Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mensahi Ginnen i Gehilo' #3 - I Fecha

Mensahi Ginnen i Gehilo' #3

"I Fecha"

After the Decolonization Commission being called into session last year, things looked to be moving ahead in terms of an educational campaign and a self-determination plebiscite.After eight years lost due to the previous administration's unwillingess to address the issue of political status, the Calvo Administration appeared committed to "un nuebu na direksion" put este na asunto. After quite a bit of hype and hope things have cooled. In 2011, Governor Calvo went on record supporting 2014 as a good year to hold the self-determination vote. The commission and its subcommittee discussed what would be the best date given a variety of factors. These factors included availability of funds for a stand alone vote, changes in administrations, the need for sufficient time to educate people, and also the fear that if the date is set to far into the future, then it might prevent elected leaders today from working towards it. November 2014 looked, according to the discussion to be the best possible date.

Now we are in 2012 and things have shifted slightly. The 2014 looks like it might be a real contest in terms of a Democrat challenging Calvo in the election. People don't want political status to become a wild card and somehow working against them. Political status can be a strange thing in Guam politics. For years it meant nothing and was something never dealt with because of the perception that to talk about it was to be anti-American. Eventually the standard response to any question about political status was the "i taotao la'mon," or it is up to the people, and the people will decide. This was a way of being able to address the issue without taking a stand on it. This apprehensiveness was due to the lack of readability for decolonization conversations. As a leader of Guam you always have to say that Guam deserves more, that Guam should get more of something or be able to evolve and chance, but that narrative always smacks directly into the colonizing assumption that the US should ultimately be in charge of Guam and that if Guam's status will change, it is the US who should be in charge of it. Discussing political status could become a minefield because it intrinsically authorizes a territory or a colony to have some power that must not be shared by the colonizer. The problem with this is that many people assume that it should be the US who is in charge of everything and Guam would only mess things up if it were to do anything.

Today things have changed, but there is still that delicacy to discussing political status. Some candidates have come forward to state what they feel is best for Guam. Many of them argue for free association, a few for statehood. While there are many who appear to support the principles of independence, no one has yet to openly support it and argue for it. A general election can be a crazy thing, to say the least. The rhetoric of a senator, a mayor or a member of the general public receives far less scrutiny, and it is hard to predict what sort of strange, bewildering thing might come to define or defame a candidate.

This leaves the fate of the vote in question once again, as we are unsure how to move forward. I am interested to hear anyone's thoughts on what they think might be the best possible date. Would it be best to save money and have this plebiscite take place during an already scheduled election, such as a primary or general election? Would it be better completely on its own? Would it be better to have it sooner or later? What counts as sooner what counts as later? Should the process wait until funds have been allocated for it. or should it start earlier?

Si Yu'us Ma'ase.

Sahuma Minagahet ya Na'suha Dinagi

Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Chairman, Independence for Guam Task Force

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