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Libya, the West and the Narrative of Democracy

March 22, 2011 

Interesting analysis from Stratfor of the U.S.-led war in Libya and the Westʻs conflicting imperatives: welcoming popular democratic uprisings while preventing repressive governments from crushing them:

Nevertheless, a narrative on what has happened in the Arab world has emerged and has become the framework for thinking about the region. The narrative says that the region is being swept by democratic revolutions (in the Western sense) rising up against oppressive regimes. The West must support these uprisings gently. That means that they must not sponsor them but at the same time act to prevent the repressive regimes from crushing them.

This is a complex maneuver. The West supporting the rebels will turn it into another phase of Western imperialism, under this theory. But the failure to support the rising will be a betrayal of fundamental moral principles.

The problem with Libya is that the government enjoys significant popular support from certain tribal factions, while the opposition forces are a loose coalition of tribes that oppose the Gadhafi regime, not a popular uprising.

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Libya, the West and the Narrative of Democracy

By George Friedman

Forces from the United States and some European countries have intervened in Libya. Under U.N. authorization, they have imposed a no-fly zone in Libya, meaning they will shoot down any Libyan aircraft that attempts to fly within Libya. In addition, they have conducted attacks against aircraft on the ground, airfields, air defenses and the command, control and communication systems of the Libyan government, and French and U.S. aircraft have struck against Libyan armor and ground forces. There also are reports of European and Egyptian special operations forces deploying in eastern Libya, where the opposition to the government is centered, particularly around the city of Benghazi. In effect, the intervention of this alliance has been against the government of Moammar Gadhafi, and by extension, in favor of his opponents in the east.

The alliance’s full intention is not clear, nor is it clear that the allies are of one mind. The U.N. Security Council resolution clearly authorizes the imposition of a no-fly zone. By extension, this logically authorizes strikes against airfields and related targets. Very broadly, it also defines the mission of the intervention as protecting civilian lives. As such, it does not specifically prohibit the presence of ground forces, though it does clearly state that no “foreign occupation force” shall be permitted on Libyan soil. It can be assumed they intended that forces could intervene in Libya but could not remain in Libya after the intervention. What this means in practice is less than clear.

There is no question that the intervention is designed to protect Gadhafi’s enemies from his forces. Gadhafi had threatened to attack “without mercy” and had mounted a sustained eastward assault that the rebels proved incapable of slowing. Before the intervention, the vanguard of his forces was on the doorstep of Benghazi. The protection of the eastern rebels from Gadhafi’s vengeance coupled with attacks on facilities under Gadhafi’s control logically leads to the conclusion that the alliance wants regime change, that it wants to replace the Gadhafi government with one led by the rebels.

But that would be too much like the invasion of Iraq against Saddam Hussein, and the United Nations and the alliance haven’t gone that far in their rhetoric, regardless of the logic of their actions. Rather, the goal of the intervention is explicitly to stop Gadhafi’s threat to slaughter his enemies, support his enemies but leave the responsibility for the outcome in the hands of the eastern coalition. In other words — and this requires a lot of words to explain — they want to intervene to protect Gadhafi’s enemies, they are prepared to support those enemies (though it is not clear how far they are willing to go in providing that support), but they will not be responsible for the outcome of the civil war.

The Regional Context

To understand this logic, it is essential to begin by considering recent events in North Africa and the Arab world and the manner in which Western governments interpreted them. Beginning with Tunisia, spreading to Egypt and then to the Arabian Peninsula, the last two months have seen widespread unrest in the Arab world. Three assumptions have been made about this unrest. The first was that it represented broad-based popular opposition to existing governments, rather than representing the discontent of fragmented minorities — in other words, that they were popular revolutions. Second, it assumed that these revolutions had as a common goal the creation of a democratic society. Third, it assumed that the kind of democratic society they wanted was similar to European-American democracy, in other words, a constitutional system supporting Western democratic values.

Each of the countries experiencing unrest was very different. For example, in Egypt, while the cameras focused on demonstrators, they spent little time filming the vast majority of the country that did not rise up. Unlike 1979 in Iran, the shopkeepers and workers did not protest en masse. Whether they supported the demonstrators in Tahrir Square is a matter of conjecture. They might have, but the demonstrators were a tiny fraction of Egyptian society, and while they clearly wanted a democracy, it is less than clear that they wanted a liberal democracy. Recall that the Iranian Revolution created an Islamic Republic more democratic than its critics would like to admit, but radically illiberal and oppressive. In Egypt, it is clear that Mubarak was generally loathed but not clear that the regime in general was being rejected. It is not clear from the outcome what will happen now. Egypt may stay as it is, it may become an illiberal democracy or it may become a liberal democracy.

Consider also Bahrain. Clearly, the majority of the population is Shiite, and resentment toward the Sunni government is apparent. It should be assumed that the protesters want to dramatically increase Shiite power, and elections should do the trick. Whether they want to create a liberal democracy fully aligned with the U.N. doctrines on human rights is somewhat more problematic.

Egypt is a complicated country, and any simple statement about what is going on is going to be wrong. Bahrain is somewhat less complex, but the same holds there. The idea that opposition to the government means support for liberal democracy is a tremendous stretch in all cases — and the idea that what the demonstrators say they want on camera is what they actually want is problematic. Even more problematic in many cases is the idea that the demonstrators in the streets simply represent a universal popular will.

Nevertheless, a narrative on what has happened in the Arab world has emerged and has become the framework for thinking about the region. The narrative says that the region is being swept by democratic revolutions (in the Western sense) rising up against oppressive regimes. The West must support these uprisings gently. That means that they must not sponsor them but at the same time act to prevent the repressive regimes from crushing them.

This is a complex maneuver. The West supporting the rebels will turn it into another phase of Western imperialism, under this theory. But the failure to support the rising will be a betrayal of fundamental moral principles. Leaving aside whether the narrative is accurate, reconciling these two principles is not easy — but it particularly appeals to Europeans with their ideological preference for “soft power.”

