Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hope Cristobal's Testimony on Saving the Manuel FL Guerrero Building

TESTIMONY IN THE PRESERVATION OF CHAMORRO MODERN HISTORY: 1950 - 1970 A.D.:The historic Governor Manuel F.L. Guererro Administration Building(DOA), Hagatna
by Senator Hope Alvarez Hope Cristobal -OPI(R)

Senator Rory J. Respicio, Chairman
Committee on Rules, Federal, Foreign & Micronesian Affairs, Human & Natural Resources, Election Reform and Capitol District
Mina’ Trentai Tres Na Liheslaturan Guahan
2015 (First) Regular Session

March 4, 2015
Reference: Bill No. 32-33 (COR)

Hafa adai, Senot Presidente Rory Respicio, Senator Tina Muna-Barnes yan Speaker Judith WonPat:
Thank you for this opportunity to present testimony on Bill 32-22(COR)—the demolition of the Gov. Manuel F.L. Guerrero Building in Hagatna also known as the Dept. of Administration Bldg. To those of us who frequented the building in the days of the Department of Education and the Department of Administration for one reason or another. For the record, my name is Hope Alvarez Cristobal. I am from Tamuning Village and I am here in opposition to Bill 32-33 (COR) that will destroy a Guam historic property.

Over the years, I have been concerned at the rate and the destruction of evidences of our existence and history as a people—one that is non-self-governing today and a people whose homeland is a territory of another country. We are a people who have yet to write our history as a people about what makes us distinct as a people in our homeland. To do this is to continue to place respect in the tangible evidence of our Chamorro identity and history. This bill proposed destruction of the historically significant Manuel F.L. Guererro Administration Building is a discriminate and reckless act that I feel is anti-Chamorro history and cultural heritage.

For many years, I worked to protect burial sites of our people; many of whom lived in the second largest Chamorro settlement in the 17th century, in Tumon, not far from where I live today. My experiences regarding the preservation of those burial sites usually began when there was a failure to inform the public through the DPW permitting process at that time. Eventually, the Guam Historic Preservation Review Board would make public announcement that (a burial site or) an important historic property is being considered by the Historic Review Board and public comment is invited. It was through this process that people like myself participated in articulating the purposes and procedures for their preservation.

My other experiences relate to the historic properties that were slated for destruction as collateral damage in the building of hotels at Mata’pang Beach, at Gokna where the Nikko Hotel now stands, at the former Fujita Hotel and at Tumhom proper where the Hyatt Hotel now stands. I learned about the desecrations and destruction through the publicly announced Meeting Agenda of the Board. This was how it was. This review process existed for public comment and input on impacts to these important historic properties. And if our concern seems to be ignored, it was essential to get the word out by informing and exposing to the media any anomalies that is preventing the preservation and respect to the historic burial grounds. If it appears that there may be collusion, we went to the Court and got an injunction to prevent the project from destroying the burial grounds of our ancestors. It is this kind of commitment to the preservation of our heritage that we espouse to even today – to insure that the evidence of our identity is respected and not destroyed.

Another experience was the historic Rosario House built in the 1800s, right here in the Hagatna Historic District. After discovering through our network of historic preservationist that the building is slotted for demolition, I filed a complaint to the SHPO at that time and the complaint procedurally placed the Rosario House in their Meeting Agenda for board discussion and public comment. I was able to study and visit the structure and presented to the board my opposition to its destruction and recommend its preservation because of its historic significance. In this way, I and others who were able to provide definite information about the structure, participated and were able to help in preserving it. The process worked and today the building finally will be restored by Government of Guam funds.

Yet another historic property issue was the proposal to MAIL out the over 300 human remains of our ancestors excavated at Gokna, in mailboxes—to be sent off-island for study. The Historic Review Board placed this issue in its Meeting Agenda and that was what alerted me that the Board with members with technical knowledge in the field of architecture, history, planning, archaeology and education was able to discuss and vote to deny the request to mail our ancestors remains after comments were allowed to be heard.

As an activist, a former University of Guam history professor, I am deeply concerned with the erasing of our Chamorro historic properties, the erasing of place names and the erasing of evidences of our history as a people of Guam. This is a colonial practice that needs to be abated. Our historic properties hold meaning to our people and it is through these meanings and connections that we construct the legitimacy to create and build community. We must cherish and preserve them for the memories and history that lift us up and for the edification of our people – with this caring attitude embodied already in our historic preservation laws – our yet to be written historic narrative will not be empty of substance associated with our heritage – in this case – the Governor Manuel F. L. Guererro Administration building.

Here we are, 15 years into the 21st century, and rather than studying its historicity, our people are faced with a Bill to demolish a property that has been named by law to honor Governor Manuel F.L. Guererro and has been listed in Guam’s inventory of historic properties but had not gone through the well-established process formally listing them after detailed studies of its eligibility to the Guam and National Register of Historic Places.

Why was this historic property never placed on the Guam Historic Preservation Review (GHPRB) Agenda for proper historic preservation review due to impending proposal to destroy it? Did the members of the Board not want to discuss this? Is it a foregone conclusion of theirs that no public comment is needed because the Chairman had already publicly and unilaterally stated his personal preference (for demolition) as to how this historic property will be impacted by the planned restoration of the Spanish Palasyo? Why are they treating this historic property differently? I believe that this individual may have prematurely made a decision undermining the historic review process, rather than allowing the Board members and SHPO staff to provide their expert opinions—the reason for their being selected to be on that Board in the first place and rather than, allowing public comment. And this is alarming because this action(proposed destruction without review) forces the public to ask the Department of Interior’s National Park Service Western Regional Office – whether the action violates federal guidelines in the treatment of historic properties – which may endanger the yearly Historic Preservation Fund grant due to possible non-compliance.

I find it also peculiar that the historic preservation process of nominating sites to the Guam and National Register of Historic Places is mysteriously being bypassed by this proposed legislation. This proposed legislation may be eliminating the normal historic preservation review of Guam’s historic property (and other historic properties)the Governor Manuel F.L. Guererro Building I have participated in past meetings. My dear colleagues, if I do not convince you to kill this bill. Do the right thing and honor our heritage by preserving this building otherwise you may have usurped the existing process for historic properties in Guam (critical technical review) and eliminates public review and scrutiny.

I want to reiterate again my concern about the manner by which this historic property is being handled by the Guam Historic Preservation Review Board. The Legislature in its infinite wisdom must not allow the selective application of only some attributes of the landscape as important and erase the structural representation of an important historical period—of our early political development because, this Legislature will then have to take responsibility for the deafening silences of what is not made significant or important in our development as a people; something yet to be written about the emergent experiences of a non-self-governing people that would otherwise be showcased and pronounced by preserving the Manuel F.L. Guerrero building.

Why would anyone want to diminish or erase this significant period in our history and its tangible reminder? Why?

This is a scenario that appears to reveal possible dishonesty.

If demolition is approved, GEDA and/governor’s office will now take over the project, who will manage the bldg proper/grounds of Plaza de Espana, it’s not in the bill?? What are you trying to hide with this Bill? That you are turning over the Palasyo to the Governor’s Office?...that’s what appears behind the words here?

This bill makes it look like there is collusion to destroy this historic structure at all cost. Please investigate if there is attempt to corrupt the historic preservation process. Here you have quick office spaces available, maybe even an exhibit facility, …looks funny to me. This bldg is historical; can be rehabilitated. Where is Guam’s real estate planner? We can even have Legislative Repository, a required place for a certified archival depository for the Legislative Branch, similar to congressional records of the U.S. Congress. Hafa? Think of the options and opportunities for alternative uses.

