Thursday, December 2, 2010

DOD Begins to Waver on Pagat

Department of Defense Begins to Waver on Plans for Pågat;
Community of Guam United to Preserve this Ancient Village
December 3, 2010
WE ARE GUAHAN

After a full year of the Guam community working to protect the Pågat area from becoming a firing range complex, the Department of Defense is wavering on its plans to use the area for Marine training. Ms. Jackalynn Pfannenstiel, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, has been on Guam this week attempting to sell a plan of “unimpeded access” to Pågat and a land-swap deal, while still intending to claim and control the land at Pågat.

In November of 2009, the Draft EIS was released and the community began to respond to the plans outlined to use the ancient village for a firing range complex. After 11,000 comments, the Final EIS showed little to no change—and, the Record of Decision only put off the decision on Pågat, with no significant change from the FEIS. Now, after the Guam Preservation Trust, We Are Guåhan and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have filed a lawsuit against the DoD, they are finally trying to engage the community.

“They have had two weeks to review the lawsuit, and they know that they have broken the law,” says We Are Guåhan member and attorney Leevin Camacho. “We have been very clear—access is not sufficient. We do not want the DoD to have control over access to any of the Pågat area. We know what happens when the DoD controls access. They make promises that are quickly compromised for whatever their needs are, regardless of what our community needs.”

After a meeting with the Senators and Mayors yesterday, Pfannenstiel was told that access of any sort was not a sufficient mitigation. “And now they want a land swap,” said Acting Speaker Tina Muña-Barnes. “Why don’t they put the firing range on that land, then? They want to trade back land they took from us in the first place. We’re not biting.”

We Are Guåhan would like to congratulate Mayors Lizama, Chargualaf, Blas, Lizama and Flores, as well as the Acting Speaker, Speaker Won Pat and the Senators on their continuing unity and commitment to protecting and preserving Pågat and our beautiful island of Guam.

From We Are Guahan

Monday, November 29, 2010

War Reparations Attached to Military Buildup

Guam Seeks Closure to Its Nearly 30 Year Quest for Wartime Reparations

By
Travis J. Tritten
Stars and Stripes
Published: November 29, 2010

HAGATNA, Guam — Rita Santos Cruz is still haunted by the terrifying day when Japanese soldiers burst into her grade school and abruptly ordered all the students to line up outside.

Then the soldiers dragged Cruz’s pregnant mother into the school courtyard.

“They were beating her up,” recalled Cruz, who is now 73. “And here we were, watching her.”

Her mother, who had refused to bow to the Japanese forces occupying Guam during World War II, was beaten so badly she suffered a miscarriage, Cruz said, wiping away tears.

“We were not even Americans,” she said, “and we were punished.”

More than 60 years later, survivors of the Japanese occupation of Guam still harbor painful resentment — toward the United States. That’s because many feel the U.S. abandoned Guam at the outbreak of the war, letting it fall to the Japanese and thus condemning the population to mass executions, forced labor, torture, internment and rape at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Now, as the U.S. military pushes forward with its largest buildup here since World War II, the tiny U.S. island territory is pressing for closure of its wartime suffering and an end to its nearly 30-year quest for compensation from the federal government.

“If you want us to accept what is going on [with the buildup], let’s resolve this,” Guam Sen. Frank Blas said.

The Guam legislature declared in September that war reparations should be paid to survivors like Cruz as a condition of the planned $10 billion U.S. military expansion on the island, which will bring 8,600 Marines from Okinawa, visiting aircraft carriers and possibly a missile defense facility by 2014.


Meanwhile, Guam’s congressional delegate, Madeleine Bordallo, has said war reparations are her top priority in Congress and are “important for the military buildup to be successful.”

The total cost of reparations for the island could be as much as $126 million, according to a 2004 report by the Guam War Claims Review Commission.

The territory has been unable to strike an agreement with Congress on the payments — part of a legislative struggle dating back to 1983 — and the Guam legislature’s resolution in September is unlikely to exert any real leverage over the military buildup, which is set to begin within months.

The Joint Guam Program Office, which coordinates the buildup for the military, declined to comment on the war claims and referred all questions to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

But the island is still pushing ahead doggedly on the reparations.

“It is just about the recognition,” said Blas, who founded the website www.guamwarsurvivorstory.com, dedicated to survivors and reparations. “Many were beaten, many were tortured. A lot of it was because of their loyalty to the United States.”

Chris Reyes, 69, who retired after two decades in the U.S. Army, is one of fewer than 1,000 Guamanians who endured the Japanese occupation on Guam and are still alive to tell their stories.

Reyes, who was just 4 months old when Japan invaded, said he remembers living in a dark jungle cave “like a mushroom” during the nearly three-year occupation because his family feared he would be killed.

His father was a slave laborer for the Japanese and fed a starvation diet while he unloaded cargo ships. Reyes said he eventually escaped into the jungle during a mass execution.

The only U.S. compensation his family ever received was $810 paid to his grandmother for land taken by the military immediately after World War II.

“Why did we suffer so much?” asked Reyes, who is now an outreach counselor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Guam. “The American government did not provide protection [against a Japanese invasion], and Japan treated us like Americans.”

The United States determined before the war that Guam, then a U.S. possession and military outpost, would fall quickly to Japan, according to a history published by Andersen Air Base.

While Guamanians waited helplessly, all military dependents and U.S. citizens were evacuated from the island ahead of the expected Japanese invasion, which in December 1941 easily punched through a “meager, outdated” U.S. arsenal and about 600 inexperienced servicemembers, the air base history shows.

About 14,700 Guamanians were killed or endured hardship before the U.S. liberated the island from the Japanese in 1944, according to the National Park Service’s War in the Pacific memorial.

“Sisters looked at their brothers being killed with open eyes,” Reyes said. “Kids looked at their fathers being beheaded.”

Guam has always been patriotic — its 170,000 residents produce more military recruits per capita than almost anywhere else in the country — but there is also a strong underlying feeling that the territory was once snubbed by the U.S. government.

“People have very long memories,” said Ron McNinch, a political analyst and professor at the University of Guam. “War reparations are treated as a form of social transgression by these older people who felt they were wronged and their children, or now even their grandchildren, feel they were wronged or mistreated.”

Despite those feelings, the island’s claims of neglect are not so clear.

Guam received at least $8 million in compensation from the U.S. right after World War II, the Guam War Claims Review Commission showed in its 2004 report to Congress.

The claims commission was created by the Department of Interior to investigate the reparations issue and included the chairman of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, which handles U.S. war claims.

It found only about 716 Guamanians were compensated for death or injury from the war, though incomplete records don’t reflect a precise dollar amount for the claims compensation.

The lion’s share of Guam’s reparations went to 6,018 Guamanians who filed claims for lost or damaged property in the late 1940s.

Meanwhile, many Guamanians were not aware of the claims process and were not given enough time to file, according to the report.

Guam Sen. B.J. Cruz, a member of the claims commission and former chief justice of the Guam Supreme Court, said the U.S. has not settled its debt to Guam, despite the early reparations and arguments the U.S. lost 1,438 servicemembers in the liberation.

“There are some who will say the … Marines who died coming on shore are payment,” Cruz said.
“We keep saying, ‘You are the ones who put us in the middle of this fire and you’re going to tell us because the firemen died trying to save us that we owe you?’ ”

The war claims commission recommended Congress pay an additional $126 million in reparations — $25,000 for each death and $12,000 for instances of rape, malnutrition, slave labor, forced march, internment or hiding to avoid capture.

