30 August 2010

Island Countries Could Become Submerged Land

Marianas Variety


The Urgent Islands

If a country sinks beneath the sea, is it still a country? That is a question about which the Republic of the Marshall Islands — a Micronesian nation of 29 low-lying coral atolls — is now seeking expert legal advice. It is also a question the United States Senate might ask itself the next time it refuses to deal with climate change.

According to the world’s leading scientists, sea-level rise is one of the greatest dangers of global warming, threatening not only islands but coastal cities like New Orleans and even entire countries like Bangladesh.

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conservatively predicted a 20-inch sea-level rise by the end of this century if current trends were not reversed.

Because of various uncertainties, its calculations excluded the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets.

Some academic studies have suggested that rises of four to seven feet are not out of the question.

Officials in the Marshall Islands — where a 20-inch rise would drown at least one atoll — are not only thinking about the possibility of having to move entire populations but are entertaining even more existential questions: If its people have to abandon the islands, what citizenship can they claim? Will the country still have a seat at the United Nations? Who owns its fishing rights and offshore mineral resources?

Marshall Islands leaders have asked Michael Gerrard, an expert on climate change law at Columbia University, to help them find answers to what he regards as plausible questions.

He further notes that an island can become uninhabitable before the sea level rises above it, because even moderate storms can swamp any agricultural land and render freshwater supplies undrinkable.

All of this reminds us of an astonishing remark last month by Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri. When asked why she saw no immediate need to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill, she said, “You know, it took 50 years on health care.”

If only the earth could wait that long.

29 August 2010

Restrictions on Puerto Rico-owned Airlines Condemned

US Federal Aviation Administration's “power abuse” denounced

by Inter News Wire Service

The National Independent Hostonian Movement denounced that the (U.S.) Federal Aviation Agency prohibited Vieques Air Link and Flamenco Air from transporting passengers to the municipality-islands of Vieques and Culebra. They allege that both airlines can only provide services for chartered flights.

NIHM co-president Héctor Pesquera, condemned this intervention as an “imperialist meddling, an attack against our citizen’s freedom to move between the municipality-islands and the main island. It is an abuse of power that demonstrates, once again, the negligence of Puerto Rico Governor) Fortuño’s government dealing with defending what is ours.” Pesquera informed that both “mortally wounded” airlines distributed layoff letters to more than 100 workers, who will now increase the unemployment rates.

He added that the FAA’s prohibition has the purpose of handing over the flight routes of both Puerto Rican airlines to Cape Air, a North American airline who offers regional services to the states of New England and New York, as well as to the Florida Keys, the Caribbean and Micronesia.

In addition, Pesquera said that Cape Air is already working in the Caribbean, transporting passengers from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas, St. Croix, Anguila and Tortola, and additionally offering transportation from San Juan, Ponce and Mayagüez to Vieques.

“It (Cape Air) just needs to move to Ceiba in order to begin flying the routes that, up to this day, had belonged to the Puerto Rican airlines,” he assured.

Flamenco Air and Vieques Air Link are purely Puerto Rican businesses that have been transporting passengers between the municipality-islands and the main islands for years. Vieques Air Link began operating in 1965 and was able to overcome the loss of its airplane fleet after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. In 2008, it started to use the José Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba, which reduced to about seven or eight minutes the flying time from Vieques to the main island. On the other hand, Flamenco Air has been flying between Culebra, Vieques, the main island, the Lesser Antilles and the Dominican Republic since 1998.

According to the NIHM, the FAA’s determination will only serve to aggravate the transportation crisis suffered by residents from Vieques and Culebra, due to the deficiencies of the vessel services offered by the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

24 August 2010

US Submits Report for Review by United Nations Human Rights Council

No reference to the fundamental human right of self-determination

The United States (U.S.) has submitted its 2010 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in conformity with the requirements of the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report makes no reference to any activities in relation to one one of most fundamental of human rights - the right to  self-determination. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights website:

"The UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by (UN General Assembly) Resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by 2011, will have reviewed the human rights records of every country. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the new Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur."

The General Assembly has also adopted other resolutions with direct relevance to human rights which recognise self-determination as a fundamental human right. Acordingly, the UN adopts an annual resolution, most recently Resolution 64/104 of 10 December 2009, covering the non self-governing territories of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. Resolution 64/104 reaffirm(ed) that:

 "In the process of decolonization, there is no alternative to the principle of self-determination,   which is also a fundamental human right, as recognized under the relevant human rights conventions."

The resolution also:

 "Reiterate(d) its request that the Human Rights Committee collaborate with the Special Committee, within the framework of its mandate on the right to self-determination as contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with the aim of exchanging information, given that the Human Rights Committee is mandated to review the situation, including political and constitutional developments, in many of the Non-Self-Governing Territories that are within the purview of the (UN) Special Committee (on Decolonisation)."

The UN General Assembly has also adopted annual resolutions on the Implementation of the (Decolonisation) Declaration, most recently Resolution 64/106 of 10 December 2009 which:

  "Reaffirm(ed) once again that the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation, including economic exploitation, is incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the (Decolonisation) Declaration (a universal human rights instrument) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights....

