Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We are Guahan Hike to Pagat

The We Are Guahan Coalition is organizing a hike to Pagat Caves this Saturday, January 2nd.

Pagat Caves is a beautiful location which was once an Ancient Chamorro village. Numerous artifacts and latte can still be found there in the pristine limestone jungle.

The proposed military buildup of Guam would block off public access to this location amongst others on the Eastern coast of Guam, in order to build a live-fire training range for Marines being transferred from Okinawa.

For those interested in joining the hike, we'll be meeting first at Winchell's in Mangilao at 9 am. If you come bring lots of water, hiking shoes, mosquito repellent, sun screen and wear hiking or tennis shoes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Women Against Militarism Statement

Below is the conference statement from the the conference "CHinemma', Nina'maolek, yan Inarespetu para Direchon Taotao" which translates to “Resistance, Resilience and Respect for Human Rights” and was the 7th International Meeting of the Network of Women Against Militarism, that took place on Guam on September 14-19, 2009.

The conference was a truly historic event for Guam and for the region, and hopefully, given the militarized future that lies ahead for Guam, it will not be the last of its kind here.


With the theme “Resistance, Resilience and Respect for Human Rights” [CHinemma', Nina'maolek, yan Inarespetu para Direchon Taotao], the International Women’s Network Against Militarism concluded its 7th International Women’s Conference held in Guam on September 14-19, 2009. Participants from Australia, Belau, Chuuk, Guahan, Hawai’i, Japan, Okinawa, Northern Marianas Islands, Palau, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea and mainland United States, took notice of the increasing militarization in their countries and its impact on the socio-cultural, political, economic and environmental aspects particularly on women and their communities. Country reports as well as panel presentations showed the pattern of militarization in said countries, as well as in other parts of the world. Some reports also emphasized the relationship between militarism and colonialism and called attention to the negative effects of such relationship.

The US military’s ‘global defense posture” means more military intervention by seeking more access to more territories through “visiting” agreements, basing agreements, expansion of bases and waging both conventional and unconventional wars, thus undermining the sovereignty of peoples, denying them of their right to self-determination and of their patrimony.

Amidst global financial and economic crises that has shaken the whole world and the global superpowers led by the US and aided by its allies in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia and Japan, military build ups in the region continue. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have claimed thousands of lives especially from the civilian populations, are continuing. Apart from creating a culture of violence that especially affect women, youth and the elderly, environmental impacts have been noted by the participants, contributing significantly to the destruction of indigenous societies and global climate change. War exercises and trainings continue, in the name of the “anti-terrorism” campaigns in many parts of the world, particularly with former colonies in the Asia-Pacific region. We are aware that the legitimate actions against terrorist acts against the civilian populations are necessary, but must not be used as a pretext to justify military interventions that in the end terrorize civilian populations and create a culture of violence.

The US government in its realignment plan is expanding military power in Asia-Pacific, including the relocation plan of 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guahan that would go with building a new military facility in Okinawa. The meeting denounced this military expansion package plan in either place, and is firm in standing in solidarity with the Guahan people. The meeting forwards the following demands:

We ask women of “host” countries to push their governments to send foreign troops back to the US.

We urge the American people especially women to urge the US government for policies that respect the sovereignty of other countries and denounce the continuing wars of aggression and for demilitarization; instead the US government and its superpower allies to rechanneling a big portion of their military budgets towards health programs for its peoples especially women and children, for livelihood programs and secured jobs, and for the general welfare of their citizens.

Stop the expansion of bases in Guahan and other parts of the world!

End all military agreements that support US military hegemony!

Demand US responsibility to clean up the toxic wastes they left behind in the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

Pull out US troops from the Philippines and other countries!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Responses to the DEIS

DEIS States Marines Won't Increase Crime but Micronesian Migrants Will

Guam - Along with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement the military also conducted a stand alone study on the socio-economic impact of the military buildup. A section of the report covers how the buildup will impact crime and how the military believes young local men will test themselves against marines in fights.

The Department of Defense has identified several likely social impacts of the military buildup. According to the Draft EIS socio economic study marines will not have an impact on Guam's overall crime and social order. Instead the report states that other factors related to the buildup may cause this. In fact the report blames in-migrants from the Freely Associated States of Micronesia as the likely cause. Their numbers are expected to increase due to more job opportunities. According to the DEIS these migrants from within Micronesia "have high crime rates associated with adapting to less traditional social structures"

University of Guam instructor Victoria Leon Guerrero says this is a surprising take on the marines impact to crime considering the fact that many Okinawan protests against the marines were fueled by instances of rape and violence. She says that by not taking any responsibility for the possible increase in crime instead blaming Micronesian immigrants the DEIS is “...insulting to our region”.

University of Guam instructor Michael Lujan Bevacqua says that the assumption that Micronesians will raise the crime rate rather than the marines even borders on racism. In fact he says “In some places it would be considered racist”. Bevacua adds that this is obviously scapegoating certain populations and that finding a scapegoat is one of the roots of racism.

While the report lays most of the blame of crime on Micronesian migrants in the very next paragraph it admits that there is “...a potential for more prostitution, alcohol or substance abuse and family violence associated with young military populations (including sailors taking shore leave after weeks at sea)”.

As for the potential of violence and fights the Department of Defense attributes most of the blame to the local population. The DEIS states "The particular reputation of marines as fighters could well trigger a transitional period of adjustment in which local young men test themselves against marines in fights" Bevacqua says this too is borderline racism adding that he's surprised that they can make these statements with a “..straight face”.

While the DEIS doesn't appear to own up to increased crime and violence it does admit that the expansion of non-chamorro voting populations could affect the proportion of chamorro office-holders and government workers. This could also affect the outcomes of any future votes about Guam's political status. Leon Guerrero says it's simply unjust to allow a transient population that is only here for a couple of years to affect the political status of and island like Guam. She adds that it takes away a human right that is reserved for the native Chamorro people.

Leon Guerrero encourages everyone to read as much of the Draft EIS as possible and then provide comments during the EIS comment period.

Written by :
Clynt Ridgell
Pacific News Center