Friday, August 30, 2013

Jumping the Fence

I'm up late trying to finish my talk for tomorrow at the Marianas History Conference at UOG.

The title of my talk is "Jumping the Fence" and it is an evaluation of the impact that Nasion Chamoru and its first Maga'lahi Angel Santos has had on contemporary Guam. I outline a number of changes that they helped to facilitate in terms of culture and politics.

Jumping the fence is a metaphor for decolonization and it refers to the infamous incident when Angel Santos, Ed Benavente and several others jumped the fence at former Naval Air Station, or what is today known as "Tiyan." They did this right in front of media and military police, and when they were arrested Santos spat in the face of one of his captors. It was a moment that defined Nasion Chamoru for many people in a negative sense, but can also play a big role in helping us understand just how much they changed the island with their activism.

My favorite line thus far in my presentation is as follows:

"The point of any fence, in a colonial space, is to jump it (or to be jumped). It exists to seal off something, some shred of sovereignty from the colonized. So long as these fences remain "unjumped" whatever sense of powerless and displacement they helped to create will continue to persist."

Lastly, here's my abstract for my paper. It is very short and to the point:

In 1991 a group of twenty people gathered in Latte Stone Park in Hagatna, to proclaim the birth of a Chamorro nation. This group would eventually evolve into "Nasion Chamoru," the most notorious organization in recent Guam history. They would organize countless protests, sit ins and other acts of civil disobedience and change the ideological landscape of Guam. This paper will evaluate the impact of Nasion Chamoru in terms of how people conceptualize decolonization, Chamorro culture and land today.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Importance of Yokoi

Shoichi Yokoi, a straggler who hid in Guam's jungles for 27 years after World War II is a household name on Guam. His story is interesting and inspiring and made him a celebrity for many years in Japan and keeps him a celebrity up until today on Guam. While many focus on the unique and strange aspects of his tale of survival, it is actually his life after his straggling years that makes him important to Guam's history. In terms of straggling Yokoi was not unique, there were many stragglers before him in Guam, and although he was the last straggler to be discovered on Guam, others still continued to pop up for years after he was captured. As the article below notes he was resolute in his desire to not be captured, but his loyalty was not even as fierce as some of the others.

What makes him important to Guam is the role that he played in helping create the Japanese tourism industry that sustains the island today. His role wasn't intentional and wasn't direct, but his being discovered in Guam and the affinity that he still held to the island even into his later years helped to change the image that Japanese had of Guam. As an island where close to 20,000 soldiers died, and one site which were connected to so many others across Asia and the Pacific which had once signified victory and not just the soul draining horror of defeat and humiliation, Guam was in many ways invisible to Japan. It had been a casualty of their hunger for expansion and it was a further casualty of their amnesia. 

Yokoi never would have approved of this amnesia, but he did love the island in the same way one cannot let go of the sites of their trauma becomes they have become too dear and too intimate in terms of who they are, and his love was either infectious or at least convenient. He allowed the Japanese to see Guam in a new way. Allowing it to grow in a completely different place within their imaginary and eventually allowing them as a nation to enjoy Guam without admitting to their past atrocities there. I'll be writing more about him and this importance later.

Below is his obituary from The Economist. 


Shoichi Yokoi:

Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese survivor, died on September 22nd, aged 82

THE hiding place on the Pacific island of Guam where Shoichi Yokoi lived for nearly 27 years was destroyed by a typhoon. Never mind, the replica that has replaced it looks just as inhospitable to the many Japanese who come to marvel how their compatriot survived. Only in January 1972, when he was 56, did Sergeant Yokoi of the Japanese Imperial Army abandon his jungle life after being spotted fishing by two local people, and, as he said, after being urged by the spirits of his dead comrades to come out of hiding.

He was taken to hospital, where the doctors wanted to X-ray him. Unfamiliar with modern medical equipment, he told them, “If you want to kill me, kill me quickly.” The doctors calmed the living fossil who had adapted to the jungle, living on fruit and nuts, with fish and the odd rat or frog for protein. When his army uniform rotted away, Mr Yokoi dressed in clothes that he had woven from tree bark. It was helpful that he had been a tailor in civilian life.

He returned to Japan, 31 years after he had left, to a flag-waving welcome, but he was a reluctant hero. “I have a gun from the emperor and I have brought it back,” he said. He apologised that he could not fulfil his duties. “I am ashamed that I have come home alive.”

His was the guilt of the survivor. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers defending Guam, some 19,000 were killed when the Americans regained the island in 1944, and 2,000 survivors fled to the jungle. Most gave up when Japan surrendered in 1945, but Mr Yokoi and a few others did not, apparently unaware that the war had ended. His two remaining colleagues died in 1964, leaving Mr Yokoi on his own for another eight years.

An oddity of history

While admiring Shoichi Yokoi's resourcefulness as a Japanese Robinson Crusoe, the post-war generations have not shown much sympathy for his grief that, by eventually returning, he had let down the army and Emperor Hirohito. Among older Japanese there may be nostalgia for the imperial days, but to most modern Japanese emperor worship is an historical oddity: fewer than half of the Japanese polled cared a cent about the ascension of Akihito, Hirohito's son, to the chrysanthemum throne in 1990 after his father's death. But to the likes of Mr Yokoi, doing the bidding of the emperor, a descendant of the Sun Goddess, was a religious duty relayed by his more worldly army superiors. As Muslims pray facing towards Mecca, so Japanese schoolchildren at that time turned towards Tokyo in morning assembly. These were the days of the kamikaze pilots who were prepared to crash into oblivion, because that was the emperor's command. In Saipan, families hurled themselves over a cliff shouting loyalty to the emperor, rather than be captured by the advancing Americans. (So-called Banzai Cliff is another place that draws astonished Japanese tourists.) Only after the war, at the behest of the Americans who thought that emperor worship contributed to the Japanese view of themselves as superior to other races, did Hirohito renounce divinity in his “Declaration of Humanity”.

Although Mr Yokoi was the most famous of the old warriors to return from the jungle, there were others who refused to believe that Japan could have been defeated. Two years after Mr Yokoi returned, Hiroo Onoda, a lieutenant, was discovered in the Philippines with two other Japanese soldiers. His rifle (unlike Mr Yokoi's) still worked and he had potted a few locals over the years. The strength of his commitment to emperor and country was, if anything, even fiercer than Mr Yokoi's. Only when his former commander was flown to the Philippines was Mr Onoda persuaded to surrender.

Mr Yokoi adapted to the hustle of modern Japan remarkably quickly. Nine months after returning he was married. He became a pacifist, wrote the first of his two books and became a television commentator on survival tactics. He even stood for election to Japan's upper house of parliament in 1974.

