Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jeju Day 2

Another update from Brue Gagnon on the international peace conference that took place in Jeju, South Korea over the weekend. I've pasted it below:

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The Navy is expanding its effort to put razor wire all along the rocky coastline so the villagers cannot any longer stand on their sacred ground. But the people keep coming by swimming or on kayaks. They are determined. They continue to be arrested. As I write this a group will find their way there for the Sunday morning Catholic mass.


Yesterday we had a joint meeting between the villagers and our international guests. Our folks shared stories about U.S. and NATO space technology expansion into Sweden and Norway, the effort by the U.S. to get India to create their own aggressive Space Command to help "contain" China, and the Vandenberg AFB in California space missile launching center.
One elderly man from Gangjeong village told us he can't sleep at night, suffers from depression, and sees that the community has been physically and spiritually torn apart by the base construction. He asked what they could do?
In the afternoon we took a walking tour all around the imposing barbed wire-topped fences that have been erected around the base site. We could hear the heavy equipment from inside the destruction zone and the police practicing their harsh anti-protest tactics.

We planted seeds, placed rocks and poured water from our hometowns in the new garden at the peace park that is being created just outside the fence line that guards one end of the base. Even in the midst of the ugliness and barbarity of the base the people are planting the seeds of life and hope. They still laugh and smile and share food. They love their land and the sea in spite of the Navy and construction corporations who have nothing but disdain for democracy, for the villagers 450-year old history, and for their close relationship to nature. It is good and evil in an epic struggle. Good and bad playing out right before our eyes.

After supper together in the village community center we were treated to the most inspiring and joyful experience of the nightly candlelight vigil. Vigil is the wrong word - it should rather be described as rally-dance-music festival-party. A totally amazing experience.

Speeches (Mary Beth's was a huge hit as she told her story of daily watching the videos from the village) were followed by traditional Korean drumming and singing; songs by villagers (including the mayor who has a great voice and many say looks like the actor Robert Mitchum; peace in space awards presentations by the Global Network to the village and to South Korean activist and GN board member Wooksik Cheong who was instrumental in organizing the programs; speech by the former governor of Jeju Island who ended by singing Amazing Grace; lots of dancing (including 75 year olds Agneta Norberg from Sweden and J. Narayana Rao from India); and the big finale that turned out to be a choreographed three-song set with spiral dancing and virtually everyone there including the old village women whose backs are bent from years of hard work on their farms. One village woman sang two songs that sounded very similar to Native American cultures that I have witnessed. This all lasted until midnight and they ended by saying, "We'll see you tomorrow night for more. We do this every night!"
Near the end of the evening village Mayor Kang called me up and handed me bags of gifts for each of the 3o-some international guests. As we were leaving he came running up to thank me again for helping to bring these wonderful activists from around the world to their struggling community.

Before I left home Maine friend and filmmaker Eric Herter loaned me a video camera and begged me to take as much footage as possible. I've never been much good with a camera but since Eric, who wanted badly to be with us but could not come, insisted I took on the task. I've been faithfully talking bits of video and interviewing people as we go along. I don't know if I got the light right at times, or the picture framed properly, but I am trying. Eric promised to do the editing and will make a mini-documentary out of it (if the footage is usable).
I thought to myself last night what a great gift we have all been given to be able to witness, and participate in, this absolutely remarkable experience. We are witnessing the best and worst times in the life of Gangjeong village. They are experiencing absolute horror but they are taking the moment and creating pure joy as well.

I feel like I am rambling on here but there is so much I want to share but feel incapable of doing so in the way I'd like to. I just wish everyone could come here to see for themselves this moment - you'd be changed, inspired, outraged, heart broken, and more.

We live our lives in boxes of comfort and conformity. All those boxes are being broken and cast aside here in Gangjeong.
 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is Normal?

"What is Normal?"
Simon Critchley
Adbusters
Dec. 14, 2011

We are living through a dramatic and ever-widening separation between normal state politics and power. Many citizens still believe that state politics has power. They believe that governments, elected through a parliamentary system, represent the interests of those who elect them and that governments have the power to create effective, progressive change. But they don't and they can't.

We do not live in democracies. We inhabit plutocracies: government by the rich. The corporate elites have overwhelming economic power with no political accountability. In the past decades, with the complicity and connivance of the political class, the Western world has become a kind of college of corporations linked together by money and serving only the interests of their business leaders and shareholders.

This situation has led to the disgusting and ever-growing gulf that separates the superrich from the rest of us. State politics in the West in the past four decades has become a machine for the creation of gross inequality whose patina is an ideology of ever-more vapid narcissism. As the Eurozone crisis eloquently shows, state politics in the West simply exists to serve the interests of capital in the form of international finance, which exerts a human cost that Marx could never have imagined in his wildest dreams. No matter how much people suffer and protest in the street, it is said, we must not upset the bankers. Who knows, our credit rating might drop.

It is time to take politics back from the political class through confrontation with the power of finance capital. What is so inspiring about the various social movements that we all too glibly call the Arab Spring, is their courageous determination to reclaim autonomy and political self-determination. The demands of the protesters in Tahrir Square and elsewhere are actually very classical: they refuse to live in authoritarian dictatorships propped up to serve the interests of Western capital, corporations and corrupt local elites. They want to reclaim ownership of the means of production, for example through the nationalization of major state industries.

The various movements in North Africa and the Middle East – and one is simply full of admiration for their individual and collective courage and peaceful persistence – aim at one thing: autonomy. They demand collective ownership of the places where one lives, works, thinks and plays. Let's be clear: it is not just democracy that is being demanded all across the Arab world; it is socialism. And the tactics that have been developed to bring it about are anarchist.

There is a deeply patronizing view of these protests – common among Western politicians and their intellectual epigones – namely that they want what we have: the liberal democracy and neoliberal economics of our fine regimes. On the contrary, the movements in North Africa and the Middle East should be held up as a shining example for European and North American societies of what suddenly seems not only possible, but increasingly probable: that another way of conceiving and practicing social relations is not just possible, it is practicable.

Politicians in the West should be scared, very scared. The clock is running down. What we see emerging across our societies with increasing boldness, coherence and clarity are movements that refuse the separation of politics and power and who want to take power back through the invention of new forms of political activism.

It is in this spirit that I'd like to celebrate and congratulate the protesters in the Wall Street occupations and their followers all around the world.

We should not predict the future, but I think we are entering into a period of increasingly massive social dislocations and disorder which harbors within it countless risks, dialectical inversions, defeats, dangers, false dawns and fake defeats. But I think we are all coming to the powerful and simple realization that human beings acting peacefully together in concert can do anything – and nothing can stop them.

Something is happening. Something is shifting in the relations between politics and power. We don't know where it will lead, but the four-decade ideological consensus that has simply allowed the creation of grotesque inequality has broken down, and anything and everything is suddenly possible. What we require now is solidarity, persistence and the endlessly surprising power of the political imagination.



Simon Critchley is a professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City. He has authored over a dozen books including the celebrated Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance in which he argues for an ethically committed political anarchism.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

1994 Interview with Robert Underwood

Given the way that Madeleine Bordallo referenced several of her predecessors to the position of Guam's non-voting delegate to the US, I decided to go back and see if I could find any interesting archival texts from those delegates. Most of Tony Won Pat's materials are not digitized and so the little that I have from him would have to be typed out into this blog. That is something I sometimes do, but don't feel like doing this weekend. Ben Blaz, the first and thus far only Republican non-voting delegate from Guam has written extensively, most importantly about Guam's history, and so I could use something from him. Instead however I chose to post something from the most quotable person in Guam's history, Robert Underwood.

A former activist, educator, politician, Underwood has written extensively about Chamorro culture, language, Guam history, political status and even politics in the US. I have 10 or so quotes from him which I constantly use to talk about everything from decolonization, the durability of Chamorro culture, or the joke that Guam is in terms of Federal-territorial relations. Congresswoman Bordallo, delegates before her all shares similar issues and concerns. They've all had to deal with Chamorro self-determination and trying to get some traction from the Federal Government in terms of getting the US to fulfill its moral obligation to decolonize Guam. They've all worked with the Feds to get excess federal lands returned. They've all tried and failed to get war reparations passed.

One experience that both Bordallo and Underwood had the gross privilege of getting to endure is, that they have both been a part of the political drama over delegate "rights." Early in Underwood's term and towards the middle of Bordallo's term, they both found themselves at the center of a debate over what rights if any, non-voting delegates should have. For Underwood, this drama was pretty significant, as Democrats changed the House rules to allow territorial delegates to vote in committee and to vote at large. These votes were allowed only as long as they did not count, and did not affect the outcome of any vote on legislation. The Democrats did this in order to inflate their members in the Congress, to try to take control of committees. When they lost the House in 1994, these new symbolic powers for delegates were removed. In 2006, when the Democrats retook the House, Congresswoman Bordallo received these powers again until 2010, when the Republicans returned to power.

The initial fracas over the delegate powers eventually became a court case, where it was ruled that the powers didn't violate the US Constitution since they were only symbolic and didn't actually give the non-voting delegates any power. In 1994, USA Today did an interview with then delegate Robert Underwood on his thoughts on the battle. In that interview, which I'm posting below, he also discusses the Commonwealth legislation which would die several years later, the UN role in decolonizing Guam, and the relationship between Guam and states such as Hawai'i or Alaska who were the last two states admitted to the American Union.

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INTERVIEW WITH UNDERWOOD

USA TODAY (Arlington, VA) - Wednesday, December 28, 1994
Author: (c) Gannett News Service

Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 was perhaps the biggest political event of the year. Gannett News Service correspondent David Judson spoke with Del. Robert Underwood on the implications of the GOP victories in 1995 for the territories. Following is their conversation:

QUESTION: It would seem best to start with the Republican takeover of Congress. In the last month and a half, we've seen the delegates stripped of their vote and arguably you and your fellow delegates have been marginalized in the House. We don't know quite what this Republican takeover is going to mean for territories. How do you see the situation?

ANSWER: We really have to examine where we are going in terms of the new political realities here in Washington. Those new political realities are going to call upon the people of Guam and the political leadership of Guam to be more in sync, more connected than in the past. There are a number of challenges. Some might argue that we are on a collision course. On the one hand, as Guam's political leadership is becoming more insistent upon dealing with federal-territorial issues, there is a political direction in this city which takes us away from that. In order to collide you have to have two engines running at each other. In our situation, one engine may be running in one direction and the other engine in another direction. That's the perennial problem of federal-territorial relations.

