Friday, October 23, 2015
Meanwhile Back on Guam...
Activists voice concerns over buildup
by Jerick Sablan
Pacific Daily News
Several local activist groups met with Gov. Eddie Calvo on Tuesday to discuss their concerns about the military buildup.
Despite the recent release of the Record of Decision — a document that essentially green-lights a proposed project to build a Marine base on island — certain groups are still concerned how Guam and surrounding islands could be affected.
Victoria Leon Guerrero, a member of Our Islands are Sacred, told Calvo Tuesday the group has questions about the buildup, and hoped the governor could provide answers.
Those questions include the cost of infrastructure improvements, what would happen to private land, and the social and economic impacts, among others, Leon Guerrero said.
"If we find that the answers to these questions reveal that our island will suffer more than gain from this, then we will stand behind you to resist it," she said.
Representatives of the activist groups met with Calvo inside a conference room at Adelup. The groups included Our Islands are Sacred, Chamorro Nation, FuetsanFamalaoan and others.
Our Islands are Sacred came together during discussions of the Environmental Impact Statement and found out that the Marianas would be one of the largest training ranges in the world, Leon Guerrero said.
"It was boasted as something to be proud of, but it was something that terrified us," she said. "It's not the legacy we want for our islands."
Members felt a strong message must come out that says the Mariana Islands are scared, Leon Guerrero said.
She noted many people weren't able to go through the thousands of documents the military submitted on the buildup. If people did, they would be concerned about many issues brought up, she said.
Leon Guerrero also noted the Record of Decision was not signed by anyone from Guam and if Guam wasn't present at the table, how could Guam support it.
Litekyan, also known as Ritidian, would be off limits 39 weeks of the year. The area is considered sacred land and access to it is important, Leon Guerrero said.
The group also is asking Calvo to invite the governor of Okinawa to have an open forum to discuss the issues his island is facing with the Marines stationed there.
She said it's inaccurate for the governor to say most Guamanians support the buildup when many of them truly don't know the impacts it will have on the island.
Cathy McCollum, maga'håga of Chamorro Nation, said her family has property at both Tiyan and Litekyan, areas where the military has taken land.
She said it's important the people have the right to self-determination and get their lands returned to them.
"How can this takeover be different than before?" she said. "Our Chamorros are welcoming and respectful people. Our open arms are getting tired. So much has been lost. They took our lands, memories, happiness and, most of all, our trust."
McCollum said the presence of the military doesn't stand for peace but for unrest.
"We do not want the military buildup on Guam," she said.
Calvo said he would look at the issues brought up during the meeting. "I'm in Guam's team," he said.
He said one of the toughest things he has to contend with as governor is that the people of Guam have varying points of views on the military buildup.
"Not everybody, whatever direction we go, will be happy," Calvo said.
But he said it was important to hear the concerns and try to address them. He said he will have his staff look into the questions brought up and get answers to them.