Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ti Mambobota na Kongresu

I would never want to be the Ti Mambobota na Kongres para Guahan in the US Congress.

First of all, so much in Congress works on seniority, and so by starting off you would be as one elder told me "i mas takpapa' na gå'ga'."

Second, your status as a non-voting delegate and not a full member of Congress means that while you get the perks, you do not get the rights.

Third, your status depends so much on whichever party controls the US House. When the Democrats have controlled the house for a short period in the 1990s and during the 2000s, the non-voting delegates from Guam and other territories received symbolic voting rights, meaning they could vote as part of the whole, with their vote counting, only if their votes did not affect whether a bill passed or failed.

When the Republicans are in power, this symbolic power disappears and all the symbolic excitement associated with it.

Fourth, as for most of the Federal government (and much of the US) Guam's existence in relation to the United States is military in nature, and so as the non-voting rep from Guam, you have some minor power in terms of US military issues, which means if you support buildups, you get to go along for the ride, but if you don't, you risk cutting out one of the few ways in which you have some power in Washington.


US Congressional Representatives visit Camp Casey
By Sgt. Jessica Nassirian 
March 24, 2016
United States Army

CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives traveled to Camp Casey and visited Soldiers of 2nd Infantry Division/ROK - U.S. Combined Division as part of their tour of South Korea last week.

U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam and U.S. Congressman Robert Wittman, Virginia, met with service members from their respective states on Feb. 18. Both representatives serve on the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees military readiness, training, logistics and maintenance issues and programs, military construction, installations and family housing issues, and the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.

The visit comes during a period of elevated tensions following North Korea's controversial rocket launch earlier this month. South Korea recently announced the closure of the jointly-operated Kaesong Industrial Complex. On Wednesday, four U.S. F-22 stealth fighters flew over South Korea in a clear show of force against North Korea.

After landing at Camp Casey, the delegation traveled to Seong Ji Gol Village training area and met with Soldiers from 210th Field Artillery Brigade. Rep. Bordallo and Rep. Wittman climbed inside the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System, which can strike targets over 300km away. Soldiers also briefed them on the Avenger Air Defense System, which intercepts airborne threats using Stinger missiles and .50 cal machine guns, and the AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder radar, capable of tracking incoming artillery and transmitting data to counter-fire units. Working in sync, the lethal combination is a powerful deterrent against North Korean aggression.

Capt. Jeffrey Grimes, the commander of Alpha Battery, 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Regiment stated, "Our Soldiers are highly trained and motivated. I can honestly say I'm proud of all their hard work and everything they have achieved in the few weeks since we arrived here. As the current 'Ready Battery', we're prepared to 'Fight Tonight' if called upon and send rockets downrange."

Rep. Wittman, from the 1st District of Virginia, praised the Soldiers' professionalism and expertise, stating "It's purely because of our Soldiers and the great skills and knowledge and ability they bring to the table which makes us the greatest fighting force in the world."

"My favorite part of the day was being out there watching the demonstration and seeing the equipment and being able to see all that goes into [serving here]," remarked Rep. Bordallo. "I was very impressed with all the coordination between the U.S. and ROK Forces. It's wonderful to see that you are working side-by-side."

3-13 FAR Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Will B. Freds said "The MLRS rotational unit first and foremost demonstrates the United States' unshakable commitment to our Korean allies. The addition of our battalion to the 210th Thunder Brigade significantly increases combat power on the peninsula while providing the Combined Forces Commander an even wider array of deterrent options. By deploying from Fort Sill and assuming the 'Ready Battery' mission within two weeks of arrival proves the expeditionary capability of our Army and the quality of our trained and ready Soldiers."

The congressional visit will assist the Readiness Subcommittee's findings regarding issues affecting unit training, equipment maintenance, facilities and services. Their recommendations will influence key decisions on the Army's budget, outlined in the National Defense Authorization Act of each year.

"It is critical to understand what [Congress] must do to support readiness, especially here on the Korean Peninsula with the recent acts of aggression from Kim Jung-Un," remarked Wittman, who serves as chairman of the subcommittee. "I want to make sure we understand those things so we can make the right decisions in the House Armed Services Committee as far as the dedication of resources, to understand what it takes to sustain training levels so when [rotational units] come here, they're ready for any of the scenarios they might face."

In light of sequestration and budget cuts, Bordallo also stressed the need to directly interact with Soldiers and see "what's happening on the ground, the true perspective of what [Soldiers] are dealing with and making sure as we make decisions and that we're aware of what our men and women who are forward deployed are going through."

Following a meeting with 2nd Infantry Division leaders, Soldiers and congressional representatives enjoyed lunch together at Thunder Inn Dining Facility. Soldiers from Guam and Virginia talked with their congressional representatives about their military service in Korea and life back home.

Pfc. Avonte J. Chavis, a Chesterfield, Virginia, native assigned as a Field Artillery Surveyor/Meteorological Crewmember to 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment said "Rep. Wittman was a down-to-earth, really cool guy. We had an in-depth conversation about fishing. I was surprised but very thankful he spent some time to talk with a handful of Soldiers."

Staff Sgt. Renato V. Capistrano, a Yona, Guam, native assigned as a 13P Fire Direction Center section chief to 3-13 FAR said, "I've had the privilege of meeting Rep. Bordallo before. It's nice to have your congresswoman come out and engage people at your level, to see and experience what we do, which doesn't happen often."

Sgt. 1st Class Ernest L. Smith, 91X Maintenance Supervisor from Staunton, VA said "Rep. Wittman easily connected with all the Soldiers. He spoke to each of us about our hometowns and even knew some of our family members. He definitely cares about the well-being of both Soldiers and his fellow Virginians."

"I think the most important thing that I can do is to go to places where our men and women are forward deployed," stated Wittman, "to first of all thank them for the job that they are doing and to understand the sacrifices they go through to serve in these areas."

Tales of Decolonization #19: The US signs the UN Charter

Edward Reilly Stettinius, Jr., Secretary of State, Chairman of the delegation from the United States, signing the UN Charter at a ceremony held at the Veterans’ War Memorial Building on 26 June 1945. At left is President Harry S. Truman.

If anyone asks why the United States is obligated to support Guam's decolonization and self-determination for the Chamorro people, this image tells you everything you need to know. By virtue of the United States signing this charter, they are obligated to support self-determination and decolonization for colonized people under their control.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Sacrifice of Captain Humayun Khan

The speech by Khizr Khan, father of a Muslim American soldier, Humayun Khan, who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004, has become the most famous of the Democratic National Convention this week. There is so much to write about this and discuss. Lao tailugat yu' pa'go na ha'ani.

In the meantime, here are some articles discussing the speech and the way it has affected the 2016 presidential race.


Father of Muslim American War Hero to Trump, 'You Have Sacrificed Nothing'
by Igor Bobic
Huffington Post

PHILADELPHIA ― The father of a Muslim American war hero addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, delivering a brutal takedown of Donald Trump and his inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Khizr Khan spoke about the heroism of his son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq by an advancing vehicle loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives. The 27-year-old soldier, who was born in the UAE, ordered his unit to halt while he walked toward the vehicle, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.

With his wife standing beside him, Khan brought Democratic delegates to their feet by denouncing Trump and his proposed ban on Muslims.

“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America. If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” he said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, and even his own party leadership. Donald Trump loves to build walls and ban us from this country.”

Khan then addressed the Republican nominee directly.

“Let me ask you, have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said, pulling a copy of the document from his pocket.

“Look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’ Have you ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending this country,” he said. 
“You have sacrificed nothing,” he said, to roars from the crowd. “We cannot solve our problems by building walls. We are stronger together. We will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our president.”


Trump criticized my silence. He knows nothing about true sacrifice.
Ghazala Khan’s son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004.
Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.

Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America, where we moved when he was 2 years old. He had volunteered to help his country, signing up for the ROTC at the University of Virginia. This was before the attack of Sept. 11, 2001. He didn’t have to do this, but he wanted to.

