26 April 2011

Member of Guam Legislature Proposes Referendum on Reunification of Marianas Archipelago

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Time to revisit Marianas reunification
Marianas Variety

The idea of unifying Guam and the CNMI in order to achieve more progress on political self determination is a question Sen. Judi Guthertz wants to pose to the people of Guam in the 2012 general elections.

The question, “Should Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan, Rota, Tinian, and the Northern Islands) reunify in the pursuit of a new political status? Yes or No,” is one that needs answered by the people, the lawmaker said yesterday.

She has introduced a bill calling for a non-binding plebiscite on the issue.

Guthertz noted that past Guam governors have advocated for the reunification: Joseph Ada, Carl T.C. Gutierrez and Felix Camacho. Incumbent Gov. Eddie B. Calvo also “shares the desire,” she added.
Guthertz said it was her understanding that Saipan Republican Rep. Joseph P. Palacios is interested in introducing a similar piece of legislation in the CNMI House of Representatives.

In Nov. 2009, Dr. Carlyle Corbin, a United Nations advisor, said some felt that the reunification of Guam and the CNMI would create a greater opportunity to either become the 51st state or for an autonomous political status like that of free association.

Corbin said the islands’ ability to survive without military protection from the U.S. was a very valid concern, but the possibilities of more freedom to engage in the international economic system would also offer new opportunities.

In 1969, a reunification plebiscite was with Guam rejecting it while NMI voted in favor.

Guthertz, in a statement, said “although political leaders in both Guam and the NMI understood the practical benefits of a larger population base and closer relationship with the United States, they were not able to overcome the hard feelings between Guam and Saipan left over from World War II and the Japanese occupation.”

The NMI was a Japanese possession from 1914 to 1944.

“The clearly perceived and anything but imaginary snub of rejection has rankled with NMI residents to this day and various efforts to revive reunification over the years have failed,” Guthertz noted.

“It’s time to kick this discussion into the 21st century,” she added.

Asked for comment yesterday, Rep. Stanley T. Torres said the CNMI should “think it over,” referring to the proposed reunification. Torres, Ind.-Saipan, recalled that in 1969, the NMI people overwhelmingly supported such an idea but Guam rejected it.

He said now that the CNMI people have more leverage with the federal government than Guam, reunification is being brought to the table again.

“Not at this time,” he added.

Once reunification happens, he said, Saipan, Tinian and Rota will become like villages of Guam due to their smaller populations.

“You could imagine how the NMI people will be treated once they become just a small part of the Marianas. Anyway, it’s kind of early to be thinking about it. We are not ready yet,” he added.

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Senator Guthertz's Bill Seeks to "Kick-Start" Re-Unification of Guam & CNMI


Pacific News Center

Guam - Guam Senator Judi Guthertz wants to "kick-start" the idea of re-unifing Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Senator has introduced a bill which would put the question on the 2012 Guam General Election Ballot: The bill would put the question on the Guam ballot to all qualified voters, and it would be a non‐binding vote.

(Editor's Note: The legislation  is available at the website of the Guam Legislature).

THE QUESTION READS:

╩║Should Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan, Rota, Tinian, and the Northern Islands) reunify in the pursuit of a new political status?, Yes or No.”

In a release, Guthertz mentions a 1969 plebiscite on Guam in which the question of reunification with the CNMI was rejected by Guam voters because of the "hard feelings" left over from World War II when the U.S. Territory of Guam was captured and occupied by the Japanese military, whereas the islands of the CNMI had been a colony of Japan since 1919.

In her release, Guthertz explains Guam's rejection of re-unification by saying: " Although political leaders in both Guam and the NMI understood the practical benefits of a larger population base and closer relationship with the United States, they were not able to overcome the hard feelings between Guam and Saipan left over from World War II and the Japanese occupation. The clearly perceived and anything but imaginary snub of rejection has rankled with Saipan residents to this day and various efforts to revive reunification over the years have failed."

But now she says “it’s time to kick this discussion into the 21st Century.”

Guthertz is quoted in her release as saying:

“If the results favor reunification, the separation that occurred in 1898, when Guam was ceded to the United States, and the Northern Mariana Islands were sold by Spain to Germany, will finally be terminated and a unification of the people of the Marianas Archipelago will be accomplished and the overall direction set for purposes of moving forward.”

Read Guthertz release in full below:

GUTHERTZ: AFTER 40 YEARS, IT’S TIME TO REVISIT MICRONESIAN REUNIFICATION

Long before most of the current voters in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were even born, Guam voters in a 1969 plebiscite rejected a question about reunification with the Northern Mariana Islands.

Although political leaders in both Guam and the NMI understood the practical benefits of a larger population base and closer relationship with the United States, they were not able to overcome the hard feelings between Guam and Saipan left over from World War II and the Japanese occupation. The clearly perceived and anything but imaginary snub of rejection has rankled with Saipan residents to this day and various efforts to revive reunification over the years have failed.

Saying, “it’s time to kick this discussion into the 21st Century,” Guam Senator Judith P. Guthertz today introduced a bill [168‐31 (COR)] which would put a simple question on the 2012 General Election Ballot: ╩║Should Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan, Rota, Tinian, and the Northern Islands) reunify in the pursuit of a new political status?, Yes or No.”

The question on the Guam ballot will be put before all qualified voters and will be non‐binding.

Over the years, both Guam and the CNMI have endured some difficult times, but the bill suggests that the present Guam military buildup, which envisions use of CNMI land based facilities, may provide another motivation for the two unities to reunify.

“If the results favor reunification,” the bill says, “the separation that occurred in 1898, when Guam was ceded to the United States, and the Northern Mariana Islands were sold by Spain to Germany, will finally be terminated and a unification of the people of the Marianas Archipelago will be accomplished and the overall direction set for purposes of moving forward.”


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