The recommendation was sent to lawmakers in 2004 but was killed on the Senate floor by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and a “small group of fiscal conservatives,” according to Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo.

Now, the payments are again being sponsored by Bordallo in the U.S. defense budget for the coming year — the same budget that contains initial construction funding for the $10 billion military buildup on Guam.

But Bordallo says there is still opposition in the Senate, especially the Armed Services Committee, which holds sway over defense spending and is headed by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Levin and McCain oppose paying the heirs of Guam war survivors and are concerned the payments could lead to more war claims in future versions of the defense budget, Bordallo said in a prepared statement on her website. She refused an interview with Stars and Stripes.

The senators offered Bordallo a compromise in 2009 — they would support the measure “if I agreed to limit claims only to those killed during the war and to those living survivors of the occupation,” she said.

But the compromise failed and the Armed Services Committee cut the reparations from the defense bill.

McCain refused to comment for this story. Levin did not respond to a request for comment.

This year, the Senate did not include the provision in its original version of the bill. The House bill contains the reparations along with a number of other controversial measures, including a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, and may not pass at all this session.

Guam has been down this congressional path before.

Year after year, Guam congressional delegates, who have no vote, have made reparations a top issue and pressed lawmakers to approve payments.

Year after year, they have failed.

In 1988, Congress approved $12,000 payments to Aleutian islanders who were forced to relocate ahead of the Japanese invasion and occupation of Alaska, which was a U.S. territory at the time of the war.

Guam was nearly included in the reparations but the island legislature backed out of the deal in Congress, saying payments of $5,000 for personal injury and $3,000 for slave labor, forced march or internment were too small.

Few on the island are willing to compromise for less.

“With all this money they are giving away, the money we are asking for war reparations, hell, that is only a drop in the bucket,” said Vincente Taisipic, 74, a war survivor who retired from the U.S. Navy.

Chris Reyes is still waiting to finally get compensation and a formal apology from the U.S. government for the terrified times he and his family spent in a cave nearly seven decades ago.

“Money is not really the issue here,” Reyes said. “We are just confused as to why for so long we have been neglected.”


trittent@pstripes.osd.mil

http://www.stripes.com/guam-seeks-closure-to-its-nearly-30-year-quest-for-wartime-reparations-1.126894

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Remembering War and Promoting Peace

Community Collaborates to Remember World War II and Promote Peace
War Survivor Exhibit to Open Nov. 29

November 23, 2010
For Immediate Release

Hagåtña, Guam – When Guam was invaded by Japan on December 8, 1941, hundreds of island residents were attending church services at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral in honor of their patron saint Santa Marian Kamalen. They were praying as the war began. To remember that history, the Guam War Survivor Memorial Foundation and the Archdiocese of Agana, in collaboration with several community groups, are hosting a photo exhibit at the Cathedral-Basilica Museum entitled, “Take My Hand: Remembering How the War Began, Promoting Peace in Our Land.”

The exhibit will feature photo collections provided by the Notan Museo, National Museum of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica; the Guam Humanities Council; the National Park Service; the Department of Parks & Recreation; the Micronesian Area Research Center (MARC) and the Office of Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr.

“We must remember that the strength and sprit of our manåmko’ helped them survive the war and shaped who we’ve become today,” said Sen. Frank F. Blas, Jr. “This exhibit displays the photos and stories of our war survivors, and reminds us that they are truly our island’s heroes.”

The exhibit will open with a press conference at the Cathedral-Basilica Museum at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 29, 2010. It will run until Wednesday, December 8, 2010.


Exhibit Hours of Operations (November 29 – December 8, 2010)

Monday-Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday: 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

December 8: 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.


For more information contact Senator Blas at 687-1483 or 472-2527. Please visit our website: www.guamwarsurvivorstory.com.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Heritage Hikes this November



HERITAGE HIKES - Tungo' i Estoria-ta!

We Are Guåhan is organizing the following hikes:




Pågat Village: November 6, 2010 @ 9am

Cetti / Sella Bay: November 13, 2010 @ 9am

Mt. Lamlam: November 20, 2010 @ 9am



For more information visit:

http://www.weareguahan.com



Monday, October 18, 2010

Chamorro Language Forums this Week and Next

Chamorro language forums next week
Pacific Daily News
news@guampdn.com
October 12, 2010

The University of Guam Chamorro Language program, We Are Guåhan and the Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice are co-sponsoring a series of a Chamorro language senatorial forums Oct. 19-21 and a gubernatorial Chamorro language forum Oct. 25.

The forums, which begin at 7 p.m., will be held in the University of Guam's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Lecture Hall.
All 15 Democratic senatorial candidates and seven Republican senatorial candidates have confirmed participation, according to the organizers, and the Democratic gubernatorial team of former Gov. Carl Gutierrez and Frank B. Aguon Jr. has confirmed for Oct. 25.

Roland Blas, Dr. Olivia Cruz, Arlene Santos, Debbie Quinata, Joseph Camacho, Maria Pangelinan, Gregorio Calvo, Dan Ho, Tony Susuico and Anthony Malia Ramirez have agreed to assist as interpreters and translators.

At the end of each forum, the audience will vote for their favorite candidates.

All questions will be presented to the candidates in Chamorro. Candidates are encouraged to speak in Chamorro, but will be allowed an interpreter/translator for the evening.

"Chamorro is one of the two official languages of the territory and this event encourages the use of our language and underscores the importance of the Chamorro language to our people," said Peter R. Onedera, a professor of Chamorro at the University of Guam.

The forum is free and open to the general public. Refreshments will be served, according to organizers.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chamorro Conference Next Week!

Hafa adai todus,

Please join us for I Mina' Kuattro na Konferensian Chamorro. *PLEASE PASS THE WORD...*

There's a group of people who worked hard to organize and coordinate I Mina'Kuattro Na Konferensian Chamorro. This project has no budget but a lot of committed and passionate people desiring to bring everyone together to develop a vision and action plans for the advancement of Chamorros.


It is our hope that we can *come celebrate our collective progress and find common ground, as we work to address current and future challenges as a community and chart our course .
*
*Our Mission:
*
*To advance and promote the sustainable cultural, economic, and community development of Chamorros based in our indigenous cultural values; to educate our people; and to promote research and capacity building of community-based organizations that will contribute to the well-being of the Mariana Islands and its people.
*
*Our Vision:
*
*To engage and sustain a self-determined Chamorro community that is grounded in cultural knowledge and values and is directed towards the advancement and well-being of our people and the future of the Mariana Islands.
*
*Our Working Philosophy*:

*That we come together to share and unite our people and lands as one entity while respecting our differences; that we find ways to resolve conflicts, heal our minds, bodies, and spirits in order to preserve, protect and promote the people of the Marianas, the Chamorros."
*
It is our hope to get the word around and invite you all to this important Konferensia. We ask for your support. If you are unable to make it, we appreciate your support in prayers and donations to provide scholarships to some of our participants from the CNMI and Guahan. We greatly appreciate
your help.



*I Mina` Kuattro Na Konferensian Chamorro
4th Annual Chamorro Conference
Hotel Nikko Guam
October 12-14, 2010
**Tungo` i Hinanao-ta yan Fanachu nu i Lina`lå`ta!
**Please Join us!
* * **When?
*Tuesday, October 12, 2010 8:00 am-Thursday, October 14, 2010 2:00 pm
*Where? *Hotel Nikko Guam
*Registration Fee:
*$60.00 for FullTime Students, Teachers and Senior Citizens
$100.00 for Others
Professional Development Fee: 2 Credits from UOG: Additional $60.00
*For **more information call 637-6906/
*http://konfrensia.blogspot.com
*email: **4konferensia@gmail.com
REGISTER TODAY!

