Friday, February 19, 2010

Guam-CNMI reunification in Camacho's last State of the Island Address

Guam-CNMI reunification in Camacho's last State of the Island Address

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
By Haidee V. Eugenio

Guam Gov. Felix P. Camacho brought up anew the idea of a Guam-CNMI reunification in his last State of the Island Address yesterday.

But Camacho's address, which is 11 pages long, talked heavily about the massive military buildup in Guam.

He reiterated his request to the U.S. Department of Defense to delay the buildup until after 2014, and asked the military to commit to fund the buildup needs of the government of Guam.

“Over the last seven years, our ties to our brothers and sisters in the neighboring islands of the CNMI have become closer than ever. As we recognize the combined strength of the Mariana Islands on matters of mutual interest and benefit, Guam and the CNMI should once again seek reunification,” Camacho said in his speech.

Camacho, who was on Saipan on Tuesday last week for the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial on the recruitment of CNMI residents for the Guam National Guard, has been consistently pushing for a Marianas reunification.

“As one Marianas, with greater representation and inclusion as American citizens, we will only strengthen our people and communities,” the Guam governor said in his address.

CNMI Press Secretary Angel A. Demapan, when asked for comment yesterday, said “any attempt to explore and achieve reunification of Guam and the CNMI would have to be a decision that is made by the people.”

The people of Guam voted against reintegration with the CNMI on Nov. 4, 1969.

At that time, the people of the CNMI overwhelmingly voted in favor of such unification.

Demapan said “Fitial believes that if reunification is to be pursued again, it should be done only at the will of the people of the Commonwealth by way of another plebiscite.”

“As governor of the CNMI, he respects the will of the people as the ultimate decision,” Demapan added.

One theory behind Guam people's 1969 rejection of reunification is that it came as a payback to the Northern Marianas Chamorros for their assistance to Japanese forces during the occupation of Guam.

Another theory is that the reunification issue “simply lost its significance when compared to the pending election of the first governor of Guam, which was scheduled to take place the following year.”

In 1970, the late Carlos Garcia Camacho, who is Camacho's father, became the first governor of Guam to be elected by its people. Before that, he was an incumbent governor appointed by then U.S. President Richard Nixon.

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