Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clinton Vows Funding for Troop Buildup

Clinton vows funding for Guam troop buildup
Wednesday April 30, 2008
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan, Variety News Staff

UNDER the administration of Hillary Clinton, Guam can be assured of funding assistance from Washington D.C. to help the island deal with the cost of military buildup and local officials will be fully consulted on the planning process, according to the New York senator's campaign.

"Hillary will ensure that the US helps the government of Guam finance capital improvements," reads a statement from the Clinton campaign.

"Improving civilian infrastructure will help Guam accommodate the increased population and create new opportunities for economic development and expansion," the statement added.

The campaign also said Clinton will appoint a senior advisor who will report directly to the Secretary of Defense to fully consult with Guam's officials in the planning process. The advisor will be the territory's point of contact to address any concerns during the build-up and beyond, according to the campaign.

"This would raise the visibility and priority of the territory's perspectives to the highest policy levels at the Department of Defense, at other Federal agencies and at the White House," the statement read.

The campaign also disclosed Clinton's plan to open a local procurement and technical assistance center that will help small businesses on Guam get involved with military construction projects.

"Hillary will also support competitive local small business set-asides and local hiring preferences to ensure that Guamanians have a fair opportunity to compete for and carry out federal contracts," the statement said.

"These measures will boost local employment as well as develop a stronger and broader base of local small businesses to foster greater development and diversification of Guam's economy."

Clinton Promises Special Guam Representative

Clinton Promises Special Guam Representative
Pacific Magazine
May 1, 2008

U.S. presidential candidate Hilary Clinton says she'll appointment a special representative from Guam to the Defense Department to represent the territory's interests in the huge military buildup on the island, the Pacific Daily News reports.

"This would raise the visibility and priority of the territory's perspectives to the highest policy levels at the Department of Defense, at other federal agencies and at the White House," the Clinton campaign said in a statement.

Clinton's promise is the latest effort to woo support in Guam's Democratic Party caucus this Saturday. She and Sen. Barack Obama are competing vigorously for the territory's nine delegates to the party's convention in August.

Clinton also promised to order the U.S. Small Business Administration to establish a "Procurement and Technical Assistance Center" on Guam to help local firms bid on military contracts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Worse is Yet to Come

Guam Editorials :: 'The worse is yet to come'
The Marianas Variety
Tuesday April 22, 2008

The relocation of approximately forty thousand plus U.S. military personnel and their dependents coming to Guam in the years ahead (some are already here as advanced party), plus thousands of self-interest groups of business people and their associates, alien workers, and "pretend" tourists will mean the worse is yet to come with dangerous wastewater sewage overflows and other infrastructure disasters.

Now that the glorious federalization bill to control CNMI immigration has passed awaiting the President's signature, Guam can now prepare to embrace even more of an exploding population --- with hundreds, if not thousands, seeking safe haven coming over from CNMI, in addition to those from Compact Impact areas.

Greed is spreading like wildfire with big business and Chamber of Commerce associates, especially now with their latest initiative for a part-time legislature. The people will be run over by those with only their self-interest in mind. The people will have no voice in our government.

Chaos is also brewing among our government leaders who think this impending massive military build-up will enhance Guam's failing economy. It is already evident that the sick, the poor, the manamko, the common and ordinary people who cannot make ends meet to survive are the ones being sacrificed to satisfy federalization and the military buildup.

Human trafficking and alien smuggling is nearly a routine thing on Guam with so many undetected boats carrying aliens landing on our shores, capsized boats hitting our reefs, prostitution in night clubs and massage parlors, and with the fake driver's license scam. Where else? What else?

This military buildup has nothing to do with improving Guam's failing economy or providing job opportunities. This military buildup is all connected to China's increasing might, from tension with Tibet and Taiwan to issues with North Korea. This is why Guam is being fortified like there's no tomorrow.

Guam has experienced the agony of war and major natural disasters. Guam and her colonized people will suffer more catastrophes like never before under the impending massive military buildup. This is why Guam is doomed for disaster --- gone with the wind!

