testimonies 2

new title up! kari has 2 in a row! who will stop her! what’s posted below is the second testimony — and tells history in quite a different way that the previous posted testimony… what do you think of the narrative strategies in this testimony? Especially in conjunction with the testimony two posts down by Fanai Castro, whose testimony begins with a Chamorro Myth, and continues to mythologize colonialism into a mythic, destructive FIRE. To me, this strategy is emotionally effective and urgent. Reminds me of Yeats and Duncan (who mythologizes everything!) ANYWAYS, LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK…


by HOPE CRISTOBAL (of The Organization of People for Indigenous Rights)


Hafa Adei, Your Excellency Mr. Chairman, Excellencies and Members of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (4th Committee):

It has been over 20 years now since we have been appearing before the UN. As an NGO, it was OPI-R that was responsible for initiating in 1982 the people of Guam’s direct participation at the UN. The young Chamorros here today, were but little toddlers when I began my appearance at the UN. They represent the new generation of Chamorros that have been active in Guam’s social and political affairs both locally and internationally. Mr. Chairman and Your Excellencies, thank you and si Yu’os ma’ase’ on behalf of the colonized indigenous people of Guam for convening this important meeting on the Question of Guam.

As you know, our people’s history spans over 4,000 years. Having developed a language and culture unique to the Mariana Islands, my people first experienced the pain of foreign domination under Spain. During the 28 years of Chamorro-Spanish wars in the 17th century, my ancestors fought to protect our people, our culture, and our freedom. Considered a national hero today, one of our great Chamorro Chiefs of the 17th century, Maga’lahi Hurao, rallied over 2,000 Chamorro warriors in our capital city of Hagatna to resist the Spaniards and to fight for liberty–one that he described as having been handed down by our ancestors. Hurao knew the concept of nationhood and he longed to protect our people and our way of life. But, it was not to be. Our people not only suffered the loss of tens of thousands of our heroic ancestors but also suffered the loss of our sovereignty in our homeland for over 300 years.

Your Excellencies, it is this lost sovereignty that we, during the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, seek to restore for upcoming generations of Chamorro.


(article 10 of the treaty of paris)


It was through the 1898 Treaty of Paris that Guam officially became a colony of the United States of America whose sole interest was to expand its military presence, making our homeland the most strategic US colonial outpost in the Pacific. As for the people, political subjugation for US military interests has created a situation of uncertainty, neglect and inattention to our basic human, civil and political rights.

Sovereign authority over Guam continues in the hands of the US and it remains there (with the exception of 31 months of oppressive occupation by Japanese forces in WWII.) for over 100 years now. A 1901 US Supreme Court decision (Downes v. Bidwell) has legitimized this authority over Guam (when it ruled that the “insular territories” are not equivalent to the states; thus the US Congress has unlimited authority over US territories since the Constitution of the US in inapplicable). This decision by the Court enabled an unprecedented subjugation of my people by the US Navy and the US Congress.

The US’s aggressive campaign to institute political and military superiority in the Pacific after WWII served to re-establish US sovereignty over Guam. US military land confiscation policies (with the goal of claiming over 50% of our island home and creating reservations for the Chamorro people) displaced my people and violated our land rights for their military interests. Currently, the US military holds 1/3 of the island and by all recent accounts, plan on using more lands for military weapons and training exercises for the 9,000 military personnel being relocated to Guam from Okinawa and Korea. Furthermore, the unilaterally passed Congressional Organic Act of Guam that made us US citizens in 1950 also legitimized US ownership of the confiscated lands under the US Navy (with Congress given the “…power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory…” (Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution). In effect, setting the parameters for the framework within which Guam is to develop politically, culturally and socially.

Your Excellencies, it is a sad commentary that the administering Power year after year, abstains or votes against UN resolutions addressing the Question of Guam and resolutions reflecting the work of the UN on decolonization including the recent resolution on the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism! With this non-support by Guam’s administering Power, it’s small wonder that the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories under the administration of the United States will soon turn half a century old without much progress.



