Opinion: Self-determination is needed now
After “I’d like to see those Chamorro independence activists give up their U.S. passports and citizenship,” I’m still waiting for the next line from pro-colony advocates, “If they don’t like the USA, they should go back to where they came from.”
Another favorite: “So is the Marianas ready to go back to wearing grass skirts?” Why? Guam and the Northern Marianas have always evolved with the times. In other words, thank you, Spain, for chorizos españot and Catholic lord Jesus and thank you, USA, for ship biscuits and Protestant lord Jesus, but we’ll take our islands back, si Yu’us ma’ase very much.
As for passports and citizenship, Chamorros need to recognize the following truisms if they’ve allowed manufactured consent via the war on terror to get inside their heads.
First, by the year 2100, at the rate of decline of the Chamorro people (91 percent of the population in 1910 to the current 37 percent), there may not be any significant number of Chamorros to speak of. By then, saving our people will be too late. We’ll be like Native Americans, who make up less than 1.5 percent of the U.S. population. What will passports mean then?
Was it deliberate of the U.S. to redistribute and neutralize “those obstinate Chamorros” by force or incentivization (it’s always sunny in California) so that America could operate from a more patriotic base and get on with the mission of projecting global dominance in Asia? Who knows? Surely no nation — going back to England, Rome and Babylon — has ever employed such Machiavellian measures. But even if the decline of our people was accidental, a kind of innocent result of the changing times, something needs to happen now.
And that thing is decolonization. Even becoming a state is preferable; at least we’d have a congressman and two senators who could effectively fight for the survival of the Chamorros in the U.S. Capitol.
But statehood could further weaken and destroy the Chamorro soul in exchange for a false sense of security. There is no guarantee that statehood would be a long-term boon for our islands, just as not all states in the union are prospering. Some, in fact, are in serious trouble. Native Hawaiian regret over statehood is real. Most of all, does anyone really believe that Congress will grant statehood to Guam, even if combined with the Northern Marianas?
Chamorros have a very small window of opportunity while they still hold the majority population and better do something now to save their race. I’m so jealous of Palau right now.
Second, free association or independence will not bring sudden disaster and throw our islands into the Latte age, nor will cause us to be sitting ducks for every evil regime as many suggest or seem to wish. If Congress approves independence, the USA, after some foot dragging, will ensure the least problematic transition as possible through a kind of enhanced defense agreement, like the one in place with the Philippines. Even Winston Churchill understood and encouraged decolonization as expressed in the Atlantic charter of 1941: “The rights of all peoples to choose the form of governmentunder which they live should be respected.”
Finally, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands — who have no U.S. passports or U.S. citizenship — can freely travel to live and find gainful employment in the United States, while independent Philippines enjoys a robust relationship with the USA where national security and economic assistance is a given. No true Filipino regrets their cherished independence.
In the end, no matter what happens to Guam, we will have problems. So many of the arguments about what Guam will suffer if it becomes independent have been chronic issues as a territory for 118 years. How did our territorial status under the USA help us when they knew we were going to be attacked in 1941? To quote the late Elie Wiesel: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Chamorros must rally now.
Our faith and trust cannot be in any one country, because all nations come and go, American exceptionalism notwithstanding. The average age of a nation in history is 200 years. They all go through the same cycle of bondage, spiritual faith, courage, liberty, abundance, power grabbing, complacency, government dependency and back to bondage.
At $19 trillion in debt and a country torn by moral and cultural issues, America is not the only great city on a hill.
“Blessed is any nation [whose] God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12). Marianas passports and citizenship will work just fine. In other words, if any one has faith to believe that the USA will be in good hands under Trump or Hillary, then the Chamorros of the Marianas only need half that faith to survive on its own.
In the words of the late Eddie “Ed” Leon Guerrero Benavente; “Yanggen månnge’ y Independencia para siha, sa-håfa na båba y Independencia para hita?”
Steven Aguon Castro McManus is a resident of Yona.