Fanmanaitai yan si Yu'os u bindisi hit todu! Pas para todu!

Vicente "Fa'et" Garrido

Indigenous Politics: Sovereignty in the Marianas Islands

Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond
Tuesdays 4-5pm EDT/1-2pm PST/10-11amHST
88.1 fm, Middletown, CT
Listen online LIVE:

On Tuesday, April 22nd, join your host Dr. J. Kehaulani Kauanui, for an episode
examining Chamorro Self-Determination in the US colony Guam and throughout
the Chamorro diaspora. Guam is an island that is part of the chain of the
Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific Ocean. It is an organized unincorporated
territory of the United States-one of five US colonial territories with established
civilian government. Guam is listed on the UN list of non-self-governing territories; the island and her people are still eligible to decolonize from the USA under international law.

This episode will include interviews with three different Chamorro activists: Julian Aguon from Honolulu, Hawai`i, Michael Lujan Bevacqua in San Diego, CA, and Sabina Flores Perez from the San Francisco, CA. Julian Aguon is a writer, human rights activist and speaker throughout the Asia and the Pacific region. He is the author of Just Left of the Setting Sun (2005), The Fire This Time: Essays on Life Under US Occupation (2006), and the just-released What We Bury At Night: Disposable Humanity (2008). He is currently a law student at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and a fellow with the East West Center. Michael Lujan Bevacqua is PhD student in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego, the editor of the Chamorro zine, Minagåhet, and a co-founder of the Chamorro activist organization, Famoksaiyan.
Sabina Flores Perez is a cultural activist in Guam and in the Bay Area. She is another key organizer of Famoksaiyan who has helped organize several the trips of several Chamorro delegations to testify before the United Nations in New York.
Seasons One & Two now archived online and ready for podcasting:

"Indigenous Politics" is now syndicated weekly on Pacifica-affiliate station
105.3 FM--WETX-LP, "The independent voice of Appalachia" each Thursday
at 8pm (EDT).

Guam's Intervention

I Nasion Chamoru (The Chamoru Nation)
Julian Aguon, Chamoru Rights Advocate
PO Box 8725
Tamuning, Guam 96931

Seventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues – April 2008 – New York, NY

Item # 6
Topic: Pacific
Presenter: Julian Aguon

Collective Intervention of the Chamoru Nation and Affiliated Indigenous Chamoru Organizations; Society for Threatened Peoples International (ECOSOC); CORE (ECOSOC); Western Shoshone Defense Project; Flying Eagle Woman Fund (ECOSOC); Mohawk Nation at Kahmawake; Cultural Development and Research Institute; Famoksaiyan; Organization of People for Indigenous Rights; Colonized Chamoru Coalition; Chamoru Landowners Association; Chamoru Language Teachers Association; Guahan Indigenous Collective; Hurao, Inc.; Landowners United; Chamoru Veterans Association; Fuetsan Famaloan

Ati addeng-miyo your Excellencies. My name is Julian Aguon and I appear before you with the full support and blessings of my elders. I address you on behalf of the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam, an endangered people now being rushed toward full-blown extinction.
In 2008, the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam brace ourselves for a storm of U.S. militarization so enormous in scope, so volatile in nature, so irreversible in consequence. U.S. military realignment in the Asia-Pacific region seeks to homeport sixty percent of its Pacific Fleet in and around our ancient archipelago. With no input from the indigenous Chamoru people and over our deepening dissent, the US plans to flood Guam, its Colony in Perpetuity, with upwards of 50,000 people, which includes the 8,000 U.S. Marines and their 9,000 dependents being ousted by Okinawa and an outside labor force estimated upwards of 20,000 workers on construction contracts. In addition, six nuclear submarines will be added to the three already stationed in Guam as well as a monstrous Global Strike Force, a strike and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance hub at Andersen Air Force Base.
This buildup only complements the impressive Air Force and Navy show of force occupying 1/3 of our 212 square mile island already. This massive military expansionism exacts devastating consequences on my people, who make up only 37% of the 170,000 people living in Guam and who already suffer the signature maladies of a colonial condition.
The military buildup of Guam endangers our fundamental and inalienable human right to self-determination, the exercise of which our Administering Power, the United States, has strategically denied us—in glaring betrayal of its international obligations under the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN General Assembly Resolution 1514, to name but some.
The unilateral decision to hyper-militarize our homeland is the latest in a long line of covenant breaches on the part of our Administering Power to guide Guam toward self-governance. It was made totally without consulting the indigenous Chamoru people. No public education campaign regarding the social, cultural, and political consequences of this hyper-militarization has been seriously undertaken or even contemplated.