Q: So, the future of federal-territorial relations is a choice between a collision or irrelevancy?

A: That's a good way of seeing it. When people say they want to know where they stand, what they really want to do is bring the question to the surface. When you bring the question to the surface, you bring controversy to the surface and you encourage the kind of political collision course that you want. Fundamentally, the issues we want resolved are mutual consent as we see it and self-determination as we see it. We want that collision course, we want that resolved in some fundamental way. On the other hand, you get the sinking feeling that as the national trends go off in some other direction, that you are taking a swing at air. You are left strategically trying a judo trick, it's like jujitsu. How do you maximize your power at a given time? You're left thinking, shall I harness all my political energy and frame it within a national issue that is important to this town? Or, should I make such a pest of myself until I can no longer be ignored?

Q: So, carrying your analogy of jujitsu, can you characterize the strategy of jujitsu politics before Nov. 8 and the jujitsu politics post-Nov. 8?

A: Well, this is all preliminary but we assumed initially that our jujitsu opponent, if you will, was the administration and that subsequently we would deal with Congress. The idea in my first term was to take on opponents in succession. Now, after the election, it appears to be a tag-team situation where both opponents are coming at you and you have to be very good in dealing with both simultaneously. The Republican-controlled Congress is obviously going to be less amenable to waiting its turn in this sequence of events. There are a number of practical difficulties associated with that. On the one hand, when I reintroduce the Commonwealth Bill, what committees does it get referred to? Initially the speaker-to-be had indicated he was against multiple referrals. That's good for a bill like Commonwealth. But he subsequently said he's not against sequential referral. That creates an unsure environment. All the benchmarks, the levers that you pull, were real clear before. Now, as we are going into the new Congress, it is not clear and so many things are in flux.

Q: So is it fair to say you have two adversaries here?

A: Well, not necessarily adversaries but two venues in which you have to carry on the struggle. What we worked on in the first two years was to deal with things in sequence - administration first, Congress second. Now, the first question that comes to mind is, how do we handle the administration and the Congress?

Q: It doesn't sound like you know.

A: I would argue that we have an opportunity to have a series of hearings on Commonwealth. Obviously this involves things that we have to work out with the incoming governor and the Commission on Self-Determination. I'm not the only person involved.

Q: So Team Guam now has to rewrite its playbook?

A: Team Guam has to put in some new plays.

Q: Maybe then we should take this new venue, the new Republican Congress, a piece at a time. What do you think of Don Young (Republican of Alaska, new chairman of the Public Lands and Natural Resources Committee), the new territorial overseer?

A: I'm very optimistic about his personal attention to territorial issues. He himself grew up as a citizen of the territory of Alaska. He's very open. He's quite willing to engage in substantive debate and discussion. He also introduced political status legislation of his own. He introduced in the last Congress the incorporation approach. The committee never reported it out, and I had my own questions about that particular piece of legislation. But he is very engaged personally. I take that as a positive sign that we can bring to the attention of the full committee the issues of federal territorial relations in a way that did not occur in the previous Congress.

Q: The twin pillars of Guam's self-determination quest seem to be Chamoru self-determination and mutual consent. Both of those issues could be argued for in the context of traditional, classic Democratic Party values with some success. Obviously indigenous rights, self-determination, those are things that Democrats have a hard time opposing. How do you see those issues playing against the political value structure of the Republican Party?

A: The Republican philosophy that we find attractive, that we think will help boost our case, is to move government away from Washington and to move it toward localities. That is to our favor. It is not clear what they mean by federal-territorial relations. In the past, however, the Commonwealth idea was in the Republican national platform, at the behest of local Guam Republicans. We'll have to see how that works itself out. If you make a broad characterization about parties and territories, one would assume that Democrats would be more sympathetic. They are more bent in that direction, helping those without power, assisting those that have been without. Whereas the Republicans appear to be more interested in just making sure the same rules apply to everybody, that government should be the last resort if you have a difficulty rather than the first resort. To some extent there are pluses and minuses on both. With the Democrats, sometimes sympathy can smother you. To some extent that has happened in the past. While we may not get a lot of sympathy or hand wringing from Republicans, we may get a straight-up deal.

Q: Maybe you could elaborate on that a bit more specifically?

A: The twin pillars of mutual consent and Chamoru self-determination are problematic in Washington, D.C., regardless of who's in power, simply because they run counter to common-sense notions of American citizenship, notions that there is a natural order between the federal government and the states. We are now introducing a concept that says let's take territories into the equation, and in exchange for that, for the lack of territorial participation in national politics, we should have our power as territories enhanced. That runs counter to the whole notion of political discourse. Then, of course, the idea that the Chamoru people need to be engaged in a political status referendum, which is perfectly acceptable to people once they understand it, is something else that runs against common notions of American citizenship. I always assumed that the Chamoru self-determination component of Guam Commonwealth would be easier with Democrats and more difficult with Republicans and that mutual consent would be harder with Democrats and easier with Republicans. But some conversations I've had actually flip-flop the two, so it is not real clear.

Q: Let me make sure I understand. It sounds as if when we are talking about mutual consent, the jujitsu for Republicans is to argue for more local control, moving power away from Washington?

A: That's correct.

Q: So then what's the Republican jujitsu when it comes to self-determination?

A: The issue there is simply to lay out the historical record. When you talk about political status change, you are talking about an election which allows for people who have had political self-determination denied. You are not talking about a general right of American citizenship. If it were true that the right to self-determination were a general right of American citizenship, we might be constantly engaging in political self-determination. But we are not. It is only certain areas and certain peoples, because of the historical circumstances, which merit this kind of consideration. My very strong feeling is that in the existing Commonwealth Draft Act, the way Chamoru self-determination is being proposed is for it to occur under the direction and management of the entire electorate of Guam. Involving the entire electorate of Guam is a very reasoned and reasonable approach. What we are proposing, essentially, is that just how it occurs will be left to a Guam constitution. In turn, the Guam constitution will be drafted by delegates who will be elected by the entire electorate. It allows the most democratic, mass participation in taking care of this historical necessity.

Q: So the entirety of the Guam electorate will basically devise the formula to remedy this historical injustice against a portion of the electorate?

A: That's right.

Q: And that is something you see the Republicans being able to understand and perhaps embrace?

A: I think so. To some extent they have seen it happen with Native American groups. It is seen as something that is not entirely beyond the pale.

Q: One tension in Guam politics, it seems to me, is kind of an ongoing debate about how best to deal with the federal government. Is it best to seek to ingratiate and work for change from inside, or is it best to embrace the politics of confrontation and work the picket line so to speak? First, to what degree would you accept my broad generalization? Secondly, if you do accept my suggestion, how to you see that dynamic playing against the new political realities of Washington?

A: Having been on both sides of that contrast that you have given, it behooves us to continue to exercise both. I think it is clear that both work in various circumstances. It's like the old discussion in foreign policy: do economic sanctions work, or should you just beat the adversary over the head? Both work, it depends on the situation. I've never had any problems with confrontation. There have been a couple of demonstrations during my first term that have occurred on Guam which have actually made my task easier here.

Q: So how do the politics of confrontation work in the new Washington?

A: When you decide to confront people, you confront them on the basis of things that are important to them. If you have adversary A, you try and figure out in advance what are the things that are important to adversary A? And then you utilize that in your confrontation. If you are confronting adversary B, you try and figure out the things that are most important to adversary B. It goes back to your earlier question about the political values that distinguish Republicans from Democrats. If you find that in dealing with Republicans, that they are more interested in defense issues, then you utilize Guam's defense role to say, `This is who we are, this is why we are important to you and this could change.' If, on the other hand, you are dealing with people whose political will is more oriented toward `doing the right thing,' then you say `this is our historical record of being wronged; now is your opportunity to do the right thing.' You don't operate in a vacuum. Clearly Guam's defense role, the importance that the new Congress is going to attach to defense issues is going to pump up the importance of Guam and make my role on the National Security Committee in the cultivation of Guam issues as is my committee assignment in Public Lands and Natural Resources.

Q: So what you are suggesting then is that the chief venue for the politics of confrontation - which in recent times has been the United Nations - will become toward Nimitz House or the Pentagon?

A: What I am suggesting is that you have to understand what is important to your adversary and then that's how you deal with it. For example, if your adversary doesn't care about the United Nations, it is impossible to embarrass them at the United Nations. If on the other hand they care about the United Nations, then it makes more sense to invest more energy into that. With a new Congress that says, `stop funding U.N. peacekeeping,' with some people saying, `let's get out of the U.N. or cut back on our participation,' that makes the United Nations even more irrelevant than it has been in the past.

Q: Speaking of the politics of confrontation seems to invite a question about the APEC meeting, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. We recently saw a skirmish on that issue: whether Guam is to be allowed to participate. Puerto Rico was given a role in the Summit of the Americas dialogue, which is analogous in some ways. At one point you had a meeting scheduled with the State Department to discuss APEC that apparently didn't come to pass. What's cooking with APEC?

A: Right now nothing. The State Department people said they were going to come back with some proposal for Guam involvement. Right now everybody is in kind of a Christmas mood. There are not too many people here. I know that there is a commitment by the State Department to offer something. I can say with relative assurance that no matter what they offer it will be insufficient. Barring their saying that Guam will be an automatic member of APEC, it still begs the question of what to do with Guam in regional organizations. I'm sure there will be an attempt to placate Guam similar to when I first started raising the issue and I was invited to the first APEC meeting in Seattle in 1993. That only came as a result of raising the issue on the floor. I didn't do that but I did last month take the White House up on the offer to go to Miami (to the summit of the Americas) to simply observe what kind of treatment Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were getting.

Q: What kind of treatment did they get?

A: From my observation, not much. In fact, the whole point of most U.S. officials being down there, other than the President and the State Department, was a chance for those officials to say they are engaged in the process, when in fact we were not engaged. There was no opportunity for us to meet anybody from any country other than the United States. So I ended up talking to the governor of Puerto Rico. And he ended up talking to me.

Q: So in short, parity with Puerto Rico's status in the Summit of the Americas will not be the standard you seek to achieve for Guam in APEC?

A: I don't think Guam was looking for the same thing that Puerto Rico got. What they got was polite treatment. But Puerto Rico as an entity was not treated any differently than, well for example, the governor of Oklahoma who was also there.

