabot, ono este na link, ya na'tungo' maisa hamyo put i estao i isla-ta siha. Bula piligro esta mamagi para i isla-ta. Ya hayi i mas magnot na ga'chong para este na piniligro? I taitiningo'-ta yan i taikare-ta!

Kontat ki ya ti ta chonneneki yan mumumuyi un diferente na estao-ta, kontat ki ti ta edudukan maisa hit put hafa i mismo na prublema-ta, taisetbe hit, ya siempre pau kinalamut i isla-ta ni' este mamaila na napun militat.



Friday, April 18, 2008

Dialogue in an Occupied Space

If Guam wasn't so adept at being a colony, then this is the sort of dialogue which would be attached to everything. The political status of Guam would not be a distinct, narrow and limited issue (only taken up by "crazy" activists), but something much closer to its real position in daily life on Guam, but something which touches almost every aspect of our lives.

The military often describes itself as "stewards" of land, and their marketing is very invested in the idea that they are "guests." This rhetoric however does not make it very deep into the way soldiers interact with the populations that live outside on their bases, or the way the military as an institution treats the places that both willingly and unwillingly host them. The way the military is currently interacting with Guam right now in preparation for the upcoming buildup is an interesting display of forced partnership, where everything will be great so long as you accept everything we have planned. In Guam, the military acts as a guest who has nice public meetings, well-dressed and well-mannered spokepeople, big colorful charts and even handouts in Chamorro!

All of this display of partnership is very interested, because it is heavily invested in making sure that the lack of parity, equality and partnership is never revealed or felt on Guam. Guam's geographic location, its political status are both huge bonuses for the United States military, and are part of the reason that its investing so much of its future force projection in the region in Guam. But as I wrote recently in an article for the activist newsletter Draft Notices, another wonderful part of setting up camp on Guam and militarizing the hell out of the island, is the fantasy of it being an ideal military/civilian community. From the perspective of a Pentagon planner, Guam is great because the local community appreciates, understands and loves the military. They know the missions that the United States military has in protecting freedom and democracy in the world. They learned it well in World War II. They live that understanding by joining the military in huge numbers and by having parades and a ridiculous amount of yellow ribbons on their cars in support of the military.

This fantasy doesn't come from nowhere and its hardly uniform. Its fueled by government offices here and in the United States, and civilian offices such as the Chamber of Commerce, who all want to bring more military to Guam. Its endorsed by military planners and officials who know the importance of Guam and therefore play up the rhetoric of Guam being a critical spear tip in America's "War on Terror."

This being said, its also resisted by a small number of "maladjusted" people on Guam, and also by an always growing number of soldiers and military dependents, who simply hate Guam for so many different reasons.

But this illusion is one which all parties, local, Federal and military get invested in. The military has been invested a decent amount of effort in trying to create a public image of partnership between itself, Guam's political leaders, and regular people. It does this to protect the illusion of partnership, because so long as that illusion remains intact, then Guam is that ideal militarized community, it will continue to act and think of itself as that willing and patriotic partner. So long as people here to feel that, then whatever the military does to us, regardless of the law, our political status or the potential damage, we will feel like we had our say, that we approved of it, that we are partners in the "occupation" of this island.

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Justice and decolonization are both practices, actions, mindsets which push against the flow of time. In Murphy's arguments below he asserts one of the most fundamental insights which works against those interested in justice or decolonization, and that is that, even if things shouldn't have happened, they did and there's nothing we can do about it. Just as there is "nothing" that can be done for African Americans in relation to slavery, since it was so far in the past and no one around today every owned slaves, there is nothing that can be done for Guam's political status or for its decolonization. Guam was purchased, Chamorros were made US citizens, military bases were built on the island.

In this mentality, the issue is not "going back" in time, altough this is always what people are accused of, living in the past, trying to turn back the clock, clinging onto a hope or a world which is gone.

In justice and decolonization, the "past" is not the issue. It is not about moving backward in time based on a previous crime or injustice, but rather where do we get to go next, and who gets to decide? And will that injustice, which is never really in the past, be something which simply must be forgotten and "gotten past," or will its recognition change how we see the present and the future? For both of these acts, the recognition of these past injustices is supposed to open up the future as well.

