Friday, April 07, 2017

What if ...? Decolonization from a family perspective

By Juan Flores, Guam Daily Post
Apr 7, 2017 

What if we took a family perspective on the island's decolonization issue? How can the issue be addressed if we looked at it as if it were a parent-child issue? What avenue should we take to address the issue and come to a satisfactory resolution?
The early American colonists did not take too well to the rule imposed on them by the king of England. They chose to take matters into their own hands, take advantage of the ocean between them and the imperial rulers, and fight to earn their independence. The relationship between a colonizing power and the people subjected to colonial rule, can be likened to an abusive relationship between a parent and a child. Regardless of some isolated incidents of benevolence, the colonizing powers subject their colonies to painful and unwarranted experiences the way abusive parents treat their innocent children. The colonists had no recourse but to stand up to and fight the imperial power. Unlike the colonists, abusive children can turn to and be supported by outside authorities who are looking out for the well-being of all children.

US exerted might in determining Guam's future

The people of Guam who were subjected to U.S. rule, first when the U.S. bargained for authority of the island after the Spanish-American War, and then when they imposed U.S. citizenship and full U.S. control as a result of the Organic Act in 1950. In neither situation were the residents of the island given the opportunity to exercise any voting right to determine their political destiny. The U.S., as a colonizing power, exerted its might and determined how the islanders would be ruled and who would govern. This abusive relationship between the United States and the people of Guam continues and abuses of the power are reflected in decisions throughout the years. Even the refusal to recognize and compensate the island residents for the atrocities of the Japanese invasion demonstrates the disrespect from the U.S. for the island's residents.
As an abused group of people, the residents of Guam, those who were the victims of the imposition of citizenship and formal rule by the U.S. government in 1950, cannot rise up against the world superpower the way the American colonists rose up against England. Like the situation between abusive parents and their children, the pre-Organic Act residents and their descendants have to turn to an external authority to address this issue. As other residents of Guam have called for in the past, the United Nations has to step in and demand that the U.S. recognize the inalienable rights of people on this Earth and address their imposition of rule on the residents of Guam.
Among other things, Article 21 of the U.N. charter dictates that the "will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures." This was denied of the people of Guam in 1898 and most recently, before the enactment of the Organic Act in 1950.
We need to turn to the U.N. as an outside authority to address the situation, the way children turn to law enforcement officials, school counselors and behavioral health professionals to address abuse by parents. It has to be recognized that the abusive interests and ambitions of the U.S. could never accommodate the will of the people of Guam to determine their basis of authority on their island. If the U.N. cannot or will not be effective in support our island's interests, we need to find advocates among other nations, the way children find advocates among their relatives, friends and members of their immediate community.
Denial of opportunities
While the U.S. may claim that it has our best interests at heart, it continues to deny us the opportunity to determine which interests we should address and how we should address those interests. If we need an outside authority or a collection of allies and advocates to support our cause, we have to make basic principles of decolonization, basic practices that honor our history and our culture, and basic needs for sustainability known to those who will help us now and in the future. We should be the ones to identify and nurture the relationships we desire, even when that relationship might be one with the United States. The entire family of nations is strongest when even the least among them are afforded what it takes to exist and grow in the best possible way.
The direction for survival, for growth and for independent practices should come from the people themselves. Those who were denied the opportunity to determine Guam's political status in 1950 and their descendants are those people. When an authority like the U.N. and/or a collection of advocates step up and challenges the U.S. to do what is right, a rightful existence in the world community, with or without a relationship with the U.S., will be realized.

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