The West has been walking a tightrope of these contradictory principles; Libya became the place where they fell off. According to the narrative, what happened in Libya was another in a series of democratic uprisings, but in this case suppressed with a brutality outside the bounds of what could be tolerated. Bahrain apparently was inside the bounds, and Egypt was a success, but Libya was a case in which the world could not stand aside while Gadhafi destroyed a democratic uprising. Now, the fact that the world had stood aside for more than 40 years while Gadhafi brutalized his own and other people was not the issue. In the narrative being told, Libya was no longer an isolated tyranny but part of a widespread rising — and the one in which the West’s moral integrity was being tested in the extreme. Now was different from before.

Of course, as with other countries, there was a massive divergence between the narrative and what actually happened. Certainly, that there was unrest in Tunisia and Egypt caused opponents of Gadhafi to think about opportunities, and the apparent ease of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings gave them some degree of confidence. But it would be an enormous mistake to see what has happened in Libya as a mass, liberal democratic uprising. The narrative has to be strained to work in most countries, but in Libya, it breaks down completely.

The Libyan Uprising

As we have pointed out, the Libyan uprising consisted of a cluster of tribes and personalities, some within the Libyan government, some within the army and many others longtime opponents of the regime, all of whom saw an opportunity at this particular moment. Though many in western portions of Libya, notably in the cities of Zawiya and Misurata, identify themselves with the opposition, they do not represent the heart of the historic opposition to Tripoli found in the east. It is this region, known in the pre-independence era as Cyrenaica, that is the core of the opposition movement. United perhaps only by their opposition to Gadhafi, these people hold no common ideology and certainly do not all advocate Western-style democracy. Rather, they saw an opportunity to take greater power, and they tried to seize it.

According to the narrative, Gadhafi should quickly have been overwhelmed — but he wasn’t. He actually had substantial support among some tribes and within the army. All of these supporters had a great deal to lose if he was overthrown. Therefore, they proved far stronger collectively than the opposition, even if they were taken aback by the initial opposition successes. To everyone’s surprise, Gadhafi not only didn’t flee, he counterattacked and repulsed his enemies.

This should not have surprised the world as much as it did. Gadhafi did not run Libya for the past 42 years because he was a fool, nor because he didn’t have support. He was very careful to reward his friends and hurt and weaken his enemies, and his supporters were substantial and motivated. One of the parts of the narrative is that the tyrant is surviving only by force and that the democratic rising readily routs him. The fact is that the tyrant had a lot of support in this case, the opposition wasn’t particularly democratic, much less organized or cohesive, and it was Gadhafi who routed them.

As Gadhafi closed in on Benghazi, the narrative shifted from the triumph of the democratic masses to the need to protect them from Gadhafi — hence the urgent calls for airstrikes. But this was tempered by reluctance to act decisively by landing troops, engaging the Libyan army and handing power to the rebels: Imperialism had to be avoided by doing the least possible to protect the rebels while arming them to defeat Gadhafi. Armed and trained by the West, provided with command of the air by the foreign air forces — this was the arbitrary line over which the new government keeps from being a Western puppet. It still seems a bit over the line, but that’s how the story goes.

In fact, the West is now supporting a very diverse and sometimes mutually hostile group of tribes and individuals, bound together by hostility to Gadhafi and not much else. It is possible that over time they could coalesce into a fighting force, but it is far more difficult imagining them defeating Gadhafi’s forces anytime soon, much less governing Libya together. There are simply too many issues between them. It is, in part, these divisions that allowed Gadhafi to stay in power as long as he did. The West’s ability to impose order on them without governing them, particularly in a short amount of time, is difficult to imagine. They remind me of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, anointed by the Americans, distrusted by much of the country and supported by a fractious coalition.

Other Factors

There are other factors involved, of course. Italy has an interest in Libyan oil, and the United Kingdom was looking for access to the same. But just as Gadhafi was happy to sell the oil, so would any successor regime be; this war was not necessary to guarantee access to oil. NATO politics also played a role. The Germans refused to go with this operation, and that drove the French closer to the Americans and British. There is the Arab League, which supported a no-fly zone (though it did an about-face when it found out that a no-fly zone included bombing things) and offered the opportunity to work with the Arab world.

But it would be a mistake to assume that these passing interests took precedence over the ideological narrative, the genuine belief that it was possible to thread the needle between humanitarianism and imperialism — that it was possible to intervene in Libya on humanitarian grounds without thereby interfering in the internal affairs of the country. The belief that one can take recourse to war to save the lives of the innocent without, in the course of that war, taking even more lives of innocents, also was in play.

The comparison to Iraq is obvious. Both countries had a monstrous dictator. Both were subjected to no-fly zones. The no-fly zones don’t deter the dictator. In due course, this evolves into a massive intervention in which the government is overthrown and the opposition goes into an internal civil war while simultaneously attacking the invaders. Of course, alternatively, this might play out like the Kosovo war, where a few months of bombing saw the government surrender the province. But in that case, only a province was in play. In this case, although focused ostensibly on the east, Gadhafi in effect is being asked to give up everything, and the same with his supporters — a harder business.

In my view, waging war to pursue the national interest is on rare occasion necessary. Waging war for ideological reasons requires a clear understanding of the ideology and an even clearer understanding of the reality on the ground. In this intervention, the ideology is not crystal clear, torn as it is between the concept of self-determination and the obligation to intervene to protect the favored faction. The reality on the ground is even less clear. The reality of democratic uprisings in the Arab world is much more complicated than the narrative makes it out to be, and the application of the narrative to Libya simply breaks down. There is unrest, but unrest comes in many sizes, democratic being only one.

Whenever you intervene in a country, whatever your intentions, you are intervening on someone’s side. In this case, the United States, France and Britain are intervening in favor of a poorly defined group of mutually hostile and suspicious tribes and factions that have failed to coalesce, at least so far, into a meaningful military force. The intervention may well succeed. The question is whether the outcome will create a morally superior nation. It is said that there can’t be anything worse than Gadhafi. But Gadhafi did not rule for 42 years because he was simply a dictator using force against innocents, but rather because he speaks to a real and powerful dimension of Libya.

Libya, the West and the Narrative of Democracy is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Robert Naimann: Guam: Self-Determination, or More U.S. Troops?

June 17, 2010 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/guam-self-determination-o_b_614688.html?view=print

June 17, 2010

Guam: Self-Determination, or More U.S. Troops?

Robert Naimann

Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy

Posted: June 16, 2010 03:22 PM

Usually, when someone refers to a place as a “U.S. colony,” they are making an analogy, suggesting that U.S. influence somewhere is so strong, and the indigenous residents of the place have so little effective say over key decisions, that it’s as if the place were a formal U.S. colony.