Since as Bush has so crudely shown throughout his adventure in Iraq, to "stay the course" is not a neutral act, the current, prevailing conditions or frameworks are far from unbiased or unprejudiced, they benefit and protect some over others. The world is built upon injustice which has already taken place, but the relationship between the "past" and the "present," between what has already happened (which nothing can be done about) and what is happening now and what can be affected, is never innocent, but always about power and privilege.


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'Military should know they are just guests here'
-------------

In response to the Variety's 3/11/08 article on airmen being warned against possible harassment, while I do not always agree with the statements or placard displays by fellow activist Senot Howard Hemsing (Maga'Lahi Aniti), nor do I espouse his political status choice, I will stand to defend his right to do so.

The entire complement of the United States Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army and their associated reservists; Coast Guard; clandestine intelligence operatives; transplanted neopolitical subversives; nuclear powered ships and attack submarines (whether crashing into our undersea mountains or washing their contaminations into our ocean); stealth and other assorted bombers flying overhead and crashing onto our lands (whether armed or maybe not with weapons of mass destruction or just returning from air shows); the U.S. military industrial complex playing a heavy hand, not only toward the impending so-called "peacetime" invasion of my homeland, but also inviting further invasion and population explosion onto this small island under the guise of "business and other economic opportunities"... yeah, with all your power and might, USAF MSgt Wesley H.

Willand, let's start taking notes and making reports about harassment.

Take this note Master Sgt: Learn about the history and relationship between the United States and Guam - not just your yes sir, no sir, military indoctrination but our federal-territorial relationship. Learn about what my people went through here during WWII, and that even today there is still so much the United States has, as a sacred trust and obligation, to accomplish an continues to fail us. Try to see past the muzzle of your M16 and frightening WMD's, that we are not the enemy as you may perceive. In fact, you have just reinforced the resistance we are fighting... THAT your presence is a detriment to our peace and political destiny, our very freedom as indigenous people in our own homeland.

So, go ahead Master Sgt. and tell your people to file their complaints to your AAFB guards, for you see, we have no place to go do the same, save my voice - and Senot Hemsing's and those of our activist brethren - voices and signs, however disturbing they may seem to you, but we will not be silenced. You, sir, must realize you are guests in my homeland, and yes, even the very base you are occupying is Chamorro land!

Welcome to Guam Master Sgt., the land of the Chamorro people, colonized by the United States of America! By the way, why don't you tell your own people to restrict their own one-finger salutes to each other. I carry no weapons and I wish you peace, even as I struggle most non-violently for my own. When you see me next, I would just love it if you'd wave back, but, uh, no guns or bad language or rude gestures, OK? Nilibre!

Patty Garrido
Harmon Cliffline
(Naton, Guahan)

CopyrightYAS,Inc.@2007
Marianas Variety

***************************

Sorry, lady, this island is occupied
joe murphy "murhpy's law"
Guampdn
Article published Mar 24, 2008
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I find myself in a bind over the relationship Guam has with the U.S. government.

Here you find the big, bad U.S. government, perhaps not even elected by the people, telling us where we should pile up our garbage. That doesn't seem right to me, on the surface. You don't have to tell us when and where to pile our garbage. We're smart enough to figure that out by ourselves.

We don't need your help.

But on the other hand, we've been trying to close down the Ordot dump for 20 years, and we haven't been able to do it. So we would appreciate your advice on the matter.

Then I read a letter by one Patty Garrido, an activist, who says: "The military should know they are just guests here."

I laughed because I don't think the military is a guest at all. There is an expression that fits. It refers to "the guy who has the biggest gun is entitled to the most land." Garrido doesn't understand the principle of it all.

The Spanish occupied Guam hundreds of years ago because they had the guns. The Chamorros fought, at the time, but couldn't compete against modern weaponry. They, in effect, lost the island to the Spanish.

Then a few hundred years later, along came the Americans who had bigger guns. They took the island away from the Spanish, and claimed it for themselves.

Again, that didn't seem right to me, or to Garrido. But, that is how things work. The guys with the biggest gun, or the most modern technology can claim the land.

Open up your eyes, Garrido. That's the way the world is, and has always been. It was that way when Ghengis Khan captured most of the civilized world. It was that way when the Roman armies ran roughshod over Europe, the Mideast and parts of Africa.

Sure, it would be nice if the United Nations somehow laid claim to all the land and gave it back to the original owners. But that isn't about to happen.