My dear senators, look around, open your eyes. You can see how little has remained over time from the ravages of colonial occupation of a once sovereign people, a war not of our doing, clearing and grading for urbanization that changed our physical landscape as well as our cultural landscape, the near total destruction of Hagatna, the desecrations and destruction of our ancestors’ sacred burial grounds. The question that we should be asking ourselves, What do we have left that can significantly contribute to our identity as an emerging people? Or, that could contribute to our national pride as a people? Or, that could enhance and enlighten the history of our people? Is the historicity of the Gov. Manuel F. L. Guerrero building and all the activities that make it significant historically, is it worth preserving? I say, YES! The building is not EMPTY nor is it dead space! Know your history! And preserve our historical sites and allow the keeping of our historical integrity. Do not be a part of erasing that history within and through the final plans that will only take up the significance of the Palasyo. Make a stand for a decolonized history, for a better future for our people through the depiction of our struggles as emergent people—a people yearning to restore our sovereignty.
Imagine a tour guide discussing the history of our people. That narrative will go something like, “And here is the building in which:

a) The first appointed Chamorro Governor’s Office was housed.
b) The first elected Chamorro Governor’s Office was located.
c) The first Political Status Commission was signed into law.
d) The post-war local civilian government was implemented.
e) The ideas of emerging from a colonial past were formulated…where the first Chamorro Land Trust Commission was signed into law.
f) In fact, the Guam Historic Preservation Act was signed in to law in that building in PL 12-126.
g) This is the place that Chamorros, after WWII, took positions as Governors, Lt. Governors, Directors, Surveyors, Accountants, Treasurers, Civil Service Managers, Budget Directors, Education Directors, Chief of Staffs, Secretaries, Public Servants – refuge and training ground to serve our people and learn the business of administering and governing ourselves.

And, these are just a listing of significant historic events.

I recall, at the time I became Ms. Guam Universe in 1967, 2 years before Governor Carlos Camacho’s term ended. Chilang Bamba, Tita Souder, Tina Perez, Margaret Jones (bless her soul, she is still here with us today), how these strong women of their time, made it a rule that, before anyone leaves off-island to represent our “country”, that, we pay our respects to Guam’s highest official so that he can impart his wisdom and blessings for the sake of our dignity as a people. I recall also at the time, how Governor Camacho requested that our group pay respects to the Air Force general, General Crumm—and, off we went to do just that. I was 21 years old and I thought I was in my prime; but, my dear senators, my prime, our prime, your prime comes when we, you, can respond in a way as to enhance and promote our people, our national pride and identity as a people whose history is worth saving, worth preserving for our progeny.

So, how can you adapt this old building to the needs of our modern lives?

a) Well, we can first think of how the government can save money in rentals. We have about 50,000 sq ft of office space that can be rental space that’ll probably give us millions of dollars in savings in the three years.(About $1.50 per square feet rental in Hagatna).
b) Why can’t this space be used for your Legislative Offices rather than rent? Its a win-win savings for the people of Guam/Legislature where millions of dollars have been spent for rental using the people’s tax dollars. That didn’t require any scientific computation to figure out. Maybe we should ask ourselves who could possibly monetarily benefit from the demolition of a 50,000 sq. ft. of office space—something that we now have, that we could use? Anyone that you know of?

Si Yu’os ma’ase’. Please preserve the Gov. Manuel F.L. Guerrero building.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Joaquin Flores Lujan - National Heritage Award Fellow

National Endowment for the Arts
For Immediate Release
March 23, 2015

It is with great sadness that the National Endowment for the Arts acknowledges the passing of 1996 National Heritage Fellow Joaquin Flores Lujan, a blacksmith who helped to preserve Guam's blacksmithing past, an aspect of the island's Chamorro culture that combines Spanish colonial and local influences.

Joaquin "Jack" Flores Lujan was born March 20, 1920, in Guam. He was the only child to learn the art of blacksmithing from his father, who in turn had learned the skills from his uncle. He mastered the graceful lines and fine finishes of the short Guamanian machete with inlaid buffalo horn or imported Philippine hardwood handles; the preferred angle and bevel of the fosino (hoe); and the practical applications of the other tools. As late as the World War II era, blacksmithing played an essential role in Guam. But the time-consuming work of learning the craft and the diminishing economic incentive to produce hand-forged tools discouraged others from taking it up as a profession.

Lujan himself took up work as a welder before World War II and as a U.S. immigration officer after the war. When he retired, he again took up blacksmithing and set out to let others know of the beauty he found in this aspect of Guam's heritage. He demonstrated in schools and at festivals and other public events. In 1985, Lujan took on three apprentices, all members of the Guam Fire Department who were used to heat and hard work and who had developed a passion for Lujan's art after seeing him at a demonstration. He exhibited and demonstrated his work in Australia, Taiwan, and the mainland United States.

Visit the NEA's website for more information on Joaquin Flores Lujan.


Joaquin Flores Lujan was born March 20, 1920, in Guam. He was nicknamed "Jack" and known as "Kin Bitud" by friends and relatives. He learned his forging techniques from his father, who in turn had learned them from his uncle. Jack was the only child to learn his father's skills. He mastered the graceful lines and fine finishes of the short Guamanian machete with inlaid buffalo horn or imported Philippine hardwood handles; the preferred angle and bevel of the fosino (hoe); and the practical applications of the other tools.

"We were basically a farming community, and the people need tools to aid them during work," Lujan said. "There was always a great demand for basic tools such as machetes, fosinos, and kamyos (coconut graters), and we also made metal rims for carts, knives, and betelnut cutters, as well as other essential and decorative items." As late as the World War II era, blacksmithing played an essential role. But Lujan became the sole surviving link to Guam's blacksmithing past, an aspect of the island's Chamorro culture that combines Spanish colonial and local influences. The time-consuming work of learning the craft and the diminishing economic incentive to produce hand-forged tools discouraged others from taking it up as a profession.

Lujan himself took up work as a welder before World War II and as a U.S. immigration officer after the war. When he retired, he again took up blacksmithing and set out to let others know of the beauty he found in this aspect of Guam's heritage. He demonstrated in schools and at festivals and other public events. He was driven by excellence in craftsmanship and the future of his tradition. "If I make something, it's for life," he said. "Nobody can beat the quality of my handiwork. It's first-class."

In 1985, Lujan took on three apprentices, all members of the Guam Fire Department who were used to heat and hard work and who had developed a passion for Lujan's art after seeing him at a demonstration. Others came to him to hone their skills. Television programs, newspapers, and magazines featured his work, and he was invited to exhibit and demonstrate in Australia, Taiwan, and the mainland United States. He received the annual Governor's Art Award on numerous occasions and the Governor's Lifetime Cultural Achievement Award in 1996. The Consortium of Pacific Arts and Cultures honored him by including his work in the American-Pacific crafts exhibit "Living Traditions."

In the words of Lujan's apprentice Frank Lizama, "Without Jack here guiding us, this art would have died. Hopefully, we'll continue to move on. The more we make, the more we want to do."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sherlock Update

Interviewing ultra-secretive Steven Moffat about Sherlock is a tricky endeavor, given that the writer-producer would prefer to say nothing at all about what will happen in the show’s hugely anticipated fourth season. But during our wide-ranging recent interview, the Sherlock co-creator gave us a few hints about what to expect when the BBC/PBS Masterpiece fan-favorite series returns. Plus, he addressed the long wait between seasons, took a little dig at that other Holmes show—CBS drama Elementary—and even gave a surprisingly passionate defense of Fifty Shades of Grey.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, what do you feel comfortable telling us about season 4—or “series” 4, as it’s called in the U.K.?

STEVEN MOFFAT: There are answers coming to questions which nobody has asked. There’s one thing that no one has really brought up…

Can you say what the question is? 
No. We’ve actually set up something, I think—[co-creator Mark Gatiss] and me, we’re very exultant about a little thing we’ve set up that no one is talking about.

The episodes get so heavily analyzed it’s surprising that fans have overlooked something.
It’s not that we’re being clever. We never know. Sometimes people go mad for one thing we think is quiet trivial and completely ignore something we think is standing right in front of you.

What distinguishes season 4 from previous years?
We haven’t started writing it yet, so it’s early. The first series was all about the beginning of their friendship. Second about the formative stages, the love and fear and loss and all that. The third was good days, me and my pal and my pal’s wife. Those are golden days. The missing element in a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations is allowing it to be funny. There’s a lot of humor in Sherlock Holmes, and it’s ignored in a lot of adaptations. [Season 4] is going to be… I suppose you’d say… consequences. It’s consequences. Chickens come to roost. It’s dark in some ways—obviously it’s great fun and a Sherlock Holmes romp and all that—but there’s a sense of… things… coming back to bite you. It’s not a safe, sensible way to live. It’s hilarious and exhilarating some days, but some days it’s going to be bloody frightening.

Is it more serialized than previous seasons?  
Probably. A lot of serialization is latent, isn’t it? It’s hidden. Series 3 doesn’t look very serialized, but you look back at how much we’re setting up Mary [Amanda Abbington] to be who she turns out to be. It will be three stand-alone films, 90 minutes each, and an ongoing mystery, as there sort of always is.

