Governor of Guam Laments Second-class Status of Indigenous Chamorro People, as Others Decry Homeland’s Militarization
The Non-Self-Governing Territory of French Polynesia was led by an “accommodationist” government that provided its people with only the illusion of self-determination, many petitioners declared today, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) entered its second day of debate on decolonization issues.
However, President Édouard Fritch of French Polynesia pointed out that the Territory already enjoyed a large degree of autonomy to govern itself freely and democratically, with full political powers in several spheres. Its people did not wish to be guinea pigs for ideological clashes, he stressed, recalling that during the last election, in June 2017, 70 per cent of French Polynesia’s population had voted for self-governing candidates. Moreover, the Territory had demanded that France recognize the consequences of the nuclear testing it had conducted on the Territory, and the French State had done so, he observed.
However, Minarii Chantal Galenon, President of the Association Vahine Piri Rava, noted that while the Territory’s government had recently signed the Elysée accord — thereby establishing goodwill when France had recognized the plight of the testing victims — the accord came with little real commitment and offered no apology, she said, pointing out that it also failed to deal with environmental damage and to clean up radioactive waste.
Maxime Chan, President of the Executive Board of Association 193, added that nothing had been said about nuclear testing for a long time, and young people did not recognize that sad history. “This is the poisonous legacy that France has left the people of French Polynesia” he declared, emphasizing France must bear the health-care costs arising from temporary or lasting injury to the victims.
The Committee also took up the question of Guam, with Governor Eddie Baza Calvo saying that while he understood the interests of the United States and respected its laws, that Government should also understand the interests of Guam’s people. When would they be held as equals and given the same rights as other Americans, he asked, instead of being viewed as second-class citizens?
Pim Limtiaco, another petitioner, condemned the ongoing colonization and militarization of Guam, noting that the Territory had suffered an $11 million loss in tourism revenues due to recent threats to its security posed by rising tensions with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Agreeing, Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, founding member of Our Islands are Sacred, warned that Guam could be caught in the middle of a now-threatened nuclear conflagration. She also pointed out that a man she had not chosen to lead her country was trading threats with another holder of nuclear weapons, and she did not know how to assure her children that they were safe.
Also speaking today were representatives of Spain, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar and another petitioner from that Territory also spoke today, as did several additional petitioners from French Polynesia and Guam.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 4 October, to continue its discussions on decolonization issues.