But, remarkably, and perhaps predictably, for a country whose leaders, editorialists and pundits constantly pontificate about how we are an indispensable force for freedom in the world, we rarely discuss the fact that there are places in the world that are actual U.S. colonies. Still less do we consider whether we are complying with our international obligations to respect the right of self-determination for colonized peoples, and if we are not, what we could do to change that.

A small corrective is being offered as part of Asian Pacific Heritage Month by PBS, which is webcasting Vanessa Warheit’s documentary, The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands until next Sunday, June 20.

The Mariana Islands comprise two political entities, the territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Guam was ceded to the U.S. by Spain in 1898 after Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American war, while the Northern Mariana Islands were conquered by the U.S. from Japan in World War II. As political entities, the two have several features in common: while they are ruled by Washington, and their residents are U.S. citizens, many of whom serve in the U.S. military, they have no vote in Presidential elections, nor do they have a representative in Congress who can vote on the passage of legislation.

In other words: they are U.S. colonies.

Guam, in particular, is facing a major decision about its destiny, a decision made in Washington about which its indigenous population has not yet had any effective say. The United States is currently planning to relocate 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents to Guam by 2014. With an expected influx of foreign workers recruited for military construction projects, Guam’s population is expected to increase by some 80,000 people by 2014, a 45% increase from its current estimated population of 180,000.

More than a quarter of the island is already owned by the U.S. military, the Washington Post noted in March, while a quarter of the island’s population lives below the U.S. poverty level.

As the Post noted, Guam was not consulted in the decision to move 8,000 Marines to the island and has no legal means to block it. Yet an Environmental Protection Agency analysis said the U.S. military buildup could trigger island-wide water shortages.

The possibility that Guam’s indigenous residents may suffer irreparable harm from this planned military buildup without ever having had any effective say about it heightens the responsibility of Americans who do have voting representation in Washington to know something about the military buildup and its historical background. Thanks to PBS, until Sunday we have the opportunity to catch up a little on the history they didn’t teach us in school.

Follow Robert Naiman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/naiman

“Priorities and Concerns of Civil Society Relating to the Decolonization of Guam as a UN Non Self-Governing Territory”

May 29, 2010 

http://overseasreview.blogspot.com/2010/05/perspectives-on-decolonisation-of-guam.html

STATEMENT OF GUAHAN COALITION FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE and THE CHAMORRO STUDIES ASSOCIATION

By HOPE A. CRISTOBAL

THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONISATION

Pacific Regional Seminar

Noumea, New Caledonia

18 – 20 May 2010

“Priorities and Concerns of Civil Society Relating to the Decolonization of Guam as a UN Non Self-Governing Territory”

CHAMORU SELF-DETERMINATION PA’GO

I. INTRODUCTION

Hafa Adai! (Greetings) Your Excellency Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Special Committee on Decolonization.

Dangkolu na si Yu’os ma’ase (sincere thank you) for your invitation to participate at this revolving seminar to assess the progress of decolonization and to discuss priorities regarding the Question of Guam on the final year of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism in the 21st century.

Also, I bring warm Hafa Adei greetings from our indigenous Chamorro people to our fellow Kanaky people of New Caledonia. We thank you for graciously hosting this United Nations Pacific Seminar. We extend a heartfelt “Dangkolu na si Yu’os ma’ase” (sincere thank you) for the opportunity to join Your Excellency, the Special Committee and my esteemed fellow delegates today.

As you may know, the Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands have cultural and linguistic ties to the Kanaky people of New Caledonia through our common Austronesian heritage that spans Oceania. As peace loving peoples of the great Pacific, we hope one day to be able to share in a history of freedom from colonial dominance espoused by this Special Committee and the rest of the UN body.

I am Hope Alvarez Cristobal, a Chamorro former Senator of Guam. I am here as a representative of Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice, a Guam based coalition made up of grassroots organizations advocating for the political, cultural, social, environmental and human rights of the people of Guam. We formed in September 2006 as a result of the announcement of the United States-Japan Realignment Initiatives signed in May 2006 in our awareness and desire (consistent with our traditionally matrilineal social order) to organize and give voice to concerns of women and female children in a highly militarized environment.

Our focus on peace and justice is central in light of the ongoing issue of the denial of our Chamorro people’s inalienable human right of self-determination and decolonization of Guam as a modern-day colony of the United States. Particular emphasis is made on keeping Guam, our island home, safe and sustainable for our children and generations to come. The Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice is comprised of the following member organizations: Chamorro Studies Association; National Association of Social Workers, Guam Chapter; Conscious Living; Guam’s Alternative Lifestyle Association; and Nasion Chamoru.

II. THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND

Guam’s unincorporated (permanent colony) status designation under the 1950 Organic Act of Guam legitimized US military land takings with rights of eminent domain of the only 147,000 acres of land—with only 116.5 miles of natural shoreline available to it for all purposes. Of this 147,000 acres, the military currently possesses 40,000 acres constituting 27.21% of the island’s landmass with the US National Park Service possessing 695 acres for 0.47% and the US Fish & Wildlife Service currently possessing 385 acres for 0.26% of the island. The local government possesses 37,673.36 acres for 25.6% of that total and with private lands consisting of only 68,246 acres for 46.43% of Guam’s land mass. [Ref. legislative Resolution 258-30 (COR)].

With a history of US land takings and the possibility of more land condemnation through the current US militarization plans, the 29th Guam Legislature passed public law 29-113 which clarifies that the disposition of public lands is exclusively the purview of the Guam Legislature and not the US military. This law stipulates that duly enacted legislation by the Guam Legislature is needed to authorize “the acquisition by condemnation or otherwise of private property” by means of Congressional appropriation to acquire property for public use.

The current 30th Guam Legislature also passed another law which tasks the local government’s Guam First Commission to determine which land the Federal Government may intend to lease or sublease, exchange for other land, or purchase, and to report their findings to the Guam Legislature and the Governor of Guam. This law also requires the Legislature’s approval of any federal acquisition of Government of Guam property, whether by lease, sub-lease, exchange or sale.