How will fans feel after watching it?
Hmmm… desperate for series 5. We’re certainly going to put them through the mill. It’s going to be more of an emotional upheaval. Hopefully enjoyable and fun, all the things Sherlock must always be. It will be tough at times. Maybe that’s the word? A tougher series.

Intense is probably right. You can sort of see that in the way series 3 went. It’s great that he’s back and John’s [Martin Freeman] got a wife and Sherlock [Benedict Cumberbatch] likes her and isn’t it adorable, and then it all goes to hell. Remember where we left them.

Season three was known for having some bold tonal shifts. There was the meta-fun of “The Empty Herse,” the rom-com of “The Sign of Three,” the thriller of “His Last Vow.” In season 2, “The Hounds of Baskerville” was a bit of a horror story. I’m wondering if you’re doing the Sherlock version of other genres in series 4?
To a degree, you always do, yes. We’re trying to [be] as varied in tone as the stories are. Everybody tends to think of the Hollywood version of Sherlock Holmes. The films tend to be like Hound of the Baskervilles, with horror and crime. You go to the stories and Moriarty is only in one of them. Quite often, Sherlock is investigating small domestic crimes, and quite often there’s no crime at all, and there’s a lot of humor. So “The Sign of Three” you might think is a huge departure for Sherlock Holmes if you don’t know Sherlock Holmes very well. But it’s not. The mysteries he solves, and the level of humor and the interaction with Sherlock and Watson is sort of right.

Last season in particular, I felt like you were almost trying to break Benedict Cumberbatch by giving him tougher and tougher challenges, acting-wise, and then watching him pull it off. Have you found new ways to stretch and challenge Holmes for series 4, and is that something you consciously think about?
The reason we still have Benedict and Martin is we still give them acting challenges. Otherwise they wouldn’t come and play with us. They don’t need the money. What we give them in terms of money isn’t something they’d regard as a significant fee anymore. We’re making this in a shed in Wales. We think really carefully about giving them something to play because they’re both amazing actors. Normally if you watch a show, [the characters] tend to narrow as the people who make the show tend to know what works. When I was doing series 3, I went and looked at Martin and Benedict’s other performances to remind myself of what else they do. I watched the British The Office again.

So good.
So unbelievably good. I hadn’t quite realized the extent he plays the lead in that. It reminds you that he’s got all that too. I can bring in other colors to it.

This might be a trickier question than I’m intending it to be: Given the popularity of Andrew Scott’s character, have you ever regretted “killing” off Moriarty? 
We knew we had to be bold about that. We knew what we wanted to do. Moriarty is only in one story, “The Final Problem,” and has a flashback appearance in another. The story of Sherlock Holmes isn’t Sherlock vs. a criminal mastermind. It just isn’t. So we wanted to have a huge story for “The Final Problem,” but kill him… we knew what we wanted the consequences of that moment to be. Andrew became a star overnight. He became a star based on the smallest amount of screen time ever—he’s not actually in it that much. He’s hardly in the first series at all. Even “The Reichenbach Fall,” when I was doing a pass on [the script], I added a couple scenes because he’s got to show up more. He’s always asking, “Do I get a flashback? Am I going to show up again?”

Last year the distribution window between Britain and U.S. premiere of Sherlock was shortened, but there was still a bit of a gap. Recently HBO announced that Game of Thrones will premiere simultaneously in 130 countries. You would think Sherlock could premiere simultaneously in two countries, right?
I really, really do think it should. I think it’s absolute bloody nonsense. The audience is not prepared to wait. [Somebody] recently said, “If I want something and it’s not available, I think it’s the vendor’s fault.” With Doctor Who we pretty much have that—certainly with Britain and America, it comes out the same day. Doing that ended an awful lot of the piracy. Yes, it should be. But that’s a question for PBS and Masterpiece.

You mentioned your budget. I wondered whether, given how the show is this international sensation, the new season has a bigger budget.
The reality is no. I’m fighting tooth and nail on both shows to get enough money to make them. It’s hugely frustrating and annoying at times because they couldn’t be more successful.

Last I checked, you were swayed that a Sherlock and Doctor Who crossover is not a good idea and won’t happen. Any movement on that?
My instinct—and this is probably from years of doing Doctor Who—is I’m just such a tart. If people want to, we should give it to them. But I got persuaded by Mark, Benedict, [executive producer Sue Vertue] and Martin saying, “Look, it will never be as good as they think it’s going to be,” and then I say, “Yes, but we’ll just bang it out and make it as good.” “Yeah, but you can’t give everybody everything they want all the time.” I’m in the camp of giving them everything they want. But I think they’re sane and right and I’m just a tart.

What’s the best or funniest piece of Sherlock fan fiction or fan art you’ve seen?
I don’t know the funniest. There’s been some eye-watering stuff of Benedict and Martin together. A load of it has been superb. There’s a tendency to disparage it. I don’t agree. Even the slash fiction, that’s a great way to learn to work. No one really does three-act structure, but just trying to put words that make somebody else turned on, that’s going to teach you more about writing than any writing college you can go to. It’s creative and exciting. I refuse to mock it—because I’m a man who writes Sherlock Holmes fan fiction for a living!

It’s how we ended up with Fifty Shades of Grey, after all.
People want to be mocking of that. But bloody hell, that’s amazing—that [EL James] turned her fandom of something into something that’s an industry in itself. Why are we not applauding until our hands bleed? No, we mock her. We say, “Oh, it’s not very good.” Except she managed to write something that everybody wants to read. It’s “not very good”? By what standard is it not good if loads and loads of people love it? “Why don’t you f–k off!” It’s not for me, but I think she’s awfully clever.

Sherlock had record ratings in the US last season, opening to 4 million viewers. The passion for this show is very strong among U.S. fans. Yet I’m surprised the ratings are not higher, even with piracy, given that so many of our hit shows are crime dramas that people don’t talk about nearly as much. That more people watch Elementary is kind of annoying.
Well, you bring us back to piracy don’t you? I don’t know what the real ratings for Sherlock in America are—or Doctor Who. There are an awful lot of people watching it by means they’re not happy to put their hands up about. Which, again, is the vendor’s fault. It’s our fault. We don’t want to arrest them, we want to charge them money. I think an awful lot more people in this country have seen Sherlock than is ever admitted, as with Doctor Who. A long time ago—and Netflix muddied the water even further—we lost the ability to know how many people watch a TV show. We don’t really know. Benedict is one of the most famous people in the world, and he’s largely famous wearing the coat and the scarf. [Sherlock is] what he’s famous for. I’m not having a pop at Elementary, but Benedict is a lot more famous than anybody on their show. He can walk down fewer streets [without being mobbed] in America than the other guy.

Any guest stars lined up for series 4?
Not yet. But as Mark always says, it’s better to be a star-maker. We found all these people, Benedict, Scott, Lara Pulver. These people launched careers on the basis of doing the show. It’s tough because we got Benedict and Martin—they’re probably the two biggest British film stars. If you pay extra money to cast somebody famous, are they actually going to provide you with one single extra viewer?

It will have been a bit of wait, though. 
[Fans] get very cross that we don’t make more. Had we made this as a conventional series it would be over. Because Benedict and Martin are never going to agree for the rest of their lives to do any series for runs of six or 12. They don’t need the money and they want a bigger variety of jobs. The only version of Sherlock you’re gonna get is this one. I think that’s a pretty good deal. Compare us to Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes: We’ve made 10, he’s made two. Or how often you get a James Bond film. You’ll get a longer-lasting, richer experience the way we’re making it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rising Tides

A sobering article about the situation in the Marshall Islands, where rising tides and damage from nuclear testing is threatening to force people out of the Pacific and seek new homes elsewhere. Climate change is, as President Obama regularly notes, the number issue facing the world today. It is however the number one issue that people are content to do close to nothing about. For people in the Pacific, this importance is even more pronounced due to the fact that people in low and high islands are already being affected and will soon have their lives irrevocably affected. People in low islands are already beginning to respond, but those of us in high islands are enjoying our terrestrial privilege and for Guam, our connection to the United States to somehow imagine that we won't be affected as much. When will we in Guam learn to see and live where we are, not where we have been indoctrinated to wish we were? Also, how foolish is it that a sense of minor American exceptionalism somehow overpower our understanding of the natural world? America's claims to be the greatest country in the world mean close to nothing in the face of the raw power of the ocean or of the universe.


