Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August 2018 GA - Does Size Matter?

Independent Guåhan's August Meeting will honor the late Ricky Bordallo and tackle the question “Does Size Matter?” in terms of island development

For Immediate Release, August 20, 2018 
Independent Guåhan (IG) invites the public to attend our August General Assembly (GA) on Thursday, August 30th, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Main Pavilion of the Chamorro Village in Hatña. The event will focus on how Guåhan can be successful and prosperous as an independent country, and that being a small island does not truly hold us back.

At each GA, Independent Guåhan honors a maga’taotao: a notable figure that has helped guide the island and the Chamoru people on their quest for self-determination. This month, IG will be honoring the legacy of the late governor of Guåhan, Ricardo “Ricky” Bordallo. Bordallo served in ILiheslaturan Guåhan seven times and was elected twice as Guåhan’s governor. He was a strong believer in Guåhan, that its people were capable of great things, and that our status as a small island in the Pacific was not a limitation. 

In this spirit, he once famously said "This land, tiny as it is, belongs to us, just as surely, just as inseparably, as we belong to it. No tragedy of history or declaration of conquest, no legalistic double-talk, can change that fact. Guam is our legacy. Is it for sale? How can one sell a national birthright?” Independent Guåhan is proud to honor the legacy of the late Governor Bordallo in our August GA. 

The educational focus for the GA will probe the question “Does Size Matter?” when it comes to islands and their opportunities for prosperity. IG will provide some answers to this question by looking at other small countries around the world and examining their approaches to economic and diplomatic development: in what ways have they used their political independence to capitalize on their advantages and minimize their disadvantages? What can Guåhan learn from these models? This GA intends to refocus the conversation by showing that it is not the size of your land or economy that determines your prosperity, but, instead, the policies that are implemented. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

United Natives Against Bureaucratic Miasma

I first traveled to the United Nations to testify in 2007. I testified along with two other Marie Auyong and Rima Miles before the Fourth Committee on the situation in Guam. We came in the wake of a larger delegation the year before which featured Victoria Leon Guerrero, Julian Aguon, Sabina Perez, Fanai Castro, Tiffany Lacsado and Kerri Ann Borja. That trip represented a big moment in sort of post-nation Chamoru/Angel Santos activism in Guam and the diaspora. The trip first came from a conference in San Diego that I along with a few others had organized in April 2006 about decolonization and Chamoru issues. It was, as far as any of us could tell, the first of its kind in the diaspora. The gathering of so many critical and conscious Chamorus in one place led to a great number of things, one of which was a period of new engagement around the United Nations.

Chamorus had been traveling on and off to the UN since 1982. There were high points, usually when the Government of Guam wanted to try to shame the US about something or draw more attention to something the US was ignoring, but for the most part, only one or two people, or no one would travel to the UN to testify. That trip in 2006 wasn't organized by anyone with government of Guam connections, but rather activists either raised in the diaspora or just in the states for school, who wanted to draw attention to the military buildup that had been announced back home.

2006 was a high point, as the group met with countries and UN officials, who were all eager to see some activity in Guam again around decolonization. The first year I attended was simply a placeholder, a reminder that even if we hadn't returned with the same intensity, we were still there and did not want to be dismissed or forgotten. I hadn't even planned on testifying, but was asked at the last minute and ended up flying out with just a day or two notice.

Another larger group returned in 2008, but even in my short time within the UN infrastructure I was struck by a number of things. Once the luster and grandness of the place wore off, you were left with a hollowness, especially coming from a colony. As I wrote in my dissertation, the UN gift shop was a particularly depressing spectacle, as flags from nearly every UN member were there, but none for the colonies.

As much as testifying there before the Fourth Committee was exciting, it was also depressing in a larger and more profound way. In that huge building, in that huge organization, the presence of Chamorus was relegated to an almost microscopic quality. Whereas many nations in the world are small, they are still treated with a bare minimum level of equality by virtue of their country status. They are there in all the halls and offices in some way or another. Their interests persist in small or large ways.

This was not the case for colonies. In those first steps walking through the valley of the UN framework, up until more recently, there was a resistance to Guam being a part of the UN mandate beyond the Fourth Committee and its role in overseeing decolonization. This wasn't just my experience, but that of others as well.

When Chamorus attempted to testify before the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues they were told that they weren't indigenous and that their issue lay before the Fourth Committee. Inquiries to other offices in the UN that dealt with discrimination or human rights were given the same answers.