Q: It is perhaps also important to remember there's a distinction: The Summit of the Americas was specifically a meeting of sovereign states. APEC is not?

A: That's right. It's the old member economy versus member nation canard. It was that canard that allowed us the opportunity to raise the issue.

Q: Back a little bit on Republicans and the strategies you'll be carrying into the politics of 1995. Obviously the issue of the Endangered Species Act has insinuated itself into Guam's land politics in a dramatic way. Incoming Chairman (of Public Lands and Natural Resources Committee) Young has already declared his intention for a major rewrite of the Endangered Species Act and the law is on the priority list of Republican frustrations.

A: As a matter of fact, I did have a discussion with Don Young about the Endangered Species Act and he says he understands our situation quite well.

Q: What do you foresee happening on that issue?

A: What I would like to see happen, is the same thing that I tried to work on with the Department of Defense reauthorization act last year. That is, the creation of restoration advisory boards in which the environmental activities of the Department of Defense are independently overseen by local communities. What I would like to see in a new Endangered Species Act is a provision to allow for local communities to oversee these preservation activities. There is no meaningful community input into the process now. We also have to deal with the science involved. It's weird science that motivates the desire to create some of these huge wildlife refuges. The fact, in Guam's case, is that you have a predator. Until you deal with the issue of predators, then the habitat has nothing to do with the demise of the birds. So who scientifically reviews that? As it turns out, nobody. The scientists themselves who are most interested in expanding the authority of Fish and Wildlife Service are the scientists who are coming up with this. The community has no independent assessment. It's not a question, of who comes first, people versus animals. It's a question of who comes first, local communities or national policy?

Q: What about economic development? You had your economic development conference last summer. Economic development seems to be a theme that resonates well in Republican circles. Where do see that going?

A: We are going to work toward a second Capitol Hill economic conference in which we are going to identify - as has been done in the past - the federal policies that impede the economic growth of Guam. We piqued the interest personally of (U.S. trade representative) Mickey Kantor on the issue of free trade movements and the impact on territories outside the customs zone. He told me that no one has ever raised that issue with him. We have to also deal with the issue of GovGuam revenues and any tax cuts given our mirror tax code.

Q: What have we left out? We didn't talk about reparations. What's happening with that?

A: There are two people issues that I'm hopeful we'll be successful on. One is war restitution for the people of Guam who endured the occupation. This year, we were able to have a hearing on that for the first time and report it out of the subcommittee. We don't know how the new leadership with deal with that issue, but we have very strong networks of Japanese-Americans citizen leagues and certainly the veterans after the 50th anniversary have helped us out a great deal. The other issue that we are still working on is the Philippines visa waiver. We are going to try and do that administratively if possible. We've already begun the discussions with OTIA (Office of Territorial and International Affairs) which has oversight responsibility on the Guam visa waiver program. We want to see an experimental program come to fruition this year. Those are two important people issues that remind us why we are in business to begin with.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jeju Day 1

An update on Day 1 of the Jeju International Peace Conference taking place this weekend in Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea. The update is written by Bruce Gagnon of The Global Network. You can find more updates throughout the week on his personal blog Organizing Notes

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There is so much to write about and so little time. Yesterday we began our time here on Jeju Island (South Korea) with a conference at the museum where the story of the April 3, 1948 massacre of tens of thousands of Jeju residents is told. Following the end of WW II the U.S. took control of Korea and put the former Koreans who collaborated with fascist Japan in charge of the country. The U.S. began the process of dividing Korea and the people of Jeju were accused of being communists because they were independent minded and did not want to follow the corrupt leaders appointed by the U.S. military.

The people rebelled and the U.S. military directed the new Korean government to aggressively put down the rebellion. The museum does a fine, and heart breaking job, of telling this sad but virtually unknown story.

The people of Gangjeong village feel that the April 3 tragedy is being played out again by the construction of the Navy base in their village. About 150 gathered in the museum auditorium for speeches yesterday by South Korean and international activists. Folks have come here from at least a dozen countries to show their support for the struggling villagers. Many Catholic priests and nuns were in the audience to hear their Bishop welcome us. A delegation of Buddhist monks held a news conference to announce their support for the struggle.

I am told that the conference yesterday drew more media coverage than people had seen in a long time which makes everyone here very pleased. Today we spend our time meeting with villagers to talk and share food.

As we arrived in South Korea we were greeted by headlines in the newspapers about right-wing President Lee having just held a news conference to announce that he intends to speed up the Navy base construction project and push through the controversial Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. Many feel that his days are numbered as the coming spring election will bring an end to his mean-spirited and divisive reign of power. But for the people in Gangjeong village there is little relief as they daily see the Samsung Corporation (lead base contractor) make further moves toward the blasting of their sacred rocky coast.

The approximately 30 international activists are all mindful that our time here is short. We had a meeting late last evening to discuss ways our energies could be best put to use. We will have a formal strategy meeting with village leaders tomorrow but for the moment we must continue to appeal to the hearts of our friends around the world to keep Gangjeong in your prayers and hope that you will take steps to rally people where you live to devise ways to show public support for the noble people here who clearly understand that this Navy base will be a trigger for a wider arms race in the region that will over time hurt all of us, no matter where we live.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Anitin Chelef


My dissertation in Ethnic Studies is dedicated to three people. One is my daughter Sumåhi, sa’ guiya i mas maolek yan månnge na palao’an gi hilo’ tano’ yan gi todu estoria. The other is for my son Akli’e’. Ti sen maolek gui’ taiguihi i che’lu-ña, lao guiya I mas kinute na patgon gi hilo’ tano’. The last dedication goes to an Ancient Chamorro warrior, a maga’låhi named Chelef, who fought against the Spanish in the late 1670s and was eventually executed for his crimes against them.

The dedication to my kids should obvious. I hope that in time I will be able to publish enough things so that everyone I love in my life can have something where their name and a few loving words appear in its opening pages. But why dedicate something to Chelef, a Maga’låhi who is not as famous as figures such as Hurao, Mata’pang, Kepuha or even Agualin? The reason is because of the way one of his acts against the Spanish, mirrored in a way the critical intervention I was attempting in my dissertation.

In my dedication I wrote the following:

Este lokkue’ para i anitin i hagas matai na Maga’låhi Si Chelef (taotao Orote). Ha gof tungo’ taimanu pumuha i sakman i enimigu-ña. Puede’ ha (gi este na tinige’-hu) para bai hu osge gui’.

This translates to:

This is also for the ancestral spirit of the long dead Maga’låhi Chelef (of Orote). He truly knew how to capsize the canoes of his enemies. Hopefully (in this dissertation of mine) I will follow his example.

In my dissertation I attempted to do many things, and pulled off most of them. But one thing that I really focused on accomplishing theoretically was an inversion or a reversing of the relationship between Guam and he United States. As I have said many times on this blog and elsewhere, when we see the relationship between Guam and the US, we have one appearing to have everything, the other nothing. I begin my dissertation with a short discussion on its title:

The title of this chapter and the dissertation in general might seem odd for a number of reasons. It collapses, or causes a collision between, a number of different concepts that many might not be familiar with, or feel go together. First we have Guam, a colony of the United States, or as it is more formally known, a territory or a dependency of it first taken in 1898 during the Spanish American War. It is an island which is blessed with the paradoxical nature of being a tiny, insignificant footnote to the United States in the Western Pacific at one moment, and one of its most important military bases the next. A place which also possesses the curious quality of being a colony and an imperial asset, which in most cases is rejected as being capable of signifying either colonialism or imperialism, as both Guam and its indigenous people are defined primarily through their ability to be liberated by their colonizer. Then we have the United States, which most likely needs no introduction, but when placed next to Guam might find its usual “awesome” power amplified even more.

The reference to its sovereignty however, might cause a few eyebrows to be raised. Sovereignty can refer to many things, but generally deals with nations, their rights, their ability to govern themselves, and their ability to provide stability and security for their way of life. Lastly we have the idea of production, representing the link between Guam and the United States (and its sovereignty). Aside from the literal interpretations, this marker is meant to convey that somehow Guam plays an active role or is a source of the constitution of American sovereignty. It is the curiosity that this title might instill or, the curiousness it exudes, that is the impetus for this dissertation.

If you were to look at Guam and the United States, sin tiningo’ , before you really knew anything about Guam, you would naturally assume that the US in charge and Guam is not. That the US is massive, overpowering, while Guam is helpless, small and dependent. One is sovereign, the other is an object of sovereignty. One is the lord, while the other is naturally lorded over. This commonsense extends even if knowledge is present. One assumes that in this relationship one makes the other. The US makes Guam. We can see that in the discourse of military leaders talking about US strategy in this part of the world. We can see it in WWII liberation discourse, where Chamorros and Guam would have been obliterated by Japanese imperialism without the US intervening. We can see it in discussion on Guam’s economy and how people see everything from prosperity, stability and order as tied to the US and its existence and nothing else.

The result is that Guam needs the US at the end of the day, whereas the US does not need Guam. One is pathetically inferior, while the other exudes the confidence and such great ability, that it can even use Guam. It can even make use of it in such ways, that it will be ability to unlock strategic, particular abilities, that people on Guam themselves cannot appreciate or comprehend. This is a proto-typical 20th century colonial relationship. Large overbearing colonizer, with small, minute almost easily missed or forgotten colony. The colonial logic that the colonized cannot exist without the colonizer is kicked into hyper-drive once you are no longer discussing the mineral-rich, labor-rich or resource-rich slate of former colonies. Once your list of colonies are tiny islands, where everyone can clearly see they have nothing but coconuts there, then there is nothing left to see. The colonial fantasy of their creation and conjuring of the colonies into existence becomes more real than ever, once they have these collections of islands that clearly cannot exist without the largesse of those larger, richer, smarter and better. After all, there isn’t any real purpose to holding onto these colonies? No riches or grant wealth to engorge!

This sort of logic of dependency seeps into the way the people of the colonies imagine just about everything, especially themselves and their relationship to their colonizer. The dependency becomes a part of their very flesh, as sometimes the distinction between the desire for something and the need for something is blurred to the point where things that you only “want” are felt with an intensity that borders on the need for oxygen or water. A regular case in point is any discussion over Guam and its relationship to the United States, and how things which might be good or better, are instead felt as if they are flesh or as necessary as your central nervous system. Hunggan, US citizenship is a very privileged good thing in the world today. But billions of people live without it every year. People respond as if there could be nothing else without US citizenship, as if living without it would be akin to living without water or air. This is the way in which something which should be a simple want. I enjoy this, I prefer this, this is better, becomes an almost colonizing and disemboweling need.