Monday, September 27, 2010

One Year Later...

ONE YEAR AGO: WE'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER


A MEMORIAL OF THE 2009 EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI



September 29th, 2010



7pm



Best Western Lighthouse

Pacifica, CA



Please join us as we remember our Homelands of American Samoa & Samoa and the Kingdom of Tonga. This is a FREE EVENT!



We look forward to you joining us and appreciate your assistance in spreading the word.



The Host Organizations are:



Samoan Solutions

Together Samoa

Tongan Interfaith Council

SF SAMOA/Samoan Parents In Action

Friday, September 24, 2010

We Are Guahan Call to Action

Community Response to the Record of Decision

We Are Guahan
WeAreGuahan.com


Friday, October 1, 2010
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Adelup

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 23, 2010; Guam- With the release of the DoD’s Record of Decision, it has become evident that the Department of Defense will continue to disregard concerns voiced by the people of Guam. Guam’s local residents will be the demographic most severely impacted by plans to increase the US military’s presence within the region through one of the largest peacetime military relocations in modern history. We Are Guahan will be hosting a rally on Oct. 1 to unite the community in response.

The island participated actively within the NEPA process, with over 10,000 comments submitted in response to the Draft EIS from the community and Government of Guam agencies. Despite the outpouring of community involvement, the Final EIS failed to incorporate many of the island’s concerns into their final plans.

Guam’s community and local leaders presented a united front in opposition to the condemnation of land and the taking of more sites considered culturally and historically significant to the island’s indigenous people. However, the Department of Defense’s Record of Decision (ROD) indicates that the condemnation of land through eminent domain is still a possibility. Although decisions regarding the use of Pågat, an ancient Chamorro village and burial site, have been delayed, the site remains affected by the Department of Defense’s preferred alternatives for live-ammunition exercises.

Guam boasts one of the highest rates of enlistment into the United States Armed Forces per capita. Guam’s soldiers have fought and defended American values at rates higher than any other state within the Continental US, but remain excluded from discussions that greatly determine their futures. As a United States colony, residents of Guam lack any real control of their home and its resources. The lack of Democracy involved in the processes surrounding the military build-up in Guam have prompted residents to demand a role in the decision making process.

Plans to realign US troops stationed in Okinawa highlight a critical moment in the island’s history. Residents are uniting in efforts to empower themselves, protect their home’s resources, and shape their futures.

We Are Guahan invites all residents to participate in an island-wide rally to demonstrate unity, commemorate the island’s many sacrifices, and to empower the community to prepare for their home’s future. The rally is scheduled for Friday, October 1st from 4:30pm to 7:30pm at Adelup.

###
Not For Publication


Media Contact/For more information:
Moñeka De Oro, We Are Guåhan
Events Coordinator


Please contact for any concerns at 678-3240

Our islands and our people are bracing themselves for a massive change in tides. We Are Guåhan is a multi-ethnic collective of individuals, families and grassroots organizations concerned with the future of our islands. We Are Guåhan aims to inform and engage our community on the various issues concerning the impending military build up. We Are Guåhan aims to unite and mobilize our people to protect and defend our resources and our culture. We Are Guåhan promotes peaceful, positive and prosperous change for our island. We envision a sustainable future for all of Guåhan’s people.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Events This Weekend

SEPTEMBER 25, SATURDAY
International Coastal Clean-up @ Marbo Cave

Please Join We Are Guahan for the 16th Annual Guam International Coastal Clean Up this Saturday Sept. 25 from 7 to 9 am!

We Are Guahan and Rotaracts are sponsoring the the Marbo Cave clean up site in Mangilao. Marbo Cave has been identified in the final EIS as a buffer and safety zone for the proposed live firing range at Pagat. It is important that we connect with these lands while we still can.

All volunteers recieve a FREE coastal clean Shirt, entry to Fish Eye Observatory in Piti and a discounted lunch at Sea Grille Restaurant in Tumon (that comes with Underwater World entry ticket).

All clean up materials will be provided. We'll also have light breakfast items available, but bring sun screen, mosquito repellant, water, your friends and family.

DIRECTIONS TO MARBO CAVE: Coming from Mangilao, take Route 15 (or Back Road) north until you hit the four way intersection. Turn right. This is also the intersection where Jackson's Titiyas is located. We'll have some signs posted as well to let you know you're on the right track. ;)

------------------------------------------------------------------------
SEPTEMBER 26, SUNDAY
Sella and Cetti Bays Sunset Boat Tour

Join other WAG members for a FREE boat tour to see Sella Bay, the site of critical Chamoru and Guamanian history.

SELLA/CETTI BAYS SUNSET BOAT TOUR
on Sunday, September 26, from 3pm-6pm
Meeting at 2:30pm at the Agat Marina. The boat will return to the marina by 6pm at the latest.

Join Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua (and other speakers to be confirmed) as we see Sella Bay, a pristine region where in the 70s the Navy wanted to build an ammunition wharf. We'll learn about the political, social, and environmental history of this area, which is home to ancient artifacts, an old Chamoru village, and the beautiful Spanish bridge. If you've never made the time to make the hike down to the bay, now is the time to do it.

We'll also be able to stop off at some point to go swimming and see Cetti Bay, so get ready to get a history lesson, cool off, and enjoy our island's beauty.

Wear comfortable clothes and bring a swimsuit/snorkel gear if you have.

YOU MUST RSVP to marie@weareguahan.com to reserve a space. Due to passenger capacity, We Are Guahan MUST have a solid headcount.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

War Reparations Petition

Petition Drive to Congress for War Reparations Continues

September 10, 2010

For Immediate Release

Hagåtña, Guam – In an effort to ensure Guam’s World War II survivors finally receive war reparations, the people of Guam are being urged to sign an online petition to Congress by the end of next week.

In the weeks ahead, the US Senate will begin their process on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. The House of Representatives approved the Act with an amendment that adds to the bill the text of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, granting reparations to the island’s war survivors. However, there is a threat that some senators may not allow the reparations to remain in the final version of the bill that the Senate will vote on later this year. If that happens, Guam’s war survivors will have to continue to wait for justice.

The Office of Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. launched the website www.guamwarsurvivorstory.com on August 31, 2010 that includes an online petition to Congress urging senators to keep Guam’s war reparations in the final version of the defense bill, and to approve the bill when it is voted on. Thus far, the petition has garnered about 200 signatures, but many more are needed to make Guam's voice loud and clear, and to grab the Senate's attention.

The people of Guam are being asked to visit www.guamwarsurvivorstory.com today and click on the “Petition2Congress” link at the top of the menu on the left side of the home page to sign the petition. It takes only one minute to sign and could make a tremendous difference for Guam’s war survivors, many of whom have died before ever receiving restitution for the atrocities they suffered during World War II. There were more than 22,000 people who lived through the war on Guam. Of that group, less than 1,000 are alive today, and more continue to die.

“When we started our war survivors series entitled ‘Real People. Real Stories,’ 29 of our featured 30 war survivors were alive,” said Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. “Since our series launch in November 2009, we have lost three of our featured man'amko (Dr. Rosa Carter, Mr. Jesus Perez Sablan, and Mr. Juan Unpingco). How many more will pass away before they receive their just and deserved recognition?”