The military, as part of the United States, is going to do whatever they want and there is not much we can say about it. In truth, many of the military you seem to be complaining about are young men and women from Yona or Inarajan or from Santa Rita. You can't tell them that they are guests here. No, ma'am. As Americans they have as much right to live here as you do. Ask any judge. Ask any U.S. taxpayer. Ask any congressman.

Wrong from the start
All that hassle over the Southern High School reminds me of a day, years ago, when then-governor Joe Ada asked me to sit in on a planning session with teachers and administrators who were planning the construction of the new high school needed in the South.

It was an interesting session, and the educators in attendance really worked hard to come up with a plan for the new school.

What went wrong? Did the contractor really goof up that badly? Or did the system break down?

The school was wrong from the very beginning. The swimming pool didn't work. The acoustics were bad. The gym didn't work. There wasn't enough toilets. And so on, and so on.

So much for getting educators together to plan a school. Better to let a contractor and an architect get together to hammer things out.

Cultural treat
Last week I got a cultural treat. That's one of the advantages of living on Guam. We've got so much culture, it makes for good living.

The Japan Club of Guam, who have been an important part of the island for years, hosted a great Japan Day at the Onward Beach Resort on the shores of the lagoon. I sat in the lobby for a minute and enjoyed a cup of coffee, and took in the fantastic view of the lagoon with the boats
roaring past. What a spot.

It was all Japanese for an hour or so. Their culture is so different from ours. I loved the music and the dancing. They wore native outfits, the kimonos, and the obis. Good show.

Anniversary
The United States just celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war. I don't think that "celebrate" is the right word. The country has lost almost 4,000 people in that misunderstood battle. We suffered a deficit of $175 billion in February alone.

Is it any wonder that the country is involved in a recession. Those billions of dollars could have been used for something useful, like putting New Orleans back together or helping Guam build a new dump site.

Wars are very expensive. Do you know that the cost of a fleet of F-35 jet fighters will cost the country $1 trillion dollars? That is a lot of bread.

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Brace for impact
--------
In the March 24th issue of a competing local newspaper, Señot Joe Murphy, in his column "Murphy's Law," responded to my article published in the Variety on March 18th, on the topic of airmen reporting harassment from local protestors --- in particular, my statement to the U.S. military that they are guests in MY homeland.

At the very least, he could have properly cited the Variety article, since nearly half of his column chided my lack of intelligence and unseeing eyes to the principle of "might makes right," or as he put it, "the guy with the biggest gun is entitled to the most land."

I could be upset and offended with the bullying and seemingly off-handed tone of his words, but I will rise above it because, while Señot Joe apparently doesn't know me, I am acquainted with a few members of his family personally, and even culturally, I've been taught to show respect to our elders, and I think he's way older than me! So ñoit, Señot Joe.

Now, let's talk. Guam is MY homeland, and this is MY story.

We know about Magellan; Father San Vitores; Spain-America's impact on Guam; Japan-America and WWII and their impact on Guam; America at war and that impact on Guam; the parable of the tribes that researchers and anthropologists define as Guam being the resilient society adapting the conquerors' who are the aggressive, predators of power... that "outsiders" introduce their ways into our society, whether by force or not, and we as Chamorros adapt. That we don't have the political (organized) governmental will, nor the military power, to defend ourselves against these intrusions. And this intrinsic makeup in our peoplehood and government may lead to our very demise.

At the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898, when Guam was won as a spoil of war by America, even your own people, Señot Joe, probably didn't know about Guam. My grandmother, my father's mother, was 33 years old then, speaking only Chamorro and Spanish. She was a "witness" during the War Crimes Tribunal after WWII, saving the necks of some of the most
prominent families on Guam today. She was 95 when she died, still not knowing English. My father, if still alive today, would be 101 years old. His father died in 1950 forever Chamorro, after his land was "taken" from him pre-Organic Act. My mother will be 94 this year, and she stands to defend her "land." Every male member of my immediate family served in the
U.S. military; I have a first cousin that was the only "starred" member of the U.S. Congress during his tenure. I am fully aware of the militarization of not only MY homeland, but my people and their pysche.

While I did not serve, I felt its impact - through the history of my family, my community, and MY island.

Chamorros join the U.S. military for many reasons --- be they economic, benefits to be gained, places to see, yes, even patriotism. That I speak to identifying with MY homeland, doesn't take away patriotism. Chamorros "in country" fighting America's fight in distant places identify Guam as homeland, and are drawn together. When I speak to the U.S. military as guests in MY homeland, I say it with the utmost of my being, resisting their aggressive power to conquer even more of MY homeland and my identity as a Chamorro.

