Friday, July 20, 2007

Sad, But True

Unpingco: US hasn't changed attitude toward Chamorros
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
June 20. 2007

SENATOR Tony Unpingco, R-Santa Rita, believing that the United States hasn't changed its post-war attitude toward Chamorros, urges the people of Guam to "stand up for our rights."

"Right after the war, there were 250,000 military personnel on island. The landscape and the mood may be totally different now, but the American attitude toward us seems to remain the same," said Unpingco, chairman of the military and veterans affairs committee.

Unpingco said the secret memo that has been kept in confidential file since 1945 "opens up a lot of bad memories."

He was referring to the memo issued on Nov. 21, 1945 by Vice Adm. G.D. Murray, then commander of the Marianas Navy Force, which revealed the United States' apparent condescension toward the island's residents.

Murray stated that "the economic development and administration of relatively few native inhabitants should be subordinate to the real purpose for which those islands are held."

The island's commercial or industrial value and its resources were "of little or no relative importance to the welfare of the United States," he added.

"We're not a piece of property," Unpingco said.

He said the U.S.'s condescending attitude has been evident in the way federal officials ignore Guam's demand for war reparation and the veterans' claims.

"I would like to think that the U.S. policy has changed but the attitude still exists. Most of the Americans in mainland don't know who we are. They don't recognize that we are a part of the United States. They need to be educated about Guam," Unpingco said.

"It irritates you and gets you fired up because of these stupid people. We need to stand up and let them know who we are," he added.

Debbie Quinata, maga'haga of Nasion Chamoru, said the secret memo was consistent with the way the U.S. military is currently making decisions for Guam.

"That's how they see us ― a convenient possession to serve their war. Their only intention is to turn Guam into one big military base," Quinata said.

She described the military officials' scoping meeting on Guam as a farcical "PR job" that is only meant to follow a procedure.

"They pretend to be interested in how the community feels about the military buildup. They pretend to take our inputs when, in fact, whatever we tell them doesn't matter because they have already made the decision," Quinata said.

"They're only holding these meetings to comply with the requirement and complete the paper work. This is almost a comedy," she added.

Quinata also lambasted elected leaders for not showing up at the scoping meetings with military officials. "We elected them to represent us, but where are they?" she asked.

At Monday's scoping meeting at the Hilton Hotel, Quinata said only members of Nasion Chamoru showed up to represent the civilian population.

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