For more details, please call Senator Blas on his cell at 687-1483, or his office at 472-2527.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

National Historic Preservation Act - NHPA: Section 106 Requires Review & Consultation of "Undertaking"

The NHPA-Naional Historic Preservation Act: Section 106 requires the review & consultation of the Joint Guam and CNMI Military Relocation and Buildup by consulting parties and the public. A Programmatic Agreement between DoD and the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation Historic Resources Division was released on August 20, 2010 for review with comments due five (5) days later, on August 25, 2010.

Comments Submitted Regarding the Draft Programmatic Agreement for the Joint Guam and CNMI Military Relocation and Buildup


Senator vicente c. pangelinan - The Programmatic Agreement Will Become Problematic for the People of Guam
The signatories to the PA agree that DoD will satisy its Section 106 responsibilities for the Undertaking (ROD) according to the PA, and thus have effectuated a shortcut to Section 106 review, which allows the agency's decision to move forward without any more review or consultation for all the buildup projects, except Apra dredging and possibly Pagat, depending on the final version.

Denny Taimanglo - A Decision for Your People and the Future of Our Children
I understand that the Programmatic Agreement has placed an immense weight on your shoulders. You should not bear that weight alone. Listen to your people and let us help you make this invaluable decision.

Dipattamenton I Kaohao Guinahan Chamorro / Department of Chamorro Affairs
As noted in DCA's DEIS comments, the cultural name of the project areas would be beneficial in determining their cultural significance. Project numbers make it difficult to ascertain the exact location. A detailed map would be helpful of all project areas, noting village names, sub-villages (e.g., Ipan, Sasayan, Oka, etc). At least 6 months of review time is needed to provide a thorough report.

DCA recommends that "Access Plans" be completed before signing of PA.

National Trust for Historic Preservation, Western Office
The purpose of this letter is to summarize the general concerns of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Guam Preservation Trust regarding the current status of the Section 106 consultation by the Department of Defense ("DoD") for the proposed military relocation and buildup on Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the "Buildup"). In addition, we offer several specific comments on the draft Programmatic Agreement ("PA") dated 20 August 2010 in an accompanying attachment to this letter.

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
We appreciate Navy's commitment to further consultation regarding the proposal to site multiple firing ranges in the area of the ancient village of Pagat. This proposal has met with significant opposition from consulting parties, and we are pleased that the language in the PA with regard to the firing ranges provides an opportunity for the parties to continue consultation on both the appropriate location of such ranges and the potential for effects to historic properties.


Dipattamenton Plaset Yan Dibuetsion / Department of Parks and Recreation
Mr. Schregardus, throughout our conversations, we felt you to be sincere in your efforts to amicably bring this Agreement to conclusion, recognizing the fact that this Buildup, a first of its kind in the nation, brings with it valid concerns raised by not just our office, but by the community, who in fact are the very ones that we are obligated to serve. We are confident that we can work with you to find ways to address each and every concern so that DoD's mission can proceed with the knowledge that we all played a part, in good faith, to protect and preserve Guam's heritage.

We Are Guahan

In the Programmatic Agreement, however, Pagat is identified in Appendix A as part of the Undertaking. Furthermore, Appendix D identifies land acquisition for firing ranges as a site that has "Further Evaluation Required." Stipulation V.C.3 governs all projects in the Undertaking requiring additional evaluation to determine effects. Assuming that DoD agreed there would be adverse effects to Pagat, the remedy would be to comply with Stipulation V.C.2. This does not appear to reflect the intent of the revision.

Additional Public Comments
1 Chamorro Tribe
3 Therese Terlaje
5 Therese Terlaje
9 Vivian Dames
11 Joe Duenas
12 Charissa Aguon
13 Alison Rae Causay
14 Resolution Objecting to Draft PA
19 West Coast Famoksaiyan
21 Dave Lotz
22 Guam Boonie Stompers


5 Therese Terlaje
We agree with the 'Whereas" clauses in the draft PA which state that there are historic properties that will be adversely affected by the planned projects for the military buildup on Guam; that the cumulative effects of the projects will be island wide on Guam and Tinian. We object to the adoption of Appendix D by the PA, and specifically to all properties listed by approximately 216 separate military project names, where conclusion is that there is no adverse effect or no historic property affected. We request additional time to review the studies underlying these determinations and consultation with our community as to these findings. Notwithstanding the many studies that DoD insisted at the meeting were done to arrive at the conclusions on this Appendix, and DoD's insistence at the meeting that we should TRUST them to make accurate determinations, it is not consistent with the spirit of NHPA that these be determined without consultation with the Chamorro people. This is especially true in light of the large population of Chamorros before the arrival of the Spanish and their documented habitation or use of different areas of Guam, which is 30 miles long and 4 to 12 miles wide. In other words, it is hard to trust immediately and conclude in five days that Chamorros placed no value on the listed properties in their 4000 year long history of veneration and celebration, or in their quest for food, clothing, and shelter, or by their fishing, hunting, and gathering in this limited land mass, which is smaller than many national parks and national monuments, given the proximity of these properties already recognized historical and traditional cultural properties on Guam. Also, we are unable to concur at this time with the specific adverse effects cited for some projects as we are not privy to Appendix C, and thus unable to concur immediately with the specific mitigation proposed for destruction of said sites at this time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Lies of Hiroshima are the Lies of Today

The Lies Of Hiroshima Are The Lies Of Today
By John Pilger
Information Clearing House

06/08/08 “ICH” — – On the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, John Pilger describes the ‘progression of lies’ from the dust of that detonated city, to the wars of today – and the threatened attack on Iran.

When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then walked down to the river and met a man called Yukio, whose chest was still etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He and his family still lived in a shack thrown up in the dust of an atomic desert. He described a huge flash over the city, “a bluish light, something like an electrical short”, after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. “I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead.” Nine years later, when I returned to look for him, he was dead from leukaemia.

In the immediate aftermath of the bomb, the allied occupation authorities banned all mention of radiation poisoning and insisted that people had been killed or injured only by the bomb’s blast. It was the first big lie. “No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin” said the front page of the New York Times, a classic of disinformation and journalistic abdication, which the Australian reporter Wilfred Burchett put right with his scoop of the century. “I write this as a warning to the world,” reported Burchett in the Daily Express, having reached Hiroshima after a perilous journey, the first correspondent to dare. He described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries but who were dying from what he called “an atomic plague”. For telling this truth, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared – and vindicated.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a criminal act on an epic scale. It was premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. For this reason its apologists have sought refuge in the mythology of the ultimate “good war”, whose “ethical bath”, as Richard Drayton called it, has allowed the west not only to expiate its bloody imperial past but to promote 60 years of rapacious war, always beneath the shadow of The Bomb.

The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. “Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, “air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that … Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard”. Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the US air force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. He later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb”. His foreign policy colleagues were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.” The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

Since 1945, the United States is believed to have been on the brink of using nuclear weapons at least three times. In waging their bogus “war on terror”, the present governments in Washington and London have declared they are prepared to make “pre-emptive” nuclear strikes against non-nuclear states. With each stroke toward the midnight of a nuclear Armageddon, the lies of justification grow more outrageous. Iran is the current “threat”. But Iran has no nuclear weapons and the disinformation that it is planning a nuclear arsenal comes largely from a discredited CIA-sponsored Iranian opposition group, the MEK – just as the lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction originated with the Iraqi National Congress, set up by Washington.

The role of western journalism in erecting this straw man is critical. That America’s Defence Intelligence Estimate says “with high confidence” that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 has been consigned to the memory hole. That Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” is of no interest. But such has been the mantra of this media “fact” that in his recent, obsequious performance before the Israeli parliament, Gordon Brown alluded to it as he threatened Iran, yet again.