For my dissertation, I wanted, at least on a theoretical level to challenge this. The way I chose to do it is to look at the relationship between the US and Guam, one where so many feel like the US makes Guam, and re-image the relationship as one where Guam makes the United States.

If, as they always used to say in grad school, your point of departure is that Guam is dependent upon the US and that power flows in only one direction in that relationship, than you will always end up reproducing an unequal and disempowering colonial relationship. The traces of that origin will follow, taint and determine so much else. From that position, you are already so limited. Your agency, your options are so small, the commonsense of it all, will always nudge you to do nothing, since in essence, you are nothing. Tåya’ hao.
I used so many different metaphors in trying to capture what I was doing in my dissertation. I most commonly used remapping and re-imagining. Sometimes I resorted to using remaking. One that I did not use at all, but regularly came to mind, was the idea of flipping things over, of mamumuha, or capsizing something. The canoe once played a central role in Chamorro culture (for certain castes and classes), and today continues to be an important symbol for things Chamorro. It is a symbol for innovation, for connectedness, for navigation, for finding heritage, even for the continuity of identity or being.

In my dissertation I traveled through different sites where you could see how Guam creates or produces the United States. They were ways in which something extra is produced for the US. For example, in contrast to so many other sites where the US “liberated” people, Guam is one place where the narrative on the liberating tendencies of the US becomes almost shockingly consistent, as the US is decorated and celebrated in almost divine ways every July. What these gestures amounted to were attempts to flip the way in which we usually see Guam and the US. As one holding everything, one being the source, while the other a mere effect of the other’s greatness. In each chapter I tried to demonstrate one way in which you can see Guam producing the US, or producing ways in which its sovereignty takes concrete form.

Naturally I felt at a disadvantage given the fact that most people could simply scoff at what I’m saying and dismiss it out of hand since the US is the US and Guam is, well they probably don’t know what the hell Guam is, so who cares?! That is why I felt akin to Chelef in writing the dissertation. Against the Spanish at the height of the Chamorro-Spanish Wars, he and those like him had truth and justice on their side, but nonetheless faced impossible challenges, as their lands were being rocked by violence, betrayal, new diseases and constant suffering as their way of life was under attack.

Chelef is notorious in the Spanish accounts for his role in killing 7 soldiers and one priest. I will paste below the account from Ed Benavente’s book I Manmañainå-ta Siha: I Manmaga’låhi yan i Manmå’gas i Geran Chamoru yan Españot (1668-1695).

Maga’låhi Chelef:

Si Chelef maga’lhin Uloti (Orote) na songsong. Gi 1671 såkkan gi durånten i geran Chamoru yan Españot, meggai biåhi di ma usa diferentes klasin ideha yan åtte siha para u kinentra i metgot na åtmas-ñiha i Españot. Ma nota påpa’ unu na ideha ni’ ha usa Si Maga’låhi Chelef. Ha fa’Chamoru gui’ ni’ macho’cho’cho’ para i Españot. Gi un ukasion ha pugi yan ha ufresi i sindalon Españot para u konne’ siha para Hagåtña. Gigon manmåtto gi tahdong na hånom ha repuha i dudeng na proa ya nina’taibali I petbos paki, ayu na lumi’of ya mumu yan i sindålu siha esta ki manmatai i Españot. Maloffan dos años despues gi 1678 na såkkan annai ma gacha’ Si Maga’låhi Chelef giya Malesso ya annai ha keeskåpa, gotpe pinaki nu i Españot as Kapitan Don Juan Antonio de Salas, ya poddong ya matai Si Chelef. Ensigidas, manotden i Gubietno na para u mautot i ilu-ña yan i kannai-ña ya u machule’ tatte gi siuda para u mafatta komo leksion para tody Manchamoru ni’ humahahasso kumontra i Españot.

The gist of Chelef’s achievement for those who can’t read the Chamorro is that one day as Spanish forces were fleeing Chamorros from Western and Southwestern Guam who were attacking them, Chelef appeared to help them. Chelef yelled at the attacking Chamorros, rebuking them for their violence and cowardice and threatened that any who attacked the priest and the soldiers attacked him as well. Once the attacking Chamorros dispersed, Chelef invited the Spanish forces into a canoe that would take them safely back to Hagåtña. Once the canoe was in waist deep water or higher, Chelef capsized the canoe, dropping the Spanish in the water and taking away the advantages of any armor or guns. Chamorros rushed in from the beach to slaughter the helpless Spanish.

This was a story that inspired many Chamorros, weary of fighting and wary of the brutality of the Spanish to continue fighting against them. It continues to inspire some up until this day. I’m grateful for it, as it was a story that also helped me slog through my dissertation. 

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The images in this post are from the book I Manmañainå-ta Siha: I Manmaga’låhi yan i Manmå’gas i Geran Chamoru yan Españot (1668-1695).Raphael Unpingco is the artist.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Kitchen Table

The full text of Congressman's address yesterday is below. I found her quotes from previous non-voting delegates Antonio Won Pat and Robert Underwood interesting. I was upset at her discussion of war reparations, for many reasons, only a few having anything to do with her. Her buildup discussion was a very cute sort of tip-toe-tight-rope walk, between addressing the needs of those at the top who still want as much "buildup" as possible, and the rest who feel mixed on the issue and aren't as sure about it. Like most politicians, the way out of this sort of quagmire is to celebrate the right of everyone to speak out and express their concerns. There was even a UOG FITE Club mention in there.

I haven't talked much about the delegate race lately because it's full of some tough choices. I have known Congresswoman Bordallo for a while, and support her on some things, but not others. Senator Frank Blas Jr. is running for her seat this year and I like his rhetoric and I've worked for him on several projects dealing with war survivors. Could it be the time for a change in Washington D.C.? I have always been a Democratic and rarely ever vote Republican. As sort of a final wrinkle, there is a possibility that Jonathan Diaz will be running again this year for the delegate job. If so, then my vote will most likely go to him. 

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Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Congressional Address 2012
21 February 2012
“A Family Discussion at Our Kitchen Table”
My Dear People of Guam:

Tonight, as many of you get ready to sit down for dinner at your kitchen table, having come home from work and school, and discussing your day and many things weighing on your minds, I thank you for listening. I welcome this opportunity to have a very frank discussion within our Guam family about many federal issues important to you and the challenges that we face as we move forward.

Our nation is in transition. The United States continues to recover from a prolonged recession, our economy is turning around but is not yet fully recovered, and every Member of Congress and federal agency is faced with the daunting task of reducing the federal deficit. Gone are the days when Congress could write a blank check for a federal program or Members could earmark money for pet projects in their districts. The federal government has amassed a huge national debt--$15.3 trillion to be exact—and our country continues to spend far more money than we take in. To put it in perspective, it would be as if your family earned $29,000 a year, spent $38,000 for expenses, and financed the difference, $9,000 in credit thereby amassing $153,000 in debt over the years. This is the fiscal reality of the federal government today, and the reality of the budget issues that are driving the agenda in Congress and throughout our nation. It is in this context that I would like to speak to you just as every family faces challenges by gathering around the kitchen table and talking frankly about the issues they face. Tonight, let’s have an open and candid discussion as a family and as a community about the federal issues important to all of us.

Just as our country is in a state of transition, so too is our island’s role in regional security for our nation and our allies. Congressman Robert Underwood, in his report to the Legislature in 1997, stated that, “Strategically, Guam has always been important to the military. Our military importance has been the core of our relationship with America. This has not changed.” And as far back as 1975, we were making the case for a better utilization of our existing bases. Congressman Antonio B. Won Pat asserted, “I particularly question the wisdom of placing greater dependency on Navy bases in foreign countries of the Western Pacific as a suitable alternative exists in nearby Guam.” Congressman Won Pat also stated in remarks supporting military construction appropriations in 1975, “As the representative of Guam, which stands as the most forward United States defense bastion in the Pacific, I am particularly aware of the need for fully adequate military preparedness. In Guam, national defense and military readiness are a major part of our everyday existence and thus we are constantly aware of their importance to our nation.” Governor Paul Calvo in 1982 stated, “Nobody respects more than I do the fact that our geographical location gives us a heavy responsibility in the defense of our nation. This island is the very pivot point of the Western Pacific. No other island for hundreds of miles is as big, or has such a big potential as Guam.” The U.S. needs Guam’s help again, and as General Ben Blaz said in his testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee, “Once again, as it has done in the past during World War I, World War II, [the] Korean War, [the] Vietnam War and other conflicts which followed, Guam, by virtue of its strategic location, will have a major role to play in the security and defense of the United States. No other community in the U.S., territory or state, has served the national and international security interest of the United States as consistently and loyally as Guam and its people.”

While our strategic role has not diminished the nature of what is being asked of us is changing. The Obama Administration and the Government of Japan recently announced that they are revisiting the 2006 Roadmap for Realignment and intend to make significant changes to the agreement. I believe that for Guam, the key revision will be a reduction in the estimated number of U.S. Marine Corps forces that will be relocated from Okinawa. What was once anticipated to be a build-up involving approximately 8,600 Marines and some 9,000 dependents is now expected to be about 5,000 Marines and far fewer dependents. The Department of Defense is also considering revising the mixture of Marines who will be relocated to Guam, relying on a blend of a rotational force and a permanently stationed force. The revised negotiations also solidified that the original 2014 timeline for completion was unrealistic and will be extended for a time yet to be determined.
It seems clear from President Obama’s statements and Department of Defense’s recent budget request that they remain committed to a forward-deployed presence of our military in the Asia-Pacific region. However, this posture will be more dispersed and, in some cases, include a rotational force that may train in the Philippines and Australia. As Secretary Panetta indicated to me in a posture hearing last week, the Department of Defense and the Administration remain committed to Guam and we remain a critical component of the future of Asia-Pacific strategy. However, it will be in our own interest to present a unified “One Guam” front going forward. As Governor Joseph Ada reminded us in 1994, “We have learned to set aside our partisan differences when it comes to dealing with Federal issues and this is good.” Governor Ada further stated, “I believe that elections notwithstanding, we can work together. And who knows. Maybe if we avoid talking against each other and instead talk with each other, if we promote our ideas rather than denigrate our opponents, the people of Guam will be pleased.” As an unintended benefit, the impact of Senators Levin, Webb and McCain’s proposal to reduce the forces coming to Guam as well as the Defense Department’s re-negotiation with the Government of Japan gives us a chance to reset and re-engage with an even stronger, more determined and more unified message to our federal partners.

