Trump Teach-In at UOG Calls for Independent Political Status
by Bruce Lloyd
The Pacific Island Times
December 6, 2016
In the spirit of the anti-Vietnam War teach-ins that informed opposition to that war in the 1960s, members of the Guam Commission on Decolonization Tuesday night harnessed the confusion and fear resulting from the election of Donald J. Trump to make a case for an independent political status for the island.
A press release promoting the session at the University of Guam from members of the Commission’s Independence Guahan Task Force, emphasized that regardless of Guam’s overwhelming but meaningless vote in support of Secretary Hillary in the Guam straw poll, little would change without a political status change. (Other Decolonization task forces favor statehood or free association for the island).
“As a possession of the U.S., we had no say in Trump’s election and we will continue to have no control over what policies he or the US Congress might soon create,” the release said.
Dr. Michael Bevacqua told students and community members gathered in a UOG classroom that the election results once again illustrate Guam’s powerlessness. “This is what it is like in an unincorporated territory. Your vote doesn’t matter. We are not included in American democracy.”
Bevacqua said that social media had inflated what few things Trump actually said about the territories during his campaign: “Everyone’s uncle who served in the military too long and everyone’s auntie who is afraid, they all were saying this, like Donald Trump won’t be so bad because he will make sure we are not ignored. You should not believe this, though that this statement was in lots of Donald Trump’s press releases to basically everyone in the country. So he didn’t really say anything special for Guam.”
While Bevacqua and his independence task force co-chair Victoria Leon Guerrero ran through a number of Trump’s more outrageous campaign statements and proposed cabinet appointees—already prompting large scale mass protests in the mainland U.S—Bevacqua emphasized that the concerns of Guam would be lost in the shuffle, should there be an effort to present them in such a forum.
But participants were clearly looking for another means to present Guam’s longstanding grievances to a national audience. One audience member noted that Governor Edward Calvo had served as co-chair of a committee supporting Trump in the Asia-Pacific region. The governor is also the official chair of the Commission on Decolonization, said Victoria Leon Guerrero. “Calvo put himself out there as wanting to decolonize, he wanted to have a plebiscite in the last election, but since then has done very little and now is doing nothing,” Leon Guerrero said, noting the governor hasn’t called a meeting of the Decolonization Commission since July. Citing the approachability of Guam political leaders, she urged Guamanians to call and write Governor Calvo, demanding that he use any influence he has earned with the president-elect to Guam’s advantage.
Others in the audience were looking for more action about Guam issues and independence than talk in a university classroom. Local activist Lasia Casil, a veteran of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, made it clear that her choice would be direct protest action on behalf of Guam, whether carried out on local talk radio or in the streets. “I’m a very pro-active person,” Casil said. “Especially after this election, it’s very evident to me that the people of Guam do not have the same core values as the people of the United States of America. 74 percent [on Guam] voted for Clinton, we now have a racist, bigot president, so it’s obvious to me there needs to be a separation.” Casil judged the teach-in a success: “I think it inspired, lit a flame under a lot of people.”
UOG Teach-In Discusses How Guam Fares in Trump's Plan
Forum Provides Insight on Guam's Future Under Trump
by Shawn Raymundo
Pacific Daily News
For many Guamanians, most of whom overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton in the island’s presidential straw poll, Trump’s rise to power hasn’t created a local scare to move off-island, according to Michael Bevacqua, chairman of the Independence Guahan Task Force.
“Social media posts appeared all over Guam, interestingly enough, not necessarily people saying they are going to move to Canada or any other country, but instead saying ‘shouldn’t Guam decolonize? Shouldn’t Guam become independent?’” Bevacqua recalled after the election.
Guam’s political status vote, or plebiscite, to measure the native inhabitants’ preferred relationship with the U.S. has been delayed since 1998. The plebiscite is a non-binding referendum giving native inhabitants the options of independence, statehood, or free association.
