Sunday, January 10, 2010

Praying for Guam's unresolved issues: Grassroots organization speaks out against buildup

Praying for Guam's unresolved issues: Grassroots organization speaks out against buildup

By Amritha Alladi • Pacific Daily News • January 11, 2010

A handful of manamko sat facing the setting sun, a wooden cross draped in red and white cloth standing in the sand before them.

They were gathered at the shrine and beach of Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores and Blessed Pedro Cologsod to honor Guam's conquered past and to stand up for Guam's future, according to Jonathan Diaz, a member of the The Coalition of Peace and Justice of Guam.

The candlelight vigil, rosary and prayer ceremony were sponsored by the grassroots organization, with the intent to pray for world peace, Guam war reparations, the political self-determination of the Chamorro people and the reunification of the Mariana Islands, said Diaz.

It's because these issues remain unresolved that Diaz said the coalition is skeptical whether the buildup will be carried out in the community-friendly manner that has been assured by the Defense Department. Other federal actions that they were supposed to follow through have fallen through instead, he said.

"We need to work for peace, we need to work for justice, we need to save people from making the mistakes of the past," he said.

"It's about bringing 80,000 people here without having these things addressed," Diaz said, in reference to the the pending issues of war reparations, Chamorro self-determination and the reunification of the Mariana Islands.

'It's hypocrisy'

"You can't bring 80,000 new people here. It's hypocrisy," he said. "You say you're going to promise to do things, and you don't," he said.

Diaz said his coalition's members have read the draft Environmental Impact Statement and they will go to the public hearings to speak out against the buildup.

"A majority of the people are saying no to this. I hope President Obama as well as the Department of Defense understand the people's position that you can't do that," Diaz said.

The issue of war reparations continue to be discussed in Congressional hearings. In regards to draft EIS report, the public has the opportunity to comment on the buildup plans in ongoing community meetings.

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