Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Vision for Independence

Mensahi Ginnen i Gehilo' #2
A Vision for Independence

One of the most important tasks that the Decolonization Commission has before it at present is the setting of a possible date for a self-determination plebiscite to help determine Guam’s next political status. After much discussion last year, the general election of 2016 was favored as possible date. Things have changed however as funding for the commission and the political status task forces seems unlikely for at least a year and the majority of members of the commission itself seem to now be against having the self-determination vote mixed with the politics of a gubernatorial election. Hopefully future meetings will help clarify this, so we can move forward.
In the meantime, for each political status task force, our most important agenda item is the updating and revising of our perspective position papers. In 2000, each task force, independence, statehood and free association submitted to the Decolonization Commission, separate reports that outlined the advantages and arguments for each particular status. These reports were to be used to craft the informational/educational materials that the Decolonization Commission will publish, which will detail in an objective way what each possible status might entail. As the commission remained inactive for almost a decade, these position papers have not been updated. In order to get the educational process started, over the next two months each task force will be working in updating or re-writing their arguments for their chosen political status.
For independence, this means working countering many of the myths that are in the community about the frightening and terrifying nature of Guam possibly becoming independent. Many people feel that independence would mean traveling back in time or radically changing life, but in truth independence means no such thing. All it means is that Guam become a locally sovereign nation, where its people, and not a government thousands of miles away hold the authority over life there. Independence would mean many changes to Guam, but so would the other statuses.
Although the original position paper is a very important work in establishing the argument for why independence for Guam can be considered part of a natural evolution, and is something that will help Guam in the long run in terms of developing and sustaining itself, I am grateful for the opportunity to update it and help enhance the message to appeal to as large an audience as possible. In order for this we have to offer a vision for independence that makes clear that independence is not solely about resolving the injustices of the past, but it is about the people of Guam, Chamorros and non-Chamorros as well, establishing the type of future for this island that they would want. It is important to note that even though only those who meet the definition of being legally Chamorro can vote in the plebiscite, it will be up to both Chamorros and non-Chamorros to help get us to whatever status is chosen. There are a long list of reasons why Chamorros should support an independent Guam, but there are just as many reasons why a non-Chamorro should support it as well.
Right now, if you are interested in helping to revise this position paper, please email me at Si Yu’us Ma’ase.

Sahuma Minagahet ya Na’suha Dinagi

Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Chairman, Independence Task Force for Guam

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