Thursday, October 23, 2008

Summit Will Tackle Self-Determination Issue

Chamoru Summit II tackles self-determination options
Friday, 24 October 2008
By Beau Hodai
Variety News Staff

AN event to educate and get young Chamorros involved with issues of self determination will be held tomorrow at the University of Guam. Hope Cristobal

The Chamoru Summit II will be held at the UOG College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences lecture hall from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this Saturday.
Lisa Natividad, an organizer of the event and an assistant professor at the university in the division of social work, said the event will be divided into two tracks, the first track focusing on options for Chamorro self-determination.

She said the first track will be divided into four sections.

The first section will be a presentation by former Senator Hope Cristobal on a framework for self-determination as outlined by the United Nations. The second section will be a presentation on the option of statehood. The third section will focus on the option of free association and the fourth option will discuss the option of all-out independence.

"The whole idea is that at some point, we have to exercise the right," said Natividad. "And exercising the right basically means getting out there, having a vote, and the people deciding on which avenue to pursue -- and then developing that particular political agreement with the U.S.," she said.

"We would then move into developing a compact or some sort of political relationship with the U.S. to move away from the unincorporated territory status that we have now-- which really is equivalent to that of a colony," she added.

Natividad said that track two of the event will focus on different strategies toward gaining self-determination, and will be broken down into five separate committee meetings.

One committee will deal with legal strategies, another with issues of economic development.

Two committees will deal with educational strategies and aspects of Chamorro education and one will deal with registering Chamorros to the Chamorro Registry.

Cristobal, who established the registry and the Decolonization Commission while in the Legislature, said she hopes the summit will serve not only to educate young Chamorros on the right to self determination but also serve as a forum for discussion on the subject and encourage a new generation to register as Chamorros.

She said it is important for people to register so that they can asses their numbers and work better as a whole towards the goal of self-determination.

"I feel there has been no progress toward this by our public officials," said Cristobal. She went on to say that, on an international scale, there are many people in the global community who don't realize that there are people living under the United States who are struggling to maintain their identities.

Natividad said that in light of the approaching military buildup, the issue of self-determination is especially pressing.

"The military presence is a real big concern when you're talking about Chamorro self-determination issues," said Natividad. "One of the main reasons why it's a big concern is because when you talk about increasing the population of Guam with the military, it waters down the population of the people who are able to vote for this. Their increased presence here is a real threat to Chamorros having the right and opportunity to exercise self-determination."

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