This progression of lies has brought us to one of the most dangerous nuclear crises since 1945, because the real threat remains almost unmentionable in western establishment circles and therefore in the media. There is only one rampant nuclear power in the Middle East and that is Israel. The heroic Mordechai Vanunu tried to warn the world in 1986 when he smuggled out evidence that Israel was building as many as 200 nuclear warheads. In defiance of UN resolutions, Israel is today clearly itching to attack Iran, fearful that a new American administration might, just might, conduct genuine negotiations with a nation the west has defiled since Britain and America overthrew Iranian democracy in 1953.

In the New York Times on July 18, the Israeli historian Benny Morris, once considered a liberal and now a consultant to his country’s political and military establishment, threatened “an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland”. This would be mass murder. For a Jew, the irony cries out.

The question begs: are the rest of us to be mere bystanders, claiming, as good Germans did, that “we did not know”? Do we hide ever more behind what Richard Falk has called “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted violence”? Catching war criminals is fashionable again. Radovan Karadzic stands in the dock, but Sharon and Olmert, Bush and Blair do not. Why not? The memory of Hiroshima requires an answer.

www.johnpilger.com

Monday, July 19, 2010

Peaceful Protest for Pagat - July 23


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 20, 2010, Guam- In response to the Joint Guam Program Office's plans to turn the Pågat area into a firing range, We Are Guåhan is hosting a community event on Route 15 this Friday, July 23 – the day the Final EIS is scheduled for release.

So far, JGPO has outlined plans to restrict access to the Pågat Village site for 39 weeks out of the year, and condemn the Yigo Raceway and other properties.

We Are Guåhan and the community of Guam worked together to submit thousands of comments on the Draft EIS last December and January. Many of those comments submitted other option sites for the firing range. With JGPO's publicized plans, it has become clear that the voices of the people of Guam were not taken into consideration.

We Are Guåhan will be peacefully lining Route 15 to send a strong message to the CEQ and military officials who will be visiting Pågat that day that Guam is united to save our island and protect our future.

The community action will take place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Parking will be available at the Yigo Raceway with shuttle services to the Pågat trail head. For details, please go to www.WeAreGuahan.com.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Buildup Officially Begins on Guam

First troop buildup-related project kicks off .
by Jennifer Naylor Gesick
Friday, 16 July 2010
Variety News Staff

THE first phase of a $4 billion project related to the military buildup kicked off during a groundbreaking ceremony on Naval base yesterday.

Naval Facilities and Engineering Command Marianas along with Commander Submarine Squadron 15 led the ceremony at the future site of a new two-story submarine squadron headquarters and submarine learning center, and a one-story torpedo exercise support building.

“These two projects will significantly advance our ability to train and support the submarine force in Guam,” said Captain Douglas Wright, commander of the CSS-15.

Currently, there are three submarines stationed on Guam, the USS Corpus Christi, USS Houston, and the USS Buffalo. A fourth, the USS Oklahoma City will come to Guam later this year.

“This is a classic case of building the garage to put the Maserati in,” said Captain Peter Lynch, commanding officer for NAVFAC during his speech.

Lynch compared the new facility to a luxury car garage, which has a price tag of $23.5 million, and will house $22 million worth of equipment and training materials.

This is the first project of the multiple award construction contract awarded to seven companies in May for a total of $4 billion.

The learning center will feature academic and applied training that will consist of simulators and team trainers along with classrooms and instructor offices. The headquarters building will have offices, an emergency control center as well as material and equipment storage rooms.

The torpedo exercise support facility will include a target preparation area, helicopter launcher, checkout and preparation area, exercise torpedo flushing operations room, and support office spaces.

dck pacific was awarded the contract for these three facilities. The total price tag for this project is $23.5 million, and is expected to be completed by November 2011.

Lynch said this groundbreaking was the beginning of many projects and people should expect to see construction around the island over the next several years as part of the marine buildup.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We Are Guåhan at UN Special Committee on Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries & Peoples

STATEMENT

OF

WE ARE GUÅHAN

Before the

THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE SITUATION WITH REGARD TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GRANTING OF INDEPENDENCE TO COLONIAL COUNTRIES AND PEOPLES (C-24)

June 22, 2010

INTRODUCTION

This testimony is being presented on behalf of We are Guåhan, an organization dedicated to advocating for the political, social, environmental, and human rights of the people of Guam.

We are Guåhan was formed in November of 2009, shortly after the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, an 11,000 page document detailing U.S plans for the future of Guam. Our organization formed in order to read and critique the massive document on behalf of the local community, which is largely unfamiliar or unable to engage in the kind of critical analysis and formal response required to participate in the draft’s formal commenting process.

Our goal is to keep Guam’s residents informed and active in all discussions involving the future of our home island, as we have been excluded from most discussions entirely and decisions have been made unilaterally. Our organization is comprised of residents from all sectors of society; and we are deeply alarmed by the injustices that will be perpetrated upon the people of Guam by the plans within the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Since our formation, the every-day residents and individuals within We are Guåhan have been forced to quickly digest and understand the complex issues of decolonization, environmental sustainability, cultural preservation, and political self-determination in order to respond to the U.S. government. Needless to say, we are overwhelmed, alarmed, and outraged by the lack of power we have in determining our futures.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has triggered an outpouring of concern by Guam’s residents. The Guam Environmental Protection Agency (a Federal entity) gave the DEIS its lowest possible rating, calling it the most poorly constructed Impact Statement they have evaluated. U.S plans within the DEIS have shown the people of Guam, yet again, that they are powerless in controlling their destinies. The political freedom, environmental safety, and cultural legacy we leave to future generations is one that is ultimately decided by those who view their home as nothing more than a gas station or military training ground in the Pacific.

Decolonization for the Chamorro people is needed now, more than ever, not just for the Chamorro people of Guam, but for all who consider the island their home and have now been forced to face the reality of being a resident within an United States Colony. The Chamorro people must be granted their inherent and inalienable to right to exercise self-determination.

The basic necessities for maintaining or creating a self-sustaining, empowered, healthy population of residents have been threatened by U.S. plans. We are Guåhan, which is dedicated to representing the concerns of the diverse population that calls Guam its home, is here to report the findings of local residents and organizations within the DEIS, in order to highlight why self-determination must be granted to the Chamorro people of Guam.

ISSUES OF CONCERN WITHIN THE DEIS

Water Supply

Water, our most basic necessity to live, is greatly endangered by plans within the DEIS. In addition to a 2.3 million gallon per day shortfall of water for residents who do not live on Department of Defense controlled properties. This shortfall will force residents to live with low water pressures and could result in microbiological and other contaminants entering the water distribution system, which will result in illness. The basic sanitary needs of our island will be degraded an yet, the DEIS has not identified a funding source for the improvements that are required to sustain the population increase they propose.

Education

An educated community is an empowered community and our island’s educational system is already grossly underfunded. The military build up projects an increase in up to 8,000 more students at the build up’s peak, requiring 532 more teachers to a Department of Education that already struggles to fill up to 300 vacancies per year.

We’ll need to build new schools; and the estimated cost of building these new schools is $134 million dollars, which exceeds our Department of Education’s budget by 70%.

Economy

DEIS projections for our economy have been greatly misrepresented. Local economists have pointed out that the direct and indirect impacts have been inflated by over 118%. The DEIS failed to acknowledge that the projected tax revenues will not be enough for the Government of Guam to support the 80,000 new residents that will arrive in 2014. Even more outrageous has been the Department of Defense’s admission that the standard of living on Guam will most likely decrease within the DEIS.