Of the 10.3 billion dollars settled upon by the U.S. and Japan for the transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, nothing has been said as to whether or not this money will be used to improve our flailing infrastructure. Recently, the largest joint military exercise in recent history conducted what were casually called war games off Guam waters. 22,000 US military personnel, 30 ships, and 280 aircraft partook in "Valiant Shield." That weekend, water was cut off to a number of local villages on the Navy water line. The local people of those villages went some thirty days without running water. Across the military-constructed fence, the tap flowed freely for the U.S. military population. The suggestion of late is that Guam is expected to foot the bill of this re-occupation. Meetings with defense officials have proved empty. Military officers we have met with inform us only of their inability to commit to anything. In effect, they repeat that they have no working plans to spend money on civilian projects. Dollars tied to this transfer have been allocated to development only within the bases. Money for education in the territory will again be allocated to schools for children of U.S. military personnel and not ours. Meanwhile, virtually every public sector in Guam is being threatened with privatization.
There is talk of plans to condemn more of our land to accommodate its accelerated military needs. In contrast, there is no talk of plans to clean up radioactive contaminations (strontium, in particular) of Guam from toxins leftover from the U.S.’ World War II activities and its intense nuclear bombing campaign of the Marshall Islands only 1200 miles from Guam. Indeed, the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam suffer extraordinarily high rates of cancer and dementia-related illness due to the U.S.’ widespread toxic contamination of Guam. For example, Chamorus suffer from nasopharynx cancer at a rate 1,999% higher than the U.S. average (per 100,000). To boot, Guam has 19 Superfund sites, most of which are associated with U.S. military base activities as in the case of Andersen Air Force Base and the former Naval Air Station. Nineteen sites is a significant number in consideration of the island’s small size of 212 square meters.
There is also no word on whether or not the U.S. plans to pay war reparations due to us since it forgave Japan its World War II war crimes committed against the Chamorus.
Like an awful re-run of World War II, when the U.S. unilaterally forgave Japan its horrific war crimes on our people, the US is back at the table negotiating away our human rights including our right to self-determination. Beyond the B-2 bombers in our skies, the ships playing war games in our waters, the added weapons of mass destruction, and the contamination that has robbed us of so many loved ones by way of our extraordinarily high rates of cancers and dementia-related illnesses, there is a growing desperation back home. A desperate lethargy in the wind. A realization that if the UN remains unable to slow the manic speed of US militarization, Chamorus as a people will pass.
In 2005 and 2006, we appeared before the UN Special Political and Decolonization Committee, alerting the UN organ of these two frightening facts: 1) it was recently discovered that the U.S. Department of Interior purposefully killed a presidential directive handed down in 1975, which ordered that Guam be given a commonwealth status no less favorable than the one the U.S. was negotiating with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands at that time; and 2) a campaign of the Guam Chamber of Commerce (primarily consisting of U.S. Statesiders) to privatize every one of Guam's public resources (the island's only water provider, only power provider, only local telephone provider, public schools, and its only port, on an island that imports 85-90% of its food and where private monopolies of public goods would truly make us captive to the forces of the market) is undermining our ancient indigenous civilization with violent speed. Eating us whole.
Not much has changed since we last were here in New York. Our power provider has been privatized, our telecommunications sold. Our only water provider and one port are under relentless attack. The meager, questionable victories we have had to stay this mass privatization are only the result of indigenous Chamoru grassroots activists who, on their own—with no financial, institutional, or strategic support—holding both their hands up, holding the line as best they can. At great personal cost.
Your Excellencies: Know this—the indigenous Chamoru people of Guam are neither informed nor unified around this military buildup despite dominant media representations. For all intents and purposes, there is no free press in Guam. Local media only makes noise of the re-occupation, not sense of it. The Pacific Daily News—the American subsidiary newspaper that dominates the discourse—has cut off the oxygen supply to indigenous resistance movement. Rather than debating this buildup's enormous sociopolitical, environmental and cultural consequences, it has framed the conversation around how best to ask the U.S. (politely) for de facto consideration of our concerns. Without appearing un-American.
We are not Americans. We are Chamorus. We are heirs to a matrilineal, indigenous civilization born two thousand years before Jesus. And we are being disappeared. Off your radar.
All this, and only two years until the end of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. And no midterm review by the Special Committee on Decolonization. No designation of any expert to track Guam’s progress, or lack thereof, toward progressing off the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Not one UN visiting mission to Guam.