Bikinians want to evacuate to the US
by Giff Johnson
Marianas Variety
March 23, 2015

MAJURO — On the 69th anniversary of their original evacuation for nuclear weapons testing, Bikini Islanders announced Friday they want to move their population in exile to the United States.
Bikini Mayor Nishma Jamore said Bikinians want to leave both Kili and the Ejit islands where they have lived in exile for decades because Bikini Atoll, site of 24 nuclear tests including “Bravo,” America’s largest hydrogen bomb detonation, remains too radioactive for safe resettlement.

First it was nuclear tests, now it is climate change that is pushing the islanders to evacuate their two main island homes, said Jamore. Increasingly bad flooding from high tides and storms on both islands prompted Bikini leaders to bring up the concern with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Interior Esther Kia’aina during her visit to Majuro earlier this month.

“We want to relocate to the United States,” said Jamore. “Kili has been repeatedly flooded since 2012 and we’ve asked the Marshall Islands government for help with no response.” Added to this is the Nitijela’s (parliament’s) recent legislative move to take authority for Ejit Island away from the Bikinians.

This is not the first time the Bikinians have considered resettling in the U.S. In the 1980s, following an aborted resettlement at Bikini that ended with Bikinians being exposed to high levels of radiation in the environment, the exiled islanders sought to buy a large tract of land in Maui in the state of Hawaii for resettling the population. But the plan was vetoed when it ran into considerable opposition from Maui residents.

Now the resettlement option is gaining steam because of saltwater inundations that have repeatedly flooded Kili and Ejit, causing damage to homes and agriculture.

“We’re going to Washington next month,” the mayor said. The aim is to further the plan for relocating Kili and Ejit populations to three locations in the U.S., which Jamore identified as Arkansas, Oklahoma and the Big Island of Hawaii. There are already significant populations of Bikini islanders in these three locations, he said.

Jamore and Bikini Council executives would like to use their trust fund to purchase property for a resettlement. “We have asked the Interior Department if we can change the policy of the trust fund agreement (to allow for property purchases in the U.S.),” he said, adding Kia’aina was encouraging in her response. Currently the U.S.-provided Bikini trust fund allows for property purchase only in the Marshall Islands. “This will give the people options for education and jobs,” he said of the three potential resettlement locations.

The latest flooding at Kili hit last month during annual high tides, which turned Kili’s runway into “the Nile River,” according to Jamore. The entire runway, nearly a mile long, was flooded with about two feet of saltwater. The tides flooded most of Kili with two-foot-deep salt water last month, causing damage to homes and local food crops.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Poisons in the Pacific

This article represents an important reminder about the consequences of militarism and militarization. It is easy to become enamored by the spiffiness, the shininess of the US military. The advertisements are so sleek and so inspiring. They hit people from so many angles. They appeal to the patriotism, the training, the education, the travel, the need to protect the homeland and one's family. These ads are bolstered by the surface of the US military. The cleanliness, the immaculate surface. Nicely cute lawns. Sharply painted houses. Pressed uniforms, young people and not so young people standing at attention. There is so much clean order. It is no wonder than that in Guam, militarism is such a strong force. Militarism deals with the way that a society relates to military institutions and military force. Do societies see military force, military outposts, military service as being ideal, essential, a last resort? Do they see the military as the ultimate opportunity or an unfortunate one? Do people clamor to join or do they have to be enticed? If there are large military bases in an area are they seen as obstacles or eye sores, or are they seen as economic hubs? Are military bases seen as clean zones or toxic dump sites?

The more powerful militarism is as an ideological force, the more military force is seen as acceptable, the more bases are seen as necessary and furthermore the more they are seen positively as places where cleanliness and prosperity can be found. The problem is of course that while this might be the surface, it tells us little of the interior or the ways bases and militarization affect lives and lands. In truth, military bases tend to be terrible places environmentally. They tend to have high rates in and around them for certain diseases such as cancer. They have places where hazardous and toxic materials have been kept or dumped that affect those who work and live there. And even the aura of economic awesomeness is also problematic, as military bases and services offer places and benefits where things are cheaper, but they also tend to depress the local economy around them.

The article below is a case in point about what remains hidden beneath the green grass lawns of military bases. Islands and nations through the Asia-Pacific region struggle with the legacy of chemicals weapons such as Agent Orange in their lands.


Poisons in the Pacific: Guam, Okinawa and Agent Orange
by Jon Mitchel
August 7, 2012
The Japan Times

The day after 19-year-old Sgt. Leroy Foster arrived on Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base, one of America’s largest Pacific military installations, in 1968, he was assigned to what his superior officers called “vegetation control duties.”

“I mixed diesel fuel with Agent Orange then I sprayed it by truck all over the base to kill the jungle overgrowth. None of the older service members wanted to do the work so because I was the low man on the totem pole, it was left to me,” Foster told The Japan Times.

Within days of starting the assignment, Foster developed pustules and boils all over his body that were so severe he bled through his bed linen. Then during the following years he fell ill with a litany of sicknesses, including Parkinson’s and ischemic heart disease, that he believes were caused by the highly toxic herbicides he was ordered to spray. Foster also contends that Agent Orange’s dioxins — long proven to damage successive generations’ health — have also affected his daughter, who had to undergo cancer treatment as a teenager, and his grandchild, who was born with 12 fingers, 12 toes and a heart murmur.

But Foster could be considered one of the lucky ones. While hundreds of other American veterans claim they were sickened by Agent Orange on Guam, Foster is one of only five people known to be receiving U.S. government compensation for exposure on the island. The rest have been denied any help due to Pentagon assertions that its data “does not show any use, testing or storage of tactical herbicides, such as Agent Orange, at any location on Guam.”

These denials will be familiar to readers following The Japan Times’ investigations of the U.S. government’s alleged usage of these toxic chemicals on another American military outpost: Okinawa. Over the past 18 months, dozens of former service members have spoken out about herbicides on Okinawa during the Vietnam War. These veterans, and in some cases their children, are sick with illnesses consistent with dioxin exposure, yet the U.S. government has only acknowledged the poisoning of three of them — and it persistently denies that Agent Orange was ever kept, buried or used on Okinawa.

The parallels between the U.S. military’s poisoning of Guam and Okinawa are disturbing, and the reasons why it brought Agent Orange to these islands in the first place lie in their similar histories. Located 2,200 km from one another in the Western Pacific, both Guam and Okinawa witnessed some of the most vicious battles of World War II. Guam, a former U.S. shipping station, had been seized by the Japanese in December 1941 and subjected to a brutal 2½-year occupation before its liberation by U.S. forces in July 1944. The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa was captured by the American military in the spring of 1945 during fighting in which 12,000 U.S. service members were killed and almost 40,000 wounded.

The heavy loss of G.I. blood on both islands imbued in many U.S. leaders a sense of entitlement to the hard-won territories. Following the end of World War II, the islands were gradually transformed into two of the most militarized places on the planet — Guam became the “Tip of the Spear” and Okinawa the “Keystone of the Pacific.”

Although much-loved by martial pundits, these nicknames belied the peripheral status foisted upon the islands’ residents. In 1950, Guam was declared an unincorporated organized territory, which granted the island a civilian government but left residents without the right to vote in presidential elections — a system that persists today. Between 1945 and 1972, Okinawa existed under the gray zone of American administration, protected by neither the U.S. nor Japanese constitutions. Such policies enabled the military to get away with actions on the two islands that might have been difficult elsewhere — including the usage of toxic herbicides.

According to the Pentagon’s own records, it first stored these defoliants on Guam in 1952 with the delivery of 5,000 barrels of Agent Purple. One of several so-called “rainbow herbicides,” which took their names from the color-coded stripes around the barrels, Agent Purple was a forerunner of Agent Orange and today is known to be even more toxic. The U.S. military had brought the herbicides to Guam for use in the Korean War. But the conflict ended before they could be deployed and, according to the U.S. government, the chemicals were subsequently removed from Guam.

Ralph Stanton, a leading researcher of military herbicide usage who also believes he was exposed on the island while stationed there from 1969 to 1970, is skeptical of the government’s version of events. “The Department of Defense has no records of the barrels being returned to the U.S. so I think their statement is a myth or a lie. In the 1950s, the cost of shipping would likely have been more than the herbicides were worth.”