As long as the exercise of my human right to political self-determination is denied, I will continue to resist. As long as my peoplehood is subscribed to a "parable of the tribes," I will continue to resist. As long as My homeland is offered as the "tip of the spear" to insulate America from the very terror that endangers the perpetuation of MY society, I will continue to resist. David slew Goliath. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and provided the impetus for the civil rights movement. Ghengis Khan is both honored (by his people), and denounced by those descendants whose nations his army invaded --- even today. The Roman Empire fell. The Third Reich fell. The Berlin wall fell.

I close with this excerpt from the writings of Ronald Stanley of Campus Ministries at Ramapo College, New Jersey: "... Might does not make right, and no amount of rationalizing can make it so. People who are weaker do not loose their full human dignity of rights. When we let ourselves think that because we can do something we have the right to do it, or that superior might makes for superior right, or when we attempt to belittle another, it is our own humanity we are destroying." I refuse to consent to my destruction because of perceived superiority over my "weakness" or "smallness" and I resist any person or nation intent to do so. I may not survive, but as Rosa Parks said, "I'm tired of being tired" and no, sir, I will NOT give up my seat! Nilibre!

Patty Garrido
Harmon Cliffline
Ñaton, Guahan

CopyrightYAS,Inc.@2007
Marianas Variety

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Searching for a Slingstone

I was searching for a slingstone.

It is an artifact, an ancient weapon that one rarely finds just lying around Guam, however today I am saddened to find a place where I there are plenty of them.

Peering through the gaps in a fence made of orange plastic which guards the multi-million dollar remodel for the Okura Hotel, I see scattered and crushed beneath backhoes and bulldozers fragments of the slingstones I am seeking. These sights of development are becoming more common on Guam, in anticipation of the massive military increases the island is expecting over the next few years. Vague but monstrously huge sums of money are being dangled before the people of Guam by local business leaders as well as Federal and military officials, and people are clamoring both on and off of Guam to get a piece of the action.

Around the island we see the halom tano’ (jungle) being cleared and the tåno’ (land) being hollowed out. In places such as Okura, the excavation is resulting in huge collections of Ancient Chamorro artifacts, slingstones and pottery and even bones, finding their way to the surface.

In the recent expansion of the Okura Hotel, the bones of more than 350 Ancient Chamorros have been uncovered and unearthed. The discovery of te’lang (bones) during development on Guam is nothing new, especially in Tumon, which was long ago a vibrant Ancient Chamorro village. During the construction booms that eventually turned Tumon into the concrete jungle of hotels and bars that it is today, a huge number of Ancient Chamorro village and burial sites were disturbed and unearthed. How much damage was done and how many graves were disturbed is unknown, since many hotels did nothing to preserve, study or even respect the bones.

The thinking of these businesses was probably a pragmatic “who cares?” These bones are old, broken and anonymous. They were buried within the odda’ (soil) long ago, and any tombstones or latte to mark their existence is long gone. There is no life left in these bones, so who care what happens to them.

We too, might make the same assumption, although perhaps with less disrespect, that the rising of the bones from the earth was a tairespetu (rude) awakening, caused by the metallic indifference of a bulldozer. As I squeeze the orange plastic fence, hoping to get a better look at the excavation, I know that there is another way to see the violent arrival of these te’lang.

Ancient Chamorros believed that after death, the ante (soul) of a person remained in their bones, most specifically the skull. After all the flesh had left a person’s skull it would be taken from the buried body and returned to the home of its relatives. Once there, the skull would be treated as a revered member of the family, because of the good fortune and protection it could bring to the living family members.

Lying, buried amid these weapons which they used in their time to defend Guam, we can imagine these bones throwing themselves against these bulldozers in an attempt to stop them. Could then, their rising from the earth, be their own decision, their own form of quiet, but clear protest? Does their arrival represent their efforts to tell us something and somehow continue to protect us and Guam?

Given the “jungle” in which they emerged, are they warning us against this new round of “development” or at least demanding that we rethink what the idea means and how we should “develop Guam?” Is their protest in hopes of stopping Guam from again entering an unsustainable and dangerous development cycle? Have they returned to remind us, that there is more to the land, more in the land, then simply the money one can make from selling it?