When Humayun was sent to Iraq, my husband and I worried about his safety. I had already been through one war, in Pakistan in 1965, when I was just a high school student. So I was very scared. You can sacrifice yourself, but you cannot take it that your kids will do this.

We asked if there was some way he could not go, because he had already done his service. He said it was his duty. I cannot forget when he was going to the plane, and he looked back at me. He was happy, and giving me strength: “Don’t worry, Mom. Everything will be all right.”

The last time I spoke to my son was on Mother’s Day 2004. We had asked him to call us collect whenever he could. I begged him to be safe. I asked him to stay back, and not to go running around trying to become a hero, because I knew he would do something like that.

He said, “Mom, these are my soldiers, these are my people. I have to take care of them.” He was killed by a car bomber outside the gates of his base. He died trying to save his soldiers and innocent civilians.

That is my son. Humayun was always dependable. If I was vacuuming the house and he was home, he would take the vacuum from my hand and clean the house. He volunteered to teach disabled children in the hospital how to swim. He said, “I love when they have a little bit of progress and their faces, they light up. At least they are that much happy.” He wanted to be a lawyer, like his father, to help people.

Humayun is my middle son, and the others are doing so well, but every day I feel the pain of his loss. It has been 12 years, but you know hearts of pain can never heal as long as we live. Just talking about it is hard for me all the time. Every day, whenever I pray, I have to pray for him, and I cry. The place that emptied will always be empty.

I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. For all these years, I haven’t been able to clean the closet where his things are — I had to ask my daughter-in-law to do it. Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?

Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn’t allowed to say anything. That is not true. My husband asked me if I wanted to speak, but I told him I could not. My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes. Husband and wife are part of each other; you should love and respect each other so you can take care of the family.

When Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant. If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion.

Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.


 Khizr Khan, Father of Slain War Hero, Calls Donald Trump A 'Black Soul'
by Igor Bobic
Huffington Post

Khir Khan, the father of a slain Muslim American war hero, on Sunday continued to speak out against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his anti-Muslim bigotry.

“He is a black soul, and this is totally unfit for the leadership of this country,” Khan said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The love and affection that we have received affirms that our grief ― that our experience in this country has been correct and positive. The world is receiving us like we have never seen. They have seen the blackness of his character, of his soul.”
Khan last week delivered an impassioned speech at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, challenging the Manhattan real estate mogul, who has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., to read the Constitution. “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said.

The GOP nominee shot back over the weekend, telling ABC News he has made “a lot of sacrifices.” He also suggested Ghazala Khan wasn’t allowed to speak at the convention.

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me,” Trump said.

On Sunday, Khan reiterated his belief that Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) needed to speak out against Trump.

“It is a moral obligation ― history will not forgive them,” he told CNN. “This election will pass, but history will be written. The lack of moral courage with remain a burden on their souls.”

In a separate interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Khan described the outpouring of support he had received around the country ― even from some prominent Republicans.

“I’d rather not disclose the names. That is a personal trust and faith that they have placed by writing to me, by speaking with me,” he said, praising “the emails and the documents and the calls and the messages that we continue to receive, the flowers we continue to receive at our home.”

“This morning, I was coming to you. And I stepped out the door of the hotel. And two persons came and gave me a hug,” he added. “I don’t know them. And they said, ‘You have done something that our heart always had. You have given words to it.’ Last night, coming into the hotel, the lobby was full of strangers that were standing there, wanting to shake my hand ... It is something that shows the goodness of this country, that we should not divide, we should not sow the hatred, the division.”


 Why Khizr Khan's DNC Speech Was So Effective
Doug Hattaway
Huffington Post

Among the many inspirational stories shared this week at the Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan’s tribute to his son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, stood out. The younger Khan, an American Muslim, gave his life in Iraq to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
The speech simultaneously conveyed a father’s love for his lost child and pride in his country, punctuated by a direct repudiation of Donald Trump. “Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?” Khan pointedly asked the Republican nominee, referencing the site of his son’s burial. “You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing. And no one.”
Khan’s speech has since gone viral, with #KhizrKhan trending on Twitter. His powerful appeal shows how to win over fair-minded Americans bombarded by anti-Muslim fear-mongering. In the space of six minutes, Khan—a U.S. citizen who resides in Charlottesville, VA—offered a rhetorical roadmap for combating Islamophobia in the United States.
First, Khan’s story overcame what psychology refers to as “cognitive dissonance,” in which individuals simultaneously hold incompatible ideas or conflicting emotions. When thinking about Muslims, reseearch shows that some non-Muslim Americans experience cognitive dissonance because they value the ideas of religious freedom and tolerance, but also fear terrorism and harbor a suspicion that American Muslims aren’t necessarily loyal to the U.S.
Khan’s poignant remembrance of his son’s military service obliterated the notion of disloyalty. Neutralizing doubts about the patriotism and loyalty of American Muslims creates the space for an appeal to tolerance: Anyone who puts their life on the line for our country deserves to be treated fairly.
The message research and development team at Hattaway Communications created the ad below featuring American Muslims who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. As one person who saw the ad in a focus group put it, “This throws the prejudice out the window.”

  Beyond the power of his son’s story, Mr. Khan and other convention speakers also used powerful language by referring to his family as “American Muslims” rather than “Muslim-Americans.” While the order of the words may seem meaningless, our work has shown that these two constructs evoke surprisingly different reactions.

Focus group participants discussing this topic associated the term “Muslim-American” with words such as “foreign” and “strict,” and raised concerns about a perceived mistreatment of women. With the order of the words switched, however, the same people responded with phrases such as “came to America for a better life” and “contribute to society.”
These reactions illustrate the importance of the first word in a message, which colors the reactions to every word that follows it. This experiment also showed the power of the word “American” to help counter negative portrayals and perceptions of Muslims who are part of the fabric of our diverse society.
Mr. Khan’s speech showcased a powerful way to tell the story of Muslims in America, with examples of their contributions to and sacrifices for our country—and language that reminds people we’re all on the same team. It’s a powerful lesson for anyone interested in countering anti-Muslim fear-mongering—or battling prejudice against Americans of any race and background.


'You Have Sacrificed Nothing'
By Former Senator Gary Hart
Huffington Post

Statements that resonate, speeches that linger, are not the result of a voice, a wardrobe, a hairstyle, or a handsome face. One of the greatest speeches in human history, was delivered by a man who had none of these things. He had no speech writers, no clever wordsmiths to tell him what to say and how to say it. It was literally written near the last minute on the back of an envelope. It is now carved in stone and in our hearts. It is the Gettysburg Address.
Resonance with history is most often produced by an individual with a conviction, with beliefs lodged in the heart, with a sense of honor, integrity, and principle. The person delivering words worth remembering must have something to say and a reason for saying it.
Powerful truths are often contained in a few powerful words. When Mr. Trump loses this election, it will be because of, as much as anything, these simple words: “You have sacrificed nothing.”
Mr. Khizr Khan, his silent wife beside him, looked into Mr. Trump’s soul and found...nothing.

Mr. Khan could deliver that message, so far reaching in its implications, such a devastating profile in character, because he spoke with moral conviction and authority. He and his wife had sacrificed something ultimately precious, their son, and they had sacrificed their son because they loved America, an America with liberty and justice for all.
Mr. and Mrs. Khan and their son Captain Humayun Khan are and were Muslims.
Mr. Khan said he doubted that Mr. Trump had ever read the Constitution of the United States of America and offered to share his copy with Mr. Trump. The picture of Mr. Khan holding up the Constitution should be shown to every voter and in every household in America every day of this election.
It is the purest symbol of what this election is about.
Mr. Trump should apologize to Mr. Khan for what he has said about Muslims. But he will not. He does not have the courage to do so. He has sacrificed nothing.