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 resolution on the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and the very recent Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. With this non-support by Guam’s Administering Power, it is no wonder that the list of the Non-Self-Governing Territories under the administration of the United States has turned half a century old with little progress.

We Chamorus come to New York year after year, appealing to the UN decolonization committee to follow through with its mandate. Indeed, the UN has collected almost thirty years of our testimony, with nothing to show for it. I represent today the third generation of Chamoru activists to appear before the UN, desperately trying to safeguard our inalienable, still unrealized, human right to self-determination.

The failure of the U.S. to honor its international obligations to Guam and her native people, the non-responsiveness of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization to our rapid deterioration, and the overall non-performance of relevant U.S. and UN Decolonization organs and officials combine to carry our small chance of survival to its final coffin.

All this combines to elevate the human rights situation in Guam as a matter not only of decolonization, but ethnic cleansing.

Indeed, when future generations look upon these days, they might label Guam not merely a U.S. colony, but rather, a UN colony.

To date the Forum has deferred to the Special Committee. The time has come for the Forum to take the lead. To this end we request the Forum take the following action:

Sponsor an expert seminar in conjunction with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Special Committee on Decolonization to examine the impact of the UN decolonization process regarding the indigenous peoples of the NSGTs—now and previously listed on the UN list of NSGTs. This seminar must be under the auspices of the Forum due to existing problems with the Secretariat of the Special Committee. We request that Independent Expert Carlyle G. Corbin be included in the seminar as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples.

Utilize the Inter-Agency Support Group to begin to implement the Program of Implementation (POI) with UN Agencies, UNDP, UNEP and other agencies and specialized bodies as directed by the General Assembly; and

Communicate its concern for the human rights of indigenous peoples and all peoples in the NSGTs to the UN Human Rights Council and request that the Council designate a Special Rapporteur on the Situation of the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

In Solidarity and Urgency,
The Chamoru Nation and Indigenous Chamoru Organizations of Guam, with support of the above-listed organizations.

Fore more information, feel free to contact the following:

Debbie Quinata, 671-828-2957,
Hope Cristobal, 671-649-0097,
Julian Aguon, 808-375-3646,
Lisalinda Natividad, 671-777-7285,

See also

Fore more information, feel free to contact the following:

Debbie Quinata, 671-828-2957,
Hope Cristobal, 671-649-0097,
Julian Aguon, 808-375-3646,
Lisalinda Natividad, 671-777-7285,

See also

Sunday, April 20, 2008

War Claims Bill Stalled in Senate

War claims passage stalled
S.C. senator objects to fast-track procedure
By Steve Limtiaco • Pacific Sunday News • April 20, 2008

The U.S. Senate on Thursday attempted to pass the Guam war claims bill -- the last step before action by President Bush -- but the effort failed after a Republican senator from South Carolina objected.