As I release the orange fence and begin to turn away, unable to reach any of the slingstone pieces, there is one thing here that I can still take hope in, and as I feel that spirit, I whisper a respectful “Saina Ma’ase.”

Ancient Chamorros believed that the success or failure of their lives depended upon maintaining a respectful harmony amongst their living relatives and more importantly their deceased ones who had become ancestral spirits. The ante of one’s elders resided close by the family at all times, and one planted crops, fished and fought battles with their assistance. Families which met with incredible calamity or violent death, were though to have offended their ancestral spirits and lost their protection.

In September of 2007, after a number of small protests by members of the community regarding the treatment of the Chamorro remains by the Okura Hotel, construction there abruptly stopped. The stated reason was simply a lack of funds. I know that this is the most likely reason, however I still smile to think, to hope for something else. Perhaps this stoppage of construction is a signal, a sign that the ancestral spirits of Ancient Chamorros are still with us, defending us, and possibly still throwing some slingstones of their own.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Desde Talo'fo'fo' Asta Hagatna

Ti apmam bai hu gaige ta'lo gi i isla-ku. Gi este mamaila na simana, para ta silebra i fine'nina na kumpleanos-na i hagga'-hu, Si Sumahi.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where is Diego Garcia?

I gave a presentation last week titled "The Fantasies of Empire: American Liberation and the Case of Guam," and I'm going to make a few small changes to my introduction for that paper, in order to introduce the article below, "Where - and What - in the World is Diego Garcia?"

I have long argued, against various forms of indifference that places such as Guam, Diego Garcia Island or Guantanamo Bay either signal the coming of Empire (as proposed by Hardt and Negri) or already mark quietly it passage and the approaching horizon. But as opposed to Guantanamo Bay where the de- and re-territorialization of Empire can be seen in much clearer and camera ready terms, Guam and Diego Garcia are important precisely because its political existence represents forms of banal colonialism which continue to evade even the sharpest critical eyes. While Guantanamo Bay, and the abuses which have taken place there, have become the object of a multitude of conservative and progressive causes. At any given moment across all manner of media, mainstream, conservative, liberal, the base can signify American imperialism, American global policing policies, American grit and determination, American crimes and abuses, American exceptionalism.

For a variety of reasons ranging from size, distance to history, Guam and Diego Garcia island, despite their own potential significations of crass or unjust American colonialism, militarism or imperialism, remain spectrally indistinct, meaning that whatever specters of colonization or injustice they conjure up, remain the type which do not haunt. If a brave new world of cosmopolitanism and global democracy arrived tomorrow, it is more than likely that the status of Guam and Diego Garcia of distantly imagined, American military "spear-tips," will remain untouched and unquestioned.

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Published on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
Where – and What – in the World Is Diego Garcia?
by Sean Gonsalves

With California weather in my blood, Cape Cod spring feels like an extension of winter.

What keeps me warm until summer comes is baseball - and fantasies about vacationing on a tropical island like Guam, where my 6th- and 7th-grade best friend, David Reed, and his Navy dad were transferred to from the now defunct Oakland Navy Base.

“Where’s Guam?” I asked.

“It’s some tropical island in the North Pacific Ocean. Kinda like Hawaii, but no tourists,” Dave said. Then, already honing my gift of asking conversation-changing questions, I said: “Why do we have a base in Guam?”

It wasn’t until years later I learned that Guam is a key FOB. That’s military jargon for “forward operating base,” just one of a million or so military acronyms.

In a world where America is the self-appointed global cop, an FOB is like a police precinct - a strategically located substation from which hardware and personnel can be quickly dispatched to keep the neighborhood rabble in line.

Diego Garcia is the other key FOB that people who consider themselves well-informed about the Busheviks “war on terror” ought to know about.

David Vine, assistant professor of anthropology at American University and author of the forthcoming book Island of Shame: The Secret History of Exile and Empire on Diego Garcia, details the post 9/11 significance of these FOB’s, especially Diego Garcia - the coveted military outpost in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago, where the beaches look like one of those Corona beer commercials.

In the 1950s, U.S. war planners were worried about local populations catching the decolonization bug sweeping the Third World. So the U.S. Navy came up with the “Strategic Island Concept,” which, in part, identified the British colony of Diego Garcia as a good place to build an isolated base, helping to ensure that former colonial subjects in the Middle East and Africa understood that freedom means whatever the hell the Washington consensus says it means.