Regardless of the final fate of that initial stockpile, what is clear from Stanton’s research is that during the 1960s and ’70s, as the U.S. waged war in Vietnam, military herbicides were routinely sprayed on Guam and shipped via the island on the way to Southeast Asia, where they were used in massive quantities to kill enemy crops and jungle cover. In Vietnam alone, the Red Cross estimates that 3 million people are still suffering from the effects of these chemicals.

According to Edward Jackson, a sergeant with the 43rd Transportation Squadron assigned to Guam in the early 1970s, these herbicides were a common sight. “Andersen Air Force Base had a huge stockpile of Agent Orange and other herbicides. There were many, many thousands of drums. I used to make trips with them to the navy base for shipment by sea,” Jackson told The Japan Times.
Knowing what we do now about the toxicity of these chemicals, it is easy to imagine that service members handled them wearing protective clothing. But for years the military and manufacturers suppressed the research on their dangers. “They told us Agent Orange was so safe that you could brush your teeth with it,” says Stanton.

Not only did this lackadaisical attitude apply to the usage of these herbicides, it also applied to their disposal. Just like on Okinawa, where veterans have claimed Agent Orange was buried on Hamby Air Field (current-day Chatan Town), Kadena Air Base and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, former service members on Guam say they engaged in similar practices.

According to Jackson, the barrels of herbicides were sometimes damaged during transit so they were dumped on Andersen Air Force Base. “I would back my truck up to a small cliff that sloped away towards the Pacific Ocean. I personally threw away about 25 drums. Each individual drum was anywhere from almost empty to almost full,” Jackson explains.

In the 1990s, the U.S. government cracked down on such methods, and after conducting environmental tests on the site where Jackson dumped the barrels, the area was found to be so severely polluted that it was listed for urgent cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency. Across the tiny island, almost 100 similarly tainted sites were identified, including one where dioxin contamination in the soil of 19,000 parts per million (compared to a recognized safe level of 1,000 parts per trillion) made it one of the most toxic places on the planet. Further alarming residents was the proximity of many of these sites to the Northern Guam Lens, the aquifer that supplies the island with its drinking water.

In 2007, Luis Syfrez, an outspoken former University of Guam professor, warned that islanders were living “in a virtual omnipresent mist of the rainbow herbicides.” His assertions were seemingly supported by skyrocketing rates of nasopharyngeal (upper throat) cancer and diabetes among Guam residents.

Today, the U.S. government claims to have cleaned up the majority of its toxic sites on the island, but University of Guam associate professor Lisa Natividad doubts these assurances. “Often their definition of what is clean is not accurate. So we need to commission independent researchers to cross-examine their claims,” she told The Japan Times.

However, people on Guam are in some ways better off than Okinawa residents, who have been kept deliberately ignorant about the extent to which their island’s earth and water have been contaminated by U.S. military dioxins. On repeated occasions, both the Japanese and U.S. governments have rejected calls for an investigation into Agent Orange contamination on the island — notably in November 2011, when Nago City residents demanded an environmental investigation on nearby Camp Schwab after The Japan Times published an article suggesting that large stockpiles of Agent Orange were kept on the base during the Vietnam War.

Left in the dark, current residents of Okinawa — including U.S. service members and their dependents stationed on the islands’ bases — can only speculate about potential contamination. Futenma Air Station merits particular concern due to its similarities to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam. Both installations have been in operation for more than six decades, during which time they have been subject to the daily flow of dangerous chemicals — not limited to Agent Orange — necessary to keep the military machine running smoothly. Andersen’s EPA reports revealed 32 so-called “contaminants of concern” including lead, PCBs and arsenic. Futenma, like Andersen, is situated atop a network of caves and fresh water springs. More worryingly, while Andersen is located in a lightly populated area, Futenma is in the crowded center of Ginowan city — home to 94,000 residents.

Wrangling over the closure of Futenma has been going on for the past 16 years, straining U.S.-Japan relations and testing the patience of the Okinawan people. But if comparisons with Andersen are accurate, even after its closure, Futenma’s cleanup will likely run into billions of dollars. The U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement places the full financial burden of this cleanup on Japanese taxpayers. With such costs at stake, is it any wonder that Tokyo has allowed Futenma’s closure to flounder for so long?

The fates of Guam and Okinawa have been entwined in the Gordian knot of the planned relocation of thousands of U.S. Marines within the Pacific theater. Associate professor Natividad believes that this plan has made Guam’s leaders reluctant to push the Pentagon for full disclosure about its poisoning of the island. “Our former governor was too afraid of making waves with Washington for fear of jeopardizing the realignment. Our current governor is more confident but even if he pressured Washington for an admission, they’d just send him a letter saying that they’ve cleaned up the contaminated sites.”

While it now seems clear that America’s reasons for bringing Agent Orange to Guam and Okinawa were rooted in the Cold War past, Washington’s increasingly implausible refusals to admit to the presence of these toxic substances on either island are tightly interwoven with its 21st century military strategy for the region.

“We veterans have become a political pawn between the U.S. and Japan,” says Jackson, the former air force sergeant. “We’re an army waiting to die.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bei Gaige Giya San Diego

I will be in the Southern California area at the end of this month for the upcoming Chamorro Cultural Festival in San Marcos (on March 28th). I went out to it last year and did some outreach for UOG and Chamorro Studies and had a wonderful time. Since we are supposed to begin building our online certificate program in Chamorro Studies this summer, I felt it would be good to go back out and keep people up to date of what we've been doing and keep networking.

In addition to the Chamorro Cultural Festival I'll also be helping with the FESTPAC diaspora auditions. Next year Guam will become the most important place in the Pacific for two weeks as it hosts the largest arts and culture festival in the region. For this event Guam CAHA is including a group of people from the diaspora as part of the delegation. These auditions and workshops will take place the day after the Chamorro Cultural Festival, the 29th in San Diego.

I'll also be doing more UOG/Chamorro Studies outreach before and after that weekend in Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego. If anyone would like to try to meet with me while I'm out there, send me an email mlbasquiat@hotmail.com or leave a comment here. Si Yu'us Ma'ase.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

We are Guam

I just finished up an article on tourism, colonialism and cultural revitalization in Guam. Part of the article discussed recent interventions by both government and private entities to diversify Guam's tourism industry by trying to make it more locally focused and take it out of the bubble of Tumon. I discussed several failed campaigns over the years which often didn't amount to anything. Some of those campaigns seemed to hold a lot of promise, such as the village ambassador program (my grandfather was chosen as the ambassador for Mangilao because of his status as a cultural master). I am looking forward to seeing if this new program We are Guam, which was a name used several years ago for another initiative, leads to more concrete results and improvements.

Former Miss Earth Guam and GVB to Launch We are Guam Program
Written by 
Pacific News Center
January 19, 2015
In an effort to boost the island's tourism, 2012 Miss Earth Guam Sarah Filush says she's working with the Guam Visitors Bureau to launch the We are Guam program.

Want to be a part of the team that builds destination Guam?

2012 Miss Earth Guam Sarah Filush says to be ready as We are Guam, a program to get the community involved in improving the island for visitors, is in the works.

Filush says, "There's hotels, there's different attractions, there's tourist destinations, but the community also plays a big role in treating our guests. They want to come to Guam and we need to make sure that they feel welcome."

She says part of their plans include visiting various schools around the island to teach children how to be a part of the Guam brand -  from taking care of the island, to saying Hafa Adai to visitors, to showcasing the culture.

Filush says, "Let's change the generation. Let's change the kids' mindsets, let's do something for the island. Maybe it won't happen right away, maybe 10 to 15 years from now, we can really see a big impact."

She sends a message to the community.

Filush says, "It's up to us as a community to take care of our island. You know we're all proud of where we're from and a lot of that has to do with cleaning up after yourself, treating others the way you want to be treated, and being good to one another so you guys can do it!"

For more information about the We are Guam program, e-mail Sarah at sarah.filush@gmail.com or call the Guam Visitors Bureau.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pakyon Chotda

(The image is from Pongsona, which hit Guam in 2002)

Matto yan ma'pos esta Si Bavi. 

Guam had yet another pakyon chotda this weekend. "Banana typhoon" is a term that people in the Pacific often use to refer to a storm that had some winds, some rain but wasn't too damaging or dangerous. 

It has been more than ten years since the last super typhoon hit Guam and about 10 years since the last typhoon-strength typhoon hit Guam. 

