OUR VIEW: U.S. unlikely to allow change in political status for Guam
This year, Gov. Eddie Calvo said he wanted Guam’s long-awaited self-determination plebiscite held during the general election in November.
Elected officials have put off the plebiscite since 2000, when it was first authorized. The main stumbling block now is the Guam law that requires 70 percent of all registered voters be registered on the Guam Decolonization Registry before the plebiscite can be held. It also faces a court case challenging the inability of non-Chamorros to vote in it.
But even if Guam decided to hold a self-determination plebiscite, would the United States recognize that vote and allow the island to change its political status from unincorporated U.S. territory to whatever political status is chosen?
History shows that it’s unlikely the United States would allow a status change.
Guam is too important to the defense strategy of the United States military. We have a deep-water port that allows nuclear fast-attack submarines to be stationed here. The naval base, and the Air Force base and other military installations, are deemed critical to the defense of the nation.
And Congress has shown it doesn’t care about the issues important to Guam.
- It has repeatedly denied war reparations to Chamorros who suffered under brutal Japanese rule during World War II.
- It refuses to adequately compensate Guam for the full cost of the impact of regional migrants.
- It refuses to fully compensate Guam for Medicare costs.
- It requires the government of Guam to pay for the Earned Income Tax Credits when it pays that weighty cost in the states.
- Guam has no real voice in Congress. Our delegate can’t vote on measures of importance to our island. Our residents aren’t allowed to vote for the president of the United States.
Guam should continue to press its case for self-determination. But it will likely take much more than a plebiscite to achieve a new political status.