Yet he was unhappy with many aspects of Japan. The country was experiencing heady economic growth. What had happened to its old qualities of elegance, harmony and simplicity? “Golf courses should be turned into bean fields,” wrote Mr Yokoi. The Japanese people should live simply, frugally and without waste. Mr Yokoi was, according to the slogan of his election campaign, an “endurable-life critic”. His view of life contained much wartime puritanism: “Don't eat excessively. Don't wear too much. Don't be vain, use your brain.” Evidently, Japanese voters preferred not to, and Mr Yokoi was not elected. Undeterred, he continued to preach the virtues of autarky.

In his later years, Mr Yokoi faded from public life. He took up pottery and calligraphy, grew organic vegetables and became ever more disenchanted with modern Japan. “I'm not happy with the present system of education, politics, religion, just about everything,” he said. After several years of illness he died of a heart attack. And perhaps there was heartbreak, too, as he looked back fondly at his “natural” life in the jungle.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fino' Anghet

I recently had to write an article for the website Guampedia on the late Angel Santos, former Guam Senator and Maga’lahi of the Nasion Chamoru. Angel Santos was a very controversial figure during his lifetime. He was considered one of the most hated and most beloved island figures. After he died however, public opinion over his legacy warmed and even those who had publicly condemned him before came to praise some of his statements and accomplishments.

While writing my article I went through as many of the public statements and writings of Santos that I could find. He was, like any larger than life figure, incredibly complex and full of contradictions. We may want to reduce the life of a person to things that are simple and inspirational, but they are always more complicated than that. I wanted to share today a list of quotes from his life and writings to give you a better sense of Angel Santos and his own journey in life.

As a 10-year-old altar boy in Sinajana, Santos was given the honor of watching over the body of a Chamorro who had been killed in Vietnam. Although most know him as someone who challenged and protested the military, as a young boy standing next to the casket, he had a very different consciousness.

“Why did he have to die so young, what did he sacrifice his life for? And when my parents told me that he died for my freedom, and for the democracy of all people throughout the world, I made my promise to myself, and to that soldier, to that warrior…that I want to be like him. I too, if called up, will spill my blood and die just like him.”

Santos would act on this impulse and serve in the Air Force for many years. His faith in the United States would be irreparably damaged however, after his 2-year-old daughter died of neuroblastoma. Santos was then stationed on Anderson Air Force Base and later learned that the drinking water there contained dangerously high levels of tetrachloral ethylene. The military knew but did not inform the public.   

This tragedy pushed Santos to question everything about Chamorros and their relationship to the United States. He sought out others that were struggling with similar questions. Eventually they formed the group United Chamoru Chelus for Independence on July 21, 1991. This would be the basis for the activist group Nasion Chamoru. In response to criticisms that there couldn’t be a Chamorro nation since no more Chamorros exist, this was his response:

“Who is a Chamoru? A Chamoru is a direct descendant of the original inhabitants of Guam regardless of variations in lineage. A Chamoru is not determined in degrees or fractions. A person who is ¼, ½ or ¾ is still a human being. All humans have a God-given right to claim their identity based on the argument that there is no nationality in the world that is pure. Why must Chamorus be subjected to all the insults and alienation? Why must we justify our identities? God knows who we are and that is all that matters.”

One thing that truly upset Santos was the fact that the needs of endangered animal species were sometimes prioritized over the native people of the island. One issue that pushed Santos to become more politically active was the designation of Ritidian as a critical habitat, for species like the ko’ko or the fanihi, instead of the land being returned to the original Chamorro landowners. In 1992 he stated,

“We are living in a sick society who has determined that the need to protect Guam’s endangered species is more important than the value of human life. Who is more important – the fanihi or the Chamoru people? Who will be the endangered species by the year 2010 – the fanihi or the Chamoru people?”

Over the course of his life Santos would participate in countless demonstrations, go on a hungry strike, be arrested six times, serve six months in federal prison and be elected Senator three times. He helped change this island and its consciousness in very dramatic ways, and all before his death at age 44.

There are so many more that I could share, but I’ll end this article with a quote from former Senator Mark Forbes, speaking of his colleague Senator Santos after his death in 2003.

“He left a legacy. It may not be a legacy of stone or a legacy of steel. He didn’t build bridges or buildings, but he built a monument in the heart of every single one of his people…His legacy will survive so long as there is a Chamorro mind to remember, so long as there are Chamorro voices to sing, so long as there are people who are met with injustice who look for someone to fight against that injustice – so long as that is the case, then Angel Santos will live forever.”

Ben's Pen

$18M savings turned down by lieutenant governor and governor:

 The elephant in the room

Senator Ben Pangelinan
Published in Marianas Variety
August 22, 2013

WHAT we have seen over the past week during budget discussions is a desperate attempt by the Republican governor and senators to cover up what is truly a travesty of epic proportions, which is the governor’s intent and selection of a non-exclusive health insurance contract for GovGuam employees and retirees that costs all taxpayers $18 million more than an exclusive contract, which the governor just last year said is the best way to go and recommended by health insurance actuarial experts.

The Guam Legislature recently passed the FY2014 budget ahead of the deadline of Aug. 31, which has apparently shaken up the governor to the point of his endorsement of an all out propaganda war to try and draw attention away from the health insurance injustice and to discredit a budget plan that increases the amount of cash set aside to pay tax refunds, funds salary increases for government employees that he just asked for last week, and restores the cost of living adjustment (COLA) payment to retirees back to its previous level.

The governor initially requested that the Legislature amend the budget bill to fund the Hay Study pay raises, the ones which he rescinded as one of his first official acts in office. He said fund them with the $11 million from the 2 percent reserve. When the Democrats did just that, and provided $10.9 million, he said that it was too much and he wanted to have a phased-in approach, which essentially equates to allowing him to unilaterally choose which departments and agencies get paid first. What we have seen in the recent past is his unequal and unfair approach to paying merit bonuses to only those agencies under his purview, leaving out the thousands of teachers and employees at the Guam Department of Education and the Unified Courts of Guam. Furthermore, he has yet to release the funds to the GDOE for their retroactive increments that he announced would be paid several months ago. The Legislature wanted to prevent this unfair and unequal treatment from occurring again.

In addition to saying that the Hay Study appropriation in the substituted budget bill is too much, the governor also says that he believes restoring the COLA to its previous levels for our man'åmko’ is too much. What I say is that $18 million is too much to pay for a non-exclusive health insurance contract, when you can have the same plan for $18 million less. It is that plain and simple. If the governor believes there is not enough money to support the payment of Hay Study pay raises for GovGuam employees and COLA for GovGuam retirees, he has the ability to save $18 million through signing an exclusive health insurance contract.