But, there was one small problem. Actually, 2,000 small problems - the Chagossians, with ties to the island since the Portuguese first shipped in slaves and indentured laborers from Africa and India in the late 18th century to work the coconut plantations run by French Mauritians.

When British officials were secretly negotiating a 50-year lease with the U.S. in the 1960s, British diplomats were cutting a deal to give Mauritius its independence - minus Diego Garcia, which just so happens to be in violation of the U.N. Charter, if you’re into that kind of namby-pamby stuff like me.

The Brit playbook called for the Palestine play - relocate much, if not all, of the indigenous population into a neighboring country to make way for new settlers. For the Palestinians, GB had Jordan in mind. For the Chagossians, it was Mauritius that was to absorb the dispossessed.

Of course, the Chagossian problem would be a lot easier to handle because there were only a couple thousand refugees and not several hundred thousand with millennia-old roots in “holy land.” And like Golda Meier famously described Palestinians, the Chagossians have been said not to exist, which explains why most mainstream news accounts of the tiny atoll include some line about it being “an uninhabited island” - a remnant of British government propaganda intended to “as one official put it, ‘maintaining the fiction’ that the Chagossians were transient contract workers rather than people with roots in Chagos for five generations or more,” Vine observes.

Vine goes on to point out the growing military importance of DG ever since the Chagossians took their coconuts to Mauritius. Fast forward to forward operating base Diego Garcia during Gulf War I. It served as the prepositioned weapons-and-supply cache for Marines sent to Saudi Arabia in 1991. The island, named after a ship, later became a launch pad for lobbing long-range bombs on Iraq.

After the ‘91 war, “the dream for many in the military became the ability to strike any location on the planet from Barksdale Air Base in Louisiana, Guam in the Pacific, or Diego Garcia,” Vine reports.

After the 9/11 attacks, DG became even more strategically significant. The Air Force sent 2,000 of its personnel to a new 30-acre housing facility there called “Camp Justice.”
(Seriously, who the hell comes up with these ridiculous names)?

When the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began, B-1, B-2, and B-52 bomber sorties were flown out of “Camp Justice” and the island’s blue lagoons were used to store prepositioned weapons and supplies for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In 2006, with the publication of Stephen Grey’s Ghost Plane documenting the presence of a CIA-chartered plane used for rendition flights at DG, reports of “Camp Justice” being a CIA “black site” for detainee interrogation started to eke out. Official rumors were followed by a Council of Europe report identifying Diego Garcia as a secret CIA prison location, along with “black sites” in Poland and Romania.

This past February, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Parliament he learned of two instances when the Bush administration, in violation of the base lease with Britain, used Diego Garcia like a Guantanamo University satellite campus.

“The State Department’s chief legal adviser said CIA officials were ‘as confident as they can be’ that no other detainees had been held on the island…Within days, UN special investigator

Manfred Novak announced new evidence that others had been imprisoned on the island. Many suspect the United States may hold detainees on secret prison ships in Diego Garcia’s lagoon or elsewhere in the waters of Chagos.”

With the legal die having already been cast for secret “renditions” of murkily-defined “enemy-combatants,” kept in secret prisons without recourse to Habeas corpus, consider yourself warned. If some guy in a suit approaches you on the street and says you’ve won a free dream trip to the exclusive tropical paradise of Diego Garcia - RUN!

Photos I’ve seen of the island are gorgeous, but it would be hard to appreciate the beauty while getting waterboarded.

In the meantime, you might ask your Congressman: why haven’t there been hearings on where - and what - in the world Diego Garcia and those other FOB’s are?

Sean Gonsalves is a syndicated columnist and assistant news editor with the Cape Cod Times. He can be reached at sgonsalves@capecodonline.com

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bollywood Culture Talk

While on Crooks and Liars today, I came across my dream come true. (or at least one of them)

A website, where you can put your own subtitles over clips from Bollywood movies. I've made a couple and I'm posting them below, but let me give you some background first on why this is a dream for me, other than simply i guinaya-ku nu kachidon Bollywood siha.

For those familiar with those blog, for the past few years I've had a regular feature on it called "Nihi Ta Fanchat Gi Fino' Chamoru put Hindi Movies" or "Let's Chat in Chamorro About Hindi Movies." In these posts, I basically create a dialogue in Chamorro between two people who are talking about a recently released Bollywood movie.