Housing

The predicted shortage of housing through 2014 will drive housing prices up, increasing homelessness, overcrowding and illegal housing units. The predicted over-supply of housing after 2014 will also likely result in many more abandoned buildings over the once scenic landscapes of our beautiful island. The DEIS is “deafeningly silent” on how DoD will mitigate the impact on Guam’s housing market.

Reefs

The reefs which protect our island from storms and earth quakes will be greatly impacted, and the Environmental Protection Agency explained that “Impacts to coral reefs on the scale proposed in the DEIS are unprecedented in recent CWA 404 permit history.

Noise

Our residents will be forced to navigate through noise and pollution daily and our disadvantaged, under served, and overburdened communities are likely to have pre-existing deficits of both a physical and social nature that make the effects of environmental pollution more, and in some cases, unacceptably, burdensome.

CONCLUSION

Unfortunately, this brief outline is just the tip of the iceberg when articulating our concerns regarding further military expansion. Despite the overwhelming amount of damage to our island and its future as a sustainable, safe home for our future generations, the U.S. Government continues with its plans to increase its United States military presence on the island.

We have repeatedly sought political rights; and the actions in response to those requests over the years have moved at a pace we no longer have the luxury of accommodating.

Chamorro self-determination must be granted. As stewards of our island and environment, the indigenous people of Guam require these basic human and political rights to secure the future of our island for all who love it and are invested in preserving its integrity. It is no longer satisfactory (or realistic) to expect that self-determination be an issue addressed with the influence of the administering power. As we have seen so clearly within the DEIS, the administering power cares very little about the ways in which our home, its economy, the education of our children, and our environment is jeopardized by plans in their interest.

Our organization advocates for the process of decolonization to take place without the administering power and with the cooperation of the United Nations. We recommend that actions be taken before any more damage occurs through the increased militarization of our island.

It is imperative that an investigation be conducted regarding the compliance of our the administering power to uphold its obligations under the UN Charter to promote and preserve the integrity of our home island and our human and political rights.

We thank you for this opportunity to share our concerns. These issues are complex and we continue to learn and try to understand how we are negatively affected by the administering power’s military plans on a daily basis. These lessons are those that require time and assistance, but unfortunately, our people and island have run out of time. We are standing immediately before plans that rush toward us at an alarming pace, plans that will forever change (and even erase) the island that so many of us have come to love and call home.

Si Yu’os ma’ase,

We Are Guåhan

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chamorro Delegation Urges United Nations Intervention on Military Build-Up and Human Rights Violations in Guam

Contact: Hope Cristobal 808.327.8289

FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE:

New York City, June 22, 2010 — A delegation of Chamorus and Rafaluwasch from the territory of Guam and Saipan testified before the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization to insist the international community pay closer attention to Guam’s continued colonial status as the island’s Administering Power, the United States, increases its already large military presence there.

Mr. St. Aimee, Chairman of the Special Committee, recognized during the hearing that the Second Decade of the Eradication of Colonization did not yield the necessary results. Therefore, they resolved to move into the Third Decade of the Eradication of Colonization stating their dedication to passing this resolution. He declared, “With effort we will arrive at an agreement so that the expressed wish of the people can be realized.” Some of the ideas discussed were to have visiting missions to the Territories, and sharing more information between the UN Special Committee of 24 and the Territories.

The Guam delegation represents a second generation of Chamorros who have appealed to the United Nations for the past 20 years regarding Guam’s political status and the United States’ refusal to respect the Chamorro people’s human right to self-determination.

The urgency for action was repeatedly expressed by delegates. The submitted testimony by Senator Vicente Pangelinan, Guam Legislature, affirms that, “This body must advance the self-determination process for the native inhabitants of Guam NOW, for the recent decisions by our administering authority dilutes our Right to Self-Determination…”

Hope Antoinette Cristobal, a Chamorro and Doctor of Psychology, called attention to the effects of colonization on the health of the people of Guam. She proclaimed, “I am here to testify that the indigenous people of Guam continue to suffer social, cultural, and environmental annihilation at the hands of our American oppressors… Robust research suggests that these aggregate problems in our communities are a result of the cultural and social deterioration of our families and neighborhoods. The same families and neighborhoods that had previously sustained our health for generations prior to colonization.”

A representative for We are Guahan emphasized this, “We have repeatedly sought political rights; and the actions in response to those requests over the years have moved at a pace we no longer have the luxury of accommodating.”

Fuetsan Famalao’an, a small non-governmental organization of women on Guam concerned about the US Department of Defense’s plan for increased militarization on Guam implored the Committee to take critical step in this process, namely to send delegates to Guam to further investigate the consequences of militarization. “We urge you to one day conduct a UN C-24 hearing in Guam. You will see with your own eyes, the substandard of living of many of the Chamorros and other residents of Guam who live across the fences, resembling the racial and economic disparity found in the segregated city neighborhoods throughout the globe.”

Rima Ilarishigh Peter Miles, a Refaluwasch Carolinian from the island of Saipan spoke as a member of Women for Genuine Security(WGS). WGS is part of an international network of women who are organizing to put an end to the devastating effects of US militarization and bring about true security based on justice and respect. “We stand here at this urgent moment to call the United Nations to immediate action. Advancements must be made for the protection and fulfillment of the Chamoru Right to Self-Determination. This right is currently being threatened and undermined by the continued avoidance of the issue by the US, as well as recent actions which contradict the terms of the US obligation to the Chamoru people of Guam.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

USSF Resolution Opposing US Imperialist Wars and Militarism

The "Beyond Empire" group of Grassroots Global Justice will present this resolution at the final assembly of the US Social Forum on Saturday 26 June in Detroit.

The final resolution will include a national call to action that will incorporate into the 2 October mobilization for jobs and reduction in military spending, followed by a week of local activities to commemorate the anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
*

If your organization would like to sign on, please send your information to Hyun Lee: hyunlee70@gmail.com NO LATER THAN FRIDAY, 25 JUNE AT 12 NOON.



Resolution Opposing U.S. Imperialist Wars and Militarism

Prepared for the 2010 U.S. Social Forum People’s Movement Assembly

(DRAFT – 6.6.10)

WHEREAS, Pentagon spending has doubled to over $700 billion in the past eight years, and the U.S. Empire maintains over 700 military bases around the globe to wage perpetual war in its unending pursuit of profits and power;

WHEREAS, in the process, the U.S. military kills innocent civilians and destroys infrastructure, undermines democracy and human rights, threatens the sovereignty of nations, displaces farmers and indigenous people from their land, and wreaks environmental devastation;

WHEREAS, the U.S. government uses the so-called War on Terror as justification for the militarization of the U.S. border, the wholesale targeting of Muslim and Arab communities, the expansion of police departments, the prison industrial complex, and other institutions and policies aimed at silencing all those seen as threats to capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heterosexism;

WHEREAS, U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stolen more than $1 trillion away from vital needed services, such as universal healthcare, affordable housing, and living wage jobs in communities victimized by the economic crisis – especially people of color, who bear the brunt of these crises due to structural racism, and immigrants, who become scapegoats in times of economic recession;

WHEREAS, the Pentagon continues to invest billions of our tax dollars and human resources each year into developing new and more advanced weapons systems that have no civilian or military justification, while the average living standard in the United States has long been on the decline, and unemployment has steadily been on the rise;