Moral authority is achieved through sacrifice. It cannot be acquired by immense wealth. It cannot be bargained for in the marketplace. For moral authority, we must look to Tolstoy, to Gandhi, to Martin Luther King. Each of us must look into our own souls for the courage required to achieve that authority. True leadership is never mean, bitter, angry, or divisive.
If Mr. Trump wishes to achieve that authority, he might start by begging the forgiveness of Mr. and Mrs. Khan. He will not do so. Searching his soul for courage, you will find nothing.
In the end, history remembers the Abraham Lincolns, not the Joseph McCarthys. It takes no courage and no sacrifice to demean and belittle others.
Many years from now, the fading figure of Donald Trump will be remembered with these words: You sacrificed nothing. After the election he will have plenty of time to do what Mr. Khan admonished him to do: Visit the Arlington National Cemetery and learn the meaning of sacrifice.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Setbisio Para i Publiko #31: From the Internet's Early Days

One of the things that I take pride in, is that this blog has been around for a while and that I've been able to maintain it continuously for 12 years now. Most of the Chamorro related or Guam related websites that existed when I first started this blog are no longer around. They have been taken down, lost, morphed into something else. Many of the people are still around, but they have moved on to other social media platforms. At one point the Free Association for Guam Task Force had a website. Nasion Chamoru had a website on an AOL platform, although it is now on Blogger (like this blog). The Statehood for Guam Task Force still has a website. A number of social websites or personal blogs have disappeared, and every once in a while I wonder what has become of those people.

Below is a short article written by former Senator Mark Charfauros, who was an active member of Nasion Chamoru in the 1990s. This was published 16 years ago on the website "Dialogue Between Nations" it was meant to represent a rumination on the topic of self-determination as part of a dialogue that was unfortunately never finished. It is interesting to read something like this now, to see what has changed and what has remained the same.


Mark. C. Charfauros
Chamorro Nation
Dialogue Between Nations

The following submission to Dialogue Between Nations from Chamorro leader, Mark C. Charfauros, has been written in order to open a global dialogue between Mark, his colleagues, and visitors to this web site on the topic of self-determination, with a focus on strategies and solutions to concerns of the Chamorro people.

We also hope that the term "self-determination" might be looked at from distinct perspectives, and that you will take the time to share your own struggle, and any positive progress which may have been made between your community and the Nation State which occupies your territory, with your host, Mark C. Charfauros.

One of the Best Kept Secrets of the United States of America

One of the best-kept secrets of the United States of America is on the question of self-determination by the Chamorro people on an island under colonial rule for over 400 years. The Chamorros were first colonized by Spain, then came the United States, Japan for a short period during World War II, and back to it's present colonizer, the United States of America.

The Chamorro people's inalienable right to self-determination is embodied within the United Nations Charter and supported by various U.N. Resolutions and Position Statements. Guam remains on the United Nations list of non-self governing territories that has yet to exercise it's right to self-determination. The United States has changed its official position significantly since it signed a treaty with the nations of the world to assist the native inhabitants of Guam in their quest for self-determination.

The present U.S. position on the Chamorro people's right to self-determination is that this issue is no longer an international concern but an internal issue of the U.S. The United States has challenged the right of the Chamorro people to deliver testimony before the United Nations on the progress of Chamorro self-determination under the colonial rule of the United States of America. The U.S. has flooded the island of Guam with it's own citizens and now claim that the question of Chamorro self-determination must include the participation of all U.S. citizens. The U.S. has utilized the Constitution of the United States of America as the main reason why the Chamorro people cannot for themselves determine their own destiny and relationship with its colonizer.

It is ironic that the U.S. will use their Constitution to deny the Chamorro people their right to self-determination on the basis that it is applicable to the Chamorro people yet other rights granted under the same Constitution has been denied. These rights include but are not limited to having a voting representative in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Chamorros are not allowed to vote for the U.S. President, and Guam continues to be view as a foreign country by several Federal Departments and Agencies. Putting it simply, Chamorros are good enough to be drafted in the U.S. Armed Forces, good enough to tax, good enough take their lands without just compensation or legal proceedings, but not good enough to be made part of the United States. The U.S. Citizenship of Chamorros are considered second class because it does not emulate from the Constitution of the United States of America it comes from a piece of document passed by the U.S. Congress called the Organic Act of Guam.

The Organic Act of Guam was passed on August 1, 1950 not to have the Chamorro people enjoy a measure of U.S. citizenship but to justify the illegal land takings of Chamorro homelands by the Federal Government. Under the Constitution of the United States the Federal Government can only condemn land owned by U.S. citizens. Since 1898 the U.S. Federal Government initiated it's takeover of Chamorro homelands and regarded the indigenous Chamorros as foreigners. The U.S. totally disregarded the fact that the Chamorros have existed on Guam and the Mariana Islands for over 4,000 years. By enacting the Organic Act of Guam this made the Chamorro people second class citizens since not all the protection and rights granted under the U.S. Constitution were applicable but it was good enough to legitimize their illegal land takings.

While the United States condemns mainland China for human rights violations and launches air attacks on Yugoslavia for again human rights violations they on the other hand feel their human rights violations against the Chamorro people is nothing more then an internal problem.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Para i Manhamaleffa

This is particularly interesting/na'chalek in the context of current problems in the Government of Guam. As I've often said, politicians are fortunate that peoples' memories are very short for the things that matter and long for those that don't.


Guam Lawmakers Push Financial Reform
By Gerardo R. Partido
The Marianas Variety
March 21, 2007

With the administration still finalizing its fiscal recovery plan, the Guam Legislature has taken the initiative by passing Bill 15, which contains various measures to reform the way the government of Guam manages its finances.

Sponsored by Vice Speaker Eddie Calvo, R-Maite, the legislation requires the administration to implement revenue tracking report and a fiscal realignment plan that would ensure greater clarity and accountability of Government of Guam’s finances.

Calvo describes the bill, which was passed unanimously, as the culmination of a collaborative effort between majority and minority senators, as well as administration officials who want to solve Government of Guam’s current financial woes.

"This is in line with the governor’s deficit elimination plan so I don’t see any problems with him signing it into law," Calvo told Variety.

Under the bill, the Department of Administration, the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, and the Department of Revenue and Taxation shall provide to the Legislature, no later than 30 days after the close of each month in fiscal year 2007, the revenue tracking for the balance of the fiscal year based upon the actual collection of the preceding month, as well as a statement containing the "actual" and "projected" revenues.

"They should be doing this anyway. But with Bill 15, it is now legislated and thus it can’t be ignored. They have to comply with it," Calvo said.

The bill also provides that 30 days after the close of each quarter of the fiscal year, DOA, BBMR, and Revenue & Tax shall determine whether revenue projections for the year remain valid based on the actual revenue collection of previous months.

If the revised revenue projection is below the adopted revenue level by 3 percent or greater, the governor is required to submit to the Legislature a fiscal realignment plan which may include, but is not limited to, cost containment and austerity measures, governmental reorganization and other such plans or actions, to address the revenue disparity.

Calvo said this is a safeguard mechanism which would ensure that Government of Guam’s deficit remains controlled and manageable. In the past, Calvo said there were conflicting figures on Government of Guam’s actual revenue projections, resulting in poor expenditure planning.

"This is the first time that this is done. It is important for Government of Guam to be accurate on its revenue projections because the lack of clarity in revenues is exactly what got us into this financial mess in the first place," the vice speaker said.

An amendment sponsored by Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, would also require Government of Guam to post its current financial status on a Web site that anyone can access. This is also expected to lead to more transparency and accountability.

Under the bill, Gov. Felix P. Camacho will likewise be required to submit a revised fiscal year 2008 executive budget incorporating the administration’s deficit elimination plan and any departmental budget allocation adjustments required by the plan.

Calvo said this was a point of contention during previous roundtable discussions on Government of Guam’s finances as administration officials proposed a deficit elimination plan separate from the budget.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Imperial Expectations

When I teach World History 2 (as I am this summer), we deal quite a bit with America's secret wars. I don't just teach students about them for the facts of it, but also to show them the way in which they are tied to the imperial consciousness of the United States and to a further extent, its imperial expectations. If a nation has an imperial consciousness, then there is an understanding that its influence, its realm extends far beyond its normal and recognized borders. The greater the consciousness, more there is acceptance of every potential corner of the globe being part of the interests of your particular corner or country. That what you expect or desire out of the world is paramount and you receiving it is what makes the world safe or ordered or prosperous. All other national borders are meant to fall beneath your expectations, and those who resist or get in the way, should be stopped. It is only when you have a consciousness like this, that articles such as the one below are possible. Where you can speak in a nostalgic manner about Americans violating the sovereignty of other countries, supporting and promoting secret and not so secret wars, treating the interests of other countries like they are inconveniences and trivial matters.