The Republican senators continue to attempt to draw attention away from this apparent waste of taxpayer money through creating artificial controversy on a good budget passed by the Democrats. I want to let all GovGuam employees and retirees know what effect the governor’s decision to increase costs to the taxpayers by $18 million on a non-exclusive health insurance contract has on their pockets:

Estimates based on the official memo ( sent to the Legislature by the GovGuam Negotiating Team (GGNT), active GovGuam employees enrolled in the 1500 plan would enjoy an annual savings in medical and dental insurance of a minimum of $220 for Class I, up to $891 for Class IV. GovGuam retirees enrolled in the 1500 plan would realize an annual savings in medical and dental insurance of a minimum of $351 for Class I, up to $1,394 for Class IV with an additional savings for those retirees with Medicare coverage having 100 percent of their premium costs covered in the exclusive plan.

The taxpayers can save over $14 million dollars in GovGuam contributions, which they pay for with their taxes.

What is the governor’s rationale in preventing these types of savings from going into the pockets of our GovGuam employees and retirees as well as all taxpayers? Is the governor simply hiding behind this notion of providing choice to GovGuam employees and retirees at a cost of $18 million to the taxpayers of Guam? I believe it is an incorrect presumption that GovGuam employees and retirees would agree to pay $18 million more to have choice.

The GovGuam employees and retirees and the taxpayers of Guam must voice their concerns and question the choice made by the governor because it is their money that is at stake. I truly think that the real reason why the Republican senators continue to remain silent and attempt to cover-up the governor’s choice in health insurance is because of the toxic consequences of not supporting the governor.

Nevertheless, the law requires the most economical and beneficial health insurance plan to be negotiated for all GovGuam employees’ and retirees’ families and not the most economical and beneficial choice for just one family. I urge all the Republican senators in the room to discard the elephant masks and reconsider their actions, for the sake of the people of Guam.

Si Yu’us Ma’åse’

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Knowing Japanese

I participated in a round table discussion earlier this week on education in Guam and its relationship to Chamorro language and culture. We were asked to share our viewpoints on different aspects of this issue, ranging from what we might feel public school education on Guam is doing right and what we feel it is doing poorly. The Chamorro language program in DOE is a very curious institutional animal in terms of analysis. Students are mandated to take Chamorro language in both elementary and middle school and can take it as an elective in high school. Compared to other indigenous groups that are trying to revive and institutionalize their languages this is very impressive and Chamorros can be considered to have a real advantage. But the Chamorro language program in Guam's public schools is impressive in the abstract but in practice it is incredibly ineffective.

I polled my students this week about their experiences in Chamorro language classes in DOE. Most focused on the fun activities in their classes, such as weaving and cooking. None commented on learning much of the language, but more about how there were all these fun cultural activities that they got to participate in. The language classes haven't really taught much of the language, but really have ended up enriching students with a shallow understanding of certain Chamorro traditions and given them a minute but decent appreciation for the culture. Given the structural limitations of the Chamorro language program in DOE it makes sense that it would fail at what it appears it is supposed to do. In elementary school they are given approximately 20 minutes a day for instruction, which is almost ridiculous if you think clearly about it. It makes it even more ridiculous when you consider that anytime something needs to be cancelled the Chamorro classes are the first to go. It seemed that too often this past year when I would ask my daughter Sumahi what she did in Chamorro class, she would respond, "taya', ti manhanao ham." And would tell me about how they worked on something else or their Chamorro teacher was watching another person's class.

In general terms (compared to other groups) we are in a very good position, but this is useless since the value of it is really only a perception from the outside. To Chamorros and in terms of our language, the classes fail miserably. This is something that we can lay at the feet of Chamorro teachers, many of them don't feel like their kids want to the learn the language, or that given their constraints its impossible to teach the language and end up doing fun, cultural busy work until the year is over. It can definitely be laid at the feet of administrators who have allowed this program to not do what it is supposed to do for decades, and have not reformed it but just allowed it to continue to be ineffective. DOE has known since the 1970s what it would take in terms of taking the teaching of the Chamorro language to the next level. Either you increase the amount of time for instruction and stop the bullshit of treating Chamorro teachers like they aren't real teachers or you set up an all subjects Chamorro language immersion program focus on the language for just a select group of students and let the Chamorro language classes just focus on cultural enrichment. DOE has for close to 40 years done neither.

The discussion was very lively and touched on so many points that could be done to improve the teaching of the language, but what can really change if administrators don't take the program itself seriously and don't want to put in any effort to reform and improve it?

During the discussion we were asked several questions about our own educational experiences on Guam and I had to admit that my experiences are different than most people my age. I attended private school on Guam and so I never experienced the Chamorro language or culture classes in the island's public schools. The experiences that people had weaving things, making coconut candy or thatching huts were foreign to me because there was no Chamorro class in my school. Instead, in an ironic way that I did not appreciate at the time, we had Japanese language class. We learned dialogues in Japanese, and how to write Japanese characters and even learned several songs. The high point of one of the classes was learning to say The Lord's Prayer in Japanese.

History is such an interesting thing. If you don't know much about it then the present takes on a particular shallow pallor. It has a shiny happy character, a fakeness to it, because of the way it appears only in the now and disconnected from whatever has come before. But the more you know about history, the more surreal, in a deepening and textured sense the world will appear to be. If you recall the vortex, spiraling, rimulinu, uzumaki like feeling that you get when watching The Twilight Zone it can generally feel like that. As if when you stare at something, you can get a sense of the shades of the past in it. As if it appeared like this before, as if the past is pushing through to its surface. You could even say the past pulses through the veneer.

When I thought about my experiences of learning Japanese where most my age on Guam were learning bits and pieces of Chamorros, it actually made me think of my grandparents. I don't remember much of the Japanese I learned in school. I remember some words, some phrases, a couple characters, and the numbers. I only remember one of the songs from my classes, "Hiraita" about the opening and closing of a flower:

Hiraita. Hiraita.
Nan no hana ga hiraita?
Renge no hana ga hiraita.
Hiraita to omottara,
itsunomanika tsubonda.

Tsubonda. Tsubonda.
Nan no hana ga tsubonda?
Renge no hana ga tsubonda.
Tsubonda to omottara,
itsunomanika hiraita.

What is surreal for me is that the amount of Japanese that I remember from my class, is about equal to the amount of Japanese that most Chamorros who survived World War II remember from their time during Japanese occupation. In the heat of war, many Chamorros learned Japanese in order to survive. But after the war, except for those who continued to find ways to use it, most Chamorros started to forget the majority of what they learned, and retained only scattered elements. There were words that were used against them that scarred their minds, especially if their body was being scarred by beatings and torture. There were words that you used to give the Japanese meaning, usually words in their language for unpleasant things. Japanese soldiers who had the characteristics of certain animals were referred to as those animals in Japanese. Soldiers who were bald, fat, smelly, skinny, were given names in Japanese to reflect their appearance. Some songs stuck in the heads of Chamorros just because of the way music has a way of weaving things into the folds of your mind without you even realizing it.

