Reunification of the Marianas - Community Discussion
While a vote on Guam's political status is still in the works, it appears another referendum could be placed before the people of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands over the reunification of the NMI.
One people, one voice, one Marianas - it's not just a saying, but a way of life. It was also the theme for last week's 23rd general assembly of the Association of Mariana Islands Mayors, Vice Mayors and Elected Municipal Council members. The two-day assembly was held here on Guam where the mayors of Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota passed more than a handful of resolutions - including one that could possibly bring us even closer.
Dededo mayor and Amim president Melissa Savares told KUAM News of the plans, "One of the resolutions we passed in our committee was to look into and research and study with the help of the University of Guam, Guam Community College and the (Northern) Mariana College, is to study and to do research on reunification of a Marianas as one, one group of islands, one group of people." The resolution specifically requests for the governors of Guam and the CNMI to hold a non-binding referendum in 2018 regarding the questions on the reunification of the Mariana Islands.
The resolution notes there have been failed attempts in the past for a reunification referendum. "It doesn't necessarily have to be a state, but just call us one Marianas," Savares explained. "Right now, we're Marianas islands that all have separate government, not necessarily a state or an independent country. But the CNMI, they're governed by the commonwealth and their status there, and Guam we're all territories of the United States. And we can continue to do that, but how can we enhance our culture as a people if we don't become one? There's a lot of things - I know in the past, our man'amko still feel that Saipan wasn't fairly treated like us, so there's that division."
The AMIM resolution states considering we have more in common within historical heritage, is it time that the Mariana Islands be reunified. "This project doesn't call to change the political status, doesn't change our citizens, what it asks is that we enhance our culture, we don't want to lose our culture," the mayor continued.
The referendum for the next general election would be guided by town halls, public input and comprehensive educational studies on the benefits and drawbacks of reunification. No dates have been set for these meetings.