Most of my students haven't been through real typhoon before or only remember ones when they were very young. They are used to the pakyon chotda we've had for the past few years where classes are cancelled but ultimately the power and internet stay on. They have become the equivalent of island snow days. 

In all my classes this week we talked about how people had weathered the storm, and some had stories of tin roofing flying, trees getting knocked over and some losing power for the night. The last pakyon chotda had some flooding in areas, but flooding wasn't as perilous this time around.

One student shared his traumatizing story of the windows rattling at his house, the wind howling and the power going out…for a few minutes. When it came back on something was wrong with his Netflix account and he couldn’t finish the season of How I Met Your Mother that he had been watching. No matter how hard he tried, the episodes just wouldn’t load. 

He was joking about being traumatized but it does make me wonder how Guam today, which has become so wired and internet and electricity dependent would deal with a malamana na pakyo, that might deprive people of utilities for weeks or months like they used to.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Adios Tony

In 2012 I had the honor of traveling to Washington D.C. as part of the Guam delegation for the First Stewards Symposium, a gathering of native peoples associated with the US to discuss climate change. We performed at the National Museum of the American Indian and set up a display there of Chamorro cultural tools and artifacts. One of the highlights of the trip is that I got to spend time with Tony Ramirez, long time curator for the Guam Museum. I had known him primarily as the curator but through talking to him I learned so much more, even about his past as one of Guam's progressive activists and even participated in the Sella Bay protests of the 1970s. Guam has lacked a real museum for too long and it was always Tony's mission to see a new museum built and in use. He passed away earlier this year and it is truly tragic that he didn't get to see the museum he helped sustain for so long finished in Hagatna.

While he was waiting for a new museum to be designed and built, Tony wrote a short pamphlet titled "I Hinanao-ta" which provided a basic overview of the history that would be covered in the museum's permanent exhibit. It told the story of the Chamorro people and their islands in the Marianas. In my work for the museum I've used that to provide a basic narrative, but also moved beyond it where the narrative made have been too outsider focused or may have been proven inaccurate or incomplete by more recent scholarship.

Here is a letter included in the booklet to recognize the work of Tony Ramirez in drafting it. Ya-hu este sa' ma tuge' gi Fino' Chamoru. Below I've also included a Marianas Variety article about his passing:

"I Hinanao-ta" priniparan i Depattamenton Chamorro Affairs (DCA) Guam Museum para i kuminidat Guam ni' ma silelebra guini na Mayu i "Silebrasion Mes Faninadahen Kosas." I ma ayek siha na litratu eyu siha ni' a'annok put i hestorian Guam, i ate yan i kottura. Sina ma na'setbe este na lepblo gi gima', gi eskuela yan prugrama siha gi entre i kumunidat.

Ta kommenda Si Sinot Tony Ramirez, I Museum Curator yan i emplehao i DCA's Guam Museum sa' ginen i finaiche'cho'-niha yan todu i tiempo ni' ma pripara este na lepblo. Ginen este na lepblo na sina mas un li'e' difirentes klasen guihan (Atte, fina'tinas, mapa, estoria, litratu yan mas) para i nuebo na Guam Museum. Nina'tutungo' hao hafa na empottatnte i rinikohi siha  giya Guam Museum ni' esta sigi ha' mas dumadangkolo gi entre i lina'la' todu i tiempo.

Puede mohon sina binaba i hinasson-miyu yan en fanmamaisen "Sa' Hafa," "Hayi," "Amanu," "Hafa," yan "Ngai'an."

Estague i intension i "I hinanao-ta."


Colleagues remember former museum curator Anthony 'Tony' Ramirez
Saturday, 24 Jan 2015 03:00am

COLLEAGUES remember the late Anthony “Tony” Ramirez, former administrator and curator of the Guam Museum as a soft-spoken expert on museology who worked tirelessly advocating a museum for Guam.

He died Jan. 12 and the funeral is scheduled for today at St. Francis Church in Yoña, with viewing beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Joseph Artero-Cameron, president of the Pacific Islands Museum Association (PIMA), shared his thoughts on Ramirez’ death, noting his exemplary knowledge of Guam’s history and its people.

“Mr. Ramirez, a soft-spoken but informed professional on Guam's history and culture, will be sorely missed by those us who knew him. ‘Tony’ as most people would address him ... was very much approachable on matters of museology. He would often recollect missed opportunities in realizing that one day Guam would have a world-class museum,” Cameron said.

“More so, he  partnered with the Guam Preservation Trust, for which much needed funding created a "repository" currently located at the DNA Building in Hagåtña,” he added.

Cameron said the late former curator worked tirelessly with the nonprofit Guam Museum Foundation in elevating the need to build a museum for the island, noting that Ramirez was very focused in providing much needed information to the Educational Quality Committee task force.

“I would sit with Tony on many occasions, listening to stories he shared with me on matters of history, culture and life on Guam ‘in the eyes of Tony.’ What a wonderful story-teller he was. I have been in many a meeting with federal government, local government and museum experts ... wherein Tony showed exemplary knowledge of Guam and its people,” he said.

Man of all seasons

“Tony was a man of all seasons," he said. “No topic was too difficult to address, coupled with his sense of humor and the infectious smile on his face. He was a very humble man and greatly respected. Lives he came in touch with ... listened intently with great interest.”

“Those in the field of museum science often sought his sage advice on matters that would enhance and embrace preservation of culture, heritage and language ... not only for Guam, but inclusive of islanders throughout the Pacific,” he said.

Simeon Palomo, director-designee of the Guam Museum also shared his thoughts.

"I remember Tony Ramirez since the days of the Guam Museum at Adelup. He always had a smile, and that left a lasting impression on me. When my family and I volunteered for the Guam Museum when they had satellite exhibits at GPO and the Micronesia Mall, I know he had great influence on the exhibits,” he said.

“When I would talk to Tony, he exhibited much knowledge of Guam history and culture,” Palomo said. “I could sense his sincere appreciation and advocacy for Chamorro culture and history. He was a team player and inspired others to perpetuate the mission of the Guam Museum. He will be sorely missed, and the Guam Museum has lost another individual who had much more to give to the Guam community and beyond."

Ramirez was Guam’s first representative to serve on the PIMA executive board. He was elected and nominated to serve a three-year term as a member of the PIMA executive board from 2009 to 2012.

He also served as the history principal for the Guam Preservation Trust Board and the Guam Historic Preservation review board.

During his time as curator of the Guam Museum, Ramirez wrote "I Hinanao-ta: A Pictorial Journey Through Time.” The book provides a pictorial essay on the island’s people and historical events.

Ramirez’s educational and professional background has been in the field of historic preservation, graduating from the University of Guam with a degree in anthropology and serving as a field archaeologist, museum curator.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kantan Guinaiya

This year for the Inachaigen Fino' CHamoru or Chamorro Language Competition we tried out a new category, Kantan Chamorrita. This style is something unfamiliar to most on Guam today, but was an integral, constant and always oppan part of Chamorro life before the war and even for a few years afterwards. Kantan Chamorrita or Chamorrita refers to a style of social improvisational singing. A verse is started with a familiar tune, and another takes up the song by adding on a verse of their own. Each verse is supposed to be four lines. The tune is simple and doesn't move to fast, but each singer is expected to rhyme the last part of the 2nd and 4th line.

In the days before radio was commonplace and stereos, walkmans or iPods existed, this was how people filled the gaps in the air and in time. Singing familiar songs, but making up your own songs with others was something you did while fishing, weaving, farming, partying and so on. But as audio distractions and diversions became easier to obtain through purchases and as the Chamorro language begin to decline in use and Chamorros became as a whole less fluent, this form began to disappear as well. Today, Kantan Chamoritta doesn't exist much as a living art, but instead has been documented by different historians and anthropologists. We have verses that were written down and so we can reminisce about the time that this was a living, breathing part of Chamorro culture. But bringing it back won't be accomplished until the Chamorro language is in a healthier state.

Only two schools participated in this category because of the difficulty that it entailed. One team from the CNMI created an interesting routine, where instead of singing about the usual Chamoritta topic (guinaiya), they instead shared a song about the need to keep the Chamorro language and culture alive. The other participating team was from Guam and didn't adhere to the Chamoritta style but instead had a male and female split up the lyrics to Johnny Sablan's famous song Nobia Nene. 

 I am hoping that in future competitions students and teachers take the opportunity to try to revive this lyrical art. I've pasted below the translated lyrics from a Chamoritta tune recorded in the early 20th century in Saipan. 