For over three decades the administering Power dominated the discussions at the UN until our Organization and representatives from the Chamorro government of Guam came before you to help clarify the unresolved Question of Guam; and more importantly, to set the record straight in view of stepped up efforts by the US to deny the Chamorro people our right to determine our political destiny.

Two Guam Constitutions: one in 1972 and one in 1979 were not ratified. The people of Guam, ALL the eligible U.S. citizen voters including U.S. servicemen, new settlers and eligible immigrants in all their wisdom, voted not to ratify the Constitutions. U.S. law P.L. 94-584 had mandated a constitution written under strict parameters to include sovereignty under the United States. But with the work of our grassroots, people heeded the rally cry, “No status, No constitution!”

Our entire political status process has developed without the active involvement or encouragement of the administering Power. A process of interim political status with limited internal self-government was initiated after the locally mandated 1987 plebiscite resulted in the status of Commonwealth; a choice by registered US voters. The resulting draft Guam Commonwealth Act which had been before the Congress for consideration since 1989 was eventually heard by US Congress in 1997 but was rejected because of its provisions on Chamorro self-determination, local control of immigration and other aspects of US control over Guam; a major concern being the protection of the military presence on Guam. Terms such as “national interests” or “strategic considerations” are code words for maintaining US bases.

The US holds its security interests above any other concerns present in Guam and thus the scope and breadth of military activity on Guam is a result of a unilateral and arbitrary US policy rather than from mutual agreement. Meanwhile, our people live with the labels, “possession of the United States” or, “Unincorporated (permanent colony) territory of the US”. And consequently, all processes along political, social and economic lines are allowed only within the parameters established by the US.


(Apra Harbor, Guam)


The military’s impact on our political process is significant in light of the fact that military personnel and their families are eligible to vote in local elections by virtue of their US citizenship and in spite of the transitory nature of their residency. This participation of US troops in a referendum on political status in a non-self-governing territory is illogical, unfair and an affront to our democratic right to vote on a status that will determine our political destiny. Air Force Lt. General Daniel Leaf confirmed this US Constitutional right of US troops to participate in Guam local elections just last month (September 13, 2006) during his visit to Guam. This is especially critical as the US military views such an exercise to be a threat to their interests and continued presence with a minimum of interference.

After Guam’s Commonwealth proposal failed in Congress, the government of Guam began our decolonization process by enacting into law a Chamorro Registry that sets the mechanism for the Chamorro people to register for the self-determination vote and the law creating the Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation and Exercise of Chamorro Self-Determination. To date, however, there has been little progress towards the exercise of Chamorro self-determination based on the three standards as outlined in UN Resolution 1541.

The US’s stated position that the term “Non-self-governing” is inappropriate for those who can establish their own constitution, elect their own public officers, have representation in Washington and choose their own economic path does not reflect our reality in Guam. Your Excellencies, the freedom to run our local government, to make laws for ourselves in our homeland, to elect a non-voting US paid delegate to US Congress does not equate political freedom. And neither is writing a constitution as defined under the sovereignty of the US.

Your Excellencies, as we approach the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (in 2010), the Chamorro people’s journey towards decolonization is once again at a crucial juncture with new and old obstacles due to (1) an administering Power that does not recognize nor does it respect the political rights and cultural affairs of the Chamorro people in our situation as related to self-determination; (2) US immigration policies that continue to diminish our people as a group in our homeland. (From 51.8% in 1960 to 45.1% in 1980, to 43.3% in 1990 to 37.1% in Year 2000); (3) Mounting pressures coming from all sides including US media that is hostile to Chamorro self-determination; (4) US backed privatization of Chamorro assets such as water, power generation, communications infrastructure and our one port facility; and (5) Impediments to the exercise of Chamorro self-determination by the planned increased militarization of Guam.