The first point of resistance was the idea that for a colony, since it has no sovereignty or no real place at the UN, its presence there is continent upon the consent of the administering power or the colonizer. So when I asked why the UN doesn't undertake particular programs in Guam, they said that they need permission or a request from the US first. When I asked how Guam could get a UN visiting mission, again the answer was that a request from the US needed to be made. So to this point, the UN was resisting Guam gaining any further role there beyond the Fourth Committee, because of the principle of respecting state sovereignty and that unnecessarily infringing upon it, even in the name of something universal like decolonization. In fact, the only reason that Guam is even an issue on the Fourth Committee at all, is because the US listed it under international pressure following World War II. The US has then spent many a moment in the decades since trying to get Guam off the list, so it no longer has to answer for why this bastion of freedom still has colonies.

Beyond this however was a second type of resistance and that stemmed simply from bureaucratic apathy. Guam is a distant place for most people in the US, and for the UN as well, it is a distant afterthought. Bringing programs to it would mean expending resources, would mean doing extra work beyond what it already does. This is the anathema to the average bureaucrat's existence. So a lot of times when I and others were told that Guam was not eligible or could not be included, it wasn't true. It was simply bureaucrats reminding us that it is less work to close doors than open them.

But things have been changing. The passage of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples helped change things so that Chamorus can now have an easier time of being included in the UN as indigenous people. Visiting missions to colonies do not require the consent of the colonizer, but can happen in the absence of their explicit consent. With more lobbying at the UN, in different office and different levels, Guam can gain more prominence, but it does mean pushing back against the apathy that prevents any real change from taking place.

Next week there will be a report back at UOG titled "United Natives" and it will focus on some of the new opportunities that young activists are creating at the UN and elsewhere. It'll take place on Thursday, August 23rd from 6-8 pm.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Water from the Stone of CNMI Sovereignty

Next month I'll be back in Washington D.C. to resume my research about federal territorial relations that I began last year. Much of my focus last year was on Guam and its commonwealth movement, but as I conducted interviews and sifted through files, I also found more and more references to the commonwealth of the CNMI as well and found its evolution and devolution to be even more fascinating. Even just the contrast of reading about what has taken place there for the past few decades in federal documents versus local government is striking. Take for example when a number of sovereignty provisions that had been negotiated through the commonwealth were lost about ten years ago. This process was referred to the in CNMI as a "federalization," akin to a takeover by the federal government. Within the federal government however it was referred to as as normalizing of a relationship, whereby those provisions were considered to be only temporary and would eventually be done away with once the CNMI had experienced some economic development. It is so intriguing to see one side argue that something was never set in stone, but always fluid like water, while the other states it was set in stone and either we lost the stone or someone grabbed it and smashed most of it.

I look forward to returning to this research. It has put me back in the mood for reading about the garment industry that the CNMI once boasted. Here is an article from 2005 in the Saipan Tribune that I came across recently.


The rise and fall of the garment industry in the CNMI
by Jesus D. Camacho
Saipan Tribune
May 17, 2005

According to the Tan Holdings Corp. website, Dr. Tan Siu Lin and his family brought THC to Guam in the early ‘70s and embarked on a variety of businesses: shipping, real estate, amusement, and movie distribution. Approximately six years after THC began conducting business in the Marianas, the Northern Marianas Islands became a bona fide Commonwealth in 1978.

Approximately five years after the CNMI came into existence, the Tan Siu Lin family made the decision to move the corporate headquarters from Guam to the CNMI in 1983. Subsequent to relocating to the Commonwealth, THC began to grow and become an extremely diversified and multifaceted corporation handling the gamut in terms of different businesses—garment manufacturing, shipping, freight forwarding, fishing, financing, real estate, ground handling, amusement, travel, wholesale, hotels, insurance, and publishing—which generated economic activity that bolstered the economies of the entire Marianas chain, as well as other island communities in the Pacific Rim, e.g., Palau, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and others.

Today, THC is considered by many in the business sector, local and federal government, as well as residents of the island community, to be the strongest contributor in terms of generating monetary resources and economic activity in the CNMI and throughout the Pacific Rim, and has allowed for the opportunity for the CNMI economy to flourish and provide the residents with a more enhanced and decent quality of life.