WHEREAS, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of troops for war, and dropping tons of munitions on urban centers and rural communities not only destroy lives, but pushes the planet closer to ecological destruction by consuming a massive amount of fossil fuels, destroying critical ecosystems, and creating resource scarcity;

WHEREAS, we believe all people should have the right to self-determination and peaceful existence; that collective security comes from mutual respect, not by hoarding of the world’s resources by a few; and we must move beyond empire and militarized methods of control; and

WHEREAS, people in the United States have a stake in challenging the power of war-making institutions and converting the vast resources now wasted on war-making into productive capacity for raising the quality of life for all; and we see our futures intertwined with the futures of the people of the Global South, and believe that we have a responsibility to hold this government accountable; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that we, the undersigned organizations, united in our opposition to imperialist war and militarism, commit to building a movement for a truly just and lasting peace; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are struggling under the weight of U.S. militarism and imperialism for peace, justice and self-determination in other countries; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we demand an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and call on the U.S. government to provide reparations to address the humanitarian crises in these countries, as well as repair the physical damage caused by its invasion and occupation; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we reject any planned attack on Iran, and call on the U.S. government to stop funding Israel’s occupation and colonization of the Palestinian people; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we call on the U.S. government to respect the self-determination of people in Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East, and demand a total abolition of all foreign military bases and other infrastructure for wars of aggression, including military interventions, operations, trainings, exercises, and laboratories dedicated to weapons construction; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the vast resources now wasted on war-making be put toward meeting urgent civilian needs, including the funding of jobs in housing, health care, education, clean energy and infrastructure repairs, and preventing the layoff of state and local public workers; and be it further

RESOLVED, that ….[INSERT CALL TO ACTION in the FALL]*

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fundraising for We Are Guahan

From Sabina Perez on behalf of We Are Guahan. Contact them for more info by heading to their website WE ARE GUAHAN.


*****************************

Hafa adai,

I am trying to raise money for the nonprofit organization, We Are Guahan, whose focus is educating the public about the impacts of the military buildup that will increase the population 47% in a period of 4 years, in addition, to causing the removal of 71 acres of coral reefs (some of the coral species are endemic to Guam), and jeopardize our water resource, which may result in irreversible damage.

On February 17, 2010, the environmental damage was deemed by the US EPA to be "of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes that the action should not proceed as proposed and improved analyses are necessary to ensure the information in the EIS is adequate to fully inform decision-makers." Please read more at: http://www.epa.gov/region9/nepa/letters/Guam-CNMI-Military-Reloc-DEIS.pdf

We Are Guahan was created in November 2009, upon the release of a 11,000 page draft environmental statement (DEIS), in which the public was required to read and submit comments within 90 days. We Are Guahan was instrumental in educating the public about what the DEIS contained. As a result, over 5,000 comments were submitted by the Februrary 17, 2010 deadline. We are now expecting the final EIS to be released in the July 2010. We need your support to continue our outreach on Guam and abroad at the the 2nd US Social Forum in Detroit.

I am selling $30 raffle tickets for a trip for 2 to either Rota or Saipan. The value is about $500 with a 1/100 chance of winning. Drawing will be held this Friday (Guam time). I have 18 more tickets to sell, if you are interested. If you are abroad, unsure about whether to make the trip and want to support our organization, please consider donating the trip to a local family member.

Please forward to your friends and family and feel free to contact me with any questions.


Si Yu'os Ma'ase,

Sabina

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fundraiser to send spoken word superstars to Brave New Voices in Los Angeles, CA



The youth of Guåhan have been in the forefront of articulating the effects of the military buildup on our islands, our culture and the people of Guahan. Spoken word, slam poetry provides the vehicle from which this talent, creativity, commitment and love give expression to our opposition to the military buildup and our vision for peace and well-being throughout the world.

from Melvin Won Pat-Borja, co-founder of Sinagan'ta:

Hafa Adai Familia,

I apologize for the mass email, but I am nearing the end of my rope here. As some of you know, I help run a youth writing program on Guam and we are invested in creating opportunities for all teens on the island. This summer we are embarking on an incredible journey as we prepare to compete in the Brave New Voice International Youth Poetry Slam in Los Angeles, California (from July 19-24). This competition gathers 500 of the best youth poets from around the country to promote literacy, public speaking, leadership, and critical thinking. It will be the FIRST TIME that Guam is represented in official competition.

It is going to cost us $12,000 to fund this trip and we are hard pressed to make this money before the festival. Those of you who know me well, know that asking for donations is the bane of my existence, so I am clearly desperate here. We have raised some money so far, but we are still far from our goal. We have a few fundraisers coming up and I would greatly appreciate your support. Our first fundraiser is coming up on Thursday June 10th at "After5" in the Plaza. Tickets are $10 and it starts at 6pm.

We will also be hosting a showcase at the end of this month and another show in July.

If you are interested in supporting this worth cause, you can mail a check made out to me to the address posted bellow.

Melvin Won Pat-Borja

PO BOX 2246
Hagatna, GU 96910

I know that these are hard times and that not all of you have the means to help us find our way to LA, but if you know someone who can. Please feel free to forward this email and my contact information.

We really need your help to make this dream a reality. I hope to see you at our fundraisers.

Thanks for your love and support.

-Mel


Monday, May 24, 2010

Save Pagat Village


For more information head to the website: Save Pagat Village.

Also, sign the petition!!!

From the Guam Preservation Trust:

The ancient village of Pågat is located about three miles east of the village of Yigo, along Guahan's northeast coastline. The word Pågat translated to English is to give advice. The ancient village is a registered archaeological site in the Guam and National Register of Historic Places since 1974, a designation by the U. S. National Park Service for its historic significance.

According to archaeologists, Pågat village contains extensive cultural resources from the Latte Period (1000 A.D.). The Latte Period is reflected by remains of 15 to 20 sets of latte pillars used for foundations of structures, rock shelters, over 50 mounds of middens, and other artifacts such as basalt and limestone mortars, pounders, graters, stone bowls, fishing gear, abraders, hammer stones, weaving or thatching tools, chipped stone, scrapers, knives, gouges, adzes, sling stones, spear points, ornaments, and pottery. Radiocarbon dates have been obtained from the site. The dates range from the earliest at A.D. 770-970, to dates at 1080-1310, 1360-1480, and 1340-1440. The dates indicate that the site was occupied near the beginning of the Latte Period and was used during the Latte Period (A.D. 900-1521).

An analysis of faunal remains recovered from excavations at the site, indicate that mahi mahi and black marlin were among the fishes the early settlers ate. The bones of fruit bat, bird, rat, and turtle were recovered. Shellfish included shells from Strombus and Isognomun. These two mollusks are sand dwellers, and they may have been brought to the site since it lacks a sandy beach.

In 1672, a Spanish church was established at the site and recorded documents indicated that the Venerable Diego Luis de San Vitores S.J. (1627-1672), visited the village of Pågat to convert the Chamorro people to the Catholic religion. The church was later abandoned after the 1700s.

Today, Pågat village still remains as it did over two thousand years ago. The Suruhanos and Suruhanas or local healers seek advice from the spirits and herbs of our ancestors, the fishermen still come to make their catch, and the young and old still seek the refuge of the historic Pågat village to reflect and to be inspired to preserve our culture and our heritage.