For my first post, I used the film Swades, Ashutosh Gowariker's epic about diaspora, finding one's way back home, and the relationship between progress and culture in the "non-first" world, to create the dialogue. I'm pasting it right here for those interested:

Jofis: Lana Miget, gi painge' hu egga' Swades, ya gof ya-hu!

Miget: Guana? Pine'lo-ku na esta ma na'ma'pos ayu. Magof-hu na ya-mu, lao nu Guahu, ti ya-hu.

Jofis: Ki sa' hafa umbree na ti ya-mu? Ti ya-mu ni' kanta-na siha?

Miget: Well, guaha na ya-hu, ya guaha na ti ya-hu lokkue. Lao ti put enao na guaha chinatli'e-hu nu Guiya.

Jofis: Pues sa' hafa?

Miget: Ai atan i hinasso-na Si Mohan, i petsona-na Si Shah Rukh Khan. Taimamahlao ayu! Hunggan, dinanche gui' lokkue, lao gos tairespetu, sa' hinasso-na na i tinakhilo' ha' i kesteumbren Amerikanu.

Jofis: Hu hasso, hu hasso. Nai mandana gi i miteng despues di ma subi i nuebu na famagu'on. Ma fatta i Indians siha na maolekna siha kinu i Amerikanu siha put i ketturan-niha! Ya Si Shah Rukh ha lalatde siha, ilek-na na komo un sigi ha' fatta put este, ti un ripara i bila na problema giya Hamyo, ya i kettura ti ha hulat muna'homlo'!

Miget: Hunggan.

Jofis: Dinanche' Si Shah Rukh, hafa i problema-mu?

Miget: Gof impottante i kettura lokkue, ya dinanche i taotao i sengsong na guaha giya Siha ni' maolekna kinu i Amerikanu siha. Kao guaha un egga' i kachido, "Biko?"

Jofis: Ahe'.

Miget: Gi ayu, guaha scene nai umakuentusi un haole yan un taotao South Africa. Ilek-na i South African nu i haole, un chule' magi bula na kosas inadelanto, annok na masgaiprogress hamyo kinu Guiya, pi'ot gi fanience'an. Lao guaha lokkue gi un banda, ni' ti un danche. Put hemplo, ilek-na este na taotao, i familia.

Jofis: Pues?

Miget: Ti bai hu sangan na perfekto i taotao Indian, ya parehua ha' nu i Chamorro. Lao an un atan hafa ilekilek-na i kettura-ta put i familia, put taimanu debi di ta trata i taotao (fa'taotao, ti fa'trastes), mas gaibali i ketturan Chamorro ya sina lokkue i ketturan Indian kinu i Amerikanu.
Jofis: Okay, okay, dinanche hao nu este, lao put enao ha' ti ya-mu i mibi?

Miget: Ahe' umbre, ilek-hu na ya-hu yan ti ya-hu lokkue. Kalang todu gi lina'la' eh?

I chose this film, not just because it was popular at the time, but because so many of the issues the film tried to deal with through the context of Indians, felt so similar to what Chamorros are and have been going through for generations. For instance, the idea of "culture" plays a number of key roles in the film, both positive and negative. Naturally, the thereotical points of the film are very basic and crude, such as the obvious division it accepts between those in the diaspora as lacking culture and those in the homeland having plenty of culture. But, as with all films which are potentially horrible and unwatchable, you'll find just as much truth about a situation, as if the film was Ethnic Studies Oscar winning material.

In the film we see culture as a positive, healing force in the case of the main character, Mohan. He returns home, after having lost his culture and becoming thoroughly modern while living in the United States (and working for NASA). During his stay there, he encounters a negative definition of culture which we find in the "developing" or "primitive" world. Not as something which heals or stimulates growth or progress, but something which restricts progress and development. In the elders of the village who dismiss the Mohan's calls to change their ways, we see culture as a mire in which the formerly and currently colonized world wallows in. Something which holds them back, and as Mohan articulates explicitly in the film, becomes an excuse for why things are so terrible. The defense of their "culture" keeps them from fighting for better education, better utilities, but just becomes this illusion through which they can say they are better than the English or the Americans, but in reality, they are just fools. At the film's end, by assisting a village in India in building a hydroelectric dam to ensure that their power supply is stable, Mohan appears to have found a way to balance the conflicts between modernity, progress and culture, and decides to return to India and live there (while still working for NASA)

I am not endorsing specifically the message of this film, but only want to point out that these very discussions and ideas are just as present in Guam and in the Chamorro diaspora. One of the most important things we can draw from this film, is that the power dynamics around the naming of something as "cultural" or "culture." Culture talk, in the film (and elsewhere) is always made in reference or relation to things which are modern or things which the colonizer is or isn't. Yet despite this clear link to the colonizer, the discussion and assertion of what is or isn't "our culture" is always paradoxically meant to describe something which is autonomous to, not affected by or not supposed to be affected by the colonizer and his "modern ways."