Following THC’s move to the CNMI, then Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio and the 3rd Legislature under the leadership of the late Senate President Oly Borja and House Speaker Benigno Fitial in 1983 began discussions with THC chair Dr. Tan Siu Lin and his son, Willie Tan, regarding the development of a garment manufacturing industry in the CNMI. Shortly thereafter, the abovementioned gentlemen were instrumental, as well as successful, in terms of encouraging and attracting Asian garment manufacturers to commence operations on Saipan under specific terms and conditions. It did not take long for the garment manufacturers who set up shop in the CNMI to become competitive with other countries involved with the garment industry, e.g., China, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico. (Interestingly enough, these are the very countries that have now displaced the CNMI in terms of garment production and manufacturing worldwide.)

The positives regarding the economic benefits of the garment industry in the CNMI clearly outweigh the negatives. Substantiating the positives are comments made by organizations and individuals, e.g., the Bank of Hawaii Economic Report of 2003 released in 2004 for the CNMI, as well as the Saipan Apparel Industry Report released in 2004. The BoH Economic Report of 2003 stated that “the involvement of the garment industry in the Commonwealth made it the most self-sufficient U.S. affiliated economy in the western Pacific.” In addition, the report indicated that “the garment industry should be credited with preventing an economic depression in the CNMI following the decline of its tourist industry during the Asian economic crisis during the 1990’s.”

Prior to 1992, the data collection and monitoring of how much the garment industry was producing in terms of Gross Business Revenues—as well as in Direct General Fund Garment Revenues, which collectively combined user fees, income taxes, NRW fees, and BGR Taxes—was almost non-existent. Thus, the actual amount of total funding given to the CNMI government in the form of taxes and fees from the inception of the garment industry in 1983 and up until the early 1990s was based essentially on projections.

The economic benefit to the CNMI from the garment manufacturers coming from the various fees and taxes to the government from the onset of the industry in 1983 until 1993 is estimated to be in the vicinity of about $250 million. And for the following decade, according to the BoH 2003 Economic Report, the total direct payment of garment revenues to the CNMI government—which incorporated user fees, income taxes and other fees from 1994 through 2003—was roughly $435 million. The amount of monetary resources generated by the garment manufacturing industry substantiated what the Bo H report said, “The Commonwealth in effect enhanced its comparative economic advantage.”
Combining all of the taxes and fees submitted by the garment industry to the CNMI government over the past 22 years (1983 through 2003) is just shy of three quarters of a billion dollars. Clearly, the garment industry has been a key economic component for the CNMI and the entire Pacific Rim region and should be given credit for being a catalyst in terms of giving the residents of the island community a better quality of life.

The Garment Industry Report explained the ramifications of the “multiplier effect” regarding business revenues, employment, and income collectively, which was in the vicinity of $135 million in 1995 and $325 million in 2004.

The spending of disposable income by garment workers and the payment of taxes and fees to the government and the organizations who contribute to the island economy, e.g., small business, has for over two decades played a significantly large role in terms of keeping the economic cycle of the island community moving and thriving.

The net result from the multiplier effect was the creation several thousand direct government and private sector jobs outside the apparel industry in the CNMI. This, coupled with the tourism residuals, has kept the CNMI relatively strong in terms of the overall island economy.

According to the report generated by Burger & Comer for the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association in October 2000, the number of people in the employ of the garment industry was estimated to be nearly 18,000, i.e., around 1,800 CNMI residents and about 16,000 non-resident aliens.

The only negative with respect to the income earned by the workers of the garment industry is the amount that is sent back to their countries, e.g., China, Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, etc. Clearly, the income that goes out does not help the economic health and well-being of the CNMI.
Since the enactment of the General Agreement for Tariffs and Trade by the World Trade Organization in January 2005, the total number of workers in the garment industry in the CNMI has been reduced substantially. The estimation of workers in the garment industry is said to have plummeted by several thousand workers over the past six months. By the end of 2005, it is projected that more than three-fourths of the estimated 18,000 workers will be unemployed and without hope or sustenance to maintain a livelihood.

The Garment Industry Economic Report identified more than $135 million in direct economic impact provided by the garment industry workers. The report also stated that the garment industry is a major factor in the CNMI’s economy. This assertion is in direct conflict with what Gov. Juan Babauta recently told the media in May 2005 at the CNMI Department of Commerce regarding the garment industry.

In May 2005, Gov. Juan Babauta talked to the Department of Commerce personnel. Several questions were posed regarding the garment industry. Babauta was asked, “What is the administration doing to help the garment industry stay on island?”