However, make no mistake; this will not be an easy case to make. In that same hearing last week with Secretary Panetta, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Buck McKeon, indicated that he is re-thinking the realignment in the Pacific and suggested that we should move many of those Marines back to Camp Pendleton in California. While I take issue with the serious implications of Chairman McKeon’s comment, it only serves to highlight the challenges ahead and the need for our community to support a Marine presence on Guam. And we should make no mistake about it – our “friends” in the Senate will continue to have their concerns and we will need to work together to overcome their objections. To that extent, I thank our business community for forming GUÅSA, the Guam US-Asia Security Alliance, and for their advocacy in support of the realignment of Marines to Guam. I also commend the continued efforts of the Guam Chamber of Commerce’s Armed Forces Committee for their advocacy work in Washington. More importantly, I commend Governor Eddie Calvo for reaching out to the Legislature by empanelling a Guam First Commission by Executive Order today, which Senators Respicio and Guthertz have been advocating for months. As Congressman Underwood so eloquently put it, “The reef must be the boundary of our disagreements, the ocean must contain the emotions of the moment and surely the land of Guam will become ever so prominent in Washington because it is strong, because it is united and because it speaks with one voice.”

One thing is clear from my meetings with senior Defense leaders and from recent hearings: the Defense Department has its own ideas of what it wants to do with the realignment of Marines in Asia-Pacific and on Guam. We need to be equally clear about what works best for us so that our input is considered in the planning stages. I share the concerns expressed by our Senators and the Governor about the mix of rotational versus permanent forces. We welcome a permanent force of Marines to Guam and we welcome an appropriate mix of rotational forces too. We are ready to welcome them into our community and I know this is a sentiment that is shared by our Mayors Council. I thank Mayor Melissa Savares for making this welcome message clear over the years. Even at a reduced level, the military relocation will still have a significant economic impact for our island. As Governor Ricky Bordallo stated in 1978, “While its primary reason for being on Guam is the security of our nation of which we are a part, let us not forget that the military presence gives Guam an important and steady base of economic support.”

We want our businesses to grow. We want our businesses to become more competitive in other federal or private contracting opportunities. A case in point is a recent federal award for facilities maintenance services in the Norfolk, Virginia area that was awarded to Advance Management Incorporated, a small business here on Guam. GFS Group also won a multi-million dollar contract in July 2011 to perform Navy services in San Diego. L.A. Painting & Construction, another women-owned minority small business on Guam, recently won a $5 million federal contract for services to be performed off-island. Part of what allows local businesses to compete on the mainland is having a HUB Zone preference here on Guam. This is a preference that I enabled through legislation in 2005. This designation has afforded businesses on Guam to obtain contracts here on-island, to grow and compete elsewhere in the country. And compete they will.

These are the types of stories I want to hear about Guam businesses in the coming years. It is that type of growth that I hope will benefit our island’s economy and create jobs. And, I will continue to work closely with Governor Calvo, our Legislature and other stakeholders on Guam to make sure that our needs are understood by the Department of Defense as they re-negotiate the Agreed Implementation Plan with Japan. We should view this as an opportunity to advance our interests and do this build-up right.

The Department of Defense must still achieve 5 requirements mandated in the 2012 defense authorization bill before direct contributions from Japan for the realignment of Marines to Guam can be spent. I believe that this re-negotiation of the agreement with Japan will provide a potentially easier path for the Department of Defense to achieve those 5 requirements in a timely fashion. I will continue to urge the Department to meet those obligations so that nearly $900 million dollars of prior year military construction can be spent here on Guam. It’s time to get on with military build-up.

The DoD acknowledges and we all want them to get on with projects that help enhance our military’s capabilities on Guam. Moreover, the de-linking of moving Marines to Guam contingent on the development of a Futenma Replacement Facility is a potentially beneficial move for Guam. Without the complication of the Futenma issue, backlogged military construction projects could move forward. Further, de-linkage of these actions is a recognition by both nations that moving forward enhances our security as forces are re-deployed for maximum effectiveness in a tight budget environment. It’s yet again a reaffirmation of the strategic importance of Guam to ensuring regional stability which also enhances our economic opportunity.

We must be mindful, though, that the negotiations between the US and Japan will also open up the discussion about Japan’s financial commitment to this realignment. Part of this contribution from Japan is financing of infrastructure improvements that are meant to support and sustain the direct and induced population increase from the military build-up. These infrastructure improvements are critical to our quality of life and the creation of jobs here on Guam. As “One Guam” we must continue to stress the need to improve our roads, water, wastewater and other critical infrastructure. The Fiscal Year 2013 budget requests $139.4 million in funding through the Office of Economic Adjustment. The funding is for a $20.1 million mental health and substance abuse facility, $12.9 million regional public health laboratory and the bulk of funding, $106.4 million, is for critical improvements to our water and wastewater system on Guam. I want to give credit to the Obama Administration’s support of critical infrastructure needs. And, while I fought hard to protect the $33 million in socioeconomic projects last year it was not an easy fight nor should we believe that Senator McCain will ignore this year’s request. Senator McCain called attention to our budget requests and he took issue in particular with Guam’s request for school buses coming out of the defense budget. We should be cognizant that our budget requests must survive scrutiny by the Senate and the public and therefore we should have a family discussion that includes the Legislature on what these “outside the fence” projects should be and how they are directly related to the Marine re-location.

The lesson is that we can ill afford to look like we have thrown every un-met local need into the basket. Not in these tight budget times. I understand that we have an issue with the state of school buses on our island but we must find other ways to address these needs. I appreciate the efforts of Senator Tom Ada who has suggested that we look at using Interior funding for school buses and I am informed that Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta has agreed to provide funding requested by Governor Calvo. In an age of austerity we must be realistic in what we can expect from the Defense budget. It is hard for the Defense Department to justify several million for school buses or other infrastructure when the end strength for the Marines and Army are decreasing or when weapons systems are being terminated. I believe that the federal government, particularly the Department of Defense, should pay its fair share of impacts to infrastructure directly related to the build-up but we must still be mindful of the environment in which we find ourselves today. Again, let us use this time of re-negotiation to review what our most pressing needs are. Let us speak as “One Guam” and harness the opportunity that the build-up represents. We must be mindful that the build-up is not a guarantee but an opportunity and we must approach issues and solutions with that mindset. We don’t have to be timid but we have to be more focused and more savvy. We don’t have to be the most savvy, just as savvy as Senator Respicio.

And as we conduct this review we must invite all stakeholders including We Are Guahan, Fuetsan Famalaoan, our veterans service organizations, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Chinese Chamber of Commerce on Guam, the Guam Young Professionals, our ethnic communities, our indigenous rights groups, UOG FITE club, our civic organizations and everyone who has a stake in the future of our island to speak up, speak out and be heard. As Congressman Robert Underwood stated in 2001, “I think we all recognize the importance of the military in our economic health and prosperity. But we also need to recognize our own importance in this arrangement. The U.S. military is a substantial base, a cornerstone of our island’s economy. As loyal civil servants, skillful and dedicated contract workers, energetic entrepreneurs, vendors and distributors, and commissary and exchange customers, the people of Guam are the backbone of this military economy. We must protect our assets; promote the interest of our island’s potential during a time of increased focus and added emphasis on U.S. military posture in our region.” And we can have a frank family discussion at our kitchen table. As Congressman Won Pat stated in 1973, “The people of Guam are not anti-military. Their loyalty to America is unquestioned. We want to preserve Guam’s role in America’s strategic plans. However, I do not believe that asking the military to also consider the growing needs of a civilian population is prejudicial to the Defense interest of our country. A viable civilian community is essential to the military activity and its personnel. Cooperation and understanding between the civilian and military sectors are essential to the orderly development and progress of the Territory.” So it is up to us to layout our concerns because this is one of the most important family discussions we’ll ever have. This is about whether or not we’re watching out for our own family.

The build-up represents future security. Just as much as we look forward, we should also be mindful of supporting those who have provided our national security in the past and are forever owed a debt of gratitude by our nation. Veteran’s programs are important, and we have made significant strides in supporting veterans on Guam. We have to do more for our veterans because it is our moral obligation to do so.

In the 111th Congress, I supported provisions to strengthen the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and give our veterans the benefits they deserve. These improvements gave veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and their families, full benefits to attend and obtain a four-year college education. We have given businesses a $2,400 tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans with a cover over to our local treasury and we have provided veterans with a $250 economic recovery payment. However, more work is needed nationally as well as locally to get veterans back to work. I commend Chairman Tom Ada and the efforts of the Guam Legislature for finding ways to give veterans’ preferences in hiring for GovGuam positions just as veterans have preference for federal positions.

I am committed to ensuring that Guam’s veteran community receives the federal resources and benefits they have earned through their many years of selfless service and sacrifice to our nation. I will continue to work to ensure that health and mental health services are improved for all current veterans and servicemembers who will need them in the future. Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs opened a new Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Agana Heights to meet the growing health needs of veterans on Guam. This clinic, which took five long years to plan, build, and construct, is twice as large as the old clinic and sits outside the Naval Hospital security perimeter, making access much easier and convenient for our veterans.

At my invitation, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, traveled to Guam for the clinic’s dedication ceremony and to personally respond to veterans’ concerns. He acknowledged that many of the difficulties experienced on Guam are problems that have plagued the VA throughout the country. However he pledged to work in concert with my office and our local VA to address these concerns to provide critical services to our veterans.

Since Secretary Shinseki’s visit to Guam, the clinic has increased and improved its staffing levels to better support our veterans. Today, the clinic has two internal medicine practitioners and a third provider being actively recruited. The clinic has also been authorized a traveling doctor who will be visiting the island every quarter for a month at a time. There are now two psychiatrists and the vacancies for a psychologist and mental health nurse practitioner, which will soon be filled. A new Home Based Primary Care Program, for veterans who are bed or home bound and this program is staffed by a Guam based doctor and a Guam based Nurse Practitioner. This program is also actively recruiting a registered nurse and social worker. The nursing staff will soon be augmented with the addition of 2 new nurses and a new licensed practical nurse.