It is strange to me that under very different circumstances I have come to the point where my grandparents are at in terms of knowing Japanese. It is one of those weird twists of history, where you can arrive at the same point through completely different historical paths.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sending a Message

'Sending a Message': What the US and UK Are Attempting To Do

State-loyal journalists seem to believe in a duty to politely submit to bullying tactics from political officials

The remains of the hard disc and Macbook that held information leaked by Edward Snowden to the Guardian and was destroyed at the behest of the UK government. (Photograph: Roger Tooth)Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger on Monday night disclosed the remarkable news that UK authorities, several weeks ago, threatened the Guardian UK with prior restraint if they did not destroy all of their materials provided by Edward Snowden, and then sent agents to the basement of the paper's offices to oversee the physical destruction of hard drives. The Guardian has more details on that episode today, and MSNBC's Chris Hayes interviewed the Guardian's editor-in-chief about it last night. As Rusbriger explains, this behavior was as inane as it was thuggish: since this is 2013, not 1958, destroying one set of a newspaper's documents doesn't destroy them all, and since the Guardian has multiple people around the world with copies, they achieved nothing but making themselves look incompetently oppressive.

The US and UK governments are apparently entitled to run around and try to bully and intimidate anyone, including journalists - "to send a message to recipients of Snowden's materials, including the Guardian", as Reuters put it - but nobody is allowed to send a message back to them. That's not a double standard that anyone should accept.

But conveying a thuggish message of intimidation is exactly what the UK and their superiors in the US national security state are attempting to accomplish with virtually everything they are now doing in this matter. On Monday night, Reuters' Mark Hosenball reported the following about the 9-hour detention of my partner under a terrorism law, all with the advanced knowledge of the White House:
One US security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government's detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden's materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks."
I want to make one primary point about that. On Monday, Reuters did the same thing to me as they did last month: namely, they again wildly distorted comments I made in an interview - speaking in Portuguese, at 5:00 am at the Rio airport, waiting for my partner to come home -to manufacture the sensationalizing headline that I was "threatening" the UK government with "revenge" journalism. That wasn't remotely what I said or did, as I explained last night in a CNN interview (see Part 2).
But vowing to report on the nefarious secret spying activities of a large government - which is what I did - is called "journalism", not "revenge". As the Washington Post headline to Andrea Peterson's column on Monday explained: "No, Glenn Greenwald didn't 'vow vengeance.' He said he was going to do his job." She added:
"Greenwald's point seems to have been that he was determined not to be scared off by intimidation. Greenwald and the Guardian have already been publishing documents outlining surveillance programs in Britain, and Greenwald has long declared his intention to continue publishing documents. By doing so, Greenwald isn't taking 'vengeance.' He's just doing his job."
But here's the most important point: the US and the UK governments go around the world threatening people all the time. It's their modus operandi. They imprison whistleblowers. They try to criminalize journalism. They threatened the Guardian with prior restraint and then forced the paper to physically smash their hard drives in a basement. They detained my partner under a terrorism law, repeatedly threatened to arrest him, and forced him to give them his passwords to all sorts of invasive personal information - behavior that even one of the authors of that terrorism law says is illegal, which the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said yesterday is just "the latest example in a disturbing record of official harassment of the Guardian over its coverage of the Snowden leaks", and which Human Rights Watch says was "intended to intimidate Greenwald and other journalists who report on surveillance abuses." And that's just their recent behavior with regard to press freedoms: it's to say nothing of all the invasions, bombings, renderings, torture and secrecy abuses for which that bullying, vengeful duo is responsible over the last decade.

But the minute anyone refuses to meekly submit to that, or stands up to it, hordes of authoritarians - led by state-loyal journalists - immediately start objecting: how dare you raise your voice to the empire? How dare you not politely curtsey to the Queen and thank the UK government for what they have done. The US and UK governments are apparently entitled to run around and try to bully and intimidate anyone, including journalists - "to send a message to recipients of Snowden's materials, including the Guardian", as Reuters put it - but nobody is allowed to send a message back to them. That's not a double standard that anyone should accept.

If the goal of the UK in detaining my partner was - as it now claims - to protect the public from terrorism by taking documents they suspected he had (and why would they have suspected that?), that would have taken 9 minutes, not 9 hours. Identically, the UK knew full well that forcing the Guardian UK to destroy its hard drives would accomplish nothing in terms of stopping the reporting: as the Guardian told them, there are multiple other copies around the world. The sole purpose of all of that, manifestly, is to intimidate. As the ACLU of Massachusetts put it:
The real vengeance we are seeing right now is not coming from Glenn Greenwald; it is coming from the state."
But for state-loyal journalists, protesting thuggish and aggressive behavior from the state is out of the question. It's only when aggressive challenges come from those who are bringing transparency and accountability to the state do they get upset and take notice. As Digby wrote last night: "many elite journalists seem to be joining the government repression of the free press instead of being defiant and protecting their own prerogatives." That's because they believe in subservient journalism, not adversarial journalism. I only believe in the latter.

Glenn Greenwald
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon.  His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. His other books include: Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Across the Water in Time

This Thursday I'll be on a panel to discuss the new film "Across the Water in Time." It is being screened at the Hyatt at 6 pm on Wednesday and I'll be part of a panel on Thursday 2 pm at the CAHA Gallery in the Terlaje Building in Hagatna. My panel will be discussion history and how it relates to this wonderful and exciting project. The film is about the descendants of a Chamorro man named Juan Perez who left island as a whaler in the 19th century. He settled in Hawai'i and married and his name was subsequently changed to Paris. Eventually while doing genealogical research from both islands, his descendants and his relatives were reunited.

Below is a video interview of Jillette Leon Guerrero the creator of the film with KUAM News Extra. In addition I pasted some info from the website for the film.


Juan D. Perez’s story is an interesting one.

He was born in Guam but is believed to have moved to Hawaii sometime between 1854 and the late 1860s. It is probable that he was “Español del país.” (The name given to Guam born Spaniards.)  The first document that places him in Hawaii is the record of his marriage in 1877 when he married a full blooded Hawaiian woman. We believe he was a member of a group of young men that left Guam on a whaler. This was a great draw for young men seeking adventure at the time. It was in1852 that Father Vicente Acosta requested that men be prohibited from leaving the island to work on whaling ships. The loss of these men came at a time when the island was struggling with depopulation and a declining labor pool. 

Family stories recount that John’s name was really “Demetrio” and that he changed his name to John. Perhaps this is why no records ever recorded his name as “Juan, ” the Spanish version of John.  His last name also changed through time. Some of the versions in the historical record can be attributed to spelling errors by the recorder but the family now goes by the surname of “Paris.”