Independence Guahan, which is one of three task forces under the Decolonization Commission, hosted a lecture forum at the University of Guam on Tuesday night in an effort to answer the question of what Trump’s presidency will mean specifically for Guam.
“Most people know that Donald Trump makes controversial statements, that he seems to contradict his statements, that he speaks very strongly,” Bevacqua said. “But it’s hard to figure out what exactly the type of president that he’ll be.”
Addressing a classroom full of students and other citizens, Bevacqua explained that the question is difficult to answer, in part, because Trump hasn’t had any previous experience in public office or the military.
Bevacqua said, it’s difficult to pin down the type of president Trump will make is because he’s changed his position on a handful of issues over the course of the election.
“(Trump) has the temperament and personality where he changes his position all the time,” Bevacqua said. “He has very thin skin, so he if you attack him, he tends to attack you back, without any sense of strategy or proportion, and so it’s very difficult to figure out what Trump presidency will mean in general … 'cause even a week later he’s changed most of his positions.”
Over the course of his campaign, Trump has contradicted his own Republican Party’s platform as well as disagreed with his own running mate, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, on Syria policy.
Bevacqua pointed to UOG President Robert Underwood’s recent op-ed with the Pacific Daily News, in which he references the GOP platform and its views on exempting the territories from the federal Jones Act, which requires all goods being transported between U.S. ports must be carried out by U.S.-made-and-operated ships.
Underwood also noted Trump’s recent message to the territories, in which he states, “no more will those who reside in the territories or commonwealths be ignored.” Guam has joined a chorus of states, like Hawaii and Alaska, as well as other territories, calling on Congress to exempt the non-contiguous states from the Jones Act.
Underwood wrote that the time to get Congress to lift the Jones Act restrictions from Guam and other states and territories would be within the next two years, under Trump’s administration and with a Republican-led Senate and House of Representatives.
While that could pose as a positive outcome for Guam, Bevacqua raised the concern of a trade war with China.
Citing Trump’s campaign promise to declare China as a currency manipulator, which economists believe would start a trade war, Bevacqua pointed out that the U.S. spent $481 billion on goods from China, such as shoes, jewelry and cell phones.
Bevacqua went on to note other news reports that have warned about the possibility of an actual war between the U.S. and China if Trump keeps his promise. He also touched on China’s newly unveiled DF-26 missile, titled “Guam Killer,” which is said to have a range that could reach the military bases on island.
Another major focus of Trump’s campaign was his harsh stance on immigration and immigrant workers. During his acceptance speech of the Republican nomination in July, Trump said “the American people will come first once again.”
Guam has already felt an impact in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s sharp decline of H-2B visa approvals this past year. Bevacqua said that Trump’s stance on immigrant workers also is causing concern in the region.
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands’ delegate to the U.S House, has said he’s concerned about Trump’s immigration policies. He’s also expressed hope that Trump would “temper down on some of his tough statement.”
Many of the audience members also raised the issue of Trump’s Cabinet appointments. Some were more worried about the people Trump’s choosing to surround himself.
Earlier this week, Trump announced that Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, will be his chief of staff while Stephen Bannon, a right-wing media executive, has been chosen as chief strategist at the White House — a move that has pleased white nationalist leaders including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
“Trump himself is really not that scary, because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but the people he’s putting in charge are even scarier,” one audience member stated.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani reportedly are on the shortlist for Secretary of State while departing Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Maricopa County, Arizona, is on another short list for Homeland Security Secretary.
Arpaio is known for his tough stance on immigration in the state that passed the controversial law SB1070, which was meant to crackdown on undocumented immigrants by allowing police officers to request immigration documentation from anyone suspected of living in the U.S. illegally.
As for the list of potential candidates Trump is considering for the Interior Department’s Interior secretary position, which oversees the nation’s public lands as well as its territories, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are in the running.
Palin ran as Arizona Sen. John McCain’s running mate against then Sen. Barrack Obama for the presidency in the 2008 election. Brewer, like her Arpaio, is known as a hardliner against illegal immigration, signed SB1070 into law in 2010.