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
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO REPOST ANY OF THIS – I AM A STRONG BELIEVER THAT INCREASED AWARENESS CAN CONTRIBUTE TO LONG-TERM, POSITIVE CHANGE. THANKS!
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.
GUAM COALITION SPEAKS AT UNITED NATIONS, SEEKS END TO RECENT US MILITARY BUILD-UP
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.”)
GUAM DELEGATION TO UNITED NATIONS WELL RECEIVED BY TOP UN OFFICIALS: DECOLINIZATION, HALT TO US MILITARY BUILD-UP PRIORITIZED
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.