RICHMOND, Calif. -- His feet feel as cold as ice from shrapnel wounds. On wet days, pain shoots through his left hip, where North Vietnamese gunners blew a hole in his side in 1965.

But on a recent afternoon, a band is playing Laotian love ballads, and Anthony Poshepny just wants to dance.

Thirty years ago, Mr. Poshepny ran America's secret war in northwestern Laos -- a jungle warlord revered by tribesmen yet feared for his zealotry by his own bosses at the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Poshepny's bloodcurdling reputation has been compared with the film character Col. Kurtz, the upriver renegade played by Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam War classic, "Apocalypse Now."

Cut to a crowded wedding hall in this working-class suburb of San Francisco. Mr. Poshepny, now 75 years old, holds court at the end of a long banquet table resplendent with flowers and hill-tribe cuisine. Laotian friends stop by to pay respects, some greeting the American on one knee, palms pressed tightly together under their chins in homage.

Mr. Poshepny tells war stories, drinks a little whiskey when his wife isn't looking and hankers to get out on the dance floor.

"I have to perform," he whispers. "I want them to know I can still participate."

This is how the Cold War really ends, in the twilight of one man's extraordinary cloak-and-dagger life. Mr. Poshepny, a CIA legend who waged war and dirty tricks across Asia for 30 years, was branded an anachronism and cast out of the agency in the mid-1970s. Since then, he has kicked around Thailand and San Francisco on a federal pension. His exploits in the jungle are little-known outside spy circles; even there, they are considered by many to be best forgotten.

Only the Laotians have stayed true to Tony Poe, Mr. Poshepny's nom de guerre. Many drifted to the Bay Area after the war, some with Mr. Poshepny's help. He calls them "my people." They call him "father."

He lives with his wife and the younger of his two daughters in a small house on a quiet street in west San Francisco. Medals hang in neat rows in a glass case above the fireplace, more than a dozen in all. There are five Purple Hearts. Once a month or so, Mr. Poshepny heads out for a meal or a community event with his tribes, where he presides just as in the old days.

At the wedding, he sits with 61-year-old Wern Chen, a leader of a 10,000-strong clan of Mein tribesmen whom Mr. Poshepny recruited to run spy missions inside China. They reminisce about the time Mr. Chen, using foil wrapper from an old Marlboro box, repaired a wiretap on a phone line deep in southern China. The transcripts of Chinese military conversations with their North Vietnamese counterparts stunned the CIA brass back home.

"They sent a man out from Washington to tell us Wern Chen must be a Commie agent making everything up," says Mr. Poshepny. "I nearly slit his throat for saying that."

As the war wound down, Mr. Chen fled with his family to a refugee camp in Thailand, where Mr. Poshepny helped them and many others gain asylum in the U.S. When Mr. Chen developed emphysema a few years later from smoking opium back in Laos -- a habit he kicked -- Mr. Poshepny found a pulmonary specialist in San Francisco to care for him.

For Father's Day last year, Mr. Chen and another Laotian gave Mr. Poshepny a phone with their numbers emblazoned in red tape on the receiver to remind him to call them more often.
"Tony's our godfather," Mr. Chen says.

It was 1951 when the blond, blue-eyed collegiate golf sensation walked into the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington seeking a job. The recruiter took one look at the former Marine's pair of Purple Hearts from Iwo Jima and sent him to the CIA. Within weeks, he was running sabotage teams behind enemy lines in Korea. He and former CIA colleagues say Mr. Poshepny went on to train anti-Communists in Thailand, to foment a failed coup in Indonesia and to help organize the escape of the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959.

In 1960, Mr. Poshepny was air-dropped into Laos to mobilize hill tribes for the CIA's clandestine war against Laos's Communist guerrillas and their North Vietnamese allies. Accounts vary of what happened to the thickset operative in the jungle in the course of the next 10 years.

Scattered press dispatches from the time reported sightings, secondhand, of a hard-drinking CIA renegade who had gone native, married a tribal princess, and delighted in collecting the severed ears and heads of enemy dead. The macabre reports -- and the later echoes of them in "Apocalypse Now" -- cemented the legend of Tony Poe as a drunken madman unleashed with his tribes on the jungles of Southeast Asia.

"At one time, there was no better paramilitary man in the CIA," says Roger McCarthy, a retired CIA officer who worked with Mr. Poshepny in Asia. "He was a rebel with a cause." Adds Mr. McCarthy: "If we'd had enough sense to bring him in earlier, a lot of what Tony became wouldn't have happened."

The tribesmen who still worship him tell it differently. The Laotians, like so many other superpower proxies, emerged from their chapter of the Cold War feeling used and discarded by the CIA -- but never by Tony Poe.

He lived with the hill tribes, drank with them, fought with them, nearly died with them. Most important, the Laotians say: Long after American street gangs replaced CIA commando units as the proving ground for tough hill-tribe youths, Mr. Poshepny still cares. He counsels Laotian kids on joining the Marines, helps finance Laotian weddings and plots strategy for winning official recognition in Washington for Laotian veterans.

A few years ago, he fought a deportation order for one of his men convicted of opium possession in Sacramento, Calif. The man's military contributions, Mr. Poshepny testified in court, should outweigh his opium rap. The judge agreed.

Mr. Poshepny is more bemused than bothered by the Col. Kurtz comparisons. Sure, he drank too much, he admits, but mostly "to lay down a foundation to kill." He did marry a local woman, flouting CIA rules, but he won an agency dispensation for the match because it solidified U.S. ties to a key tribal clan, he says.

And yes, Mr. Poshepny did staple human ears to a "kill report" he sent the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos's capital, causing the secretary who opened it to keel over from the putrid flesh. But that was only after the paper-pushers had been challenging his body counts for months, he says; he finally sent them the proof. (Former CIA contemporaries confirm the episode.)

As for dropping human heads on enemy villages, "I only did it twice in my career," Mr. Poshepny says -- once on a Lao ally who had been flirting with the Communists. "I caught hell for that."
The Poshepny empire was based in a highlands village called Nam Yu. It was unique for a U.S. site in Indochina, say Laotians and other CIA agents who served there. On Mr. Poshepny's orders, it had no hot showers, no American food, no television sets -- none of the goodies customarily given to Americans but not locals in the region.

"Tony was one of us," says Fouhin Sang Chao, a former Mein spymaster who now pastors a church here.

He still is. On Mr. Chao's living-room wall hang photographs commemorating his family's proudest moments as refugees in America: his son's college graduation and his daughter's wedding. Mr. Poshepny's jowly mug peers out from both.

At the home of another tribesman, former fighters arrive for a celebration of Mr. Poshepny's 75th birthday. Some kiss his hand; others snap off salutes. They tell old-soldier stories -- many about battles and booze, but some about kindness. When Mr. Chao's grandfather died after a long evacuation from the mountains, Mr. Chao recalls, Mr. Poshepny gave his family cash and a pig to hold a proper funeral service. He also sent Mr. Chao to Thailand on a U.S. plane to buy an urn for his grandfather's ashes.

"Tony always took care of us," says Pree Boonkert, another former fighter.

In 1970, the CIA pulled Mr. Poshepny out of Laos. The U.S. was withdrawing from Indochina, and Mr. Poshepny was frustrated and drinking heavily. No single incident caused his ouster, say former CIA officials. Showing up raving drunk for a meeting at the U.S. ambassador's office in Vientiane with a rifle in one hand and a machete in the other didn't help, says Jim Scofield, a former CIA man who was there. Mr. Poshepny's tribesmen pleaded for his return, to no avail. In early 1973, Nam Yu fell to the Communists without a fight. The CIA called in the B-52s and bombed the base off the map.
The bonds the secret warriors forged there haven't been so easily erased. At the wedding in Richmond, after the cake-cutting and traditional bridal offering of mugs of tea, Mr. Poshepny clambers toward the dance floor. The crowd parts, chanting and clapping as the old warlord slowly shuffles out a jig.