If the bill introduced by Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo becomes law, it would require the federal government to spend as much as $126 million to compensate Guam residents for the atrocities they suffered at the hands of the Japanese military during the occupation of Guam during World War II. An additional $5 million would be spent on programs to memorialize the occupation.

Guam is seeking compensation from the United States instead of Japan because the U.S. forgave Japan's war debt decades ago.

The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which already was approved by the House of Representatives, has been with the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly a year.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Thursday tried to fast-track Senate passage of the bill -- making a motion for "unanimous consent," which would have bypassed the normal committee approval and floor-voting process.

The bill would have been approved provided there were no objections, but Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., stated an objection.

The reason for DeMint's objection wasn't stated in the Congressional Record, but his action defeated Boxer's motion.

Boxer minutes earlier had asked the Senate for unanimous consent on a bill to compensate relatives of U.S. citizens killed during terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, but DeMint objected to that motion, as well.

Ongoing effort
Bordallo yesterday said efforts to pass the war claims bill in the Senate are ongoing.

"I continue to work closely with Chairman Leahy and Majority Leader Harry Reid on ways to secure timely Senate consideration and passage of H.R. 1595," Bordallo said.

"Together, we are working hard to pass this bill with bipartisan support and to ensure all senators have all the information they need and that they understand why this bill is important to the people of Guam and to our national security," she said in a written statement.

"I am grateful for the bipartisan support for H.R. 1595. Our friends in the Senate are very much engaged in helping us with this bill. Chairman Leahy has assured me that he continues to work very hard to pass H.R. 1595."

According to the Senate Web site, "unanimous consent requests with only immediate effects are routinely granted, but ones affecting the floor schedule, the conditions of considering a bill or other business, or the rights of other senators are normally not offered, or a floor leader will object to it, until all senators concerned have had an opportunity to inform the leaders that they find it acceptable."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama Office Opens up in Guam

Obama HQ opens in Guam capitol
by Ronna Sweeney, KUAM News
Sunday, April 13, 2008

Democrat presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama's Hagatna campaign headquarters officially opened up this afternoon. Never before has anyone hoping to become a presidential nominee for their respective political party ever set up official headquarters on Guam. But with the current race between senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Obama so tight, every delegate vote counts.

Guam campaign director for Obama for America Josh Tenorio told KUAM News, "The opening of our office definitely gives them a pipeline for direct information from us so that they know what kind of things are valuable, important and necessary for Guam to have from the federal government." The outcome of the delegate caucus on Guam, Tenorio states, determines what percentage of preference the island Democrats have for Obama versus Clinton.

That's why he adds it's such a critical time, with each candidate wanting all nine of Guam's delegate votes. "As the days and weeks go by I fully expect that both camps are going to be making sincere committed pledges to help resolve longstanding issues on Guam in which the presidency and federal government are involved", Tenorio added. "So issues of the war reparations and the military buildup."

Tenorio says local volunteers are running the bulk of Obama's Guam Office, like Carlo Dizon. Though originally from Guam, he was working in a law firm in China when he first started following the Obama campaign. So when he heard an office was opening up on Guam, Dizon decided to return home to support it. "In terms of the island, it just puts us on the map," he shared. "I think unlike any other election in the past and also as a young person I feel it's an extraordinary opportunity whether or not you support Senator Obama's platform or issues that being involved in a presidential campaign is something. I don't know if it's something I can do in my lifetime."

Tenorio says they're in search of more volunteers, so if you're interested in helping out you're urged to call 477-2000. The Obama Campaign Headquarters are located on the ground level of the Captain Building in Hagatna.

Monday, April 07, 2008

GBB to GovGuam: Acquire Landfill Land

Receiver to GovGuam: Acquire landfill land
By Gina Tabonares
Variety News Staff
Monday, April 7, 2008

THE Washington DC-based private company tasked to be the receiver for solid waste operations on Guam has advised GovGuam to work immediately on the acquisition of the land needed for the new landfill.

Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. (GBB) wants GovGuam to get the landfill property including the required land for access roads as soon as possible.

