Governor Calvo: I no longer support the military buildup
"Myself and my administration will no longer support the buildup. We will not support further progress on the military realignment on Guam and so long as the federal government continues to choke our economy," - Governor Calvo announced to the Rotary Club of Guam.
Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo in a surprising move boldly announced he is now against the military buildup--a complete 180 from the start of his administration.
"Myself and my administration will no longer support the buildup. We will not support further progress on the military realignment on Guam and so long as the federal government continues to choke our economy," the governor announced to the Rotary Club of Guam Thursday.
The reasons behind this change of heart? Calvo blames increased costs of construction and lack of foreign labor.
“The federal government has not kept up to its side of the bargain. There has been a breach that made sure our island would not be negatively impacted by a shift in military forces,” he shared.
The governor painted a grim outlook with construction companies here on Guam citing the H-2B visa crisis, the rising costs for housing development, and the 40 percent reductions in shipping at the Port Authority-- all factors, he says, that play into our impending economic downfall.
“What’s happening is because of the reduction in our workforce. There's hundreds of workers that are being cannibalized,” he says, adding, “God bless all those companies doing business on the base--you do what you gotta do, but you’re taking out workers to go on those bases inside the gate at the expense of Joe and Maria Cruz who's trying to build a house, or the Manam'ko Center in Dededo, or a five star resort in Tumon,” he said.
In a press release to the media, the Office of the Governor wrote:
“Despite the military's and the federal government's acknowledgement in the Record of Decision of the need for additional foreign laborers to augment the local work force, the Obama administration adopted a new interpretation of labor policies that has created a choke hold on our economy.”
The Governor added that around 1,000 foreign laborers has since been reduced to about 178, which he calls "woefully inadequate to fill the need for nearly 4,000 laborers to help construct facilities for the Department of Defense shifting military forces from Okinawa."
Calvo said in his speech to Rotarians that he's been in countless talks and even sent letters to President Trump, the Homeland Security Staff, the Director of Border Patrol, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Chief of Naval Operations, all to no avail.
“Whatever sanctions the federal government is imposing on their enemies pales in comparison to what they have done in economic warfare and sabotage. It maybe unintentional, but on these loyal American citizens in American territory. We cannot allow this to happen. You can't have first world in [the base] and third world outside,” he said.
This is why, the governor says, he has now tasked Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett Anderson to enjoin in the Guam Contractors Association's lawsuit against the federal government.
“I'm concerned; it is a clear and present danger to our economy. What was once a lawsuit with our contractors is now going to be enjoined by the government of Guam because what I see now is a direct, direct threat to our people!” he exclaimed.
The announcement garnered support from activist Dr. Michael Bevacqua.
“As somebody who has opposed the buildup for many, many years, it’s very heartening, because part of the difficulty with explaining to the people is that it’s not about whether the buildup is necessarily good or bad for the island, but whether you actually have a say in the matter,” he said.
Bevacqua said it was refreshing to see the governor coming around to this position because it underscores our push for a political status change.
“It’s a good start because if you are powerless and there’s a formal political power that says you’re powerless, then in acquiring power, part of it is taking these symbolic steps,” he noted.
The governor adds that he plans on pressing the issue further with Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo as well as Japanese Prime Minister Abe.