Watching from the back of the hall, Khankham Vilaikam smiles at the scene. He once spent two nights with Mr. Poshepny in the wreckage of their chopper after it crashed in the jungle. He never thought he would be watching Tony Poe dance at the wedding of a new generation of Laotian tribesmen in America.

"He taught me everything I know," says Mr. Vilaikam. "He's why we're here today."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Håfa na Klasen Liberasion? #24: Tinituhon Ta'lo

Its that time of year on Guam, where perceived Chamorro debts to the United States balloon out of control and Chamorro attempts to prove their understanding and love for their debts and subordination appear to reach such maddeningly levels that what they owe to the United States seems to become infinite and eternal. Sina ta sangan na unu ha’ na dibin taotao diptosi taiguihi. Lao para i Chamorro siha, guaha dos. Unu para Si Yu’us, i otro para Si Uncle Sam. What else could I be referring to save for Liberation Day. A day that we could argue colonizes annually the month of July, but in truth, the notion that it was a liberation is something that has played a huge role in colonizing most every aspect of Chamorro time and space. I ma’pos, i pa’go yan i mamaila.

Around the world, “liberation days” or commemorations of a liberation are very common, but Guam’s version of it can often seem like a strange bewildering experience. In most contexts elsewhere, a liberation day is a memorial, a day of remembering, but it scarcely holds any political meanings or implications. It is a “thank you” but it is one that remains attached to history in its political power/weight and doesn’t seep into the present. For Guam, and a few other places within the Pacific, their liberation days carry monumental significance today, not just in terms of mapping out the world with friendly relations or historical allies, but rather in making the people feel intimately indebted to a foreign country.

For those who don’t know much about Liberation Day in Guam, it is by far the most obtrusive contemporary and historical presence on the island and for the island’s indigenous people the Chamorros. It is an annual public holiday celebrated each July 21st, and comprises a festivities packed day of parades, carnivals, beauty pageants, and political events all meant to memorialize the return of American troops to Guam that begins on July 21st, 1944 and eventually leads to the expulsion of the Japanese forces who had brutally occupied the island for more than 2 ½ years.
Lao kao magahet na “liberation” hafa masusedi guihi na tiempo? Nowhere in American military planning documents from World War II is the “invasion of Guam” ever referred to as the “liberation of Guam.” Its important to remember that the majority of the soldiers who did invade Guam and retook it, had no idea what Guam was, or that there was anyone else on the island other than dreaded Japanese. War survivors up until today remark on how strange it was when American soldiers invading the island seemed surprised when they encountered Chamorros and more interestingly when they realized they spoke English. The people of Guam, as explained in the recent documentary “War for Guam” made clear, “were expendable” before and during the war, so what sense does it make to imagine this act as a liberation and pretend as if they and not the land were the precious commodity at stake in the war?

Since 1944, that day, that event has somehow become transformed into a benevolent and loving liberation of a helpless island people, and the United States transformed into the magical and necessary means of life itself on Guam. The United States since 1944, in so many different everyday ways has come to signify and be perceived as the all purpose source of liberation. Almost any problem on Guam is understood to be best fixed and those of us suffering “liberated” through a simple equation of adding more of the United States, or simply being more like the United States. Gi otro tininge’-hu hu fa’na’an ayu na memento “the scene of liberation.” Achokka’ maloloffan yan matulailaika i tiempo, manggaigaige ha’ i Chamorro gi ayu na momento, gi me’nan i sindalun Amerikanu, dumidimu pat uma’asson komo taisetbe.

Although the invasion of Guam saved the Chamorro people from Japanese occupation/oppression, to term it a liberation and give it the centrality in Chamorro consciousness it has held since World War II, means that we should analyze and critique this more astutely. What sort of liberation is this, if the giving back or giving of one’s freedom and independence results in an eternal entanglement with the liberator? What sort of liberation is this, if we never release ourselves from our perceived debts, and simply exist to enjoy and love our subordinate position and defend and protect our dependency on the “liberator.” How can we call it a liberation when the liberator stays, takes over 2/3 of the island and then refuses for 60 years to even weakly entertain the idea of the island’s decolonization?

For years I posted my own writings and the thoughts of others on this blog No Rest for the Awake – Minagahet Chamorro that interrogated the question of what kind of liberation is Liberation Day? I’ve collected there writings, poems, videos and songs from a wide range of Chamorro voices, such as Tony Artero, Kisha Borja-Kichocho, Ben Blaz, Eddie Baza Calvo, Vicente Garrido, Cecelia Taitano Perez, all of whom provide another way of analyzing this things that has become so foundational for our lives today. I'm hoping to start up this conversation on my blog again this year (mainly with this very post).
This Friday, July 22, 2016 at 3 pm in HSS 106 at the University of Guam, I'm organizing a teach-in on Liberation Day, with my friend Ken Gofigan Kuper. It is important to keep this discussion going, especially after the celebrations are over. Because if we don't, the same limiting and inaccurate ideas rise from their graves like zombies again, carrying American flags and shambling in the drizzle down Marine Drive again. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ancestral Lands in Chamorro Hands

At the funeral for Maga'låhi Ed Benavente today, I got a chance to talk to former Governor of Guam Felix Camacho. When Felix Camacho was first elected the group Nasion Chamoru was in decline in terms of its political power. Angel Santos had been elected into the Guam Legislature years earlier and formally left the group. Nasion itself had continued to fight and gotten a number of reforms implemented around land for the landless and for families that had lost land after World War II to the US military. Felix Camacho, seeking to make a sort of peace with Nasion Chamoru, which had been a notorious thorn in the side of the previous administration, reached out to Ed Benavente and offered him a position in his cabinet. I remember that time well, as I had already started hanging out with members of the Colonized Chamoru Coalition and so I got to listen in while members of Nasion Chamoru discussed whether or not Ed should join with Camacho. I won't describe the deliberations in detail, but most agreed that since it would give Ed possible control over issues related to the return of lands to Chamorros, that it would be an important inroad. I remember leaning against his pick up truck, while he was mulling over the issue and how another activist had challenged his reasons for joining the administration. He said something along the lines of, "Forget the politics. If it gets lands back to our people, I'll dance with anyone." From 2013 to 2010, Ed served as the director for the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission.

Almost everyone on island has heard of the Chamorro Land Trust, even if they know almost nothing about it. They at least know something of it, even if their knowledge is a ridiculous caricature of what it is or represents. But fewer people know about the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission. In the press release in honor of Ed's passing that I helped write, we included this paragraph:
Maga’låhi Benavente also served as the director for both the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission and the Commission on Decolonization. The GALC was first created in order to facilitate the return of excess U.S. federal lands to their original landowners, some of whom waited decades for their lands to be returned. Through Maga’låhi Benavente’s efforts, hundreds of acres were deeded back to their original owners, despite pressure from the U.S. Federal government not to return them.
That was the conversation I shared with former Governor Camacho earlier today, discussing Ed's passion for getting the lands back to the original landowners, even if it meant defying the wishes of the US Federal Government. I know that there is much more to that issue, and I know that Ed was often at odds with his own boss during those years. But still, amidst a day where the memories seemed to teem like water splashing atop the sea in a rainstorm, it was still a touching testament.

Here are some articles below related to the Ancestral Land Commission and in particular those in the Tiyan area around the airport.


Lease payments collected, not distributed to landowners
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News
June 22, 2009

The Guam Ancestral Lands Commission so far has collected about $400,000 from leases and licenses to compensate original landowners who never will get their land back, but it is unclear when that money will be paid out or to how many people.