John’s descendents have been searching for evidence of his origins for a long time. While their grandfather told them that they were “Guamanian,” they could never find any evidence of this except in the sketchy census records for John Perez that at times listed Spain as his birthplace and in others listed his birthplace as Guam. It wasn’t until June of 2011 that John’s granddaughter, Yolanda seeing a reference to Guam on the Family tree DNA website that she contacted Jillette Leon-Guerrero.  The two agreed to work together to solve this mystery. Initial research did not turn up much information as no possible candidates for John or Juan appeared in the genealogy databases at MARC or online with, Chamorro or Jillette suggested that the Paris family get further DNA testing which they did. The results were surprising! It revealed that the Paris family was a match to Jillette Leon-Guerrero’s family with a suggested relationship of from 2nd to 4th cousins! This confirmed that the modern day Paris family had links to Guam.         

This story elicits several questions: Did John leave the island on a whaler? Why and when did John leave Guam? Were there social or economic pressures prompting young men to leave Guam or was it purely for adventure?  Were there others that can be traced that left Guam at the same time? Was there an established link between Guam and Hawaii? Was John a Spaniard or Chamorro? Was there a community of Guam born residents in Hawaii? Do descendents of John’s family still live on Guam? Why did he change his name?    

Serendipity played a part in this union of the Paris and Leon Guerrero families. Neither knew of each other yet they somehow connected in a common endeavor only to find that they were indeed “family.”

Goals and Objectives:

The main goal of this project is to increase the knowledge of viewers in respect to:
  • Genealogy and genealogical research techniques
  • Resources available to Guam researchers
  • Life on Guam during the period between 1840 and 1870

This will be achieved through the video documentation of our research efforts to find the origins of  John Paris.Through the telling of John’s story and the researchers quest to find evidence of his life, viewers will:

·       See the challenges of doing genealogical research on Guam;
·       Be introduced to genealogical research utilizing genetics;
·       Be prompted to interpret historical evidence;
·       Analyze historical documents in order to reveal clues for further research;
·       Learn about life in Spanish Guam during the 18th and 19th centuries.
·       Become familiar with resources available for researchers
·       Be encouraged to critically think  

Monday, August 19, 2013

2nd Marianas History Conference Schedule

On August 30th I'll be presenting at the 2nd Annual Marianas History Conference at UOG. Here is the schedule thus far for those who might be interested in attending. The website to find more information is:

And here is a video of two of the organizers Dr. Anne Hattori (from UOG) and Rita Nauta from Guampedia giving an interview on KUAM News Extra:

Tentative Conference Schedule

Thursday, August 29
5:30 pm Welcoming Reception: Paseo, Hagåtña
Friday, August 30
8:30-9:30 am Keynote Address, Dr. Keith L. Camacho, CLASS Lecture Hall, UOG
9:30-10 am Break
10 – 11:30 am Session 1 (A and B)
Session 1A: Chamorro Agency in the Spanish Marianas
  • David Atienza: The Mariana Islands Militia and the Establishment of the “Pueblos de Indios”: Indigenous Agency in Guam from 1668 to 1758
  • Carlos Madrid: 1800´s in the Marianas: A Nation in the Making
  • Mariana Sanders, Francine Clement and Carla Smith: Social Realities and Legal Regulations – A Snapshot of Guam in 1886 as Seen Through the Bando General by Governor Olive
 Session 1B: Japan and the Marianas
  • Evelyn Flores: Subversive Women: Excavating Chamorro Women’s Acts of Resistance During WWII
  • Sung Young Cho: Memories of the Koreans in the Mariana Islands During Japanese Rule
  • Mark Ombrello: The South Seas on Display in Japan: Yosano Tekkan’s “Nanyōkan” and South Seas Discourse of the Early 20th Century
 11:30 am -12:30 pm Lunch
12:30-2 pm Session 2 (A and B)
Session 2A: Political Leadership and Identity Politics
  • Michael Lujan Bevacqua: Jumping the Fence: An Evaluation of Nasion Chamoru and its Impact on Contemporary Guam
  • William Torres: Saipan and Northern Islands Leadership Kiosku Project
  • Guadalupe Borja-Robinson: The Early Political Status Talks on Saipan Leading to the Plebiscite Vote of US Commonwealth Status in 1975: A Personal Perspective
 Session 2B: The Arts
  • Don Rubinstein: The Artist Paul Jacoulet in Micronesia
  • Monica Okada Guzman: Masters in Traditional Art
  • Sandy Flores Uslander: Dance to Unite all Chamorros: As Uno Hit – We Are One
2 – 2:10 pm Break
2:10-3:40 pm Session 3 (A and B)
Session 3A World War II Military History
  • James Oelke Farley: Under the Gun: The US Stronghold at Mount Tenjo, Guam
  • Dave Lotz: US Submarine Patrols to the Mariana Islands
  • Ryu Arai: Representations of War Memories on Guam from Three Perspectives of “Chamorro”, “Japanese” and “American”
 Session 3B Cultural History
  • Fermina Sablan: Living Languages and Indigenous Spaces
  • Maria Manglona Takai: Chamorro Music: Through the Heart of Alexandro “The Colonel” Sablan
  • Jillette Leon-Guerrero: Across The Water in Time
 3:40-3:50 pm Break
3:50 – 5:20 pm Session 4 (A and B)
Session 4A: Spain in the Marianas
  • Francis Hezel: The So-Called “Spanish-Chamorro War”
  • Omaira Brunal-Perry: The Early European Exploration in Micronesia
  • Darlene Moore: Where is the Gold? Silver and Copper Coins Recovered from Two Historic Sites on Guam
 Session 4B: Sociological Crisis
  • Camarin Meno: Stories of Survival: Oral Histories of Coping and Resilience in Response to Domestic Violence in Guam
  • Linda Song and Dominique Ong: The Transformation of Guam’s Penal System: Retribution to Rehabilitation
  • Iain Twaddle: Historical Context of Suicide in Guam
 Saturday, August 31
8:30-9:30 am Keynote Address, Dr. Anne Perez Hattori, CLASS Lecture Hall
9:30- 10 am Break
10-11:30 am Session 1 (A, B and C)
Session 1A: Culture and Identity
  • Mario Borja: The Sakman Story
  • Rosalind Hunter-Anderson: Migration for Settlement or Home Range Expansion: What Caused People to First Come to the Marianas c. 3500 Years Ago?
  • Nicholas Goetzfridt: The Metaphysical Guahan
 Session 1B: Religious Conversion
  • Michael Clement, Sr.: Colonial Perspective on Music Instruments of Guam
  • Judy Flores: Choco the Chinaman as a Member of Chamorro Society
  • Nicholas Sy: Demons Described, Demons Discredited: How 17th Century Jesuit Missionaries to the Marianas Addressed Indigenous Beliefs
 Session 1C: World War II Memories
  • Jessica Jordan: “Islands too Beautiful for their Names”: Northern Mariana Indigenous Islander Memories and National Histories
  • Leiana Naholowa’a: Unspeakable Survival: Sexual Violence against Women during the Japanese Occupation of Guam
  • Yumiko Imaizumi: Marianas under Japanese Naval Administration (1914-1922)
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Lunch
12:00-12:30. Poster Q&A Session
 12:30-2 pm Session 2 (A and B)
Session 2A: HI 450 Student Presentations
  • Ana Leon Guerrero and Michael Clement, Jr.: Giya Double A: Tracing the Development of the 1980s Chamorro Music Nightclub Scene
  • Victoria Guiao: Brigido Hernandez: A Pre-War Chamoru Identity in the Context of Guam’s Developing Economy in the 1970s
  • Elyssa Santos: A History of the Guam Farmer’s Market
Session 2B: Post World War II Culture on Guam
  • Lisa Linda Natividad: I Mangaffa Siha: Late Colonial Conceptualizations of the Chamorro Family
  • Tabitha Espina: The Sapin Sapin Generation: Identity Formation of Second Generation Filipinas on Guam
  • Annette Kang: Assessment of the Interacting Effects of Guamanian and Asian Cultures on the Youth
2 – 2:10 pm Break
2:10 – 3:40 pm Session 3 (A and B)
Session 3A: Political Futures
  • Vicente (ben) Pangelinan: Galvanizing Past and Present Threats to Chamorro Homelands
  • John Castro, Jr. and Diego Kaipat: Guardians of Gani: Protecting Pagan for Future Generations
  • Don Farrell: Marianas Reunification Efforts
 Session 3B: Biological and Biomedical Marianas
  • Tricia Lizama: Survival of Traditional Healing on Guam
  • Robert Bevacqua: History of Guahan’s Flora
  • Vince Diego: Birth-Month Seasonality and the Secondary Sex Ratio in Guamanian Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Parkinsonism-Dementia Complex: Implications for Infectious Disease and Environmental Etiologie
 6 – 10 pm Banquet at the Guam Sheraton, Tamuning (Speaker Dr. Robert Underwood) Performance by Pa’a Taotao Tano and Band: The Conference