I also continue to advocate for parity in benefits between veterans living on Guam and those residing in the mainland. Last August, I was successful in working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to revisit current regulations to provide veterans pursuing a higher education in Guam with a housing allowance comparable to what is assigned to veterans in the 50 states. Currently Guam veterans using their Post 9/11 GI bill education benefits receive $1,347 a month for housing expenses, but with the revised regulations, Guam veterans will receive $2,450. I thank Mr. Aaron Unpingco, an Army veteran, for bringing this issue to my attention and I am also working to make this change in pay retroactive.

On Sunday I had the opportunity to meet with our local veterans in a town hall meeting in Sinajana. Our veterans raised a number of important issues that we can address together. One of the most pressing concerns is to ensure that our veterans are given full military honors when their time on earth has ended. I will get to the heart of this issue. I will determine if its federal policies, local policies or a mixture of both that is causing this problem. I ask the Active Duty military services, the Guam National Guard and the Army Reserves to please join me in solving this problem and ensuring that every veteran receives the full military honors that he has earned from his service to our great nation.

I will also look into the issue of how housing allowances and the question of why Guam uses Overseas Housing Allowance whereas servicemembers in the mainland have a different system. Our men and women in uniform deserve equal treatment and I will work with them to find the best solution for their housing allowance.

Further, I continue to work with Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta provided Department of Interior technical assistance grants to help Guam’s Veterans Affairs Office improve services by providing them funding for computers and other equipment that will help veterans electronically file their claims. At my insistence, in September of last year, Assistant Secretary Babauta awarded $25,000 in technical assistance to the Guam VA office to upgrade its information system. This complete computer upgrade will enable inter-operability between the Federal Hawaii VA Office and our local office to help improve the claims benefit process, reduce transaction processing times, and assist in decreasing fraud, waste, and abuse. In addition, Assistant Secretary Babauta also provides $35,000 for maintenance equipment for the Guam Veterans’ Cemetery. I know that John Unpingco appreciates the resources and he has been doing a great job for our veterans.

I have also sought to ensure that our veterans receive the recognition they deserve for their contributions to our nation and to our community. In May 2011, I introduced a bill, H.R. 1843, to honor the late John Gerber by designating the Guam Main Post Office Facility in Barrigada, the “John Pangelinan Gerber Post Office Building.” John dedicated his life to helping his fellow Marines, veterans, and servicemembers, and he worked to help educate the public about the important role Guam played during World War II and continues to play today. He never sought personal recognition for his endeavors but he was instrumental in ensuring that our community never forgot the sacrifices of those who served and continue to serve in defense of our nation. In November, the Congress passed and President Obama signed this bill into law, and our community will now have a lasting tribute to John and the thousands of Marines who fought and died to liberate our island from enemy forces during World War II. His family is here tonight and I would like to recognize them.

We must also recognize veterans like retired Master Sergeant Isak Elbelau who did two tours in Vietnam before retiring from the US Army. He was wounded in action by shrapnel, but was never recognized for his injuries. After numerous failed attempts at getting his military record corrected he turned to me for assistance. We worked closely with Jack Shimizu and the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. After extensive work with the Army Board of Correction of Military Records, Isak’s record was finally corrected in late 2011 and last month he was awarded the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained protecting our great Nation. I would like to ask Master Sergeant Elbelau and all members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart who are in attendance, to stand and be recognized. Our community is grateful for your service to our nation, and we recognize the injuries you sustained in combat in defense of our freedom.

Finally we must never forget the 34 men and women from Guam that paid the ultimate sacrifice in the two most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They gave their lives in defense of our freedom and our way of life. At this time, I would like to pause for a moment of silence to remember them and their families for the sacrifices they have made for our country.

Our men and women in our Guam National Guard have done so much for our country and for our island. After over a decade of conflict our Guam Guard has answered every call to duty and done so willingly. And, again next year, many of our sons and daughters will be gearing up to support our country in Afghanistan. The exact mission and deployment figures will depend greatly on our posture in Afghanistan but we must do all that we can to support our sons and daughters who may deploy over the coming year. Every time I travel to Afghanistan or Iraq I meet our men and women in uniform from Guam and it inspires me. I know that we are all proud of what they do and what they stand for. Could our Guam Guard representatives please stand and be recognized.

This year’s budget shows a continued commitment to the Guam National Guard. The budget contains a military construction project for $8.5 million to expand the Joint Force Headquarters in Barrigada. This project will help to support our deploying Guardsmen and their families. However, we must be mindful of the continued importance of our National Guard and I am seriously concerned about this year’s budget impact to our Air National Guard. In part, the same budgetary constraints that have had an effect on the realignment are going to impact our National Guard nationwide. While our Guam Guard isn’t immediately or directly impacted I will work as Ranking Member of the Readiness Subcommittee and with my colleagues in the House Armed Services Committee to address these proposed force structure changes to the Air National Guard. We cannot let the misguided leaders who tried to effectively eliminate the Air National Guard in BRAC 2005 be successful today. Our National Guard has proven time and time again that it is the most effective force for our nation’s defense. 

Additionally, we must be alert that other proposed savings in the 2013 budget could impact our island’s installations. In particular, we will closely scrutinize the proposal to cancel the Block 30 program for the Global Hawk. We have three aircraft at Andersen Air Force Base that provided critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance during Operation Tomodachi last March. In fact, these assets based on Guam provided critical information on the status of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and the effects of the tsunami. As our country pivots to the Asia-Pacific region it would be extremely short-sighted to remove critical assets that assist the United States in providing stability in the region and assistance to our allies.
While the military installations on Guam play an important role in our national security they are also part of our extended family. They deserve a seat at our kitchen table. I appreciate the efforts of Admiral Paul Bushong and General John Doucette and commend them for keeping positive and strong relations with our local community. The last several years have tested the civilian-military relationship on Guam but strong leadership at these installations has helped to keep the relationship positive. Whether it is rotational forces, Navy or Air Force, painting our bus stops or helping to maintain our public schools these types of activities help to bring our communities closer together. Our Mayors and Vice Mayors have shown in their villages that you can build strong friendships between our local community and our military servicemembers through an array of service programs in the community. And I thank our Mayor’s Council for the quiet work they do every day.
Another way to build relationships between our civilian and military communities is having some of our sons who grew up on Guam come back and serve at Andersen Air Force Base, Navy Base Guam or up at Joint Region Marianas. I would like to recognize some recent Service Academy graduates. Our Naval Academy graduates Lieutenants David Blas, Thomas Ham, Timothy White and his wife Franicia. I would also like to recognize our Air Force Academy graduate Second Lieutenant Dominic Leon Guerrero. Lieutenant Blas, Ham and White are serving at Navy Base Guam and Joint Region Marianas and Second Lieutenant Leon Guerrero is serving as a contracting officer at Andersen. I appreciate having these young men serving on Guam. I have also appreciated their willingness and efforts to help high school students who are seeking appointments to the Service Academies. They have participated in events that are sponsored by my office and have been willing to share their wisdom and experiences at the Academies. Let’s thank them for their service and dedication to our community.

I understand the dynamic relationship that our local community has with our military installations. It is important to always work closely together on all types of matters. It is important to find a way for local military installations to comply with the recently enacted bottle bill legislation here on Guam. I applaud Senator Tina Muña Barnes for passing the Bottle Bill legislation in December 2010. Yet, there is no federal requirement for commissaries or exchanges to comply with local bottle bill legislation anywhere in the United States. And, as such, the effectiveness of the local bill’s impact on our community is diminished if there isn’t cooperation from the local military installations. I am developing legislation that will require commissaries and exchanges to comply with local bottle bill legislation. I want to make sure that Senator Muña Barnes’ efforts achieve the ultimate impact that was intended by her legislation.

Another important aspect of our civilian and military community relationship is the enhancement of our island’s most important economic facet – our tourism industry. I have worked since 2008 to expand our island’s tourism industry by creating a joint Guam-CNMI visa waiver program. While immediate efforts to expand our tourism market to Chinese and Russian visitors was thwarted, we have made progress over the last year. It would be nice to just broadly expand the visa waiver program as Congress intended but that goal is unrealistic at this time. Instead, we are seeking expansion of parole authority for Chinese and Russian tourists market as is the case in the CNMI. In fact, while aboard Air Force One with President Obama I was informed that parole authority would be extended to Russian tourists. It was the “One Guam” approach in working with Governor Calvo and Senator Respicio and Senator Muña Barnes that made parole authority for Russian tourists a reality. I also thank GVB General Manager, JoAnn Camacho, for quickly working with my office and appropriate federal agencies to make sure implementation of parole authority will benefit our local economy.

However, the real goal is to expand our market to Chinese tourists. I believe that we need to find ways to address legitimate security concerns and we are working with Governor Calvo and the visitor industry to provide necessary information to help us succeed. The key issue is having an appropriate screening of Chinese visitors with enough lead time to be able to address any concerns. A November 2011 trip by local stakeholders to Washington DC highlighted that the debate on this matter has moved forward. Although the security concerns are valid and serious, I believe that President Obama’s call for a 40% increase this year in tourists from China and Brazil will help make our case for parole authority here on Guam. Some of the most conservative estimates indicate that expansion of the tourism market to more Chinese visitors would result in $144.5 million in net annual revenues for the Government of Guam by 2020. That is a real and tangible benefit to our community and bolsters the President’s argument that greater access to Chinese tourists means more jobs and economic opportunities. I want to thank our visitor industry stakeholders who have worked closely with me over the years on this issue including Bruce Kloppenberg, Dave Tydingco, Jim Beighley, Gerry Perez, Bart Jackson and Mary Torre. And it has been a pleasure working with the Governor and his Director of Policy Arthur Clark on this important matter.

Unfortunately, last year my top legislative priority, passage of H.R. 44, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, suffered a setback when it was not added as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill. Despite this set back the legislation remains my top legislative priority however these setbacks offered a window into understanding the true challenges of passing this legislation.

