Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Nasion Chamoru

I used to run (with the help of a few others) the blog Peace and Justice for Guam and the Pacific.

It is still online and features more than a thousand articles from a variety of sources dealing with issues of peace, militarization and culture primarily in Guam, but also in the wider Pacific. I was working on the draft of an article recently talking about Nasion Chamoru and their effect on Chamorro activism and Guam society. I found on that blog several articles and I wanted to share some of them below.

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Mayors shuns Chamorro Nation
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
July 16, 2007


GUAM senators yesterday gave the Japanese delegation a rundown of demands that they want from the U.S. government in exchange for hosting the 8,000 troops that will be relocated from Okinawa, while Chamorro activists told the delegation that they don't want the Marines to come to Guam at all.

The delegation, however, declined to give audience to Chamorro Nation.

Funds for infrastructure developments, healthcare, new schools, new hospitals, environmental protection, social stability and peace: these are among the things that senators said they expect the U.S. government to provide to Guam.

All these, plus transparency. There are so many questions left unanswered, Sen. Tony Unpingco, R-Santa Rita, said, adding that Guam has not received enough information about the troops relocation plan.

"You've experienced what it's like to live in a military base. We want to learn from you, so that when they come here, they don't create the same problems," Unpingco told members of the Local Government Mayors Association of Central Okinawa who are on Guam on a fact-finding mission.

"It's important for us to know what it's like to have a big military base on a small island. We're hoping that you can tell us its negative impact," minority leader Judi Won Pat, D-Malojloj said.

Vice Speaker Eddie Calvo, R-Maite, said the business community sees the economic opportunities offered by the military buildup.

"Guam has different views about the relocation. Some people see this movement as a positive development. I'd like to hear the perspectives on your side," Calvo told the delegation.

But Okinawa City Mayor Mitsuko Tohmon, head of the 18-member delegation, said her group is on Guam to gather information pertinent to the military relocation.

"The purpose of our visit is to listen to your opinion," Tohmon said through an interpreter. Japan and the US agreed to relocate 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents to Guam so we want to hear what's going on in Guam. "We are representatives of our citizens. We are here to listen to you."

Among the senators, only Won Pat came on time to meet the delegation members who arrived at the Legislature ahead of the 1:30 p.m. schedule. The rest of the senators walked in 15 to 20 minutes late into the meeting.

While waiting for the rest of the senators, Won Pat allowed members of the Chamorro Nation to join the roundtable and speak to the Okinawa officials.

"We're not invited to this meeting, but we have to say how we feel because two big powers are negotiating our future. Please step in and support us," activist Trini Torres said.

Cathy McCollum said she laments that some people only see the dollar sign without thinking that we want to go home to our own lands that the federal government took away.

"Tell me, if you know, the reason behind this military relocation. Guam is not ready for this massive military buildup," said Ben Garrido, Maga'lahi of Chamorro Nation.

Tohmon said she was confused by the presence of Chamorro Nation at the meeting.

"I thought we were to meet only with the Speaker and the senators. We want to speak to the speaker and senators only, she said. We have heard about what the Chamorro Nation has to say. We want to know your own opinion as senators."

Won Pat gently asked the activists to leave the roundtable. Shortly after, activist Howard Hemsing walked into the session hall bringing a bunch of anti-military placards.

Won Pat said testimonies from Chamorro Nation indicate that Guam does not have a unanimous stance on the military expansion.

"There are those who want the Marines to come here because of the economic benefits that the buildup offers. But not everyone on island wants them here. There's a lot of people with a lot concerns about the impact of increased military population on island," Won Pat said.

The delegation, which arrived Wednesday, leaves Guam today.

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Activists demand back story on Marine migration
by Michele Catahay, KUAM News
Thursday, July 12, 2007


Members of I Nasion Chamoru ("The Chamorro Nation") were at the Chief Quipua Park in Hagatna late yesterday afternoon to protest various concerns in the community, most notably the upcoming massive military buildup on Guam. The organization's, maga lahi (the highest ranking male), Vicente Garrido, believes the buildup is not a good thing for the island.

While a Japanese delegation visiting from Okinawa is on Guam, Garrido says he wants them to tell the local community the real reason the Okinawans want United States Marines to move out of their island. "There must be a good reason why," he suggested. "Otherwise, if it's really good for them, they're not going to send those Marines to Guam because it's going to help the economy...that's what they say. There must be some reason why. I want those people in charge of Okinawa to tell us why they want those Marines out of Okinawa."

While some continue to fight against the move, others are more concerned about the taking of land at Ritidian and Tiyan. One such activist, Katherine McCollum, continues to fight against the taking of indigenous land. "We are threatened everyday; Tiyan, especially with the enclosure that the Guam International Airport Authority has put on the families up there in closing their properties with the fences and there are issues about sewage problems. My family is being charged for sewage, which are services they're not getting," she told KUAM News.