The company has advised the Solid Waste Division of the Department of Public Works to halt additional work on the projects needed to achieve compliance with the Consent Decree, pending completion of their initial review.

In a March 18 letter to Gov. Felix Camacho, GBB said it plans to begin work on the landfill site by mid to late April and would like to meet the governor of Guam.

The letter was published in the new website created by GBB for the Guam project.

When GBB asked to acquire the needed land for the new landfill it did not mention whether it referred to the Dandan property which is still under litigation in the Guam Superior Court.

On March 25, Oxford Properties & Finance through its lawyer Anita Arriola, Joaquin C. Arriola and Douglas F. Cushnie filed a motion to dismiss the government's efforts to condemn the property and argued that the condemnation proceedings have to go through the Legislature or the federal government as required by Guam's eminent domain law. To date, no action has been taken and the 29th Guam Legislature is still looking into the issue as well as the spending of $10 million in Dandan without legislative authorization.

Meanwhile, the appointed receiver is now finishing its complete review of the work already performed by GovGuam to develop a plan that will achieve full compliance with the requirements of the Consent Decree.

Although it has already been appointed as receiver, GBB is still encouraging DPW workers to continue its daily services to the public.

The receiver also assured DPW staff that there is nothing to fear from the receivership.

"We want to work with you, to learn from you and to assure you that you have nothing to fear from the receivership," David L. Manning, GBB representative said.

The company now assumes all of the responsibilities, functions, duties, powers, and authority of GovGuam in solid waste operations.

The two major projects that the receiver needs to achieve are the closure of the Ordot Dump and the creation of a new municipal landfill as identified in a February 11, 2004 Consent Decree.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Companies Eye the CNMI

Companies eye CNMI as staging area in Guam buildup
The Saipan Tribune
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
By Mark Rabago, Assistant Editor

Companies hoping to save costs in the upcoming military buildup in Guam are looking at the CNMI as a possible staging ground for their operations.

This was confirmed recently by Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Michael Ada, who said that his office has received quite a number of inquiries from businesses that are interested in warehousing, labor-intensive, and other related activities on the islands.

Ada said the CNMI is a viable option for these companies because of the islands' lower minimum wage and cheaper leasing terms vis-à-vis that of Guam.

Gov. Bengino R. Fitial's press secretary Charles P. Reyes agrees with Ada's assessment and added that another lure for companies is the Commonwealth's tax incentives and qualifying certificate program.

“Many companies interested in the military buildup in Guam may operate from the CNMI or be based in the CNMI because of our attractive tax incentives, including the QC program.”

Reyes added that, although the minimum wage was raised, the CNMI may still offer lower labor costs compared to Guam, and real estate rental or lease costs may also be lower.

“Lower taxes and lower labor costs may persuade some companies capitalizing on the military build up to base operations in the CNMI.”

He said the tax incentives and QC program were two of the reasons why the government managed to bring in additional air seats in spite of the fact that Japan Airlines pulled out.

In a recent interview with Fitial himself, the islands' chief executive championed the Commonwealth's competitive advantage in getting residual investment from the impending Guam military buildup.

“Because of our tax structure, lower tax rates, and qualifying certificate we stand a better chance at attracting companies that would cater to the military buildup projects than anywhere in the world,” he said during the Covenant Day celebrations held last March 24.

The $15-billion Guam military buildup is targeted for 2010-2014 following the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines and about 9,000 of their dependents to the U.S. territory from Okinawa, Japan.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Call Your Senators Today!

The Federalization of the CNMI is still very much an issue, and right now we need people around the United States to call their Senators to inform them about how it is being snuck into a larger bill without adequate hearing or vetting.