The dove approaches flying
And sits down at the window
And asks the brother
How the sweetheart is.

O see the beautiful flower
Which blooms at that window
It is better to break it
As it is too ripe for plucking.

When I kiss your cheek
You say, no what a man
And when you come out of the bath

I have only one heart,
But I gave it to my beloved
And she left me without my heart
Alone in my pain.

But I kiss you when I please
With the tip of my nose
I kiss you glowingly
Until I lose my senses.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

America's Empire

 I'm excited this summer because I'll be a visiting scholar in Japan at Kobe University. I'll be teaching a course on transnational relations that focuses on militarization and militarism in the Asia-Pacific region. I'll be using two books for the course Militarized Currents edited by Setsu Shigematsu and Keith Camacho and The Bases of Empire edited by Catherine Lutz.

Catherine Lutz has been a friend of Micronesia for a very long time and last came through Guam a few years ago. Here work is very important in terms of giving a structure to militarization and militarism and not just letting them be things taken for granted as natural parts of life, but being able to drawn them out of the background here and force them to become objects of analysis and critique. Her work when she came through Guam and gave several presentations and even testified in front of the Guam Legislature was very eye-opening to people about the nature of military bases and how they affect the communities around them. Below is an article by her from 2009 on the Empire of Bases that the US keeps around the world.


Published on Thursday, July 30, 2009 by The New Statesman

Obama’s Empire: An Unprecedented Network of Military Bases That is Still Expanding

The 44th president of the United States was elected amid hopes that he would roll back his country’s global dominance. Today, he is commander-in-chief of an unprecedented network of military bases that is still expanding.
by Catherine Lutz

In December 2008, shortly before being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama pledged his belief that, “to ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad”, it was vital to maintain “the strongest military on the planet”. Unveiling his national security team, including George Bush’s defence secretary, Robert Gates, he said: “We also agree the strength of our military has to be combined with the wisdom and force of diplomacy, and that we are going to be committed to rebuilding and restrengthening alliances around the world to advance American interests and American security.”

Unfortunately, many of the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts are being directed towards maintaining and garnering new access for the US military across the globe. US military officials, through their Korean proxies, have completed the eviction of resistant rice farmers from their land around Camp Humphreys, South Korea, for its expansion (including a new 18-hole golf course); they are busily making back-room deals with officials in the Northern Mariana Islands to gain the use of the Pacific islands there for bombing and training purposes; and they are scrambling to express support for a regime in Kyrgyzstan that has been implicated in the murder of its political opponents but whose Manas Airbase, used to stage US military actions in Afghanistan since 2001, Obama and the Pentagon consider crucial for the expanded war there.

The global reach of the US military today is unprecedented and unparalleled. Officially, more than 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in approximately 900 military facilities in 46 countries and territories (the unofficial figure is far greater). The US military owns or rents 795,000 acres of land, with 26,000 buildings and structures, valued at $146bn (£89bn). The bases bristle with an inventory of weapons whose worth is measured in the trillions and whose killing power could wipe out all life on earth several times over.

The official figures exclude the huge build-up of troops and structures in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, as well as secret or unacknowledged facilities in Israel, Kuwait, the Philippines and many other places. In just three years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, £2bn was spent on military construction. A single facility in Iraq, Balad Airbase, houses 30,000 troops and 10,000 contractors, and extends across 16 square miles, with an additional 12 square mile “security perimeter”. From the battle zones of Afghanistan and Iraq to quiet corners of Curaçao, Korea and Britain, the US military domain consists of sprawling army bases, small listening posts, missile and artillery testing ranges and berthed aircraft carriers (moved to “trouble spots” around the world, each carrier is considered by the US navy as “four and a half acres of sovereign US territory”). While the bases are, literally speaking, barracks and weapons depots, staging areas for war-making and ship repairs, complete with golf courses and basketball courts, they are also political claims, spoils of war, arms sale showrooms and toxic industrial sites. In addition to the cultural imperialism and episodes of rape, murder, looting and land seizure that have always accompanied foreign armies, local communities are now subjected to the ear-splitting noise of jets on exercise, to the risk of helicopters and warplanes crashing into residential areas, and to exposure to the toxic materials that the military uses in its daily operations.
The global expansion of US bases – and with it the rise of the US as a world superpower – is a legacy of the Second World War. In 1938, the US had 14 military bases outside its continental borders.

Seven years later, it had 30,000 installations in roughly 100 countries. While this number was projected to shrink to 2,000 by 1948 (following pressure from other nations to return bases in their own territory or colonies, and pressure at home to demobilise the 12 million-man military), the US continued to pursue access rights to land and air space around the world. It established security alliances with multiple states within Europe (NATO), the Middle East and south Asia (CENTO) and south-east Asia (SEATO), as well as bilateral agreements with Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAS) were crafted in each country to specify what the military could do, and usually gave US soldiers broad immunity from prosecution for crimes committed and environmental damage caused. These agreements and subsequent base operations have mostly been shrouded in secrecy, helped by the National Security Act of 1947. New US bases were built in remarkable numbers in West Germany, Italy, Britain and Japan, with the defeated Axis powers hosting the most significant numbers (at one point, Japan was peppered with 3,800 US installations).

As battles become bases, so bases become battles; the sites in east Asia acquired during the Spanish-American war in 1898 and during the Second World War – such as Guam, Thailand and the Philippines – became the primary bases from which the US waged war on Vietnam. The number of raids over north and south Vietnam required tons of bombs unloaded at the naval station in Guam. The morale of ground troops based in Vietnam, as fragile as it was to become through the latter part of the 1960s, depended on R&R (rest and recreation) at bases outside the country, which allowed them to leave the war zone and yet be shipped back quickly and inexpensively for further fighting. The war also depended on the heroin the CIA was able to ship in to the troops on the battlefield in Vietnam from its secret bases in Laos. By 1967, the number of US bases had returned to 1947 levels.
Technological changes in warfare have had important effects on the configuration of US bases. Long-range missiles and the development of ships that can make much longer runs without resupply have altered the need for a line of bases to move forces forward into combat zones, as has the aerial refuelling of military jets. An arms airlift from the US to the British in the Middle East in 1941-42, for example, required a long hopscotch of bases, from Florida to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Trinidad, British Guiana, north-east Brazil, Fernando de Noronha, Takoradi (now in Ghana), Lagos, Kano (now in Nigeria) and Khartoum, before finally making delivery in Egypt. In the early 1970s, US aircraft could make the same delivery with one stop in the Azores, and today can do so non-stop.
On the other hand, the pouring of money into military R&D (the Pentagon has spent more than $85bn in 2009), and the corporate profits to be made in the development and deployment of the resulting technologies, have been significant factors in the ever larger numbers of technical facilities on foreign soil. These include such things as missile early-warning radar, signals intelligence, satellite control and space-tracking telescopes. The will to gain military control of space, as well as gather intelligence, has led to the establishment of numerous new military bases in violation of arms-control agreements such as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. In Colombia and Peru, and in secret and mobile locations elsewhere in Latin America, radar stations are primarily used for anti-trafficking operations.
Since 2000, with the election of George W Bush and the ascendancy to power of a group of men who believed in a more aggressive and unilateral use of military power (some of whom stood to profit handsomely from the increased military budget that would require), US imperial ambition has grown. Following the declaration of a war on terror and of the right to pre-emptive war, the number of countries into which the US inserted and based troops radically expanded. The Pentagon put into action a plan for a network of “deployment” or “forward operating” bases to increase the reach of current and future forces. The Pentagon-aligned, neoconservative think tank the Project for the New American Century stressed that “while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein”.

The new bases are designed to operate not defensively against particular threats but as offensive, expeditionary platforms from which military capabilities can be projected quickly, anywhere. The Global Defence Posture Review of 2004 announced these changes, focusing not just on reorienting the footprint of US bases away from cold war locations, but on remaking legal arrangements that support expanded military activities with other allied countries and prepositioning equipment in those countries. As a recent army strategic document notes, “Military personnel can be transported to, and fall in on, prepositioned equipment significantly more quickly than the equivalent unit could be transported to the theatre, and prepositioning equipment overseas is generally less politically difficult than stationing US military personnel.”