Babauta’s response was, “They are going to shut down anyways and their contribution is not really a significant portion of the budget. We could survive without their revenue besides, they cost more than they generate for the government. We could run a smaller government without them.”

Babauta’s comment about the economic benefit of the garment industry to the CNMI government reflects a governor who is out of touch with fiscal realities. Based on a total government budget of $217 million, the total direct revenues from the garment industry is roughly $70 million or 30 percent of the total. How can nearly one-third of the budget be construed as “insignificant”?

If the garment industry is making a contribution to the budget of about one-third and is clearly a significant contributor of revenues, then the comment that Babauta made about surviving without the industry and it costing more than what they generate reflects a governor that does not understand what the true impact of the garment industry has been in the past and is to the CNMI government in the present day.

Another question posed was, “If the garment companies leave and the workers do not want to go, does the government become responsible for their benefits, e.g., food, housing, medical, return ticket? Babauta’s response was, “Where does it say the government has to take over responsibility—they have to go!”

The comments by Babauta reflect an elected governor who is not compassionate and appreciative of the garment industry and the workers who played a role in assisting their employers in making monetary payments to the tune of nearly a billion dollars to the CNMI government over a 22-year span of time. Turning his back on the industry and the workers shows Babauta’s true sentiments regarding the quest for survival of the industry and their workers.

Although there is no legislation saying there is any obligation to assist the garment workers, there should perhaps be more sensitivity and respect shown and expressed publicly and privately in terms of their displacement. And since nearly 2,000 garment workers are CNMI residents, the governor should provide some support in helping the displaced workers become acclimated back into the workforce to make a living.

To not show openly any support for the resident and nonresident garment workers, reflects leadership that is uncaring and oblivious to the people who worked painstakingly for long hours for very low wages for over two decades in the CNMI.

Since the industry has been a benefit and not a detriment economically, there should never be a nonchalant attitude about the industry and/or the garment workers who worked painstakingly to produce garments and allow the companies they worked for to compete with other garment manufacturers in the international marketplace.

Currently, Babauta is face to face with the unpleasant prospect of trying to confront the real issues surrounding the garment workers that are unemployed and stranded in the CNMI with no job, money, and encouragement from the designated political leader of the Commonwealth. His only solution thus far has been to say “leave”.

What will Babauta convey to the garment industry officials and the workers next? The island community will soon find out at his State of the Commonwealth speech slated for May 19, 2005.
Will the governor blame previous governors for not creating a sensible and systematic plan to deal with the nearly 18,000 displaced workers employed by the garment industry and the companies which will inevitably go out of business if the U.S. Tariff Code is not changed to assist the CNMI in remaining competitive in the garment industry globally? If he decides to, then he might get a stern rebuttal from the four former governors of the CNMI.

For nearly four years, the Babauta administration has done virtually nothing in terms of creating a viable and pragmatic “exit strategy” for both the companies and their workers. The problems that need to be resolved are serious and will no doubt elicit some tension throughout the entire island community. Organization development experts would describe the situation to be the essence of “crisis management.”

And to make matters even worse, Babauta and the anti-business proponents who are opposed to the garment industry have not stepped forward with alternatives to replace the garment industry, revenues to the government, as well as the positive economic impact on the island economy from the disposable income that is spent by those workers in the garment firms. In effect, they “watched what happened” to the garment industry and now Gov. Babauta is “wondering what happened” and what to do about it.

Babauta knew going into the governor’s office in January 2002 that at the onset of 2005, the GATT would go into effect and effectively dismantle the garment industry in the CNMI because it could not compete with countries like China, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico.
The expression goes, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” The garment industry helped feed and sustain the economic base of the CNMI for nearly a quarter of a century. Now Gov. Juan Babauta is biting their hand when they are the ones who are hungry and struggling to survive amid the rapid dismantling and demise of the industry.

Babauta has not stepped up to the plate and shown support for a key remedy for the dilemma of the garment industry, i.e., amend General Note (3a) (iv) to grant U.S. insular possessions equivalent treatment to free trade partners by extending to all products, including textile and apparel, the current requirement that eligible products contain at least 30 percent U.S. and local content.

In addition, Babauta has not shown any strong public support for the amendment of the U.S. Tariff Code to allow foreign content to be increased from 50 to 70 percent and enable garment firms in the CNMI to cut pieces overseas at a lower cost and be able to assemble in the CNMI and remain a viable player in the garment industry internationally.