Here are the links if you are interested in getting involved, and I'm pasting below a sample phone transcript to help inform you about the issue:

Click here for the telephone numbers of Senators on the Judiciary Committee
A letter to the editor of the Guam Variety on the Federalization Issue
A letter calling on all friends of the Marianas to contact the Senate Judiciary Committee
A letter to the Senate against Federalization
Articles on the Federalization issue from Minagahet
CNMI faces "Federal Typhoon" article from Guam PDN
CNMI borders are a "Security Risk" article from Guam PDN
Letter to the editor of the Saipan Tribune on Federalization


Dear Senator:

As a registered ____________________________(for e.g. California voter and indigenous to the Mariana Islands), I would like call your attention to an item on today’s Senatorial agenda, omnibus bill S. 2483. At first glance, it looks to be non-controversial, however, upon closer inspection, Title 7, which has passed in the house under HR 3079, is an unjust and controversial

The fact that:

1) it is hidden amongst bills that seem non-controversial will circumvent much needed public debate on the federalization issue of immigration and labor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

2) it is concurrently introduced with 2 other Omnibus bills (S. 2616, and S. 2739) is a way to fast-track the bill in order to increase its chances of passing before current administration’s term is over and before the General Accounting Office releases its report on the impact of the bill.

Some of the controversies surrounding Title 7 of S. 2483 (S. 2616, and S. 2739) are:

1) It is discriminatory. It proposes to finalize an immigration and labor policy for a region that does not have a voting member in the Senate and even before a bipartisan agreement (spearheaded, most notably, by Senator Kennedy and Senator Specter) for a national immigration and labor policy has been developed.

2) It undermines the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples of the CNMI and the mutual and trust and cooperation that has endured for decades between the governments of the CNMI and the United States of America. (The political rights of the inhabitants of the CNMI were determined to be governed by the solemn Covenant, which was negotiated upon the termination of the United Nations trusteeship and which granted local control of labor and immigration).

3) It puts at risk the human rights to self-determination of the Chamoru people on Guam, by enabling a means to bring in a large workforce in order to expedite the $10 billion military buildup currently ongoing without public scrutiny and without the consent of the indigenous people.

The proponents of this bill will argue that the CNMI is not fit to govern themselves because of human trafficking and labor abuses and that those arguing against Title 7 have special interests.

Because of the controversy surrounding this bill, I urge the Senator that it is not too late to set a date for a public hearing for Title 7 in order to shine a light on the facts in full view before this Honorable Body. Moreover, because those of us who care for justice and who view the restructuring of the relationship between the governments of CNMI and the USA, in terms of immigration, as a serious matter, I strongly believe that Title 7 should not be dealt in the shadows or in secret, but using a democratic fashion with a public hearing and proper notification for those of us who are traveling from as far away as the Mariana Islands, which this bill will greatly impact.



CNMI Residency Issue

Dekada weighs in on ‘CNMI residency’ idea
By Emmanuel T. Erediano
Variety News Staff
April 1, 2008

THE granting of CNMI residency is now being suggested to a group of long-time guest workers, but some of them remain skeptical about it.

During the first years of existence, the commonwealth government granted CNMI residency status to a small group of nonresidents.

Dekada leader Boni Sagana said in an interview yesterday that attorney Deanne Siemer have met with them twice to discuss a CNMI residency status for long- time guest workers.

Siemer provides legal advice to the Department of Labor and is the wife of the governor’s special advisor, attorney Howard Willens.

Variety was unable to reach her for comment yesterday.

Sagana said the first meeting held in the office of their attorney Stephen Woodruf on March 11 and was attended by the leaders guest worker groups.

The second meeting was held at a restaurant along Beach Road last week and was attended by more than 30 guest workers and the leaders of guest worker groups like Dekada, UFO, MOVERS, the Filipino Contract Workers Association, and the Human Dignity Act Movement.

Sagana said they wanted to hear what Siemer had to say.

He said Siemer made it clear to them that she was not speaking on behalf of the CNMI government.

Sagana said the concern about the possible shortage of guest workers in the future was raised during the first meeting.

Siemer then mentioned the possibility of granting long-time guest workers CNMI residency status, but added that this can happen only through constitutional amendments, Sagana said.

During the second meeting, data regarding guest workers who have been in the CNMI for at least 10 years was presented to them.

Sagana said they were told that granting CNMI residency to 3,000 long-time guest workers may be acceptable.