The commission still hasn't created rules or regulations for the landowners trust, despite a law that requires it and despite the findings in a 2006 report by the Office of the Public Auditor. There are no rules for leases or licenses and no process for determining who should be paid or how much.

Land has been leased or licensed by the commission without any adopted rules, and several large parcels of Ancestral Lands Commission property in Dededo and Mangilao are in the process of being leased to the highest and best bidder. The target date for those leases is October and December of this year.

Benny Crawford, who is chairman and spokesman for a local landowner's task force, said he believes the process of leasing land to pay ancestral owners is problematic and should be scrapped.
"I don't think government can represent my best interest," Crawford said about the leases.
Land is better than cash, he said, and the government of Guam should instead identify land that can be transferred to the ancestral owners or their heirs.

The Guam Ancestral Lands Commission was created in 1999 to administer the transfer of excess federal land to its original owners. The military on Guam had downsized, leaving behind large tracts of excess land, and GovGuam's policy was to return it to its original owners, who had not been properly compensated during the condemnation process.

But GovGuam still is using some excess federal land, so the commission has been leasing or licensing some of the returned federal land --"Spanish crown land" --to earn money to eventually compensate those landowners. Spanish crown land is property that belonged to the former Spanish government on Guam and which therefore has no ancestral owners to claim it.

Crawford is chairman of a task force recently created by law to identify land, including crown land that can be transferred to the ancestral owners of property at Tiyan.

The Tiyan land -- about 1,400 acres -- was returned to Guam by the federal government as part of the former Naval Air Station Agana, but it was not returned to its original owners because the airport still is using it.

Guam law currently is setting up a land exchange only for Tiyan families, but Crawford said he believes the same process should be expanded to include all ancestral landowners whose land is being used by GovGuam.

As an example, he said, ancestral land along the back road to Andersen Air Force Base still is being held by GovGuam for future school construction.

If any ancestral land remains with GovGuam after land is distributed to ancestral owners, it can be leased to benefit those whose property still is being held by the federal government, such as the families who owned land at Naval Station, Crawford said.

Crawford's task force completed its work this month, and submitted a report to the Legislature June 9, recommending that 976.92 acres of Spanish crown land in Dededo and Mangilao be moved into a new "Tiyan Trust" so it can be given to the Tiyan families. The report states 37 heirs to Tiyan property have been identified.

Crawford said Gov. Felix Camacho now has until July 9 to submit a bill to lawmakers, which would transfer that property from the Ancestral Lands inventory to the new Tiyan Trust.

In the meantime, the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission continues to collect thousands of dollars each month from businesses or government agencies that use ancestral land. The money is deposited into a trust account at First Hawaiian Bank, with no plan for what to do with it. According to the 1999 Guam law that created the commission, the commission needs to adopt rules for the trust through the government's administrative adjudication process.

The commission has not adopted rules and it currently is not working on any, said commission board Chairwoman Anita Orlino, who said the commission is focusing its efforts on returning land to its original owners and generating as much money as possible for the trust.

She said the commission could draft rules and regulations "very soon," but she declined to say when that might happen.

"Right now, their (the board's) biggest concern is to build up the trust account," said commission Executive Director Ed Benavente.

The public auditor, in a 2006 report, was critical of the commission's decision to lease property without first adopting rules, and noted that licenses for property were issued "arbitrarily and inconsistently" with some licensees receiving "relatively favorable terms and conditions."

The year after the audit was released, the Ancestral Lands Commission entered into an agreement with the Guam Economic Development Authority, which has taken over the leasing process for crown land. Under the agreement, the ancestral lands board must give final approval to any lease.
Director Benavente said the commission has no expertise in leasing property, which is why it has been working with GEDA.

"They're expected to know what it is to lease," he said.

Leases for the use of ancestral land now are bid competitively by GEDA, which requires a minimum annual payment of at least 8 percent of the property's appraised value, among other compensation.
That's the standard lease amount in the real estate industry, said Mike Cruz, GEDA's real property division manager. Other standard lease requirements for ancestral land are: the payment of at least 2.5 percent of the gross annual business income from use of the property; and an 11 percent share of the gross rent paid by anyone who subleases the property. Those who offer to pay more get a higher score during GEDA's selection process, according to requests for proposals issued earlier this year by GEDA.


Tiyan landowners storm Adelup
by Janjeera Hail
September 21, 2009

A protest was held at Adelup this morning as Tiyan landowners are upset about the governor's decision to appoint his assistant legal counsel as the acting administrator at the Ancestral Lands Commission.  Tiyan Land Exchange Task Force members made sure their message was heard loud and clear this morning at the Governor's Complex.

Benny Crawford, Task Force chairman, proclaimed, "It's not the right kind of person to be down there!"  He would also say, "We would like for him to rescind that appointment to Ray Haddock and appoint it to someone else."

Task Force members held a peaceful protest at Adelup this morning, calling for the removal of Haddock, who has been appointed by the governor to head up the Ancestral Lands Commission while director Ed Benavente is out on medical leave.  Task Force members maintain Haddock isn't the right person for the job.

The governor's assistant legal counsel is the son-in-law of Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Torres, who is the governor's brother-in-law.

Crawford says the acting director's relationship with his in-laws raises a serious conflict of interest.  You see, the Ancestral Lands Commission contends they are entitled to profits from land the Torres family sold.  "The attorney general realized that the family's attorney didn't follow the instruction to have the court determine the legality of the sale of the property, so they came back to Ancestral Lands months ago and the attorney general says, 'Let me represent the Ancestral Lands against the Torres family,'" said Crawford.  "Maybe we can recoup some of those funds, which I think are about $15 million."

Haddock, however, says the concerns are unfounded, stressing that none of the work he'll be doing as acting director relates to the Torres case.  "If there was some type of action, then I would naturally recuse myself from that particular matter. But I think it was very important and I think the governor recognized I had some service that I could provide to the Ancestral Lands Commission."

But landowners say that there is an appearance of impropriety, with Haddock even leading the agency.  "Ray Haddock being down at Ancestral Lands might really jeopardize some of the paperwork, and it's just not a good thing.  We really don't think he's the right person, it's really a conflict of interest," continued Crawford in opposition of the chief executive's decision.

Despite the concerns raised this morning, Governor Felix Camacho maintains the concerns of a conflict are "ridiculous".  "Absolutely not," he responded.  "[Haddock] is a professional, he must adhere to certain standards and the like, and in his capacity as legal counsel here for the Governor's Office he upholds those standards.  And so their claims against him are totally absurd and I will not pay attention to it."


Original landowners ready for fight over Tiyan
by Mindy Fothergill,
Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's a controversy that's been brewing for months now. As KUAM News has been reporting, the federal government is pushing for the return of Tiyan lands designated for the construction of an access road. The problem is that same property has been returned to original landowners who have since renovated and moved into the homes.

The government has been put on notice and now has less than thirty days to respond to the feds who visited last month to assess the situation. What will happen to original landowners who have waited decades for the return of their property with a possibility of that land being taken back again?

Catherine McCollum is frustrated - primarily that the federal government wants to take back her family's property in Tiyan that was recently returned. After decades of waiting for her grandfather Bernardo Punzalan's property, McCollum isn't going to leave without a fight. "The people are here to stay. If they do get up and leave, my heart goes out to them because maybe they don't have the fight in them, but the ones I've spoken to are willing to put up a fight," she told KUAM News.

Now with the local government's looming deadline to explain why the land was returned, McCollum says she wanted to send a message to the government to protect the interests of original landowners. This morning the tamuning resident staged a one-person protest in Tiyan today parking her car in the middle of the road, a Guam flag prominently raised.

She was arrested on charges of obstructing a public highway, assault on a police officer, and resisting arrest."

This is the first of many fights...a knee on my rib is not going to stop me from going out there and making my statement again," McCollum says. She feels appalled that elected leaders have failed to fight for original landowners and property that she maintains is rightfully theirs, adding, "The elected officials should come up and start saying no enough is enough you guys leave these people alone. They're home now. You don't do this to my people. Don't tell me what to do on my land. He's got the power. They've all got the power but they're not doing anything about this power."