Last July the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 44. At the hearing opposition to this important matter was made clear – fiscal conservatives. For years previously, I had cautioned that certain fiscally conservative Senators were the obstacle but the group that has obstructed passage of this legislation was made clear at the hearing. Fiscal conservatives objected to the legislation on the basis of its cost and they objected to the rationale that the United States should pay this cost in 2012. While our local community knows all too well why this legislation is needed nothing seemed to satisfy the concerns of fiscal conservatives. Former Congressman Ben Blaz, who testified, was visibly angered at the opponents of this legislation. He stated, “Forgive me sir, forgive me for speaking so loudly for this is so dear to my heart”. He also stated his understanding of why there is a need for the bill, “I say it’s incomplete. We need to give them a second shot.” His statement and his anger underline the challenges that we face in this current Congress and budgetary environment.

The hearing also highlighted the Americans for Tax Reform’s strong opposition to the legislation. The Acting Chairman of the hearing entered testimony from this group into the record. Subsequently, an article in the Politico – a Capitol Hill publication – highlighted this organization’s lobbying efforts against H.R. 44. What’s significant about this opposition is that the group is led by Republican super-lobbyist Grover Norquist. Mr. Norquist is behind the effort to ensure that all Republicans oppose any legislation that raises taxes or involves new spending. It was this “no taxes” pledge that nearly plunged our country back into recession and scuttled the collaborative efforts of the so-called Super Committee charged with coming up with a budget agreement. It was this pledge, in part, that helped to downgrade this country’s credit rating. Mr. Norquist is a registered lobbyist and in his lobbying disclosure form he specifically lists H.R. 44 as a bill that he is lobbying against. I highlight this organization’s opposition to H.R. 44 not to be partisan, but to be candid about the challenges and difficulties in passing this legislation. I have not and will not give up efforts to pass this bill but the challenges are significant. One of the challenges is to find funding as a budget offset to meet the concerns of fiscal conservatives. I am working to identify an offset to the cost of H.R. 44 and I hope this will help to move this legislation forward.

It is important to note that H.R. 44 passed the House five times and was brought up twice on the Senate floor for consideration. While I cannot predict if H.R. 44 will be successful, nothing will ever diminish the magnitude of the sacrifice our man’mako made during the occupation during World War II.

H.R. 44 is among the issues that our family has to consider at our kitchen table. I must be candid in saying that the challenges we face in the current budget environment make passage of H.R. 44 more difficult than ever but I commit to you again that I will do everything to keep this issue in front of our leaders. In fact, last week, I asked Secretary of the Interior Salazar about the Administration’s commitment to H.R. 44 and he reiterated that the Administration continues to support this legislation. When I met President Obama in December aboard Air Force One I personally thanked him for his support of H.R. 44 and asked him to help me find a way to break the stalemate in the Congress so that we can finally bring justice to our man’mako.
As we look forward as an island to our future, we must continue to place a premium on educating our younger generations. I commend Speaker Won Pat and Senators Chris Duenas, Tony Ada, Mana Silva Taijeron, Sam Mabini and Aline Yamashita for their commitment to education and education reform in our schools. Our young people must understand our history, our culture and way of life. We must also prepare them for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for a national commitment to train two million workers with skills that will lead directly to employment. As part of this commitment, last week the President announced a proposal for a new $8 billion Community College to Career Fund to help community colleges develop new partnerships with businesses and train workers for well-paying jobs. Such an initiative will help community colleges to become career centers where students learn skills critical to local businesses. I support the President’s proposal and have led an effort among my colleagues to ensure the full inclusion of the territories in the Community College to Career Fund. Guam Community College is expanding, its enrollment is increasing, and it provides excellent career and technical education for our island. It is critical that GCC is eligible for the same federal resources and support as its counterparts in the states. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration, to ensure our island has equal access to this critical Community College to Career Fund.

Ensuring higher education is financially possible for students is also important. In 2007 Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which reduced the interest rate on federal subsidized Stafford student loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over a four-year period. This reduced interest rate is set to expire this year, effectively doubling interest rates for participating students and would cost students up to $5,200 dollars over a 10 year repayment period. To prevent this unnecessary increase, I have cosponsored HR 3826, a bill which will prevent subsidized Stafford student loan rates from doubling at the end of this year. This legislation will have a real impact on the financial stability of our students on Guam. Further, I want to recognize Derrick Hills, who raised the issue of colleges and universities receiving federal funds should not subsequently raise their tuition. I thank him for his activism and raising this important matter at a recent town hall meeting.

I have also joined my colleagues in the fight to ensure the territories are treated equitably under the Upward Bound Federal TRIO program. On Guam, the TRIO program through the University of Guam assists disadvantaged students throughout our community to increase college attendance and graduation rates. TRIO is an effective federal program that enjoys bi-partisan support. Yet over the past several years, TRIO’s funding has remained level including in this year’s budget proposal. I am concerned about this level funding as it will likely force TRIO administrators around the nation to do more with less, or serve fewer students.

We all have a responsibility to encourage and broaden their horizons and grasp opportunities. I have had an internship program since taking office in 2003. I applaud Speaker Won Pat and Governor Calvo for implementing internship programs in their offices too. I have had over 69 interns in my office and I’m also proud to have had 4 high school pages work in the House of Representatives. These young men and women have had an experience of a lifetime. Recently we instituted an internship for a UOG student and that has been very successful. And tonight, I announce we are initiating a new internship program for the Guam Community College. I am working with Dr. Mary Okada and her Board of Trustees so their program will be as successful as the UOG internship program. So tonight I want to recognize all the young people in the audience who have been an intern or page in my office as well as any parent who has had a son or daughter who was a page or intern.

Moving forward, it is important that we seek ways to address the underlying inadequacies of the Compacts of Free Association and work to lessen the burden on Guam and other affected jurisdictions. I have supported several initiatives this Congress that would help to help make the Compacts migration policy sustainable for Guam.

Last November, the Government Accountability Office released a report that highlighted many of the challenges Guam, Hawaii, and the CNMI have encountered in having to use local funds to cover the costs associated with providing social services to Compact migrants. This report was the result of a request that I, and my colleagues from Hawaii, American Samoa, Arkansas, and the CNMI, made to assess the adequacy of federal funds provided to the governments of the affected jurisdictions and to better inform our policy decisions regarding the impact of the Compacts on the United States moving forward. The GAO report found that the current state of the Compacts is unsustainable for the affected jurisdictions and that solutions must be found to reduce the burden on affected local governments.

As a result of this report, I co-sponsored H.R. 3320, the Compact-Impact Reimbursement Act of 2011, introduced by Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa which would increase annual Compact-impact assistance to costs reported in the GAO report. This bill would amend the Compact of Free Association Act of 1985 to authorize $185 million, for each fiscal year from 2012 through 2024, for Federal Compact-Impact grants for Guam, Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to address Compact-Impact costs. In 2004, I worked with the Hawaii Congressional Delegation to increase Compact-Impact funding from $4.5 million to its current $17.5 million per year for Guam. The President’s budget for 2013 includes an additional $5 million to address Compact-Impact. However, the current rules of the House and federal budget realities make H.R. 3320 difficult to pass. As we’ve experienced with other bills an offset must be found to pay for these increases.

H.R. 3320 also provides for the inclusion of Compact migrants in Medicaid coverage outside of current statutory caps established for each jurisdiction. Medicaid assistance provided to Compact migrants through H.R. 3320 would not count toward the annual Medicaid caps allocated to Guam, but it will help to address the heavy costs of providing health services to Compact migrants. In the 111th Congress, I included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that incrementally increased Guam’s Medicaid cap from $13.7 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to $42 million in 2012 and it will continue to increase to $58 million by 2019. I know that finding the matching funds for the Medicaid payments will be a challenge for our local community but working together with other territorial delegates I believe we can find innovative solutions to address this matter.

While there are many areas where federal grants are inadequate to the need we have been fortunate that under the Obama Administration the territorial delegates have been successful in ensuring that 5 different tax credits have been paid for by federal grants to our local treasuries. And we will continue to work with the Obama Administration to ensure that any new tax credits do not harm our local treasury.
It is critical that Guam’s public health system be able to meet the challenges of addressing our community’s health needs. Providing Medicaid assistance to Compact migrants outside Guam’s Medicaid cap will help in this regard. This is why I have also included this provision in other pieces of legislation before the House. I co-sponsored H.R. 1035, which would provide for this inclusion of FAS migrants in Medicaid as a stand-alone measure. Further, I was successful in including this provision in H.R. 2954, the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011, a top priority of the Congressional Tri-Caucus. This bill would eliminate Guam’s current Medicaid cap and include Compact migrants under Medicaid coverage. Guam’s public health system should no longer be burdened with covering the costs of providing services to Compact migrants, and I will seek every viable legislative vehicle to address this issue for our community. I look forward to working with Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. on these Medicaid issues.

I also introduced H.R. 888, which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide federal assistance to local educational agencies that educate children admitted to the United States under the Compacts. Many of our island’s public schools educate children of FAS migrants. While no current federal program exists to assist local school districts with these expenses, this bill would include FAS migrant children in an existing program aimed at addressing expenses incurred by local school districts for the costs of educating federally connected children.

I have also written to Assistant Secretary Babauta urging him to work with the Freely Associated States to address the issue of overcrowding in our prisons. I commend Vice Speaker Cruz for raising this matter with Assistant Secretary Babauta and me. And I know that Senator Palacios has been at the forefront of trying to resolve the issue of overcrowding in our prisons. I believe that this is a matter where the federal government needs to step up to the plate and assume this responsibility. Tony we know where you live in Agat so you better help us.

Last May, I also signed on to a letter that was circulated by Senators Daniel Inouye and Jeff Bingaman urging Secretaries Hillary Clinton and Ken Salazar to enter into negotiations with the governments of the Freely Associated States to mitigate the costs to affected jurisdictions associated with Compact migration. This letter became the center of criticism by some in our community who claimed that Congress was targeting FAS migrants instead of fulfilling its obligations under the Compacts. I would like to underscore two points in this regard:

First: this letter reiterated Congress’s belief that the policy of allowing FAS citizens to enter the U.S. for work, study, and residence was sound, but that current implementation of this policy was unsustainable for both the federal government and those of the affected jurisdictions. The signatories recognized that our communities have been overburdened with the costs associated with providing services to migrants under the Compacts, but we also recognize the difficult fiscal environment facing our country. In the current budget environment in Congress, it will be very difficult to get an appropriation for past Compact-Impact reimbursement. We must find sound solutions that address the underlying problems of the Compacts so that our communities do not have to shoulder impact costs.

