Half a Millennium: A Weekly Address
By Hon. Eddie Baza Calvo
Governor of Guam
"For nearly half a millennium the Chamorro people have been unable to reach their full socio-economic potential because of our political status. Now, more than ever, it is important to move forward, while there are still Chamorros left to express our right to self-determination."
Hafa Adai, my fellow Guamanians.
Once a year, the world's greatest international body turns its eyes to Guam. This week, the United Nation's Special Committee on Decolonization is meeting. Your government will be represented there.
I want to thank everyone who took the time out over the years to make sure our island participated in some way in this process. Your activism has helped this cause. Although I cannot go to the United Nations in person, the head of the decolonization office, Ed Alvarez is there, and remarks will be delivered on my behalf.
For half a millennium, Guam has been a colony. First, by the Spanish Crown, then by the U.S. Naval Government, then by the Japanese Imperial Army. Those weren't good years for us. Chamorros were devastated by disease, oppression, rape, and mass murders. Our manamko' are still waiting for the day when America recognizes and pays reparations for the suffering they endured during World War II.
And now, we find ourselves as an unincorporated territory of the United States. Here we stand, nearly 500 years later, no closer to freeing ourselves from the weight of colonialism.
We have been dealing with taxation and regulation without full representation; with quasi-citizenship; and partial belonging. Guam was left out of an agreement to have free trade with South Korea. Our island is still trying to allow Chinese and Russian tourists to help our economy. Onerous federal mandates have forced us to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, putting services like tax refunds to you on the back burner. Time and time again decisions are made unilaterally in Washington D.C. without input, feedback, or even a basic understanding of how it may affect us.
Now is the time for us to realize our full political maturity. Now is the time for our people to take control of their destiny, and lead and live the way that is best for our people, their children, and the generations to come. All this time we've been told, “you can't.” You can't govern yourself. You can't decide for yourself.
Self-determination is a priority of this administration. We're correcting the mistakes of the recent past, and have finally funded the Commission on Decolonization. We've received assurances that there will be federal matches for the education campaign. This is critical to ensure we make the right decision for our future. Before we vote on Guam's new status, we must be fully informed on the options. The right decision is an informed decision.
This administration will also increase the people on the Guam Decolonization Registry. Many more need to be added, and we will be diligent and aggressive in gaining the required number of people to hold a vote.
I personally would like to see a vote taken in the next general election or election after. But again, what's most important is to make sure our people make an educated decision on the political status they want to move toward.
For nearly half a millennium the Chamorro people have been unable to reach their full socio-economic potential because of our political status. Now, more than ever, it is important to move forward, while there are still Chamorros left to express our right to self-determination.
Our Chamorro ancestors came to Guam centuries before the Polynesians arrived in Hawaii. Our Chiefs held law over the land before the Kings of Europe. Our latte stones were built as the Mayans built their pyramids. We're still here.
Now is the time for us to realize our full destiny, so we can take control and lead and live the way that is best for our people. Now is the time to exercise our human rights as citizens of this world, to become citizens of a place—of our place in this world.
Manespisiåt hit. Mambanidosu hit. ManChamoru hit.
OTR will publish selected statements delivered to the United Nations hearings covering the Caribbean, Pacific and other non self-governing territories.