Guam’s colonial status continues to pave the way for US application of federal laws over our air space and sea lanes; our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone; all our resources, control of exit and entry of our borders, control of our land, the environment and whatever can be defined as “a possession of but not a part of the United States.” It is clear that the Guam Legislature is now struggling as it finds itself with little power to protect local government assets under the laws of the administering power. For a small colonial people, the alienation of property by laws of the colonial power is one of the fundamental tenets of colonialism. In Guam, so much of the alienation has occurred through military seizure—but other forms of alienation have the same effect.

III. SECOND INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR THE ERADICATION OF COLONIALISM

Mr. Chairman, people of the 16 remaining NSGTs still under the yoke of colonialism have been denied the benefits of decolonization as provided by the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples [UN Resolution 1514 (XV)] and that despite the Special Committee’s diligent work emphasized in the proclamation of the two International Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism the world’s political map have not had any major transformation. We can honestly say that in the case of Guam, rather than the eradication of colonialism, the US administering Power has deepened its colonial roots.

What we find unacceptable, Mr. Chairman, is that the administering power’s WWII adversary, Guam’s brutal occupier of WWII, Japan, is now complicit in Guam’s modern day colonization and militarization through its joint Bi-lateral Agreement with the U.S. With respect to Guam, the Special Committee’s work was not only stymied; rather, it has been made to fail in its mission to make colonialism a fact of the past—in not having developed a programme of work for the decolonization of the NSGT of Guam in view of the US’s active, massive militarization plans. Included is the failure in dispatching a UN visiting mission at the time Guam was actively negotiating its political status over two decades ago; and today, with US plans for our militarization.

For 21st century Guam, it is déjà vu old-style colonialism again. This time it is not 17th C. Spain but the US administering Power utilizing its military forces in a kind of “reduccion” process of “subduing, converting and gathering the natives through the establishment of missions and stationing of soldiers to protect those missions.” (Ref. Rob Wilson, 21st Annual Conference, “Crosscurrents: New Directions in Pacific and Asian Studies,” University of Hawaii, Manoa, March 10, 2010.) The exploitation of our colonial status as a people, U.S. militarization, assimilationist immigration policies, the rising tide of cultural genocide, environmental degradation and contamination, the dispossession of our lands, etc., are direct violations of our rights as NSG people under:

a. The UN Charter, in particular, Articles 1, 55 and 73e which addresses the rights of peoples in non self-governing territories who have not yet attained a full measure of self-government, and commands states administering them to “recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants are paramount.” Furthermore, that administering powers, accept as a “sacred trust” the obligation to develop self-government in the territories, taking due account of the political aspirations of the people.

b. UN Resolutions 1514 that states, the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination, and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the UN and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation.

c. UN Resolution 1541 affirming three ways NSGTs could attain a full measure of self-government that must be the result of the freely expressed wishes of the peoples of NSGTs.

d. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—the latest UN international human rights instrument to explicitly expand the universe of the holders of the right of self-determination with its Article 3 that specifically recognizes, using the classic formulation of the right of self-determination enshrined in the 1966 Human Rights Covenants, that indigenous peoples hold the right.

e. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, (known collectively as the 1966 Human Rights Covenants) that enshrine self-determination as a right.

f. And, other relevant UN documents on decolonization.

Clearly, the US continues to behave contrary to its concrete UN obligations as the administering Power over Guam. There is no mistaking that US dominance and subordination of Guam is a consequence of US military power dynamics over the Asia-Pacific region. And, without the United Nations assertion of its moral authority and oversight of its non self-governing territory of Guam, our home island and our people will continue to be treated as inferior having no sovereignty or agency in relation to US foreign policy and security interests. Gone unchallenged, the possibility of a free, decolonized and self-governing Guam will be sealed and buried under by our own administering Power.

At his opening statement of the House Armed Services Committee hearing on March 25, 2010, Congressman Ike Skelton spoke about the rebasing of U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam as “one of the largest movements of military assets in decades”—estimated to cost over ten billion dollars. He further stated that the changes being planned as part of that move will not only affect U.S. bilateral relationship with Japan; they will shape U.S. strategic posture throughout the critical Asia-Pacific region for 50 years or more. Congressman Skelton stated that the US “must be proactively engaged in the Asia-Pacific region on multiple fronts,” and that U.S. actions may well influence the choices and actions of others.”

For Guam, our exclusion from the decision made about the massive militarization of our island home through US military expansion and restructuring of its bases and military operations is unconscionable. Moreover, we have had no choice and no options offered vis-à-vis our colonial status or US actions having political implications on our colonial status. Guam is a colony and remains a colony until the Chamorro people is allowed to exercise our human right of self-determination and is allowed to decolonize.

IV. OUR HUMAN ENVIRONMENT

Mr. Chairman, the U.S. military’s militarization plans bodes great harm for the people and our island home environment. These plans include the construction of facilities and structure to support the full spectrum of warfare training for some 8,600 marines (and their dependants) being relocated from Okinawa to Guam; the construction of a deep-draft wharf in Guam’s only harbor to provide for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, destroying over 287,000 sqm (71 acres) of healthy and endangered coral reef; the construction of an Army Missile Defense Task Force modeled on the Marshall Islands-based Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, for the practice by US military personnel of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles; the forcible land-grabbing of an additional 2,200 acres of indigenous Chamorro land; the desecration of Pagat, one of Guam’s oldest ancient villages dating back to 2,000 B.C.; the dangerous over-tapping of Guam’s water system to include the drilling of 22 additional wells; and the denial of the most fundamental human right of the Chamorro people of Guam to self-determination.

The militarization plan calls for an alarming 80,000 new residents within the next five years. These new residents include the 8,600 Marines and 1,000 Army troops with 9,000 of their dependents and large numbers of construction workers that will add to our current 180,000 residents. This is obviously not about demographics alone as we see US hegemony flourish and cultural genocide work for the administering power. As non-US citizens after WWII, we were over 95% of the population. As United States citizens 50 years later, our population is reduced to 42% (2000 Census). Five years ago, we comprised some 35% of our home population. But with the new US plan, the Chamorro population can be expected to drop to around 24%! This is perhaps the most plausible reason why all information impacting our people’s lives were kept secret until the official release of the draft environmental impact study last November 20, 2009.