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kin Tataka'

I'm pretty sure that I am the #1 of Jack Reacher on this island.

I never heard of Jack Reacher until late last year when I took my girlfriend to watch the movie. She normally hates most of the movies that Hollywood makes and doesn't like Tom Cruise either, but found herself enjoying the movie. I am a fan of Tom Cruise and I really enjoyed the movie. I am one of the most open person in terms of movies. I even enjoy moves that are terrible or that are just messed up in terms of their politics or representations. I know that Avatar or The Lone Ranger were messed up in terms of their politics, but I still enjoyed them. Yes they reimagined and reinvigorated stupid tropes that have marginalized and twisted the ways that we imagine indigenous people for centuries. But all that said, I still enjoyed them.

It is not difficult for my to enjoy movies or see some possible redeeming dimension in them. I enjoyed Jack Reacher at lot, but I was surprised at the way I enjoyed it. Cerebral and out of place characters are common nowadays. You can find many of them have their own shows, where they can display how awesomely intelligent they are while also showing us how imperfect they are in the ways they don't fit in, struggle with their inconsistencies and are super quirky. It is exciting when you encounter your first character in this way, whether it is a warrior, a detective, a lawyer or for most Sherlock Holmes, but it can get stale after a while.

Jack Reacher is definitely one of those characters, but is the kind I hadn't encountered before. He is someone who doesn't fit in with the world and makes no excuses for his dislocation, but rather than most exceptional character he doesn't hide away in some hermit cottage away from everything. He hies in plain sight in the places and spaces that people pass through everyday. He doesn't skulk away,  he moves constantly and driven to travel and see things that most people would find ridiculous. This is primarily because of his upbringing which was largely rootless, traveling across the world, moving from military base to military base.

He is "American" (half American white and half French white) but by the time he leaves the Army doesn't really "know" the country that he served with distinction. He decides to wander it, moving from town to town, live a bare bones Spartan existence, unable to leave behind in so many ways the Army-life that he lived with as the son of a soldier and then as a military cop for 13 years. Despite his desire to live without attachments he constantly becomes temporarily entangled in the live of others. In each book he forms an attachment to a family, a person, a problem and stays around long enough to resolve it and then disappears again. He is driven by the dual desire to serve that was hammered into him through his life in and amongst the military, and also his desire to see the menacing, mean and power hungry, who prey on the weak and the one's who cannot fight back, to see them suffer and be taken down.

This total texture you don't get much of in the film, but it is there in the background.

Reacher's intelligence comes primarily from his simplicity, the practical and bare bones way that he sees the world. He is something that catches everyone else off guard. It is almost as if his spartanlike social existence makes him incapable of participating in the so many of the fake niceties and polite falsehoods of life. The social lies that we tell each other to keep the chaos and potential violence of the world from gnawing at us aren't something that Jack Reacher really knows, understands or cares about. Most people don't walk out of a building expecting or anticipating that someone will try to murder them or kidnap them. Even if it is something that always could happen, most people tell themselves pretty regularly that it won't happen and can't happen. There are certain contexts which can change this, but this is all tied to the ideological ways we assign risk, often times based on our own personal fears and the privileges we have in society. In the book Tripwire Jack Reacher walks out of a building and is attacked by two men. While most people would naturally be upset, scared, freaked out and not expecting this, Reacher deals with it as if getting assaulted by mine while leaving a house is just as common as not getting assaulted by men when leaving a house.

But unlike those who are paranoid schizophrenics and are terrified by the limitless possibilities for the world to speak back to you, to mess with you, to deny you a sense of security or safety, Reacher accepts this as the nature of the universe and waits prepared for it. It does not create a feeling of paranoia, but rather comfort. He is more at home in those moments of tension, violence and danger. He is as if the world is reduced to simple force and the one with more force and power in that moment will win.

He is intelligent and sees things in a way that others don't. His mind is very clinical, but it comes from both his experience and the simple ways he looks at the world. As if his mind has the ability to smash through the layers of fiction to find simple, but casually obscured truths. It makes him a great detective and a good friend to have by your side when all has gone to hell.

I am looking forward to another Jack Reacher movie. He is not the Reacher from the books mind you. I know that now, after having read several of the novels. Tom Cruise is almost a foot shorter than Jack Reacher and much lighter. Jack Reacher also comes off in the books a hulking dumbass at times. A gentle giant, a straight talking, no bull-shit taking autistic titan. Tom Cruise can't reproduce that because of his stature, so he attempts to portray Reacher in his own no nonsense, confident as hell way.

