Bordallo criticized for missing $4.5B ‘opportunity’
MONDAY, 28 MARCH 2011 03:54 BY THERESE HART | VARIETY NEWS STAFF
Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz is asking Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo why she wasn’t aware of a $4.55 billion
Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, shown here delivering her congressional address at the legislature last Thursday, has been criticized by Sen. Benjamin Cruz for missing out on a $4.55 billion settlement for Indian and Black farmers as it moved through the House and Senate. Photo by Matt Weiss
settlement for Indian and Black farmers as it moved through the House and Senate, saying that she missed an opportunity for the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.
In a letter sent to Bordallo, Vice Speaker Cruz states, “Had you acted more quickly, the $185 million needed to fulfill the objectives of the Guam Loyalty Act may have been considered a nominal amendment toward a public law that will ultimately provide a combined $4.55 billion to individual Indians and Black farmers. In fact, its enactment on the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion, December 8, would have been an auspicious date to have finally enacted the Guam Loyalty Recognition Act.”
The settlement stems from H.R. 4783 that ultimately became Public Law 111-291 when President Barack Obama signed the measure. The settlement is for mismanaged funds and other trust assets including royalties owed to individual Indians for oil, gas, grazing, and leases of individual Indian lands and to settle the claim that Black farmers were unfairly refused loans by the Department of Agriculture.
“Considering the effect H.R. 4783 had in rectifying long-standing claims against the federal government for discrimination and mismanagement against individual Indians and Black farmers, I must ask why you were not aware of its movement through the House and Senate,” Cruz said.
“I have noticed through print media, the Internet, a website, a toll-free number, and television notification that information about the settlement has been disseminated for claimants. Had the Guam War Claims Review been included as part of the settlement, the people of Guam may already have begun taking steps to attain their rightful claims,” added Senator Cruz.
Vice Speaker Cruz is a former Commissioner on the Guam War Claims Review Commission. He remains steadfast in his commitment toward rightfully acquiring claims for the people of Guam and their families that suffered during the Japanese occupation of Guam during WWII.
Cruz said the settlement resolves the federal government’s failure to provide a historical accounting for Individual Indian Money claims in which the U.S. government mismanaged funds and other trust assets including royalties owed to individual Indians for oil, gas, grazing, and leases of individual Indian lands in the west by providing $3.4 billion to individual Indians.
Additionally, Public Law 111-291 will settle the claim that Black farmers were unfairly refused loans by the Department of Agriculture by providing $1.15 billion to Black farmers.
“Your continuous efforts to reintroduce the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, and then attach it to the Defense Authorization Act are noble, but they have become an annual perfunctory effort rooted in pursuing the same track without attempting viable alternative methods,” wrote Cruz.
As the terms of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act are similar to those provisions contained in the Settlement Fund, Cruz found it disappointing that no amendment attaching the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act to H.R. 4783 was ever thought of or proffered.
“Equally frustrating is that H.R. 4783 included an amendment proffered by Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, your close colleague and the Chairman of your Committee. I am dismayed that your colleague was able to introduce an amendment to this landmark legislation without our possible inclusion,” wrote Cruz.
Cruz said the size and scope of the settlement could possibly have been the means to fund the war claims.
Accrued interest on the $4.55 billion as authorized by P.L. 111-291 would have been more than enough to provide the $125-$185 million required to fund the Guam Loyalty Recognition Act.
On a related matter, a recent press release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that the USDA will engage in an “administrative process” to settle claims held by women and Hispanic farmers regarding historic loan discrimination.
The fact that these parties were able to gain an administrative settlement of their grievances may provide a pathway to real progress on Guam war reparations.
“This oversight may have cost the people of Guam much more than money, it may have cost them much needed closure and the belief that our past loyalties have not been in vain,” Cruz stated.
“While I acknowledge that the rise of “fiscal conservatives” may hamper your ongoing efforts, I urge you to consider that Congressional action may not be our only road to resolution. It is my fervent hope that, from this point on, you will look to other avenues for the favorable resolution of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act,” Cruz added.