The recent military plans for the build-up of Guahan have identified areas surrounding Pågat village as firing ranges for military training. If these firing ranges are built in the surrounding areas, the historic Pågat village will no longer be what it is today. There is so much to learn about our ancestors from the historic village of Pågat and the spiritual connection that the Chamorro people have for this ancient village. The community's desire to preserve and protect this significant historic site should be embraced and empowered

Monday, May 17, 2010

Making the Invisible Empire Visible

from The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

Film Review by John Junkerman: The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands

Mention “The Insular Empire” to the average American, and they’d likely have no idea what you were talking about. They probably still wouldn’t get it if you gave them another clue: “America in the Mariana Islands.” These are the title and subtitle of a new film by Vanessa Warheit, which began screening on PBS earlier this year.

It is the singular misfortune of the residents of Guam and the Northern Marianas to have been born on tiny islands of great strategic value in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The consequence has been their colonial subordination for four centuries to a succession of empires: Spain, the United States, Germany, Japan, and, since the Pacific War, the US again.

A “colony” of the American “empire”? Of course, the US does not acknowledge that the “territory” of Guam and the “commonwealth” of the Northern Mariana Islands are colonies. But, as the film points out, the residents of these islands bear American passports yet have only token representation in the US Congress. They have the ‘right’ to fight in the US military (soldiers from Guam have died in Iraq and Afghanistan at a per capita rate four times as high as any US state), but they don’t have a vote in the election of the commander-in-chief. One third of Guam is controlled by the US military and the island is slated for a massive military buildup, but as a “non-self-governing territory,” the islanders have no say in the matter.

The principle of government with the consent of the governed, over which the American colonies fought the War of Independence, does not apply to the Mariana Islands. Yes, these are colonies.

It is one of the ironies of the American “empire of bases” (in Chalmer Johnson’s apt phrase) that the empire remains largely invisible to all but the soldiers who occupy these bases spread across the globe and the citizens of the lands that host them. What is true of the de facto American empire is even more true of these colonies: to Americans, they are no more than tiny specks in the ocean, 6,000 miles from the coast of California. This film, the first comprehensive telling of the story of the Marianas to the American public, performs the invaluable service of making this invisible empire visible.

The film could not be more timely. The transfer of 8,000 Marines (and nearly 10,000 dependents and civilians) to Guam from the Futenma air base on the equally militarized Japanese island of Okinawa is scheduled to take place in 2014. Preparations for the $12 billion base construction project (which will include extensive dredging of coral reef so the naval base can accommodate aircraft carriers, among numerous other expansions) are already underway. The project will bring in some 79,000 people, including temporary construction workers, boosting the population of the already crowded island by 40 percent. While welcomed by some sectors on Guam as an economic transfusion, the buildup threatens to destroy the island’s natural beauty and cause an environmental disaster. The US Environmental Protection Agency in February blasted the military’s draft environmental impact statement as “environmentally unsatisfactory,” citing expected shortages of drinking water, the over-burdening of the island’s crumbling sewage treatment infrastructure, and inadequate plans to mitigate ecological damage.

But the military’s presence and proposed expansion are not the focus of this film, only in part because the military refused to allow the filmmakers access to the bases and declined requests for interviews. Rather, the film aims to illuminate the history that has left these islands pawns in America’s global chess game. It is a complex history: despite being part of the same archipelago, Guam (an American colony since the Spanish-American War in 1898), and the Northern Marianas (which include the islands of Saipan and Tinian) have different colonial pasts and distinct political status today. This history is deftly told with inventive graphics and superbly researched archival footage, reflecting the eight painstaking years spent in producing the film.

The islands’ complex history is matched by a deeply conflicted identity. Much of the population is intensely loyal to the US, reflecting the pervasive presence of the military and the high levels of enlistment, yet the islanders are perpetual second-class citizens. English is spoken and the dominant culture is American (the world’s largest K-Mart is on Guam), yet there are persistent efforts to preserve the indigenous Chamorro language and culture. Guam’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the military, but a different course of development might have been chosen if the islanders had control of their land and destiny (choices that the Guam Buildup will put forever out of reach).

Warheit has provided depth and character to these issues of identity by following four individuals, two each from Guam and the Northern Marianas, through the course of the film. The eldest, Carlos Taitano, a former speaker of the Guam Legislature, was born in 1917 and thus witnessed and participated in Guam’s postwar history, during which “the people of the Marianas were a distant afterthought,” he observes. A businessman (the island’s Coca-Cola bottler) and an advocate of statehood, he died in 2009, before the film was released, his distant dream unrealized.

Carlos Taitano

When Hope Cristobal represented Guam in the Miss Universe pageant in 1967, she visited the States for the first time and encountered anti-Vietnam War protests in San Francisco, opening her eyes to a counter-military narrative she had never imagined on Guam. She has since become an advocate for Guam’s self-determination and the director of a museum of Chamorro culture. It is, in many ways, a reclamation project: when she was a schoolgirl, she was punished for speaking the Chamorro language (recalling the forced Americanization of Native Americans, and the parallel Japanization of the Okinawa islanders), and few young people now speak the language.

Hope Cristobal

Where Guam was occupied by the US Navy and Air Force, Saipan (in the Northern Marianas) was used by the CIA as a secret base to train Chinese and Southeast Asian insurgents, and Lino Olopai found work on the base as a security guard. Pete Tenorio worked as a caddy on the CIA’s golf course. The Northern Marianas were then a UN trust territory under US administration, until 1975, when a plebiscite approved a “covenant” that made the islands an American commonwealth.

Lino Olopai and Pete Tenorio appear in an excerpt of the film.

Tenorio entered politics and eventually was elected “resident representative” of the commonwealth, with an office in Washington, DC, where he negotiates not with Congress but with the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. “People here [in the US] are just not aware of this relationship,” he says in frustration, “and if they’re not aware, what’s our solution to it?” Olopai pressed for independence at the time of the plebiscite and when the commonwealth status was approved, he left Saipan for the Caroline Islands to reconnect with his roots. There he learned the dying art of celestial navigation, which he has continued to teach to others since his return to Saipan.

While the US military is not the focus of the film, its presence is inescapable. US soldiers march in uniform in Guam’s annual Liberation Day parade, commemorating the defeat of the Japanese occupation of the island on July 21, 1944. More than 60 years later, the military is still lionized as Guam’s “liberator,” but, as Hope Cristobal comments, “The US has not given us anything but the military.” If the Guam Buildup goes forward as planned, there will be precious little room left on Guam for anything but the military.

For many years, Cristobal made an annual trek to the UN, to appeal for Guam’s self-determination before the Special Committee on Decolonization. In one of the most poignant moments of the film, her daughter Hope Cristobal, Jr. follows in her footsteps and testifies at the UN. The road ahead for Guam is a long one, she comments, “but even if you make one ripple in this big ocean, it still counts.”

The compact (59-minute) and information-packed format of the film make it a valuable resource for teaching and organizing. For information on PBS broadcasts and other screenings of the film, consult the blog here. The film is available on DVD, and a Japanese-subtitled version will be available soon, through the same blog address. The film's website is here.

John Junkerman wrote this review for The Asia-Pacific Journal.

See also, LisaLinda Natividad and Gwyn Kirk, Fortress Guam: Resistance to US Military Mega-Buildup

John Junkerman is an American documentary filmmaker and Japan Focus associate living in Tokyo. His most recent film, “Japan’s Peace Constitution” (2005), won the Kinema Jumpo and Japan PEN Club best documentary awards. It is available in North America from First Run Icarus Films. He co-produced and edited “Outside the Great Wall,” a film on Chinese writers and artists in exile that will be released in Japan and abroad later this year.

Recommended citation: John Junkerman, "Making the Invisible Empire Visible," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 20-1-10, May 17, 2010.