This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (OEIS) was intended to, “assess the potential environmental effects associated with the proposed military activities” (DEIS, Executive Summary, Abstract) for the relocation of US marines to Guam, enhancement of infrastructure and logistic capabilities, improvement of pier/waterfront infrastructure for transient US Navy nuclear aircraft carrier (CVN) and placement of US Army ballistic missile defense (BMD) task force. It is supposed to report the overall impacts that the military’s plans will have on Guam’s environment. It was a document of 11,000 pages and we were given a 90-day window to comment (ending Feb. 17, 2010) with a Final EIS to be completed in July and a Record of Decision to be released in 30 days.

The selective and exclusive sharing of information on the military’s plans prevented our full participation and served to silence our voices in this critical process. The community scrambled to respond to the 11,000-page report within the rigid schedule. The “record speed” of a two-year environmental impact study for such unprecedented militarization of a non self-governing territory was obviously suspect. We were not told about the 80,000 people or that the US had planned to go outside their existing footprint. At the public outreach meetings, hundreds spoke resoundingly against the military’s plans. At the close of the public comment window, the military received over 10,000 comments from various indigenous Chamorro groups, community members and stakeholders and other external stakeholders.

The fear of being overwhelmed by the construction of a new US Marine base has permeated the community. In reference to the local government’s costs grossly underfunded in the plan, Lt. Governor Michael Cruz, M.D. who himself is a Colonel in the Army National Guard, stated “Our nation knows how to find us when it comes to war and fighting for war, but when it comes to war preparations—which is what the military buildup essentially is—nobody seems to know where Guam is.” Government officials put the total direct and indirect costs of coping with the military buildup at about $3 billion, including $1.7 billion to improve roads and $100 million to expand the already overburdened public hospital.

Last January 22, the 30th Guam Legislature adopted a resolution expressing the “strong and abiding opposition of the Guam Legislature and the People of Guam to any use of eminent domain [condemnation] for the purpose of obtaining Guam lands for either the currently planned military buildup or other U.S. Federal Government purposes, or both.” Copies were transmitted to the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, the President Pro-Tem of the U.S. Senate, to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and other officials. Another resolution (No. 275-30 (LS)) was introduced and adopted relative to presenting to President Obama and the US Congress, the sentiments expressed by the people of Guam regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Guam military build-up; to enumerating the findings of the Legislature that have led to the conclusion that the DEIS is grossly flawed; to providing a list of essential elements which must be favorably resolved; to restate Guam’s agenda of priority concerns relative to federal-territorial issues that must be addressed concurrently with the buildup; and to asserting additional findings on actionable items relative to the DEIS.

Of grave concern is the fact that Chamorro self-determination and decolonization was not even addressed by the military in the DEIS and the fact that decisions have been made in the context of a huge power imbalance in which the US has the ultimate decision-making power with the social, cultural and political implications to the Chamorro community being grossly understated. It is no secret that the US and its military representatives are fully cognizant of the irreversible and significant consequences that their decision will have on its colonial people. Broad concerns relating to local infrastructure, environmental, labor and workforce, socio-economic and health and human services are being discussed among government and military officials. But the difference is: The US has completely ignored the negative implications to its colonial people’s human, political and legal right to self-determination. Just as select private businesses collectively predict positive gain by Guam’s militarization, the Chamorro people alone have historically and will predictably bear the unequal proportion of the burden.

On the last day of the public comment period, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued the lowest possible rating of the DEIS of “environmentally unsatisfactory” and providing “inadequate information.” In its strongly worded six-page letter, the US EPA stated that “The impacts are of sufficient magnitude that..…action should not proceed as proposed and improved analyses are necessary to ensure the information in the EIS is adequate to fully inform decision makers.” Specifically, the EPA stated that the military’s plan would lead to:

a. A shortfall in Guam’s water supply, resulting in low water pressure that would expose people to water borne diseases from sewage.

b. Increased sewage flows to wastewater plants already failing to comply with the Clean Water Act regulations.

c. More raw sewage spills that would contaminate the water supply and the ocean.

d. “Unacceptable impacts” to the 287,000 sqm (71 acres) of a high quality coral reef.

But even with this indictment of its draft EIS, the military continues with its military expansion and restructuring plans today.

In Congress, Guam’s delegate introduced a bill that would provide for public education on Guam’s political status options. This bill was amended in the House of Representatives and now includes the other two NSGT’s: American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands and would “include but not (be) limited to the 3 internationally recognized options.

The implication is that the educational program could also include other options, albeit not defined in the bill. There is no reference to any referendums nor provision of a specific budget although Congressional estimate of the costs is some $2 million in the next 5 years for all the territories. It remains to be seen what will happen in the US Senate.

If the draft Guam Commonwealth bill or the Guam War Reparations bill or the bill to amend the US Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (to give compensation to the “down winders” (Guam included)) are any example, it will end up taking many forms over many years without resolution or action. Only time will tell. And, time, Mr. Chairman is not on our side.

V. OBSTACLES/OPPORTUNITIES/RECOMMENDATIONS

The Question of Guam shall remain a question of Chamorro self-determination and decolonization for Guam. As a process of decolonization, the exercise of Chamorro self-determination must necessarily occur outside the influences of the administering Power and with the cooperation of the United Nations.

We make the following recommendations to this seminar:

1. That the inalienable right of the Chamorro people of Guam to self-determination in conformity with all relevant UN documents be given utmost priority by the Special Committee on Decolonization in view of the administering power’s massive militarization planned from 2010 to 2014.

2. That a customized process of decolonization for the Chamorro people of Guam be immediately adopted in view of the severe irreversible impacts on Guam by the US administering power.

3. That an investigation be conducted as to the compliance of the administering power with its treaty obligations under the Charter of the United Nations to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territories as related earlier in this text.

4. That a study must be conducted on the implications of US militarization plans on Guam’s decolonization and that UN funding be allocated immediately.

5. That the UN denounce the militarization of the non-self-governing territory of Guam without the consent of the people of Guam due to irreparable harm to the inalienable human rights of the Chamorro people and interests of the people of Guam.

6. That a work programme be adopted by the Special Committee to carry out its objectives for the decolonization of Guam.

VI. CLOSING

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and delegations for the opportunity to make this presentation. My people’s journey towards decolonization is at a very critical juncture. We can only rely on the United Nations to assure that the US live up to its obligations under the United Nations Charter and to its promise of self-determination and decolonization for the people of Guam.

