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




Before the


June 22, 2010


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.


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.


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%.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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: 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


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:

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,


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.