From the film I moved on to the books and discovered that there have already been 17 Jack Reacher books published. I have spent the last four months reading as many as I can and have made my way through 12 of them. Today at Bestseller at the Mall I picked up four more books and when I finished them I will be one short of finishing every single one!

At the start of this post I claimed to be the #1 Jack Reacher fan on Guam. The evidence I have for this is as follows:

Have you ever wondered how to say "Jack Reacher" in Chamorro? If you translated his name into Chamorro what would it be? Well in Chamorro Jack belongs to the same domain as the Spanish "Joaquin." There are many nicknames in Chamorro for Joaquin, Chu, Kindo, Kin and others. The most commonly used today would be "Kin" and so that is the choice I would go with. "Reacher" is a bit more interesting to translate. To physically reach for something is "hago'" while to existentially reach a destination is "taka." These are both verbs however and the word "Reacher" would be a noun and could be defined as "someone who reaches."

In Chamorro in order to create this type of word there is a simple formula. Take the first syllable of the word and repeat it and put stress to its first repeated utterance. For example the word for kill in Chamorro is "puno'" and if you wanted to say "killer" you would say, "pipino'" The stress changes the pronunciation of the word and makes the u sounds transform into a i sound for sound harmony. You have two options here, "hahago'" or "tataka." As the title of this posts makes clear I would prefer "tataka" for reasons of poetry and harmony. It sounds better and it gives a better mental picture.

"Kin Tataka" would be Jack Reacher in Chamorro.

If this wasn't enough for me to gain the title of #1 Guam fan for Jack Reacher, I also collect the Guam mentions in the books. So far I have counted two of them. They are listed below:

From: Echo Burning:

 School, the center of her universe. He thought about it. When he was six and a half. The war in Vietnam was still well below its peak, but it was already big enough that his father was there or thereabouts at the time. So he figured that year would have been split between Guam and Manila. Manila, mostly, he thought, judging by his memories of the buildings and the vegetation, the places he hid out in and played around.

From Persuader:

Then I found a chisel. It was a woodworking item. It had a half-inch blade and a nice ash handle. It was probably seventy years old. I hunted around and found a carborundum whetstone and a rusty can of sharpening fluid. Dabbed some fluid on the stone and spread it with the tip of the chisel. Worked the steel back and forth until it showed bright. One of the many high schools I went to was an old-fashioned place in Guam where shop was graded by how well you did with the scut work, like sharpening tools. We all scored high. It was the kind of accomplishment we were interested in. That class had the best knives I ever saw. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Conference Against A and H Bombs Statement

Three years ago I was fortunate enough to travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan to represent Guam at the World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. This meeting is held annually at either of the two cities where atomic bombs fell during World War II. The meetings are attended by thousands of peace and anti-nuclear activists across Japan and across the world. Here is the statement below from this year's conference, held last week. 

Declaration of the International Meeting       
        Sixty-eight years have passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered the atomic bombings.  The bombs instantly devastated the two cities and took lives of over 200,000 citizens by the end of 1945.  They created a “hell on earth,” which denied humans either to live or die as humans.  The Hibakusha, who survived the days have continued to suffer from wounds in both mind and body.  The tragedy like this should never be repeated anywhere in the world.

        Nuclear weapons are the worst weapons of mass destruction, the use of which is a serious crime against humanity.  They have to be banned without any further delay.

        There are still nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world. One nuclear bomb, if used, could cause disastrous tragedy.  Even a small portion of them would cause a large scale climate change, which could lead to famine around the world.  Total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons is an urgent task for the whole of humanity.

        Along with the survivors and on behalf of those who died and cannot speak for themselves, we, participants in the International Meeting of the 2013 World Conference against A and H Bombs appeal to all governments to take actions now to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons.”

        The demand for a world without nuclear weapons represents an unshakable international development.  The General Assembly of the United Nations every year adopts resolutions calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference resolved by consensus, with all nuclear weapon states included, to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons” , and affirmed that all States need to make “special efforts” to establish a “framework” to achieve it.

        However, primarily due to the intransigence of nuclear powers, no tangible progress has been made.  We call on the international community to overcome all stagnations and resistance.

        On the governmental level, a movement to seek to outlaw nuclear weapons by focusing on their atrocious, inhuman nature is rapidly gathering momentum.  Such is the approach which our movement has adopted and pursued with the Hibakusha since its outset.  The resolution calling for the start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, in line with the decision by the ICJ, which the peace movement of the world demands, now commands support of 135 governments, representing over 70% of all U.N. member States.

        By continuing these developments, a nuclear weapon-free world can be created.  The key lies in the hands of the peace movement and public support across the world.

        We call on all governments, and those of the nuclear weapon states in particular, to begin to implement the agreement for “achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” by starting negotiations on the Nuclear Weapons Convention as the framework of it.

        Towards 2015, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the A-bomb suffering of the two cities and in which the next NPT Review Conference will examine how the 2010 agreement has been implemented, let us develop our campaign in each of our countries and bring strong voices of the citizens of the world to New York, to generate a huge ground swell demanding the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

        The policy of “nuclear deterrence”, aimed to threaten adversaries with nuclear weapons, contravenes the basic principle of the U.N. Charter, which stands for the solution of international conflicts by peaceful and diplomatic means as opposed to the use of force.  It also serves as incentive for nuclear proliferation.  A world without nuclear weapons is incompatible with the nuclear deterrence doctrine, which should be overcome immediately.
        We call for the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons to be solved peacefully on the basis of international agreements reached particularly by the Six-party talks.  An international conference to establish a WMD-free zone in the Middle East should be convened as agreed by the previous NPT Review Conferences. Steps forward toward a total ban on nuclear weapons would provide new favorable conditions for the solution of these specific problems.

        International conflicts can only be resolved by diplomatic and peaceful means.  Threat or use of force would create a vicious cycle of heightened tension and aggravated situation.  We note the frameworks of and efforts for peace, which are developing in the Southeast Asia, Latin America and other places.  Opposing arms build-up and reinforcement of military alliances, we make a strong call for no-use of force and peaceful settlement of conflicts.

        In achieving a nuclear weapon-free world, the A-bombed country Japan, which can denounce the cruelty of nuclear weapons through its own experiences, should play a significant role.  However, the government of Japan continues to abstain from voting for the U.N. resolutions calling for the start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention or calling for prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons, and for other resolutions leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons, including one for nuclear disarmament tabled by the Non-Aligned movement.  Japan’s refusal to join the statement (supported by 80 countries) warning of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and calling for their elimination drew deep disappointment and criticism.

        The Japanese peace movement calls on the government to play the role befitting the A-bombed country and demands strict observance of the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and breaking away from the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.” Noting its important role, we extend solidarity with the movement for a nuclear weapon-free and peaceful Japan.  We support the Hibakusha in their efforts to achieve relief measures based on State compensation and fundamental reform in the A-bomb disease recognition system.

        Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, upholding the renunciation of war and non-possession of war potentials, embodies a strong commitment of the Japanese people to reject war and recurrence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We express our support to the people of Japan in their endeavors to defend and make the most of the Constitution, to reduce and remove U.S. military bases from Okinawa and elsewhere, and to resist the consolidation of Japan-U.S. military alliance.

        The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is still in the midst of the crisis.  Bringing the situation under control, decommissioning of all nuclear reactors and a fundamental shift to renewable energy resources are keenly called for.  Having noted the dangerous relations between nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation, we call for ending all kind of nuclear damage caused by nuclear fuel cycles, and oppose reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and accumulation of plutonium, as well as military use of nuclear energy.

We call on the peoples of the world to join in the following actions:

- Towards 2015, let us urge the nuclear weapon states and all other governments to implement their agreement to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.  In every country, we must inform wider public of the atrocity and inhumanity of nuclear weapons and strengthen the public opinion in support of the abolition of nuclear weapons.  Organizing “A-bomb damage exhibitions” and Hibakusha testimonies, let us inform the public of the consequences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Let us promote international signature campaign in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” and other activities to urge the start of negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.  Let us organize many varieties of actions which everyone at grassroots can take part in, such as peace marches, by making use of social media and other means.  And let us deepen cooperation with the U.N. and other international organizations, national governments and local authorities that stand for nuclear disarmament, including Mayors for Peace.

- Strengthening relief and solidarity with the Hibakusha, let us extend our support and solidarity to all nuclear victims. We will support the victims of Agent Orange, depleted uranium and all other remnants of war.

- United in one wish for “no more nuclear victims,” we will develop our campaign together with the movement to break free of nuclear power.  We work together with broadest range of people demanding reduction of military spending, better life and employment, welfare, freedom and democracy, defending human rights, protecting global environment and overcoming gender-based discrimination and social injustice.  Let us create a far-reaching unity and solidarity for a “nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world.”

        Together with younger generation, once again, let us listen to the Hibakusha and turn our eyes to the “hell” created by nuclear weapons. Moving the hearts of tens of millions of people, we shall build up powerful public pressure to open the door to a nuclear weapon-free world.

No more Hiroshimas!  No more Nagasakis!  No more Hibakusha!

August 5, 2013
International Meeting, 2013 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

Monday, August 12, 2013


Gaige yu' Palau gi este na simana.

Manaliligao yu' put "self-government" guini ya taimanu ha ayuda Palau nu i inadilanto-na.

Humanao yu' nigap para i "Rock Islands."

Sen gatbo este na isla siha.

Ma fa'na'an este na lugat "paradise" put i ginefpago-na.

Hu gimen i ginefpago guini kalan taya' nai mantana' yu'.

Achokka' hu sen agradedesi i tiempo-ku guini.

Ti nahong este para Guahu.

Mahalang para i nobia-hu.

Achokka' gaige yu' giya para'isu, ti ha tatahgue hao.

Ti ha songsongsong i maddok gi sanhalom-hu put i tinaigue-mu. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taiwan Trip Wire

When I teach modern World History, the island of Taiwan makes a couple of cameo appearances. It appears during the resolution of the Chinese Civil War. Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) flees to Formosa vowing to keep the fight alive from his new island fortress. In the way that I teach the class CKS is not a very sympathetic character. Coming from a Western perspective he is supposed to be the one that we choose as our champion, the one “our” side made deals with as being either the better or two evils or the lesser of two evils. CKS is no saint and is hardly worth much historical sympathy in my opinion and the conduct from the initial purge of communists, to his retreat to Taiwan to the white terror all attest to this.

I don’t shy away from discussing the atrocities of the communists and Mao, but I don’t deny the historical significance and revolutionary nature of some of the communist reforms. As coming from a colony of the “west” I don’t like to take on their heroes, since this is one of the ways that we on Guam prove our loyalty to the United States, by accepting their generic list of friends and enemies in the world. It makes people on Guam feel more American to hate communism even if they don't know what communism is. It makes them feel more patriotic to hate China even if they don't know anything about China.

As such, discussions about Mao, CKS, Taiwan and China can yield interesting microcosmic experiments. For most on Guam Mao is evil and if they know who CKS is, they know he is a hero of democracy, despite the fact that he ruled over quite a few military governments and dictatorships during his life. As my class does not accept the United States as being the center of history or as being the avatar of History, it means that we can discuss its accomplishments in a more objective context. It also means that we can take stock without that pressure to love those the US has lain in bed with and hate those who they have marked as enemies. For just a few minutes students come to admire Mao, if only for his decisiveness and his determination. He is someone who definitely changed the course of world history, and not only in terms of body counts and atrocities.

Taiwan is a site that I occasionally use in order to discuss Japanese colonialism. Formosa, one of the names Taiwan used to have, was a given to Japan by China in 1895. This was one of the first steps in terms of establishing the framework for aggression and expansion that later led to Guam and many other territories before it being invaded and occupied prior to and during World War II. I may discuss this in more detail now since the release of the film "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale." The movie has lots of blood and action and is the one of the biggest films in Taiwanese history, but I would show it more for the representation of the indigenous Taiwanese people, to whom Chamorros have Austornesian language and cultural connections.

Finally, Taiwan also plays a significant role in how I discuss Guam as being the “tip of America’s spear,” and the ways that it might be “bloodied.” Taiwan is the most crucial chess piece in the geopolitical game between the United States and China, that if moved could end up pushing the players from their currently ambivalent (hu guaiya/ hu chatguaiya hao) games into outright warfare. Although the United States recognizes China, as in mainland China as the true China, it has stronger historical relations with Taiwan. It has vowed in various forms since World War II to protect the autonomy of Taiwan. If China ever did make a move against Taiwan in order to reassert its control over it, the United States would have a choice to make, and Guam would be dragged into whatever conflict it ensued. 

In the same way in which previous war plans did not bode well for Guam in any serious war, today strategic analysis of Guam's position in relation to any potential conflict is not sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. If a serious war ever broke between these two titans, it would not be good for Guam. I always tell my students that they should pray for peace in Taiwan, pray for peace with China, pray for peace in general if you are interested in praying for Guam.

Because of this I often think of Taiwan in empty ways. It is a sort of tripwire. If it is tripped, it means that something terrible is just about to happen to Guam. In the past I haven’t given it much contemporary identity beyond that tripwire warning status for Guam. I cite Taiwan in the same way I cite a favored and reliable source in terms of making an argument.  Eventually the complexity of that source may be lost on me since I have been using it for so long to make a consistent set of points. 

I can happily report that after visiting Taiwan last month, I have a much more nuanced understanding of Taiwan internally, but also a better ability to understand its connections to Guam. I'll be writing more about those in the coming weeks. 


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