We ask that you approve a UN resolution in which the General Assembly reaffirms that the Question of Guam is a question of decolonization and which remains to be completed by the Chamorro people of Guam and one in which our administering Power is held genuinely accountable to the Plan of Action under the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism ending in 2010.



14 thoughts on “testimonies 2

  1. That would be from Billy Collins’ “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror.”

    Long pause.


    It’s Ashbery. Do I get extra points for saying that the work that this book is about is by Parmigianino?

  2. hahahahaha! you get the point

    meduim pause

    and a BONUS POINT for the Parmigianino reference!

    AND i’ll give anyone another BONUS POINT if you can tell me either 1) the city where this painting is held 2) the Museum or 3) BOTH


  3. Well, that’s a good one:
    Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

    And the painting is C. 1524.

    I studied it in an Art History class in college 🙂

  4. nice job iseult! a bonus point for you! when i saw the painting in Vienna, i was struck by how small it was! it’s diameter is only 24.4 centimeters!

    crazy…anyhoo — new title up — good luck everyone!

  5. oh yay, anne sexton’s the awful rowing toward god
    hehe, was probably the first one to see the new title (complaining pays off!)

  6. Been teaching and being taught all day & night. But I would not have known the answer to the museum question, anyway. I would be nice to see that painting, though. It is a brilliant book.

    I have seen some Henry Darger stuff in person, but I actually don’t like Girls on the Run that much. It’s a fine enough poem, or group of poems, but it doesn’t work that well for me as ekphrasis. The disconnect is that Ashbery treats it as camp, but for Darger it was anything but.

    I’m sure you were all just *dying* to hear my assessment of Girls on the Run…I better be careful or Craig will take my extra point away!

  7. thanks Mark, i have never read Girls on the Run so was quite happy you commented! Ekphrasis is soooo difficult to me — not only making an engaging poem, but finding a convincing way to enter the work that doesnt betray the art or artist … altho, i guess ekphrasis can also be built by betraying the art if that’s the thing…

    i should’ve posted this in the new blog post…maybe i will if folks respond in the comments…but can me make a list of GREAT EKPHRASTIC POEMS/BOOKS… that would be useful i think!

  8. “examples of ekphrastic poetry” (with explination becuase we don’t all know what everything means all the time, or maybe that’s just me)

    and my fav example would have to be john ashbery and jane hammond, though, now that i mention it… did john ashbery write poems for those paintings or only deliver on the titles?

    and then there’s which may not make any “best of” lists, but well, miss sam duffy is a fine example of what king of artist a poet wants.

  9. Off the top of my head; one of the earliest pieces of ekphrasis is the “Shield of Achilles” section of the Iliad (or is it the Odyssey) one or the other. There’s William Carlos Williams’ “Pictures from Breughel” poem (not a full book, I know), there’s Clark Coolidge’s Crystal Text which is about a crystal on his desk–not, technically a work of art (the crystal), but ekphrasis of a sort. There are a lot of Classical chinese poets from the Song dynasty who were writing poems to paintings, ekphrasis was sort of a fad at that time, many of which are pretty interesting. More often, there are individual paintings about individual works of art–these are all over the place and too numerous to mention.

    That’s all I can think of presently, off the top of my head and staring at my bookshelf, but there is much more than that!

    I have been working on an ekphrastic project about Francesca Woodman’s photographs, a few poems from which can be found here.

  10. thanks katy! that first link is a fantastic resource, and miss sam duffy has really interesting work … will have to read jane hammond…

    thanks mark also! will have to go read the ‘shield of achilles’ section – a fascinating connection. and thanks for the other connections as well, will have to check out coolidge…

    are there any ekphrastic anthologies out there? def. your Face Time, and Spaceship, have you thought of doing others?

    anyways, really enjoyed the Woodman photos and your poems…inspired to start some ekphrastic SOON…

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