Wednesday, December 02, 2009

DEIS States Marines Won't Increase Crime but Micronesian Migrants Will

DEIS States Marines Won't Increase Crime but Micronesian Migrants Will

Guam - Along with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement the military also conducted a stand alone study on the socio-economic impact of the military buildup. A section of the report covers how the buildup will impact crime and how the military believes young local men will test themselves against marines in fights.

The Department of Defense has identified several likely social impacts of the military buildup. According to the Draft EIS socio economic study marines will not have an impact on Guam's overall crime and social order. Instead the report states that other factors related to the buildup may cause this. In fact the report blames in-migrants from the Freely Associated States of Micronesia as the likely cause. Their numbers are expected to increase due to more job opportunities. According to the DEIS these migrants from within Micronesia "have high crime rates associated with adapting to less traditional social structures"

University of Guam instructor Victoria Leon Guerrero says this is a surprising take on the marines impact to crime considering the fact that many Okinawan protests against the marines were fueled by instances of rape and violence. She says that by not taking any responsibility for the possible increase in crime instead blaming Micronesian immigrants the DEIS is “...insulting to our region”.

University of Guam instructor Michael Lujan Bevacua says that the assumption that Micronesians will raise the crime rate rather than the marines even borders on racism. In fact he says “In some places it would be considered racist”. Bevacua adds that this is obviously scapegoating certain populations and that finding a scapegoat is one of the roots of racism.

While the report lays most of the blame of crime on Micronesian migrants in the very next paragraph it admits that there is “...a potential for more prostitution, alcohol or substance abuse and family violence associated with young military populations (including sailors taking shore leave after weeks at sea)”.

As for the potential of violence and fights the Department of Defense attributes most of the blame to the local population. The DEIS states "The particular reputation of marines as fighters could well trigger a transitional period of adjustment in which local young men test themselves against marines in fights" Bevacua says this too is borderline racism adding that he's surprised that they can make these statements with a “..straight face”.

While the DEIS doesn't appear to own up to increased crime and violence it does admit that the expansion of non-chamorro voting populations could affect the proportion of chamorro office-holders and government workers. This could also affect the outcomes of any future votes about Guam's political status. Leon Guerrero says it's simply unjust to allow a transient population that is only here for a couple of years to affect the political status of and island like Guam. She adds that it takes away a human right that is reserved for the native Chamorro people.

Leon Guerrero encourages everyone to read as much of the Draft EIS as possible and then provide comments during the EIS comment period.

Written by :
Clynt Ridgell


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