He said Siemer assured them that in case this materializes, it will not affect the federalization of the CNMI immigration system.

But Human Dignity Movement leader Jerry Custodio said many guest workers remain doubtful about these efforts.

Guam and Navy Partner to Protect Coral

Guam partners with Navy to protect coral
The Marianas Variety
Tuesday April 1, 2008

GOV. Felix P. Camacho yesterday signed a cooperative agreement with the United States Navy for the reforestation of the Masso Reservoir area in Piti.

The Masso Project was developed as a mitigation project for the loss of coral reef habitat in Apra Harbor as a result of the Alpha and Bravo Wharfs Improvement projects by the US Navy.

The Masso Reservoir Reforestation Project will include the planting of 12 acres of native plants and trees and a 30-acre security fence.

The project will reduce sediment flowing into the reservoir, the Masso River and Piti's coast. Sediment is a major cause of reef degradation.

"This agreement will protect our coral reef and help preserve our natural resources," Camacho said. "We are committed to projects like the Masso Agreement and future partnerships to conserve our environment."

Under the terms of the cooperative agreement, the US Navy will pay the Guam Department of Agriculture's Forestry and Soil Resources Division $235,000 to perform the scope of work, which includes a three-year deadline for completion.

Camacho offered special appreciation to the late David Limtiaco, the chief of the Forestry and Soil Resources Division at the Guam Department of Agriculture, who passed away unexpectedly last month. Mr. Limtiaco not only assisted in the development and negotiation of this agreement, but was the author of the Reforestation Plan that will be implemented within the agreement.

Military Urged to Help Upgrade Guam's Roads

Military urged to help upgrade Guam roads
Tuesday April 1, 2008
By Therese Hart
Variety News Staff

THE proposed 85-mile islandwide haul road network that the Department of Public Works presented to the Guam Legislature during its roundtable discussion of the military buildup yesterday will be part of the estimated $2 billion that would be needed to upgrade Guam's infrastructure.

But DPW Director Larry Perez assured senators that retired general David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, made a policy statement 10 months ago that Guam roadways and the Port Authority of Guam were major priorities in the military buildup and that the military will thus assist in some of the financing.

The $2 billion cost also includes upgrades and improvement of existing projects and new projects that are military-related, including projects by the Guam Power Authority, Guam Waterworks Authority, and DPW.

Haul roads are a system of roads that are well designed and constructed in a way that will make heavy traffic operation safer, more productive and cause less wear and tear on equipment.

Perez said that the military gave DPW the authority to come up with the transportation network and the cost analysis. Perez said the timelines are in place for the military to include the numbers in its budget.

Perez said that DPW submitted to Bice the project's total cost and he's hoping that the military will bear 95 percent or more of the cost.

Perez said that DPW proposes that the military pay the construction and excavation costs of the work. The bulk of the funding will come from the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, but Guam will also have to contribute to the cost.

* No commitment *

Senators, however, expressed their concern that the military has yet to give a definitive commitment to partially fund the highway project.

DPW's Transportation Plan 2030 also includes plans to revamp the ailing Guam mass transit system by reviewing population impacts, mobility challenges and haul road improvements and congestion. Some of the recommendations include creating a core fixed route system, a bus rapid transit system, and funding to build the bus fleet.

The projection to purchase 50 new vehicles will cost $25 million dollars. It will take 18-24 months to acquire new vehicles. In addition, the type of fuel, fuel costs and consumption still need more research.

DPW is recommending that the government consider the Federal Transit Administration Very Small Starts Program, which is a program designed to promote investments in bus stops for low floor vehicles, traffic signal schemes, and pedestrian improvements associated with transit.

FTA administers federal funding to support a variety of locally planned, constructed, and operated public transportation systems throughout the U.S., including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, streetcars, monorail, passenger ferry boats, inclined railways, and people movers.

DPW is also requesting for $5 million from the FTA Bus and Bus Facilities program for a new maintenance facility and is hoping to work with FTA to form a public private partnership through joint development regulation.