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Tales of Decolonization #2: Winners and Losers

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Although on Guam, we tend to the see the United Nations as being inefficient and taisetbe because of the way we have waited for decades for decolonization, this issue is actually something that the United Nations has actually been very successful in terms of promoting. Since 1946, more than 80 former colonies, more than 750 million people have decolonized. In looking at the past few centuries of human history, this is a very substantial reversal. At one point a small group of colonizer controlled the maps, planted the flags and draw the lines of the world. We still live with that legacy in so many ways, but one cannot deny the shifts that have taken place.

But there are still losers in this game of decolonization. The United Nations recognizes 17 official colonies, which amount to close to 2 million people. If we look beyond this formal level of recognition you could easily add in several dozen more territories or peoples that could be called colonies. We are the ones who are stillin…

Tales of Decolonization

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Once again I've been invited to speak at the United Nations Regional Seminar for the Special Committee on Decolonization. I've spoken at this seminar as an expert twice before, in Ecuador in 2013 and in Nicaragua in 2015. This year the seminar will once again be held in Nicaragua.

I will be providing updates on the decolonization movement in Guam and also providing an overview of the different positions on decolonization for the three major candidates for president of the United States.

I'll be writing about my experiences and interactions under the label of "Tales of Decolonization" or "ToD" on this blog. Keep coming back throughout the week to learn more.

Press release for the regional seminar is pasted below:

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27 May 2016 GA/COL/3288
Special Committee on Decolonization to Hold Pacific Regional Seminar in Managua, Nicaragua, 31 May - 2 June
General Assembly Background Release
The Special Committee on Decolonization will hold the 2016…

FESTPAC Opening Ceremony

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Bei fangge' mas put i binaban FESTPAC gi otro biahi. Meggai na prublema, meggai na'ma'a'se gi taimanu na mamaneha i sirimonias. Sigi ha' hu hungok na debi di ta panot ha' este na hinasso siha, lao ai adai. Annai sen annok yan sen oppan i prublema siha taiguihi, para ke na un pañot, ti mampañot'an.

The Importance of Noise

The Importance of Noise
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Guam Daily Post
April 6, 2016

Writing about colonization in action can be a hysterical albeit terrifying experience. It is something that has consumed my work as an activist and a scholar for more than a decade. It reminds me of a Dilbert comic from long ago, where the pointy haired boss tells a worker that the collar he is putting on him comes with an electric shock which will buzz him if he leaves the area of his “office” or a circle drawn on the carpet. Later in the week the worker is still there and we learn that he has been taught to beg for food.

Seeing colonization in action is paying attention to those invisible walls that keep the co-worker in his place, and trying to get others to adjust their eyes just long enough to see that nothing, to very little is probably there. Colonization can involve very clear forms of force, violence and oppression, but it leaves intangible, sometimes barely perceptible marks that persist even if the c…

Decolonization Discussion Series

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Mensahi Ginen i Gehilo' #15: Decolonization Miasma

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One thing that I struggled with when I first became more conscious about issues affecting Guam, especially around political status, was the question of why more people weren't interested in this and why so few people were committed to the idea of changing it. For my entire life, for the entire lives of my mother and father, for the entire lifetimes of my grandparents, Guam has been a colony of the United States. The face of American colonialism in Guam has changed significantly. My grandparents grew up at a time when Guam was strictly segregated and Chamorros were openly treated as inferior to white Americans. Today, although people on Guam do regularly experience second-class treatment at the hands of the United States at multiple levels, it is easy to dismiss this as simple ignorance or lack of respect and not tie to it a larger political relationship.

Para Guahu, ti ya-hu na mañåsaga ham yan i familia-ku gi un colony. Ti ya-hu na esta para kana' kuatro na siento na såkkan m…

Setbisio Para i Publiko #30: Two Quotes for the Future

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The two images are flyers featuring quotes from the political status debates I hold in my Guam History classes. 

Students are divided into Statehood, Independence and Free Association groups and develop their arguments for which status is better and also produce posters, brochures, flyers, stickers and sometimes even food to help make their points. 

The first is a quote from Maga'låhi Hurao, who in 1671 became the first Chamorro leader to organize large scale opposition to the Spanish presence on Guam, is regularly used by students arguing in favor of Independence. In Chamorro I have seen that line translated as "Metgotña hit ki ta hasso" as well as "Megotña hit ki ta hongge." Given that many peoples' resistance to the notion of Guam becoming independent is tied to generations of feeling like we are inadequate or subordinate to those who have colonized us, this simple notion can be very powerful in start the process of self-empowerment.

Nihi ta hassuyi Si Maga…

Adios Ted Cruz

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Comedian Samantha Bee bid a fond "adios" to the campaign of Ted Cruz on her show Full Frontal last week.

I said "fond" not because of her affecting for Cruz as a politician or what he stood for, but rather because Cruz had been such an incredible mine for political humor.

As evidence of this, even in his departure, she was able to tweet at him and mock him in one of the most incisive ways I've ever seen in less than 144 characters. See the tweet below.

Ai gof tahdong na tinekcha' enao. Ha botleleha i baba na hinengge-ña yan i gef annok na ti maguaiya gui' gi patidå-ña achagigu.

As she said adios on her show, she rattled off a list of the gof na'chalek nicknames that she had given Cruz, which still make me laugh even after hearing them several times.

Here is the list, with the video below:

"Born Again Tyler Durden"

"Princeton's Unwanted Fetus"

"Fist-Faced Horse-Shit Salesman"

"The World's Only Unlikable Cana…

The United States and Its Empire

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When I talk about the United States, I often times end up having to qualify even the simple usage of the term because of Guam's political status.

Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States. That means that it is both "a part of the United States" and also exists "apart from the United States."

Its status, like those of other US colonies, has sometimes been referred to as "foreign in a domestic sense."

Because of this status, when the United States as a nation, a country, a political entity is invoked in any forum, whether it be on the floors of Congress, the creation of a flag, the writing of a comedy bit or movie, Guam may or may not be included.

Take for instance when the movie Pixels, directed by Chris Columbus and staring Adam Sandler was being created. The issue of Guam's inclusion and exclusion into the United States played a role in the fact that it was included as a location in the film.

I wrote about this in my…

Jean-Michel Basquiat

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I don't paint as much as I used to, but I'm still an artist gi korason-hu.

Achokka' ti mamementa yu' kada diha, manhahasso yu' todu tiempo put pinenta yan atte. 

I have been inspired by many artists over the years, especially when I was an undergraduate and graduate student at UOG. At that time, I was painting a great deal and displaying and selling my artwork around the island. 
One of the biggest influences on me, and something which made me the butt of a great deal of "måtai na pepenta" na jokes, was my looking up to Jean-Michel Basquiat. 
He was one of the consummate bohemian artists, who challenged artist norms in his time, was used by the artworld during his short life, and then died. 
When I first created an email account for myself in 1998, I was so enamored with Basquiat, that I didn't use my name, but instead blended our names together.
Rather than mlbevacqua, I instead entered mlbasquiat. 
It has created a lot of confusion over the years a…