Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Governor of Guam Has a Youtube Channel

The Governor of Guam has his own Youtube Channel.

Yanggen ti un tungo' este esta, taya' guaha.

It was only created last month, and it has so far only 19 uploads. You can find there some of his weekly messages, some testimonials from people who want their/need their tax refunds, and presentations on his government reorganization plans.

I'm waiting to see if the Guam Legislature will create their own Youtube page. They probably won't for a while since they already have their own tv channel where you can watch them in session and when they hold public hearings.

Of the videos on Calvo's channel, one in particular caught my eye. It was uploaded three weeks ago, and it was a message to every member of Congress. In it the Governor called on members of Congress to support Guam in a number of ways. Two of his calls might appear to be contradictory; first his call on Congress to make sure the military buildup happens, since they need to take advantage of Guam and its strategic location. As the Governor put it, everything around Guam has changed, but its location hasn't. Second, his call on Congress to support Guam on its quest for self-determination.

To a casaul observer these two things might seem to be in opposition. Call for more military presence, is also most likely accepting the decreased change of Guam ever being decolonized. From my position as an activist, an academic, someone outside of Government, this is true of course. For 110 plus years the most significant barrier to Guam achieving any sort of self-determination, large or small has always been its strategic importance. This was used to argue against political rights before World War II and it has also been used to determine what Guam gets since. The more local control Guam has the more it appears to interfere with things such as national security or the ability of the military to perform its mission in Guam, and as such Guam has always been pushed aside when it comes to moving to the next step of its political evolution.

But as the Governor of Guam, you have a different position in Guam, and while you are only actually supposed to be beholden to the people of Guam, your government according to decisions by the Supreme Court of the US, really isn't a government at all. It is just a piece of the Federal Government that it created and placed in Guam. You are not supposed to have any ability or rights outside of that control, so even if you are supposed to represent Guam primarily, your existence if already inundated with Federal interests and Federal control. You may go about your life thinking locally or thinking for Guam, but that is only because the strings that bind you remain loose and haven't been yanked yet. You live a very curious existence, as you could be the one who will be the most defiant and the least obedient because of your distance both geographic and political, but you, because of how your existence stems from the Feds themselves, may also be the most compliant and most subservient.

For the Governor to ask for more military and to ask for more decolonization is an expression of his hybrid nature, it does not contradict much because he is already a contradiction. It is not some new terrifying ideological creature, since he is already that. It is an indication of what sort of "natural" discursive limits we might find on that position and how that can affect our expectations for what sort of transformative discourse we can see there. We can also see the limited (but self-serving) ways in which the Governor might conceive both self-determination and militarization, since the idea that their are compatible requires seeing them in very superficial ways.

One final thing to consider when seeing this sort of contradiction is the dialectical way that many politicians on Guam have combined the two together to make one possible only because of the other. For example, in the first few years of buildup discussion, former Governor Camacho was often told by members of the Legislature that this buildup is a perfect opportunity to get the things that Guam has long waited for from the Feds. In other words, demand that if you want this buildup, well we want these things first! This was argued at so many different points, but never taken on by Camacho's Administration officially. They may have hoped privately that by being compliant and loyal and quiet as things happened, they would be remembered and things taken for them later on the back end, but who knows. It is well beyond that point however, as the buildup process started long ago, although it definitely seems to be faltering and sputtering now. But the point of this sort of strategy is that from the beginning, you make clear that your support is contingent upon the resolution of certain things, and the buildup will not move forward otherwise.

One of the things that current Governor Calvo should thank previous Governor Camacho for is that he knows very clearly now, how not to be a leader on the military buildup issue. Camacho felt that faith in the Feds, which works fairly often on Guam, was the best route to take. He was Governor however when there was a different president, different Congress, and different world, and so perhaps he felt that was the best route to take. Be loyal, don't push anything too much, don't make any noise and Guam will surely benefit far better than if it tried to do anything. Governor Calvo may feel the colonial pull of the strategy at times, but should by now know that it only takes you so far.

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