McCollum says when people suffer it hurts families, adding that she wants to see these families build homes and live in their homes as equal private property owners. Meanwhile, the group continues to fight for self-determination, return of lands and vows to continue to fight against what they feel is the military contamination of the land.

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'It's better being poor than dead'

THE Congressional hearing on August 13 on the military buildup on Guam was intentionally planned as to who should be allowed (now "invited") to testify. That's why there was no mention in our local media about the deadline to submit your name and testimony if you wanted to participate.

I "thank" our delegate, Madeleine Bordallo and this administration for barring certain activists such as Nasion Chamoru, who have been the most vocal and outspoken against this impending catastrophe.

Our Guamanian leaders know very well that they don't want the Virgin Islands delegate, Donna Christensen, and the rest of the "Team U.S.A." Resources Subcommitte members, to see and hear Nasion Chamoru testify that this massive military buildup will ruin Guam. They only want to hear from people who will give their "amen" and "sweet" testimony about how good this military buildup will mean to our island, for the so-called economic boom and opportunities.

Our senators who were "invited" to participate in this field hearing should refuse the invitation since it is not totally open to the community for public participation.

I see this hearing, except for a few individuals, as nothing more than a gathering of the puppets and carpetbaggers to show their commitment to the military and in the interest of their deep pockets.

To my people, we are in a very critical crisis. Whereas, I say that this massive military buildup will ruin Guam, I also say it would be better being poor than dead!
Fan Ma'naitai (pray) yan si Yu'os enfanbinindisi. Biba Chamoru! Biba Taotao Ta'no!


VINCENTE "FA'ET" GARRIDO
Maga'lahi, Nasion Chamoru
The Marianas Variety
August 10, 2007

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DEIS gives rise to a new breed of local advocates

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 04:03
by Zita Y. Taitano | Variety News Staff


A new voice to reckon with

THE draft environmental impact statement, released to the public in November, sparked a wide array of concerns and serious inquiries from residents and activists. It also gave rise to a new group of advocates for local issues who have immediately made their mark in the community.

Known as We Are Guahan, the coalition is comprised of individuals from various ethnic backgrounds. They are people who were either born and raised on Guam or those who now call the island their home.

But group members Melvin Won Pat Borja and Victoria Leon Guerrero said they don’t want the group to be portrayed as “activists.”

“That’s admirable but to say We Are Guahan is an activist group is inaccurate; we stray away from activism. Our goal is to inform; our goal is to unite,” said Leon Guerrero.

Borja said their intention is simply to be educated on the document, read it and then comment on it. “I think that if we see what the plan is really about, the more informed we are,” he said.

Genesis

Borja said the group actually started out with a bunch of friends who wanted to dissect the draft environmental impact statement in order to understand what is really being said in the 11,000-page document.

From there, the group set up at various venues to promote residents to learn more about the draft study. That was the goal of the Guam Music Festival held last December at the Paseo Stadium.

Information campaign

Leon Guerrero and other members including Monaeka De Oro informed individuals they met about the document and passed out flyers on the effects the buildup would have on Guam.

When the hearings began, the group took a few steps further and spoke out against the buildup. They set up tables and posters pinpointing sections of the draft study. Among the posters that were on displayed was the name of the coalition.

“We felt the community really needed to be informed. We couldn’t be voiceless,” Leon Guerrero said.

They organized a hike to Pagat, where the military plans to build a firing range.

“We kind of switched gears and became more active in speaking out on these issues,” Leon Guerrero said.

From there, We Are Guahan was born.

Diverse group

Kara Flores Mays speaks before a crowd on board the Atlantis Submarine prior to Sunday’s snorkeling trip to Apra Harbor’s Western Shoals, where the military plans dredging activities to accommodate more military vessels.

Leon Guerrero said the group, which has about 5,000 members, started with members aged between 20s and 30s. The group membership has since expanded to a wider spectrum.

“It’s really a diverse group,” Leon Guerrero said.

The group also includes biologists, educators and social workers, who are helping in the dissection of the huge draft report.

“That’s what’s cool about We are Guahan. We are all inclusive,” Leon Guerrero said. “We welcome all perspectives and for people who are part of this island, who have been part on this island and want to be part of this island in the future.”

Veteran activists


We Are Guahan has received high praises from veteran activists including Josephine Jackson, Danny “Pagat” Jackson, Hope Cristobal and Trini Torres.

“I give them kudos. I’m very proud of what they’re doing,” said Josephine Jackson, a member of the Taotaomona Rights Group and Nasion Chamoru. “We want our youth to go out. I’m so glad that they did this that they came out to speak out on the draft impact report.”

She explained that the younger activists made it easier for manamkos such as herself to understand the draft study.

For more information about We Are Guahan, residents can log onto their website at www.weareguahan.com. 

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