The problems with this, are that the decisions or the frameworks through which people decide what is "culture" and what is not "our culture" aren't innocent or often even closely related to reality. These frameworks are soaked heavily with dominant ideas, and in the case of all colonies, that means alot of influence coming from precisely the people who you shouldn't want telling you what is what in your lives. The impact of this, as we can see in too many discussions on Guam, is that the way we talk about our culture is obsessed with purity and finding that which is "unique." What happens everyday on Guam is that Chamorros are denied the right to have a culture, even by Chamorros themselves because what they do and what they are, doesn't match these requirements. It is a "hybrid" mix of different cultures, and far too similar to other cultures colonized by the Spainish, and so therefore doesn't exist.

So as you can see there is more to this, than simply Bollywood orientalism. When I wrote this first edition of "Let's Chat in Chamorro About Hindi Movies," I wrote a small blurd in front of it, to explain where I was coming from:

In the spirit of coalition building and opening up new forums and types of dialogue, I dedicate the following to building an important bridge between Hindi movies and the Chamorro language...

Part of why I wrote this was simply to be silly, but there were deeper, more thought out reasons for it. As I wrote above, I saw connections between representations of Indian culture, diaspora in Bollywood films and the way Chamorros (who sadly don't have much of cinema) represent these things in their everyday speech, letters to the editor and blogs. Another reason at the time, was my own explorations in terms of what decolonization is or can be.

Firstly, in terms of decolonization, and making another world possible, the connection to India is a historically important one.

In the Cold War Era, India represented or at least appeared to represent a state which could help actualize the hope that Fanon's Wretched of the Earth ends with, namely that those who have been oppressed and colonized, can in their fights for decolonization, prove to be the more human, prove to be the true heirs to the ideas which Europe used to conquer the world and assert itself as the bearer of universal reason and ideas. As we can see in documents such as the Constitution of the United States, which propses to create and protect a universal national subject, the reality was that millions of indigenous people, slaves and women were not included in this glorious universality. For Fanon, it was through the violence of decolonization and the refusal of the order the colonizer proposed to prop himself up, that the formerly colonized, could create a truly more universal world.

India, a key member of the Non-Aligned Movement, played a huge role in the first few decades after World War II, in keeping this hope alive. Although this role for India is largely dead now, considering the way India is integrating itself and is being integrated into the global order today, there are still traces of hope.

As a person from one of the world's last official colonies, the occasional anti-colonial spirit that we find in Bollywood films such as Lagaan or Rang De Basanti, is so heart-warming. Furthermore, there could be something said about the way that Bollywood is trying to surpass the United States as the home of the "blockbuster film" and contesting its role as the center of the world's imagination and desiring. Most of the films that I've chosen over the years to create dialogues for are actually amongst these blockbusters. Here's a list of all those I've done so far. (Nina'hahasso yu' ni' este, na taya' nai manuge' yu' gi este na sakkan)

1. January 4, 2005 - Swades

2. January 25, 2005 - Hum Tum
3. May 10, 2005 - The Rising

4. October 17, 2005 - Salaam Namaste

5. November 13, 2005 - Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham

6. June 24, 2006 - Raja Hindustani

7. November 21, 2006 - Lage Raho Munna Bhai

8. July 21, 2007 - Dhoom 2

9. October 30, 2007 - Gandhi

There was another theoretical reason why I began writing these dialogues, but its already late here in Georgia where I'm writing this post, and so it'll have to be saved for another time.

But before I go, let me share with you the vidoes that I've made is (true to form) in Chamorro and related to the military buildup on Guam and Liberation Day. The second is one made for i hagga'-hu Sumahi who will be turning one in a week. Siempre bei post mas put este sen maolek na ukashon, bai hu falak Guahan gi i otro na simana, pues Hita na dos, sina ta silebra este fine'nina na kumpleanos-na!




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