United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration division administrator Abraham Wong wrote a letter to Governor Felix Camacho, expressing concerns about the Government of Guam's "unauthorized actions".

In October 2000 a quitclaim deed conveyed Tiyan properties to Guam's public sector for the sole purpose of building a highway - specifically to develop the land for three parkways from Route 20, Route 16a, and an extension of Route 10. The deed prohibited the government from further transferring the property without the consent of the Federal Highway Administration. On May 31, 2005 the government, through the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission, conveyed the Tiyan property to original landowners like McCollum's family. A reversionary clause in the contract provides that in the event the government decides not to build the highway, the property would be given back to the feds.

Wong threatens that without correction, Guam's actions may result in reversion of the land, the withholding of federal funds or other legal action.

Governor Camacho says there's no easy answer to the predicament the government is in, but he was made clear that the feds are threatening to pull money if the property isn't taken back. "There's threats of losing federal dollars in grant money in the millions of dollars either way there's a high price to pay," he told KUAM News.

The Governor says his legal counsel is currently reviewing the feds' letter to draft a response. For now, Camacho says he's looking for a win-win situation. When lawmakers passed legislation to return excess lands to original landowners, the Governor says he was told by certain senators that he refused to identify that it was unlikely the federal government would take the land back."

I believe their bluff has been called and we're stuck with having to decide," said the Governor. "Either way there's going to be a loss one way or another, either to the landowners or to the government or to the highway. There's no easy answer here and not everyone's going to be satisfied in the end."

It's not an answer residents like Catherine McCollum are pleased to hear. "This is sad - it's really sad," she dejectedly expressed. "It's a stab in our back when our own people have to do this to our own people." 


Camacho pleads Tiyan case in D.C.
Governor seeks compromise solution to land dispute
By Oyaol Ngirairikl
Pacific Daily News 
March 2, 2006

Gov. Felix Camacho is pushing for a middle ground in the Tiyan land issue in Washington, D.C.
"Our people can have their land and we can build a road," Camacho said before the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs yesterday.

Leaders from U.S. territories, including Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa attended the annual meeting with representatives from federal agencies, such as the Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense. The interagency group's task is to recommend policy to help territories address issues that require the approval of more than one federal agency. The property along the Tiyan cliff line was among many parcels that the U.S. military took after World War II for defense purposes. In 2000, the federal government returned the property to the local government, which in turn returned the parcels to heirs of the Chamorro people documented to have owned the property.

Last year, Federal Highway Administration Division Administrator Abraham Wong sent a letter to Camacho, saying the property was given to the local government in order to build a highway, and unless the property is used as a highway, it must be returned to the federal government.
Camacho has said federal officials fail to recognize the suffering and sacrifice of Guam's people.

"Our people allowed (the) U.S. military to use this land for defense purposes, but that is clearly not their need anymore, so it rightfully belongs in the hands of our people," he said in his plea for help.

Camacho and Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo expect to meet with U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta today.

Descendants of the previous landowners have either moved in to the Tiyan homes or have started working on plans to use the property in some other manner. Some of the descendants have said they want to retain their newly received properties.

Descendants have voiced their displeasure at the turn of events that threaten to remove them from Tiyan by staging peaceful demonstrations.

Land is an emotional issue throughout Micronesia because of its ties to the island cultures of the region, said Micronesian historian, author and University of Guam professor Dirk Ballendorf.

Ballendorf said the land issue goes deeper for the Chamorro people, who have been under American tutelage for more than a century.

"Guam, in essence, is a piece of real estate owned by the United States. It's difficult for many Chamorro people to accept that and you can understand why -- it's their homeland."


GIAA launches public relations blitz
'Project Airport Now' seeks to inform despite tensions with landowners
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

The island's airport is in the middle of a $95,000 public relations effort, including broadcast and print advertisements, brochures, and a press conference, to "elicit public support and participation" for airport issues, projects and activities that affect the community.

It's called "Project Airport Now," and the airport's board members approved its budget more than a year ago, according to the board's minutes.

The A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority has been distributing information about ongoing and planned capital improvement projects at Tiyan, and last week issued a report crediting the airport with contributing $1.7 billion to the island's economy last year.

It's no coincidence that the airport's message about its positive contribution to the island is being sent just as ground is being broken for the commercial development of former ancestral land at Tiyan -- land coveted by families who have been returned only a fraction of what was condemned by the federal government five decades ago.

"It's a proactive approach to tell the people of Guam, including the subsequent claimants of those (Tiyan) properties, that these are the ABC's and XYZ's of what we are doing right now," said airport Executive Director Jess Torres. "Development of the Tiyan Industrial Park is part and parcel to our development. It just happens to be on the first part of the old enlisted (housing) area."

The government of Guam's policy is to return, through the Ancestral Lands Commission, excess federal land to the families who owned it before it was condemned. In the case of the former military housing area at Tiyan, which is adjacent to the airport runway, only the strip of land between the road and cliffline was returned. Most of the land once owned by the families is on the other side of the street and was deeded by federal officials specifically to the airport for its use.

The airport erected a multimillion-dollar fence in June to separate its property, and last week Triple B Forwarders broke ground on a $2.5 million shipping facility on the land. The airport expects to collect $1.6 million in lease payments from Triple B over 10 years.

Torres said the airport's goal is to do, "What is best for our island. What is best for our people, instead of just a select few."

He said if the commercial projects envisioned at the Tiyan Industrial Park materialize, the children of the ancestral owners, "very likely would end up working for these companies."

"I'm against building more stuff. There's no jungle anymore. What's Guam without jungle?" said 27-year-old John Leon Guerrero, who lives with his cousin in one of the former military houses returned to its ancestral owners.

Asked what should happen to the fenced-in land across the street, Leon Guerrero said, "It should go back to the people who own it... Jobs are good, but where's Guam gonna go? It's gonna be one big industrial park."

Torres said, "We've taken a position that we don't have any excess lands to return to anybody." He said the former military property was not deeded to the government of Guam as a whole, but to the airport as a specific entity, and only for its use to benefit the public.

"I don't think it's fair. Why give partial (to the families), and claim the other side (of the road) to be theirs, when actually the whole lot belongs to my family," said 38-year-old Monica DeVera, who has lived in the former military housing along the cliffline for about 2 years.

Her family's ancestral lot is 91,000 square meters large -- most of it in the hands of the airport.

The approximate value of her family's entire ancestral property, including the majority portion held by the airport, is about $4.9 million, based on comparable property values in the area.

"Give it back to the landowners," she said about the land the airport has fenced in. "If not, then compensate them for it."

The airport stands to receive millions of dollars through the lease of the property, but Torres said the airport's bond agreements, as well as the deed to the property, prohibit the airport from using that money as compensation to the families.

"What more do they need to expand? For what?" DeVera asked. "It's not gonna benefit me. It's just going to cause more headaches."

Global economy
The airport terminal itself has about three times more passenger capacity than Guam currently needs, but airport officials said the development of the industrial park is intended to diversify the airport, beyond serving passengers. The revenue that's generated from the property will help the airport make its bond payments and will pay for any needed increases in airport operations, they said.

"The benefit would be that Guam would continue to be in a position to grow the economy," said airport board Chairman Frank Blas. "If we don't have these warehouses, these people who are transporting cargo from one place to another -- they'll probably go to another airport."

Blas said if Guam were to isolate itself, then the airport probably wouldn't need any further development.

"But we can't help but be part of this growing global economy," he said. "If you don't do what the airlines require, you're going to be left behind."

Sen. Jesse Lujan, R-Tamuning, chairman of the legislative aviation committee, said he supports continued development of the airport-held property.

"If we can become a cargo hub ... that's a great thing," he said. "It creates jobs, they become taxpayers, and there's more economic activity." 

