‘the world heard the testimonies of’


A FEW DAYS AGO, a delegation of activists from guam met with the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee and top officials from the UN Political Affairs Bureau to discuss UN concerns about the increased US military presence on Guam and the island’s continued status as a US colony.

THREE SECTIONS FOLLOW: 1) a brief background on the history of colonialism on guam 2) a press release from Guahan Indigenous Collective – describes the issues to be discussed at the UN 3) a second press release that describes the result of the meeting



Guam is the southernmost island of the Marianas Island Chain, in Micronesia. The native people of Guam, with a history of over 3,500 years, call themselves and their language Chamoru. Colonized by Spain for more than three hundred
years, awarded to the U.S. after Spain’s defeat in 1898 as part of the Treaty of Paris (along with Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippine Islands), taken by Japan in World War II only to be re-taken by the US at its close, Guam is one of the few remaining non-self-governing territories (colonies) of the world, and is subject to administration by the Office of Insular Affairs in the U.S. Department of Interior.

Since World War II, this 212 square mile island, often referred to as the “tip of America’s military spear,” has been vital in securing U.S. military and economic interests throughout the Pacific and Asia. 60% of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet in the region will be based on Guam. The small island will become the “largest, most forward US military installation! in the Pacific theatre,” which will make Guam a first-strike target in any altercation with China and/or North Korea.

The Chamoru people of Guam stand at the crosshairs of the U.S. military stage in the Pacific. They are confronted nationally with a governing administration that purports to spread democracy while denying it for its territories, and locally by the Guam elite and the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce who, in hopes of lining their already over-stuffed pockets, use the media and resources at their disposal to push relentlessly for the privatization of all public assets and the increased militarization of Guam.


Groups connect increased militarization to Guam’s continuing status as a US colony

A coalition of community leaders and educators from Guam and the Chamoru diaspora will petition the United Nations to hold the United States accountable, as Guam’s administering power, to its moral and legal responsibilities to ensure basic human rights and the right to self-determination of the native Chamoru people. At a meeting of the UN’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee to be held Oct. 4 and 5, the coalition will show how an expected population increase of at least 35,000 people from a massive US military build-up hinders the right of Chamorus to decolonization and violates the human rights of all people from Guam.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) unveiled its plan to move 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa and South Korea to Guam, and to increase the existing population of Navy and Air Force personnel on the island. By 2014, there will be an estimated population increase of at least 35,000 people, which will greatly impact the island’s current population of 168,000 and Guam’s cultural, political, social and ecological environment. This build-up will cost the governments of the US, Japan and Guam tens of billions of dollars.

DOD currently occupies 30 percent of Guam, and invests so much of its military might into the island that Guam is often called “the tip of the spear.” Current plans are to establish a Global Strike Force on Guam, involving rotating 48 F-22 and F-15E fighter jets, six B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers and adding as many as 6 nuclear submarines to the three Guam already houses. Sixty percent of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet will be based on Guam.

The Chamoru people continue to be subjected to the existence of toxic elements left by the U.S. military as a result of the storage of chemical agents, PCB-contamination in the waters, and down-winder’s radiation, as well as radiation from the washing-down of airplanes and ships used in monitoring nuclear testing in the Pacific.

The people of Guam have no legal recourse in which to contest the United States’ militarization and toxic pollution of the island. Guam remains a colony of the United States because the United States has not allowed the people of Guam the right under international law to determine their own structure of government, and ultimately the terms of the relationship between Guam and the United States. Therefore, Guam still remains colonized 46 years after the adoption of the UN Declaration on decolonization and half-way through the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. Guam is one of 11 places deemed Non-Self-Governing (or colonized) Territories by the United Nations whom will be discussed at the United Nations’ decolonization meeting Oct. 4 and 5.


(“AMERICAN COLORS are officially raised for the first time on Guam in front of III Amphibious Corps Headquarters on 27 July 1944.”)



A coalition of community organizers and writers from Guam met with the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee on October 4 and top officials from the UN Political Affairs Bureau October 5 to discuss UN concerns about the increased US military presence on Guam and the island’s continued status as a US colony.

Delegates from around the world heard the testimonies of Julian Aguon of I Nasion Chamoru, Kerri Ann Borja who read on behalf of Hope Alvarez Cristobal of the Organization of People for Indigenous Rights, Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero of the Guahan Indigenous Collective, Sabina Perez of the International Peoples’ Coalition Against Military Contamination, Tiffany Rose Naputi Lacsado of the National Asian Pacific American Womens’ Forum, Fanai Castro of the Chamoru Cultural Development and Research Institute.

Ambassadors and delegations from various countries including Venezuela, India, the Virgin Islands, Nepal, and the Western Sahara, commented on the coalition’s extensive knowledge base and were inspired by the words of such young Chamorus. The members of the delegation were the youngest people in the room.

Their testimonies were so compelling that UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari received coalition members in a closed-door session to discuss the future of Chamoru self-determination in light of the scheduled US militarization of Guam.

Gambari said: it is the goal of the United Nations to help the Chamoru people attain the basic human right to self-determination, as part of its Charter and that it is also an ethical issue of great concern.

Recognizing the urgency of Guam’s situation, Gambari set up a second meeting with the coalition and the Political Affairs Bureau officials to advance the island’s decolonization process within the institutional framework of the UN. The military buildup of Guam is an impediment to the island’s decolonization process. This and other issues including the critical need to develop a viable, local economy based on long-term, sustainable development.



6 thoughts on “‘the world heard the testimonies of’

  1. Have you continued a non-poetry streak; can it be true?

    Is this one “Where I’m Calling From”, the collection of Raymond Carver stories? I’ve only read a few of them, but this book is actually on my Amazon.com Wish List (along with about 400 other books I should probably just get from the library)!

  2. Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples

    General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 declares that:

    1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.

    2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

    3. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.

    4. All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.

    5. Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.

    6. Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

    7. All States shall observe faithfully and strictly the provision of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the present Declaration on the basis of equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of all States, and respect for the sovereign rights of all peoples and their territorial integrity.

  3. Territories to which the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples Continues to Apply (as of 2001)

    Territory Administering Authority

    Western Sahara 1

    Asia and the Pacific
    American Samoa United States
    East Timor 2
    Guam United States
    New Caledonia 3 France
    Pitcairn United Kingdom
    Tokelau New Zealand

    Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean
    and Mediterranean
    Anguilla United Kingdom
    Bermuda United Kingdom
    British Virgin Islands United Kingdom
    Cayman Islands United Kingdom
    Falkland Islands (Malvinas) United Kingdom
    Gibraltar United Kingdom
    Montserrat United Kingdom
    St. Helena United Kingdom
    Turks and Caicos Islands United Kingdom
    United States Virgin Islands United States

  4. I know this one! With His Pistol in His Hand by Americo Paredes (don’t know how to do the accents, lo siento Americo!)

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