The U.S. Department of the Interior, in their findings regarding the effect of the loss of the garment industry said, “If the garment industry leaves the CNIU for whatever reason in the next few years, it could take with it one-half of the jobs in the CNMI, including one-third of the jobs of permanent residents.” The Interior Department also recommended that every effort be made to avoid an abrupt or disorderly phase-out of this industry and to retain the more productive segments of the industry as long as possible.

It does not appear that Babauta has taken to heart the serious recommendation made by the Department of the Interior regarding the current dismantling and demise of the garment industry in the CNMI. Not doing so is making a grave mistake that will negatively impact everything across the board.

Small and big businesses in the private sector are the heart and soul of every economy in a “free enterprise system.” They are the integral components in terms of producing monetary resources, which will directly and indirectly help stabilize the economy. When you take away the business element, you take away the lifeblood of an economy regardless of where it is geographically.
Whether it is the CNMI or federal government, a government cannot function effectively and adequately and maintain solvency and stability without the influx and contribution of tax dollars and/or fees that come from the business sector. To think that a government in a capitalistic system can do without the financial input of the business sector is naïve and puerile reasoning. The question now that should be posed is: “What will Gov. Babauta propose to fill the void that the garment industry will leave in the CNMI?” To not provide an answer to this extremely important question will be on the minds of the electorate as they approach and enter the voting booth in November 2005.

Dr. Jesus D. Camacho
Delano, California

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Iya Hagåtña

Infotmasion put i siudat (mismo songsong, lao i maga'songsong para i Islan Guåhan) gi Fino' Chamoru. Hu tuge' este para un curriculum project dos años tåtte. Ya-hu bei na'huyong guini lokkue', sa' hu Tango' na guaha estudiante pat otro e'eyak ni' sesso manmambisisita guini gi este na blog, ya ma kekealigao este na klasen tiningo'.


Put iya Hagåtña

Guåhan i mås dångkolo’ na isla gi islas Marianas. Hagåtña i kapitåt na siudat. Gaige meggai na ofisinan gobietno giya Hagåtña. Gaige lokkue’ i gima’ i Gobietno yan i
Lihelaturan Guåhan.

I Plåsa de España mahåtsa desdi i tiempon Españot; manggaige guihi i kosas yan estorian i manmasusedi gi duranten i tiempon Españot. Gaige i Plåsa gi fiʹon i gimaʹyuʹos Dulce de Maria Cathedral-Basilica.  Dångkolo’ este na gumaʹyuʹos ya ma silelebra i gipot Santa Marian Kamalen gi diha ocho gi Disembre guini. Dångkolo’ este na silebrasion giya Guahan. I hinenggen Katoliko gi tiempon Españot  ha gof tulaika i hinengge yan kottura gi entre i Chamorro siha. Mas di kuattro sientos años i Españot ha okupa i Islas Marianas. Meggai na tradision yan kustombre gi Chamorro påʹgo ginen este na hestoria.  

Guaha siha latte manmahåtsa giya Hagåtna kuentan plåsa ni mafaʹnaʹan Latte Stone Park.  I latte ha represesenta i antigu na kotturan Chamorro. I acho latte kuentan haligen guma’ gi antigu na guma’ Chamorro. Matulaika i naʹan este na plåsa gi dos mit singko (2005) na såkkan ya mafaʹnaʹan påʹgo, Senator Angel Leon Guerrero Santos Memorial Park. Machoʹgue este para u ma onra i bidå-ña siha para u abånsa i direchon i ManChamorro gi tanoʹ-ñiha. Guiya lokkue’ munaʹmaestabblisa i Kumision para i Chamorro Land Trust na lai.

I otro na lugåt giya Hagåtña ni sesso mafatoigue ni ManChamorro yan ayu siha i manmanbisisita giya Guåhan, I Sengsong Chamorro, Chamorro Village;  ma’åʹagang lokkue’ I Sagan Dinanña, “the Gathering Place.”  Ma håtsa este na fasilidåt ginen i inapreban Siñot Magaʹlåhi as Joseph Ada yan i Liheslaturan Guåhan gi mit nuebe siento ochenta (1980).  I tutuhon-ña para metkao para i manlanchero siha. Lao påʹgo sagan kosas kotturan Guåhan yan minagof Chamorro. Kada Mietkoles, guaha “Puengen Metkao”. Differentes na klasen nengkånno’ manmabebende; guaha lokkue’ dåndan yan baila para todu i taotao ni manmåfatto.  Este na siña un liʹe yan un eksperensia i kotturan Chamorro. 


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