Monday, April 25, 2011

An End to Colonialism


Political status has been such a huge issue lately, even to the point of bringing the infamous Dave Davis out of his temporary hiatus from writing columns for the Marianas Variety back to the forefront of racist denigrating rhetoric on Guam. There are bills flying around the Legislature, the Governor is not only having meetings but also make soft promises about a vote taking place in 2012. As a staffer from the Legislature noted last week, the next few years may be the most significant chance that our generation gets at resolving an issue which has been stewing for centuries, that of Guam's colonial status. I'm someone who is very willing to take on that challenge, but we'll see how serious Guam's leaders are. Political status is something great for rhetoric and for giving the illusion of having a political ideology, but action on it has been historically minute.

The recent snub by 15 US Senators who visited Guam on their way to Asia has even gotten embroiled in this issue, as you can see from the press release below. Had self-determination not arisen as a general topic of conversation things would be very different in this release. It might have still been wounded, angry or hurt, but it most likely never would have called for an end to colonialism.

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Powerful U.S. Senators Arrive in Guam; Guam Governor Calls on U.S. Senate to End Its Bipartisan Colonialism

Office of the Governor of Guam
Immediate Release: April 18, 2011

(Hagatna, Guam) Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, one of the 55 United States governors, found out this morning that fifteen percent of the U.S. Senate landed on Guam in secrecy today. The contingent includes the Senate Majority and Minority leaders and other powerful U.S. Senators. These U.S. Senators, both Democrat and Republican, have decided to thumb their noses at the island and its government. The Governor, who is a member of the National Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association, releases the following statement about how this snub can severely affect Guam colonial-federal relations as the U.S. government pushes a $15 billion realignment of Asian-Pacific forces on Guam:

“This morning, Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo asked whether I would be greeting the 15 U.S. Senators scheduled to arrive at Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base today. We were both surprised and extremely upset that no one in the federal establishment informed Guam of their visit. We called the Navy to verify this stopover and we were told that the U.S. Senators will not entertain any meeting or discussions with Guam leaders or the Guamanian people. Instead of landing at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam, they have decided to shield their visit in secrecy and land within the confines of Andersen Air Force Base.

“In the 100 years we have been a colony of the United States, the U.S. government hardly did anything to resolve our colonial status. What kind of democracy allows colonialism to flourish? I am livid the U.S. Senate, a body created by the will of the people of 13 colonies who wanted freedom and democracy, would turn its back on the Guamanian people. It is obvious we are not part of their constituency, and they do not consider us a valuable part of the American family. This only serves to inflame our long-held belief that we are an American colony of second-class citizens who matter only when our geopolitical position is needed by the U.S. government.

“This is a sad state of affairs. This is the third time in the last year that Congress has made it clear that we are of no importance to the nation. This snub follows Congress trying to sell our own resources to us at Fena and Congress taking away our Delegate’s voting power in House committees. These U.S. Senators are only hurting American interests abroad. Look at the great relationship we’ve built with the U.S. military. Congress’s actions only undermine that work. Why? If Guam was so important to U.S. strategic interests, then why would the nation’s leaders continue snubbing Guamanians?
“If the Senate wants to thumb its nose at Guamanians, then perhaps it is time for Guamanians to call in every injustice ever committed upon our people by the U.S. government. And we can start with the Insular Cases of the same U.S. Supreme Court of the 1900s that said people of color were separate but equal. How many times have Guamanians answered the call to serve? How many have died for a democracy that doesn’t even fully apply to us? How many more times must Guamanians accept colonial treatment before Congress ever recognizes that our voices count, too? How much more oppression can our people take before they get fed up and tell the Congress to take their buildup somewhere else?
“We can have the greatest relationship with the U.S. military and the Department of the Interior, but if Congress continues ignoring Guam like the colony it is, we will never truly enjoy the America that the Marines of 1944 fought and died to bring to Guam. What happened to the pledge of a “One Guam” policy? It’s clear these U.S. Senators have no intention of uniting our best interests. To them, there is an American inside a military fenceline, and an American colony outside of it. They want nothing to do with that colony. Here is yet another compelling reason the Guam Legislature, Lt. Governor Tenorio and I are working together to call for a vote of self determination. We cannot continue on as a colony of the United States. We should either be a part of the U.S., with voting membership in the House and Senate and the right to vote for President, or we should govern ourselves. This is a message we will share with U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Carl Levin when they visit with us next week. At least these gentlemen have the consideration and decency to meet with their fellow Americans in Guam.
“I want Guamanians living in the U.S. States where these U.S. Senators are from to remember what these U.S. Senators did to Guam in the next national elections.”
Guam is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States, a colonial status that has not changed. Its residents are called Guamanians and were granted U.S. citizenship by an act of Congress called the Organic Act of 1948. Only certain provisions of the Constitution's Bill of Rights apply to the residents of Guam, called Guamanians. Guamanians have among the highest enlistment rates in the U.S. military. There are 183,000 Guamanians living in Guam. An unknown number reside throughout the U.S. mainland, Hawaii and Alaska. A 2000 census of those who call themselves Chamorro (the ethnicity indigenous to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) or part-Chamorro says that 33,849 Chamorros alone live in California. This does not include the broader number of Guamanians of other ethnic backgrounds who live in California. According to the 2000 Census, nearly 100,000 Chamorros live in the 50 States and Puerto Rico.
Office of the Governor of Guam

Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex
Adelup, Guam 96910

Tel: (671) 472-8931/6
Fax: (671) 477-4826
http://governor.guam.gov

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