Making the Invisible Empire Visible

May 16, 2010 

http://www.japanfocus.org/-John-Junkerman/3359

Making the Invisible Empire Visible

Film Review by John Junkerman

Mention “The Insular Empire” to the average American, and they’d likely have no idea what you were talking about. They probably still wouldn’t get it if you gave them another clue: “America in the Mariana Islands.” These are the title and subtitle of a new film by Vanessa Warheit, which began screening on PBS earlier this year.

It is the singular misfortune of the residents of Guam and the Northern Marianas to have been born on tiny islands of great strategic value in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The consequence has been their colonial subordination for four centuries to a succession of empires: Spain, the United States, Germany, Japan, and, since the Pacific War, the US again.

A “colony” of the American “empire”? Of course, the US does not acknowledge that the “territory” of Guam and the “commonwealth” of the Northern Mariana Islands are colonies. But, as the film points out, the residents of these islands bear American passports yet have only token representation in the US Congress. They have the ‘right’ to fight in the US military (soldiers from Guam have died in Iraq and Afghanistan at a per capita rate four times as high as any US state), but they don’t have a vote in the election of the commander-in-chief. One third of Guam is controlled by the US military and the island is slated for a massive military buildup, but as a “non-self-governing territory,” the islanders have no say in the matter.

The principle of government with the consent of the governed, over which the American colonies fought the War of Independence, does not apply to the Mariana Islands. Yes, these are colonies.

It is one of the ironies of the American “empire of bases” (in Chalmer Johnson’s apt phrase) that the empire remains largely invisible to all but the soldiers who occupy these bases spread across the globe and the citizens of the lands that host them. What is true of the de facto American empire is even more true of these colonies: to Americans, they are no more than tiny specks in the ocean, 6,000 miles from the coast of California. This film, the first comprehensive telling of the story of the Marianas to the American public, performs the invaluable service of making this invisible empire visible.

The film could not be more timely. The transfer of 8,000 Marines (and nearly 10,000 dependents and civilians) to Guam from the Futenma air base on the equally militarized Japanese island of Okinawa is scheduled to take place in 2014. Preparations for the $12 billion base construction project (which will include extensive dredging of coral reef so the naval base can accommodate aircraft carriers, among numerous other expansions) are already underway. The project will bring in some 79,000 people, including temporary construction workers, boosting the population of the already crowded island by 40 percent. While welcomed by some sectors on Guam as an economic transfusion, the buildup threatens to destroy the island’s natural beauty and cause an environmental disaster. The US Environmental Protection Agency in February blasted the military’s draft environmental impact statement as “environmentally unsatisfactory,” citing expected shortages of drinking water, the over-burdening of the island’s crumbling sewage treatment infrastructure, and inadequate plans to mitigate ecological damage.

But the military’s presence and proposed expansion are not the focus of this film, only in part because the military refused to allow the filmmakers access to the bases and declined requests for interviews. Rather, the film aims to illuminate the history that has left these islands pawns in America’s global chess game. It is a complex history: despite being part of the same archipelago, Guam (an American colony since the Spanish-American War in 1898), and the Northern Marianas (which include the islands of Saipan and Tinian) have different colonial pasts and distinct political status today. This history is deftly told with inventive graphics and superbly researched archival footage, reflecting the eight painstaking years spent in producing the film.

The islands’ complex history is matched by a deeply conflicted identity. Much of the population is intensely loyal to the US, reflecting the pervasive presence of the military and the high levels of enlistment, yet the islanders are perpetual second-class citizens. English is spoken and the dominant culture is American (the world’s largest K-Mart is on Guam), yet there are persistent efforts to preserve the indigenous Chamorro language and culture. Guam’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the military, but a different course of development might have been chosen if the islanders had control of their land and destiny (choices that the Guam Buildup will put forever out of reach).

Warheit has provided depth and character to these issues of identity by following four individuals, two each from Guam and the Northern Marianas, through the course of the film. The eldest, Carlos Taitano, a former speaker of the Guam Legislature, was born in 1917 and thus witnessed and participated in Guam’s postwar history, during which “the people of the Marianas were a distant afterthought,” he observes. A businessman (the island’s Coca-Cola bottler) and an advocate of statehood, he died in 2009, before the film was released, his distant dream unrealized.

Carlos Taitano

When Hope Cristobal represented Guam in the Miss Universe pageant in 1967, she visited the States for the first time and encountered anti-Vietnam War protests in San Francisco, opening her eyes to a counter-military narrative she had never imagined on Guam. She has since become an advocate for Guam’s self-determination and the director of a museum of Chamorro culture. It is, in many ways, a reclamation project: when she was a schoolgirl, she was punished for speaking the Chamorro language (recalling the forced Americanization of Native Americans, and the parallel Japanization of the Okinawa islanders), and few young people now speak the language.

Hope Cristobal

Where Guam was occupied by the US Navy and Air Force, Saipan (in the Northern Marianas) was used by the CIA as a secret base to train Chinese and Southeast Asian insurgents, and Lino Olopai found work on the base as a security guard. Pete Tenorio worked as a caddy on the CIA’s golf course. The Northern Marianas were then a UN trust territory under US administration, until 1975, when a plebiscite approved a “covenant” that made the islands an American commonwealth.

Lino Olopai and Pete Tenorio appear in an excerpt of the film.

Tenorio entered politics and eventually was elected “resident representative” of the commonwealth, with an office in Washington, DC, where he negotiates not with Congress but with the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. “People here [in the US] are just not aware of this relationship,” he says in frustration, “and if they’re not aware, what’s our solution to it?” Olopai pressed for independence at the time of the plebiscite and when the commonwealth status was approved, he left Saipan for the Caroline Islands to reconnect with his roots. There he learned the dying art of celestial navigation, which he has continued to teach to others since his return to Saipan.

While the US military is not the focus of the film, its presence is inescapable. US soldiers march in uniform in Guam’s annual Liberation Day parade, commemorating the defeat of the Japanese occupation of the island on July 21, 1944. More than 60 years later, the military is still lionized as Guam’s “liberator,” but, as Hope Cristobal comments, “The US has not given us anything but the military.” If the Guam Buildup goes forward as planned, there will be precious little room left on Guam for anything but the military.