Tales of Decolonization #18: 300,000 New Reasons

The United States has long ignored its obligation to Guam with regards to educating the people on their political status and enhancing their understanding of self-determination with the intent of pushing them towards a greater degree of self-government. For decades, activists and Government of Guam officials have called on the United States to fulfill this obligation, with little to no success. This past year however represented the first instance in recent memory of the United States accepting this obligation, as the Department of Interior has provided a grant of $300,000 to the Government of Guam to be used for political status education. Similar grants were also provided to other colonial possessions of the United States, with a similar educational purpose in mind.

This money is promising, however most likely unique. Previous attempts to get this type of funding were met with confused responses at multiple levels and didn't go anywhere. As of today it isn't clear what exactly happened to previous applications or requests. But all of that is beside the point. One thing that has to clear though is that this grant, is most likely unique. It comes at the very end of the Obama Administration's eight years, and is meant to show progress on an issue, namely the self-determination of the US insular areas, that is normally too complex for your average politician or bureaucrat to even comprehend, much less try to lead productively on. A sort of half conference was held earlier in the fiscal year on this topic, and this money is meant to show that a good faith, albeit perhaps late and last-minute effort was made to improve on a critical area for each possession of the United States. It remains to be seen whether or not whoever is president next will continue this type of support. Given the way in which US Federal Territorial bureaucrats tend to suffer from a constant mix of forgetfulness and ignorance, it is very unlikely.

As you can see from the press releases and articles below, when this money was first announced it was heavily praised locally. The Commission on Decolonization had sought this type of funding for year and it was exciting to finally have received it. News of the grant arrived just prior to Governor Calvo announcing his intend to circumvent Government of Guam law and hold a plebiscite this November. Although Calvo soon backed off his plan to hold a plebiscite using the public referendum law, the new energy that his push brought to the issue did not disappear. In fact, looking at recent months, through a combination of efforts from scholars at UOG, to community groups, to international media and even to the office of the Governor of Guam, this issue has been kept front and center. The Governor's proposal to hold a plebiscite this year has most likely disintegrated, although he has yet to state this officially. But what confuses me at this point is that despite the Governor still seeming to have a great passion for this issue, why hasn't any effort been made to spend this $300,000. If it belongs to the Commission on Decolonization, this hasn't been clarified as the Commission has been waiting for a sign from the Governor as to his intent. Even if the Governor's initial plans never saw fruit, that doesn't mean his passion or commitment to the issue should disappear, and in truth they should be funneled into determining the best use of this pot of money. The best option is most likely to give it to the University of Guam in order to create some sort of self-determination institute or working group, which can work on producing materials and programs in order to help the educational campaign. But this is just my suggestions, in truth it would be good for the Governor to take a more proactive position on this money, rather than have it sit for months without even a concrete thought or plan on how to spend it.


Guam’s quest to decide its political status will receive help with a $300,000 federal grant that will fund efforts to inform the public about a future plebiscite.

In a release issued Tuesday, the Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs announced it awarded $300,000 to the island’s Commission on Decolonization for political status education.

The commission’s mission is to educate residents about Guam's political status options. The island could take three routes — statehood, free association or independence. Guam currently is an unincorporated territory of the United States.

The $300,000 grant is part of a $1.5 million sum of federal funds approved for Guam that will fund other island projects in fiscal 2016.

In a release, Gov. Eddie Calvo said the $300,000 grant would help fund the educational materials required before a self-determination vote. The federal funds are an addition to the $250,000 the local government has already set aside for educational efforts regarding the plebiscite, according to the governor’s release.

The commission was scheduled to meet Tuesday for a regular meeting, but the meeting was postponed because of the announcement of the funds.

“The governor, who is chairman of the commission, has ordered his staff to create a plan that will be presented to commission members at the next meeting,” the governor's office release states.
This is the second time this month a commission meeting has been postponed.

The governor postponed another meeting last week because of Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo’s annual speech at the Guam Legislature. Calvo, in a release, stated he wanted commission members to hear her remarks concerning decolonization and consider any solutions she offered.

In her speech, Bordallo mentioned she was working closely with Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina regarding the commission’s grant application.
“I hope that these funds will provide the initial investment needed to move this process along,” Bordallo stated in her address last week. “I will work to ensure that our island receives any additional federal support to promote our self-determination efforts.”

A political status plebiscite for native inhabitants was originally scheduled to take place in 1998, but has been postponed several times, primarily because of a lack of resources committed to the effort and a failure to register and educate eligible voters about the three options.

Guam's plebiscite would be a non-binding vote, intended to measure the preferred political status of Guam among native inhabitants.

The Calvo administration has made decolonization a priority and has previously stated it would try to have a plebiscite by 2017. A press release from the Department of Interior issued Tuesday stated the plebiscite is planned for 2018.

A spokesperson from the governor’s office wasn’t immediately available Tuesday to explain the change to the planned date.


Bordallo Statement on $300,000 Grant for Political Status Education
March 14, 2016
Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ award of $300,000 in technical assistance to the Commission on Decolonization for political status education. The grant will enable the Commission to begin outreach efforts to educate the public about legal status options for a future political status plebiscite. This award is part of the nearly $1.5 million in technical assistance funding that was recently awarded by the Office of Insular Affairs.

As Congresswoman Bordallo indicated in her Congressional address last week, she has been working closely with Assistant Secretary Kia’aina regarding the Commission’s grant application.
Congresswoman Bordallo underscored to Assistant Secretary Kia’aina the importance of this grant to moving forward with Guam’s efforts on self-determination. The grant follows a conference hosted by OIA last month to discuss the political statuses of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

“I am pleased that the Office of Insular Affairs has approved Guam’s application for $300,000 for an education campaign on political status. This grant will be critical to informing the public about the self-determination process, the legal status options that will be available to them, and the ramifications a change in political status may have on their daily lives. This grant is consistent with the intent of Congress and the provision that I passed in 2010 to clarify that OIA can use technical assistance for political status education in the territories. I greatly appreciate that Assistant Secretary Kia’aina fulfilled a commitment that she made to me to provide federal resources for political status education in Guam.

“I believe these funds will provide an initial investment in the self-determination effort.  I thank Assistant Secretary Kia’aina for her leadership within the Obama Administration to support our self-determination efforts. I also commend the Commission on Decolonization for their diligent work in putting together this grant application and continuing their work to advance this issue. As I said in my Congressional address last week, self-determination is the ultimate legacy that we can leave for our children, and it is an issue that we have waited far too long to resolve. I will continue to work with our local leaders and federal partners to build off the progress we have made and finally give our people an opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination.”


BREAKING: Self-determination education outreach provided $300,00
Press Releases
Office of the Governor of Guam
March 15, 2016  

“This grant, in addition to the $250,000 provided by the local government, will help fund the educational materials to our people as required before a self-determination vote. The request for this support was made about a year ago, in light of the federal government’s support for the Puerto Rico plebiscite but more importantly because we need to press forward.”
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
$1.5M in Interior funds includes climate change, cultural preservation

Guam received word this morning that $1.5 million in federal funds will help pay for the self-determination public outreach campaign as well as climate change projects, natural and cultural resource preservation, and other programs.

Governor Calvo pushed for a $250,000 in local funds for the Office of Decolonization to help fund education outreach, providing information on the three status options as required by law. Those options are: free association, independence and statehood.

Last year, the Governor also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior requesting the courtesy extended to Puerto Rico be extended to Guam. The federal government has provided Puerto Rico with money for the U.S. territory’s plebiscite.

“It is essential that we, as a people, have the opportunity to determine for ourselves, and declare to the rest of the world, our political status,” Governor Calvo stated.

In a written statement, U.S. Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Assistant Secretary Kia’aina, noted her appreciation of the island’s leaders to move Guam’s self-determination vote forward.

“This year’s funding reflects the priorities and issues of importance to the people of Guam including self-determination, public safety, climate change, natural and cultural resources, and capacity building for non-governmental organizations,” said U.S. Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas  Assistant Secretary Kia’aina.

The various Technical Assistance Program grants, including one Maintenance Assistance Program grant awarded for 2016 follow:

Guam Self-Determination Community Education Outreach Program – $300,000 to the Commission on Decolonization to implement a comprehensive community educational outreach program in preparation for a planned 2018 plebiscite.


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