Terms such as facility, outpost or station are used for smaller bases to suggest a less permanent presence. The US department of defence currently distinguishes between three types of military facility. “Main operating bases” are those with permanent personnel, strong infrastructure, and often family housing, such as Kadena Airbase in Japan and Ramstein Airbase in Germany. “Forward operating sites” are “expandable warm facilit[ies] maintained with a limited US military support presence and possibly prepositioned equipment”, such as Incirlik Airbase in Turkey and Soto Cano Airbase in Honduras. Finally, “co-operative security locations” are sites with few or no permanent US personnel, maintained by contractors or the host nation for occasional use by the US military, and often referred to as “lily pads”. These are cropping up around the world, especially throughout Africa, a recent example being in Dakar, Senegal.

Moreover, these bases are the anchor – and merely the most visible aspect – of the US military’s presence overseas. Every year, US forces train 100,000 soldiers in 180 countries, the presumption being that beefed-up local militaries will help to pursue US interests in local conflicts and save the US money, casualties and bad publicity when human rights abuses occur (the blowback effect of such activities has been made clear by the strength of the Taliban since 9/11). The US military presence also involves jungle, urban, desert, maritime and polar training exercises across wide swathes of landscape, which have become the pretext for substantial and permanent positioning of troops. In recent years, the US has run around 20 exercises annually on Philippine soil, which have resulted in a near-continuous presence of US soldiers in a country whose people ejected US bases in 1992 and whose constitution forbids foreign troops to be based on its territory. Finally, US personnel work every day to shape local legal codes to facilitate US access: they have lobbied, for example, to change the Philippine and Japanese constitutions to allow, respectively, foreign troop basing and a more-than-defensive military.

Asked why the US has a vast network of military bases around the world, Pentagon officials give both utilitarian and humanitarian arguments. Utilitarian arguments include the claim that bases provide security for the US by deterring attack from hostile countries and preventing or remedying unrest or military challenges; that bases serve the national economic interests of the US, ensuring access to markets and commodities needed to maintain US standards of living; and that bases are symbolic markers of US power and credibility – and so the more the better. Humanitarian arguments present bases as altruistic gifts to other nations, helping to liberate or democratise them, or offering aid relief. None of these humanitarian arguments deals with the problem that many of the bases were taken during wartime and “given” to the US by another of the war’s victors.
Critics of US foreign policy have dissected and dismantled the arguments made for maintaining a global system of military basing. They have shown that the bases have often failed in their own terms: despite the Pentagon’s claims that they provide security to the regions they occupy, most of the world’s people feel anything but reassured by their presence. Instead of providing more safety for the US or its allies, they have often provoked attacks, and have made the communities around bases key targets of other nations’ missiles. On the island of Belau in the Pacific, the site of sharp resistance to US attempts to instal a submarine base and jungle training centre, people describe their experience of military basing in the Second World War: “When soldiers come, war comes.” On Guam, a joke among locals is that few people except for nuclear strategists in the Kremlin know where their island is.

As for the argument that bases serve the national economic interest of the US, the weapons, personnel and fossil fuels involved cost billions of dollars, most coming from US taxpayers. While bases have clearly been concentrated in countries with key strategic resources, particularly along the routes of oil and gas pipelines in central Asia, the Middle East and, increasingly, Africa, from which one-quarter of US oil imports are expected by 2015, the profits have gone first of all to the corporations that build and service them, such as Halliburton. The myth that bases are an altruistic form of “foreign aid” for locals is exploded by the substantial costs involved for host economies and polities. The immediate negative effects include levels of pollution, noise, crime and lost productive land that cannot be offset by soldiers’ local spending or employment of local people. Other putative gains tend to benefit only local elites and further militarise the host nations: elaborate bilateral negotiations swap weapons, cash and trade privileges for overflight and land-use rights. Less explicitly, rice imports, immigration rights to the US or overlooking human rights abuses have been the currency of exchange.

The environmental, political, and economic impact of these bases is enormous. The social problems that accompany bases, including soldiers’ violence against women and car crashes, have to be handled by local communities without compensation from the US. Some communities pay the highest price: their farmland taken for bases, their children neurologically damaged by military jet fuel in their water supplies, their neighbors imprisoned, tortured and disappeared by the autocratic regimes that survive on US military and political support given as a form of tacit rent for the bases. The US military has repeatedly interfered in the domestic affairs of nations in which it has or desires military access, operating to influence votes and undermine or change local laws that stand in the way.
Social movements have proliferated around the world in response to the empire of US bases, ever since its inception. The attempt to take the Philippines from Spain in 1898 led to a drawn-out guerrilla war for independence that required 126,000 US occupation troops to stifle. Between 1947 and 1990, the US military was asked to leave France, Yugoslavia, Iran, Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Vietnam, Indonesia, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela. Popular and political objection to the bases in Spain, the Philippines, Greece and Turkey in the 1980s gave those governments the grounds to negotiate significantly more compensation from the US. Portugal threatened to evict the US from important bases in the Azores unless it ceased its support for independence for its African colonies.

Since 1990, the US has been sent packing, most significantly, from the Philippines, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Vieques and Uzbekistan. Of its own accord, for varying reasons, it decided to leave countries from Ghana to Fiji. Persuading the US to clean up after itself – including, in Panama, more than 100,000 rounds of unexploded ordnance – is a further struggle. As in the case of the US navy’s removal from Vieques in 2003, arguments about the environmental and health damage of the military’s activities remain the centrepiece of resistance to bases.

Many are also concerned by other countries’ overseas bases – primarily European, Russian and Chinese – and by the activities of their own militaries, but the far greater number of US bases and their weaponry has understandably been the focus. The sense that US bases represent a major injustice to the host community and nation is very strong in countries where US bases have the longest standing and are most ubiquitous. In Okinawa, polls show that 70 to 80 per cent of the island’s people want the bases, or at least the marines, to leave. In 1995, the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by two US marines and one US sailor led to demands for the removal of all US bases in Japan. One family in Okinawa has built a large peace museum right up against the edge of the Futenma Airbase, with a stairway to the roof that allows busloads of schoolchildren and other visitors to view the sprawling base after looking at art depicting the horrors of war.
In Korea, the great majority of the population feels that a reduction in US presence would increase national security; in recent years, several violent deaths at the hands of US soldiers triggered vast candlelight vigils and protests across the country. And the original inhabitants of Diego Garcia, evicted from their homes between 1967 and 1973 by the British on behalf of the US for a naval base, have organised a concerted campaign for the right to return, bringing legal suit against the British government, a story told in David Vine’s recent book Island of Shame. There is also resistance to the US expansion plans into new areas. In 2007, a number of African nations baulked at US attempts to secure access to sites for military bases. In eastern Europe, despite well-funded campaigns to convince Poles and Czechs of the value of US bases and much sentiment in favour of accepting them in pursuit of closer ties with Nato and the EU, and promised economic benefits, vigorous pro tests have included hunger strikes and led the Czech government, in March, to reverse its plan to allow a US military radar base to be built in the country.

The US has responded to action against bases with a renewed emphasis on “force protection”, in some cases enforcing curfews on soldiers, and cutting back on events that bring local people on to base property. The department of defence has also engaged in the time-honoured practice of renaming: clusters of soldiers, buildings and equipment have become “defence staging posts” or “forward operating locations” rather than military bases. Regulating documents become “visiting forces agreements”, not “status of forces agreements”, or remain entirely secret. While major reorganisation of bases is under way for a host of reasons, including a desire to create a more mobile force with greater access to the Middle East, eastern Europe and central Asia, the motives also include an attempt to prevent political momentum of the sort that ended US use of the Vieques and Philippine bases.

The attempt to gain permanent basing in Iraq foundered in 2008 on the objections of forces in both Iraq and the US. Obama, in his Cairo speech in June, may have insisted that “we pursue no bases” in either Iraq or Afghanistan, but there has been no sign of any significant dismantling of bases there, or of scaling back the US military presence in the rest of the world. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, recently visited Japan to ensure that it follows through on promises to provide the US with a new airfield on Okinawa and billions of dollars to build new housing and other facilities for 8,000 marines relocating to Guam. She ignored the invitation of island activists to come and see the damage left by previous decades of US base activities. The myriad land-grabs and hundreds of billions of dollars spent to quarter troops around the world persist far beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, and too far from the headlines.

© 2009 The New Statesman

Catherine Lutz is a professor at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University and editor of “The Bases of Empire: the Global Struggle against US Military Posts [1]” (Pluto Press, £17.99)


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