For many years, Cristobal made an annual trek to the UN, to appeal for Guam’s self-determination before the Special Committee on Decolonization. In one of the most poignant moments of the film, her daughter Hope Cristobal, Jr. follows in her footsteps and testifies at the UN. The road ahead for Guam is a long one, she comments, “but even if you make one ripple in this big ocean, it still counts.”

The compact (59-minute) and information-packed format of the film make it a valuable resource for teaching and organizing. For information on PBS broadcasts and other screenings of the film, consult the blog here. The film is available on DVD, and a Japanese-subtitled version will be available soon, through the same blog address.

John Junkerman wrote this review for The Asia-Pacific Journal.

John Junkerman is an American documentary filmmaker and Japan Focus associate living in Tokyo. His most recent film, “Japan’s Peace Constitution” (2005), won the Kinema Jumpo and Japan PEN Club best documentary awards. It is available in North America from First Run Icarus Films. He co-produced and edited “Outside the Great Wall,” a film on Chinese writers and artists in exile that will be released in Japan and abroad later this year.

Recommended citation: John Junkerman, “Making the Invisible Empire Visible,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 20-1-10, May 17, 2010.

Chamorro Self-Determination

January 16, 2010 

http://overseasreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/chamorro-self-determination.html

15 January 2010

Chamorro Self-Determination

(Marianas Variety)

By Ben Pangelinan

Over 3,600 years before the lost European Ferdinand Magellan ascended into our small island chain, 3,830 years before my grandmother was born and 3,887 years ago before I was born —the Chamorro people sailed the oceans and lived on this land they called Guahan.

While we may assume that all was well, there was turmoil and fights among the natives, as territories were established, villages were staked out and boundaries were defended. Then in 1668 they came to settle, bringing their own social and religious systems, work, faith and institutions to make our heathen lives civilized and whole.

Some of the natives succumbed and converted. Maga lahis Hineti, Ayihi, So’on and Odo fought on the sides of the occupiers and were rewarded with title and status. Hurao, Ahgao, Hula, Chaifi, Mata’pang and Tolahi and many others resisted and fought these outsiders. They resisted and waged fierce battles to preserve our land, sea, and the fruits and bounties that were ours. They believed it was more important to live as we knew how and to serve our wants and needs as we saw fit. (I Manmanaina-ta: I Manmaga’lahi yan I manma’gas; Geran Chamoru yan Espanot 1668-1695. Ed Benavente 2007).

The resistance lasted for over 27 years and resulted in bloodshed. From the very beginning, the people strongly resisted and would not abandon their ancient customs or bow to the authority of the Spaniards. Governor de la Corta wrote in his Memoria “one does not know which to admire most, whether the tenacity of the Spaniards in conflicts with the elements against a cunning and treacherous people during no less than 20 years of resistance, or that of the natives pursuing such a cruel and prolonged war which could only end in their annihilation and ruin.”

The truth of these words, “annihilation and ruin” is reflected in the “reduccion” which sought to convert the natives. Beginning in 1668, marked by the killing of Pale Diego de San Vitores in 1672 and ending in 1698, it saw the reduction of the Chamorro people from the estimated 60,000 to 100,000 at the time of discovery to just 3,678, according to the 1710 census, a mere 12 years after the end of the war. (The Marianas Islands 1884-1887 Random Notes. Francisco Olice y Garcia. Translated and Annotated by Marjorie G. Driver. Second Edition 2006).

Insight to the determination of the Chamorros to defy the occupiers in the face of certain annihilation and ruin is most clearly articulated by Chief Hurao:

“The Europeans would have done better to remain in their own country. We have no need of their help to live happily. They take away from us the primitive simplicity in which we live. They dare to take away our liberty, which should be dearer to us than life itself. They try to persuade us that we will be happier, and some of us had been blinded into believing their words. But can we have such sentiments if we reflect that we have been covered with misery and illness ever since those foreigners have come to disturb our peace? For what purpose do they teach us except to make us adopt their customs, to subject us to their laws, and lose the precious liberty left to us by our ancestors?

We are stronger than we think! We can quickly free ourselves from these foreigners! We must regain our former freedom.” (Speech by Chief Hurao. Dated: 1671).

But heart and determination was not enough to overcome the resources and the advance weapons of the occupiers. For the next 200 plus years, the people lived under the control and domination of this outside metropolitan government. Then in 1898, as part of the spoils of the Spanish-American War, a new domination was begun. This time it was under the United States of America. While the Spanish used force, faith and bullets to impose their will, this new power was more beguiling using seduction and law to get their way.

An interesting fact of the event of this war, which placed Guam under the United States, was that it was declared after the passage of the Tellar amendment to ensure that the United States would not establish permanent control over Cuba following the cessation of hostilities with Spain. The amended resolution demanded the Spanish withdrawal and authorized the President to use as much military force as he thought necessary to help Cuba gain independence from Spain. Of the four territories taken by the United States because of the war, Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam, Puerto Rico and Guam continue to be under the administrative control of the United States. While the new occupier had a different approach towards the natives, they had one thing in common with the old—they imposed a government upon us, not of our own choosing. 1898 did not only bring a new occupying government over the people of Guam, it also brought a new occupant to Guam and that was my grandmother who was born on this island.

For the next four decades, the United States wielded its authority over the people, making decisions, which suited their needs and determined for us, the natives, what our needs were. Once again, the native leaders rose up to regain our rights, as a people in our own land..

Using reason and law, the weapons of the new occupiers, instead of sword and violence of the old, our leaders fought for our rights to govern ourselves and determine for ourselves what is best for our people. Once again, the occupier’s resources overwhelmed the meager resources of our people. We petitioned the Congress and even walked out of an institution they said gave us democracy and self-government when it was obvious they only did it to appease us. They continued to deny our right to self-determination and to our sisters in waiting—Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines.

Once again, war came and the geopolitical events affecting independent states brought us a short era of foreign domination and occupation of a new power as Japan invaded Guam. Again, our people resisted and fought, while the United States left the Chamorros behind to deal with the invading enemy. The need for a base of operations to defeat the Japanese saw the return of the Americans, as she reclaimed her lost territory to serve as the launching point to end the war. As part of the structure of the new world order, the states of the world organized as a Union Nations dedicated to resolving future disputes in a peaceful manner and recognized the need to respect and honor the rights of those peoples liberated from domination and war.