Second: We recognize the positive contributions many FAS citizens have made to our communities. However, there are some who have taken advantage of this agreement, and have migrated to the United States outside the intent of the Compacts. Our recommendations would urge the FAS governments to educate potential migrants of what is expected of them when they enter the United States, including the original intent of the Compacts to provide educational and socio-economic opportunities to FAS citizens. In fact the GAO reports that FAS citizens stated that they would have benefited by receiving information about migrating to the U.S. before leaving their own islands. We also recommended that funds be utilized from existing assistance given to the FAS to develop medical facilities in their own countries in order to reduce an over-reliance of services in Guam and the other jurisdictions and enable FAS citizens to receive treatment in their own country. Lastly, there are a number of federal laws that govern entry into the U.S., whether or not the individuals are required to have a visa, that prohibit those with felonies and restrict those likely to become a public charge. Our letter sought to address this issue among Compact migrants and urged for better enforcement of these federal laws. Even Congressman Underwood shared this view when he stated in 2000, “We must put admissibility into the U.S. on the table and require documentation of health and criminal records.”

When I came to Congress in 2003, I proposed offsetting unpaid Compact-Impact costs against debts that Guam owed to the federal government. Although President Bush did not use the authority provided to him, this idea became the basis for my effort in 2011 to allow unpaid Compact-Impact costs to be used an offset for any future Government of Guam acquisition of Navy water and wastewater assets. The legislative progress we made on this issue forms the basis for future legislation that would provide offsets for past Compact-Impact costs. I want to thank Senator Pangelinan and Senator Blas for encouraging me to continue using offsets to address Compact-Impact. This is another issue that requires our family to have a candid discussion. It is extremely unlikely that Congress will ever appropriate $400 to $500 million for Guam’s Compact-Impact costs. First of all, the money is not there. Secondly, our view that we are owed a reimbursement is not shared by Congressional leaders. You will not find the word reimbursement in the Compact-Impact statute. As the GAO pointed out, Compact-Impact grants are authorized to help defray costs to the affected jurisdiction. It is important to note that Senator Dan Inouye who is the Chairman of the Senate appropriations and the Hawaii Delegation have not been successful themselves in appropriating past Compact-Impact costs for Hawaii. That is why in this budget environment we must have a broader focus not just on the rising costs but how we can mitigate these impacts. Senator Inouye proposed and I supported him in asking the Freely Associated State’s governments to do more in the area of providing health care and education to their own citizens so that there is not such a great demand for these services on Guam. Further, while much has been said about screening of FAS citizens the idea was to better prepare them for their intended move to Guam. For example, they need to know that we too have high unemployment, we too have limited government services and we may not be able to provide them public housing for years because the waiting list is so long.

These recommendations are certainly not the only solutions but they certainly reflect a different and focused approach to these problems so that the policy can be sustained. Assistant Secretary Babauta has responded to the request from Congress for a more focused approach. He is convening a Pacific Island leaders meeting to address Compact-Impact next month on Guam.

For our island family to succeed we must also continue to ardently promote our Chamorro culture and work to protect our unique environment so that the resources we enjoy today are available to future generations. To that end, I was successful in including new language to the Sikes Act to extend protections of natural resources on national defense installations to include National Guard facilities. This expansion of Sikes Act will ensure that efforts already in place at DOD-managed installations are also observed by state-owned military installations and it will ensure that native species and ecosystems on Guam and throughout the nation are preserved.

I have also recently introduced the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2011, to protect our fishermen from “free riders” who benefit unfairly from those who overharvest fishing stocks. Stopping illegal fishing will ensure that Guam’s fishermen are able to compete at an equal level in the market and protect them against predatory fishing fleets.

I have also worked closely with Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta to award over $300,000 in technical assistance grants from the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. In addition to the $54,000 that was awarded to upgrade the Guam VA, I worked with Secretary Babauta to provide financial assistance to community organizations that foster environmental stewardship and provide necessary services to our people. The Guam’s Fisherman’s Cooperative was awarded $58,000 to improve storage and refrigeration facilities and make needed improvements to the fuel pier at the Hagåtña boat basin. These improvements will benefit our local fishermen and I guarantee they’ll catch more fish.

I also encouraged Assistant Secretary Babauta to provide Guam’s Farmer’s Cooperative with $50,000 in technical assistance to help promote sustainable agriculture by providing drip irrigation and high-yield fertilizer to members. This grant was awarded during a launch of Guam’s Buy Local Initiative, which aims to promote local businesses by encouraging residents to purchase locally made and distributed goods and services. I am inspired by Governor Ricky Bordallo’s vision in 1984 when he stated, “We have renewed the Green Revolution and will give it top priority in our economic rearmament efforts. For every pound of food that we produce locally we take dollars out of the hands of off-island suppliers and put them into the hands of local farmers.”

To further support Guam’s Buy Local Initiative, I intend to introduce legislation that I have nicknamed the “Green Grocer bill” that will require commissaries and exchanges in the United States and the territories, to purchase for resale to the maximum extent practical, food items from local sources. I want to see more local fish, produce or meats being sold at exchanges and commissaries throughout the United States. Such an effort not only helps our local economy but it is healthier, fresher and more sustainable for our communities.

I also requested that Assistant Secretary Babauta provide $100,000 to enable Catholic Social Services to purchase vans that are accessible for our special needs citizens. These vans will allow CSS to provide access to services for families in need. The vans will increase job opportunities, by providing transportation to job training and employment sites.

And to ensure that Guam continues to receive the resources it needs to support the community, I will continue to work with my colleagues to maintain funding for these important programs and services as Congress considers appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013. I also remain committed to working with the Obama Administration, Governor Calvo, the Guam Legislature, and leaders in our community to resolve the longstanding issue of Guam’s political status through a legitimate act of political self-determination. In 2010, the President signed into law a bill that authorizes the Department of the Interior to provide federal funding for political status education in the territories. In order to make informed decisions about Guam’s political status, it is important that our residents are provided with the resources and tools they need to learn more about the options they will vote on. Assistant Secretary Babauta has committed to me that he will provide funds to Guam for political status education when he receives a consolidated grant request from Governor Calvo. I am aware that there are controversial issues regarding the nature of the plebiscite vote and I would prefer we resolve these issues as a family rather than relying on a decision from a federal court. This will allow our people to reflect on our relationship with United States and achieve decolonization.

As our family thinks about our future, we should reflect on values we hold dearly. We have rejected casino gambling in, at least, five different occasions but we continue to be confronted by new forms of gambling that we did not ever anticipate. I thank Vice Speaker Cruz of raising the issues of internet gambling based on Guam with me and I have committed to work with him and the Guam Legislature to look at possible amendments to the Organic Act of Guam to close any loopholes that our people have not approved of.
I appreciate having this time to have this family discussion about some of the important issues confronting our community and about our dreams for the future, especially for our children. I wish I had more opportunities to talk to each of you at your own kitchen table but as Congressman Blaz described in 1992, “That is one of the disadvantages of being so far away. Unlike my colleagues, I can’t go home every weekend.” In responding to criticism that he spends a lot of time in Washington, Congressman Blaz further stated, “That is where the job is located. Let’s get to the real issues, folks. That is not an issue. It’s absurd.” Congressman Underwood also stated in 1997 that, “The Delegate from Guam has to travel the farthest from home to Capitol Hill. In an article in last month’s edition of Latte magazine, about how I spend my time in Washington, I mentioned to the reporter in jest that I spend so much time inside an airplane that I had time to calculate exactly how much. Last year the total was 29 days.” While being in Washington and travelling home is a necessary part of the job, some people have begun to question whether I intend to return home. Yes, I do intend to come back home. In fact, I plan to stay here forever and just so you know that I plan to stay here forever I’ve already purchased a condominium next to Ricky’s condominium in the Pigo estates.

Also, when you spend a lot of time on airplanes you get to reflect on the nature of the job and on whether we are doing everything we can to make your life better. Whether it is a constituent inquiry, giving White House tours, or promoting good policies for Guam we strive to do our best. In fact, I am very proud of my office’s responsiveness to constituent inquiries and requests for assistance. We answer every e-mail on a daily basis and for four years, three months and 21 days we have succeeded in an unbroken streak of answering every constituent e-mail in one day. We have also been very good at answering every Senator’s letter in one day, isn’t that right Senator Cruz, Senator Pangelinan and Senator Blas? They are the most prolific writers in case you didn’t know and sometimes they even get my reply before they send out their press release. And, Ben, you sent me a letter this morning – here is your reply.

You may have noticed that I have interspersed many quotes from past leadership of our island. I did that on purpose. In sitting around our kitchen tables I want our families across our island to reflect on where we’ve come from and where we want to go. If I had made all these statements many people would have believed that I am preaching or that I am making a lot of political statements for political gain. But there is a thread that runs through the fabric of our leadership from the first elected Governor to the first elected Congressman to Governor Calvo and myself in how we approach the federal government. I want to share some closing thoughts but this time I will tell you who stated it after the quote to show that what unites us is stronger than what divides us.

“We are compassionate people. We understand the strength of our family ties. We are persistent in the pursuit of a decent community. We favor intelligent solutions to those things that might divide us. And although we are basically serious about life, we do know how to laugh.” This was Governor Paul Calvo’s comments in 1982.
“Let us now, set aside past disagreements and try to help our people. Let us use our energies to be positive. Forget about the anger and the conflict of the past. I say let's clear the slate, start all over and let's all try to do what's best for our people - all our people!" This was the comment of Governor Carl Gutierrez in 1996 and I agree with him.

“We are entering the dawn of a New Era, a period in history during which Guam will fulfill its true potential as the showcase of American Democracy in the Western Pacific." This was Governor Carlos Camacho in 1970.
“We must work together in the spirit of cooperation to make sure that the military changes are positive, and our future remains bright. For at the heart of this expansion is the military’s role in defending the freedom of our great nation.” This was Governor Felix Camacho in 2007.

My dear people of Guam, I hope you enjoyed our kitchen table discussion as much as I have. I hope that I challenged your thinking by recalling the profound words of our past Congressmen and Governors. So my last thought that I want to leave with you is what Dr. Underwood said about Mr. Won Pat and it bears repeating. “As we reflect on his (Mr. Won Pat’s) accomplishments, we must all hold the mirror up to ourselves, to bear honest witness to our own work on the people’s behalf – to assess our weaknesses, to find the depths of our soul, to gauge the strength of our commitment. Today is my day for this.” So thank you Dr. Underwood I could not have stated this better myself.

God bless Guam and God bless the United States of America.

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