Does the US military turn Guam into a regional target?
By Timothy Mchenry
Pacific News Center
September 20, 2016
The topic was chosen after audience members at the first general assembly continually asked about how Guam should handle recent threats from North Korea.
Guam - Does the American military presence on Guam make the island safer, or a target for countries like Russia, China and North Korea. These questions will be explored by the independence for Guahan task force at their second general assembly.
The topic was chosen after audience members at the first general assembly continually asked about how Guam should handle recent threats from North Korea. Independence for Guahan co-chair Dr. Michael Bevacqua says Thursday’s meeting will focus on Guam’s current security risks or issues. Bevacqua says this conversation will naturally center around Guam’s relationship with North Korea, Russia and China; specifically, if affiliation with the United States and housing U.S. military bases has made those countries Guam’s enemies by proxy. Additionally, Bevacqua says audience members asked about other small, successful independent nations Guam can mirror, if indeed the people choose independence. Task force members point to Singapore, one of the richest nations in the world and has a similar land mass to Guam.
“What the task force is really trying to remind people is that Independence is not a scary, weird abnormal thing. More than 80 former colonies chose to become independent. And so it’s the natural course for people in Guam’s position to seek more basic control over their lives. There is nothing strange or weird about this and so at each meeting what we would like to do is present a different model for what Guam can be like as an independent country,“ said Bevacqua.
According to an Independence for Guahan press release, each general assembly pays tribute to a Chamoru hero who believed in Independence for Guahan. This meeting will honor Dr. Bernadita Camacho- Dungca, who passed away earlier this year. Dr. Duncga was a pioneer in Chamorro linguistics and education.
Independence for Guahan Task Force honoring Chamorro pioneers
by Ken Quintanilla
September 20, 2016
Independence Task Force discusses militarization on Guam
By Shawn Raymundo
Pacific Daily News
While Guam’s location in the northern Pacific has played a key role for the U.S. armed forces for decades, members of a decolonization task force advocating for the island's independence question whether or not the military presence makes the island a target for regional threats.
During their second general assembly meeting at the Chamorro Village on Thursday night, the Independence for Guahan Task Force conducted a presentation to answer the question: "What can Guam do to protect itself from threats like North Korea and China?" The presentation was attended by about two dozen residents.
The Decolonization Commission's independence task force represents one of the three political status options Guam’s native inhabitants could choose, should the island hold a plebiscite – a non-binding referendum that would measure the preferred political status in regards to island’s future relationship with the U.S.
The three options are statehood, independence or free association.
Gov. Eddie Calvo has proposed holding the plebiscite during the 2018 General Election, but nothing is official.
Citing the Chinese missile that’s been recently dubbed the “Guam Killer,” independence co-chairwoman Victoria Leon Guerrero noted news publications that have reported both North Korean and Chinese militaries have been conducting missile testing with the purpose of possibly striking Guam and the U.S. military bases here.
“We always hear that China and Korea want to attack Guam, and that’s why we need America,” Leon Guerrero said. "(We’re told that U.S. military exercises are) happening to protect us. But actually in the world, (other countries) don’t see themselves as a threat to us, they look at (the exercises) as a threat to them.”
Recent exercises, like bomber training at Andersen Air Force Base and the launch of the joint-operations training known as Valiant Shield, have likely perpetuated the idea that the U.S. is militarizing Guam for the purpose of attacking its regional enemies, she said.
“So all of this is a tit-for -tat that we’re caught in the middle of,” Leon Guerrero said. “‘I’m going to do this and you’re going to do that’ … What we want to ask ourselves is: Are we a threat because Guam is what they desire or because the U.S. is here?”
After the U.S. Air Force’s announcement that Andersen would be hosting a rare training exercise with the military’s three bomber aircraft, international news sites reported the North Korean government's response.
“The introduction of the nuclear strategic bombers to Guam by the U.S. … proves that the U.S. plan for a preemptive nuclear strike at the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) has entered a reckless phase of implementation,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said.
Guam’s identity around the world, Leon Guerrero said, isn’t being seen for the island that it is, with a culture and people, but rather as a U.S. military installation and base.
“That’s why Guam is how the world sees it today, as a place that could be attacked, because there’s so much testing,” Leon Guerrero said. “We’re offending everyone around ... do we really need it? Do we really need a third of the island being used this way?”
Using the island nation of Singapore as an example, the independence task force noted that there are once-colonized lands that gained independence and became financially sufficient and successful.
Except for a brief period during World War II when Singapore endured Japanese occupation similar to Guam, the small island was a British colony since 1819 up until 1965.
Since it gained independence, Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product had increased by 3,700 percent as of 2014. That same year, the country’s GDP reached an all-time high of $306.34 billion, according to the World Bank.
Ana Won Pat-Borja, a member of the task force and the researcher for the Guam Legislature’s legal counsel, said Singapore didn’t have any natural resources to profit from, but acknowledged that for the past two centuries it has been a prime hub for trading, with its port.
The country, she noted, capitalized on its best asset by investing heavily into the port and opening up foreign investments into free trade, thus making it one of the largest and most visited ports in the world.
Singapore, Borja continued, isn’t without its problems, as human rights concerns have been an issue, specifically the country’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Borja said choosing independence isn’t a path to doom.
In an effort to educate the island as much as possible before the proposed plebiscite, the Independence for Guahan task force launched its monthly general assembly meetings in August.
Melvin Won Pat Borja, a member of the task force, acknowledged that the independence option is the “underdog,” adding that if the plebiscite were to happen today the likely outcome would be statehood.
“If we’re going to be successful in winning the hearts and minds that this is the right path for our people, we have to take responsibility for it,” Melvin Borja said, advocating for more outreach.
The task force will hold its third general assembly meeting on Oct. 27.