The signatory states of the United Nations Charter freely agreed to obligate themselves and accept responsibility for the “administration of territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount … and to this end they would seek to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the people, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its people and their varying stages of advancement.” (Chapter X1, Article 73 (b). United Nations Charter).

At the signing of the United Nations Charter, nearly 100 nations were voluntarily placed on the list of non-self governing territories by the signatory states which held these places before World War II and entrusted to them the administration of the affairs to be governed according to the Charter. The United States as part of this event, accepted the obligation over Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Micronesia).

Since the establishment of the list, over 80 of the territories from the original list of non-self governing territories have been herded by their administrative authority through the process of self-determination, attaining the free expression of the people, their ultimate desire. Despite this progress, by 1960 the General Assembly believed that the pace of decolonization of the non-self governing territories, which still included Guam was too slow and adopted two landmark resolutions.

The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples marked the shift from the “principle of self determination for these territories” to “all peoples have the right to self-determination.” It further states that, “All people have the right to self-determination by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development” (Resolution 1514(XV).

A component of that Declaration of Colonial People, Resolution 1514 set forth three ways in which these territories can attain a full measure of self-determination as envisioned in the Charter.The first option is Free association with an independent State as a result of the voluntarily choice expressed through an informed and democratic process. The second option is through Integration with an independent State based on complete equality between the peoples of the non-self governing territory and the independent State. And the third option was Independence. Whatever the option chosen by the people of the non-self governing territory, it must be the result of the freely expressed wishes of these peoples.

As of today, there remain 16 non-self governing territories from the original list of close to 100 who have yet to exercise self-determination and freely express their choice. Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, all administrated by the United States are part of the last remaining 16. There have been attempts by administrating authorities to redefine not only the process of self-determination and decolonization, but the status of self government as well. Decolonization is what happens when one exercises self-determination. It is direct democracy and affirmative action freely expressed by the people themselves, clearly a right inherent in the people of Guam and clearly remains unexercised to this date.

With the signing of the Treaty of Paris on April 11, 1899 between Spain and the United States, Guam’s status as a territory under the sovereignty of the United States was cemented in law with the ratification of the treaty. While we may not accept it, Guam and its people became the property of the United States and the governing of the people of Guam and their rights fell to the Congress. Article IX of the Treaty of Paris declared, “The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants… shall be determined by the Congress.”

The subsequent placement of Guam on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories by the United States effectively transferred the purview and process of determining the civil rights and political status for the people of Guam to the United Nations. The ratification and the acceptance of the United Nations Charters and Resolutions by the United States now governs the processes for granting the rights of the people of Guam to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, in my opinion, confers upon the people of Guam the rights contained in the applicable United Nations process.

The petition for citizenship and the subsequent granting of such citizenship by the Organic Act is consistent with the responsibility of the United States as the administrating authority over Guam to “provide progressive development of their free political institutions” in no way can be defended as the free expression of the people of Guam. Acceptance of such incremental development and the improvement in such status is not the free exercise of choosing such status and most certainly not the will of the people. It is still a will imposed upon the people—no matter how generous, no matter how benevolent, no matter how good the administrating authority is. The true test of their goodness is when we decide on our own what we want for ourselves and they support it. Unfortunately, they have not been good.

When we talk about self-determination, one of the key elements of this exercise is the free and educated expression of the people’s right in determining their political status for themselves. As the administrating authority, it is the responsibility of the United States to fund the education process, so that the status option, whichever one is selected is not the status offered by those who have the most money to present their case.

An educated choice is the essential element in the exercise of self-determination and the people must be educated on the promise and the reality of each option to ensure a free choice.

Who are the people vested with the right of self-determination? It is clear that these people are the native inhabitants of a territory who are living under a political status or part of a political relationship with another state without their free expression to do so. These are the people to which the United Nations Charter speaks to as the colonial peoples of the non-self governing territories. Beginning with the Guam Legislature’s empanelling of the Political Status Commission in 1973, the struggle by the people of Guam to exercise their right to self-determination as recognized under the international law was initiated. A special Commission on the Political Status of Guam followed leading to Guam’s first political status plebiscite in 1976. The plebiscite was open to all the voters of Guam with a majority selecting the option of improved status quo.

In 1977, the federally sanctioned Constitutional Convention resulted in the draft of a constitution that was approved by the Congress but ultimately rejected by the people of Guam. The constitution was still subject to a status imposed upon the people, not of their own choosing. With a new Commission on Self-Determination in 1980, another status plebiscite, opened to all registered voters was approved. The plebiscite was held in 1982 with seven available status options. When none received a majority, a run off was held with the choice of commonwealth status eclipsing statehood by a three to one margin. For the next fifteen years, Congress and the President deferred any concrete action to approve the Guam Commonwealth Act.

The Commonwealth Act provided for Chamorro self-determination, mutual consent and immigration control, agreed to by the United States in the Covenant with the Northern Marianas. In 1997 during a congressional hearing before the House Resources Committee, it became clear that federal officials would not support these provisions in Guam’s Commonwealth Act.

With the continued inaction by the United States, the people of Guam and the leaders of Guam turn to the international basis of the right of the people of Guam to self-determination as embodied by the acceptance of the United States of the United Nations Charters and Resolutions which clearly outline the process for the decolonization of a people who remain under the list of non-self governing territories. This foray into accepting a constitution, drafting a constitution, voting on a constitution without the freely expressed wishes of the people as to the political status upon which this constitution will be used to govern, is what is missing.

From that failure, the direction has changed. It is now the policy of the people of Guam to seek first the expression of our right to self-determination through the freely exercised vote on a plebiscite for the statuses available to us under the United Nations articles and resolutions. No granting of any amount of internal self-governance without the people of Guam first freely voting on the political status that frames such self-governance can be interpreted as an expression and the fulfillment of the right of the people of Guam to self-determination.

We look forward to this continued effort, this continued quest of the people of Guam – the colonized people of Guam to exercise and make their fully educated choice on the options presented to us under the UN Charter and UN Resolution to fulfill the right of self-determination inherent in a people subjugated and dominated by administrating powers over the last four hundred years.