Reiterat(ed) its conviction of the need for the eradication of colonialism, as well as racial discrimination and violations of basic human rights."
The drafters of the U.S. report for 2010, however, did not make reference to any efforts during the period of review to promote the fundamental right of self-determination for the peoples of the non self-governing territories under US administration, pursuant to relevant U.N. resolutions, and consistent with the information which should be furnished to the Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review
This is so even as the annex of the report includes the list of human rights treaties ratified by the U.S., including, inter alia, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forums of Racial Discrimination(CERD). It has signed (but not ratified) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  (ICESCR); and the American Convention on Human Rights. Article 1 of both the ICCPR and the ICESCR, include the following affirmation:
"All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."
Perhaps the omission of reference to the fundamental human right of self-determination as related to the non self-governing territories will be addressed when the Human Rights Council considers the U.S. report in November 2010 - or is it that some human rights are more 'fundamental' than others? (Will an addendum to the report covering the self-determination process be issued before November)?
The areas presently covered by the report are as follows:

Report of the United States of America
Submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
In Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review

I. Introduction
I.1 A more perfect union, a more perfect world 
I.2 The United States and the Universal Periodic Review: approach and methodology 

II. The United States and human rights: normative and institutional background
II.1 Human Rights as the ends of government and the means of progress
II.2 Enduring commitments

III. A commitment to freedom, equality, and dignity
III.1 Freedom of expression, religion, association, and political participation
III.2 Fairness and equality
III.3 Dignity

IV. A commitment to foster a society where citizens are empowered to exercise their rights
IV.1 Education
IV.2 Health
IV.3 Housing

V. A commitment to values in our engagement across borders
V.1 Values and National Security
V.2 Values and Immigration
V.3 Values and Trafficking

VI. Conclusion

The full report is available at:  http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/146379.pdf

Editor's Note: The most recent reference we could find to non self-governing territories in a U.S. report to a United Nations human rights body was contained in the 2007 Periodic Report of the United States of America to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In the Land and People section, the U.S. indicated:

"Neither the land area nor the basic federal-state organization of the United States has changed since submission of the Initial U.S. Report in 2000. Nor has there been change in the relationship between the United States and the outlying areas under U.S. jurisdiction – Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and several very small islands (emphasis added)."

Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus Addresses UN Human Rights Council

Statement of the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus
Expert Mechanism on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Third Session
United Nations Human Rights Council


Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 3rd session
July 12 – 16, 2010, Geneva, Switzerland

Agenda Item 4, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Support for the 3rd UN Seminar on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements between States and Indigenous Peoples

Presented by Devasish Roy

The members of the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus participating in the 3rd session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, representing all regions, note with appreciation the report presented here on the 2nd UN Seminar on Treaties Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements held in November 2006 in the territories of the Maskwacîs Cree in Alberta Canada.

In particular we want to express our support for its recommendation to hold to a 3rd United Nations Seminar on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements between States and Indigenous Peoples, with the support and cooperation of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. We note with appreciation the invitation of the Maori of Aotearoa (New Zealand) in this regard. In this way, important advances can continue to be made regarding implementation, consideration of developments and good practices, and implications of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly. This includes the growing endorsement of the Declaration, including by UN member states that had voted against, or abstained from voting, during the adoption of the Declaration by the UN General Assembly.

The Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus takes this opportunity to affirm its support for the recommendations contained in the final report of UN Study on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements between States and Indigenous Populations [E/CN.4/Sub.2/1999/20] by Special Rapporteur Dr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez. We look forward to continued work to advance their implementation in partnership with States and the UN system.

However, we also take this opportunity to state that we do not necessarily agree with certain provisions contained in the body of this report under the category of “Some Key Points of Departure”, in which the validity of the claims of ‘indigenousness’ by peoples within Asia and Africa were questioned. We again affirm the validity, soundness and relevance of the recommendations contained in this report. However, we wish to put on record the right to self-identify of the Indigenous Peoples of Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and all other regions. Equal application of the rights of indigenous peoples of all regions including Indigenous Peoples in Asia and Africa, is vital to take forward the process of implementing Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements on a global level.

Important advances have taken place in the international arena since the completion of this report including the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the growing participation of Indigenous Peoples’ delegations, from Africa, Asia and other regions of the world in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in other UN and international for a including as expert members.

The development of human rights law is progressive. This is an underlying principle of international human rights law, as is the universal application of such rights without any form of discrimination.

The Global Caucus affirms the importance of the continued work on the matter of Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements for all Indigenous Peoples as well as for States and the UN System, based on the aforesaid Treaty Study but also looking forward in light of new developments and understandings.

We anticipate that the 3rd Seminar will be an important opportunity for all of us to advance this work. We look forward to discussing the provisions of the UN Declaration pertaining to implementation of Treaties, Agreements and other Constructive Arrangements. Also of particular interest for Indigenous Peoples of all regions will be discussions on the development of frameworks for negotiation, redress, restitution and conflict resolution, based on the affirmation in the Declaration’s preamble that “treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, and the relationship they represent, are the basis for a strengthened partnership between indigenous peoples and States”.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

20 August 2010

NATO, EURO Not Part of Constitutional Changes in Dutch Caribbean

Bonaire Reporter

THE HAGUE—It’s been revealed that Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will not fall under NATO’s protection after October 10.

This is based on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) geographical exclusion clause.Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told BNR News Radio last Tuesday that although the BES Islands (Bonaire, Statia and Saba) will become an integral part of the Netherlands as “special municipalities” as of October 10, they cannot count on the same support of NATO troops as regular Dutch municipalities. Balkenende said the Dutch government is currently involved in talks with authorities in the Netherlands Antilles concerning the future safety of the islands.

Caribbean Guilder?

If reports coming out of Willemstad are correct, the future countries St. Maarten and Curaçao will share a new currency to be called “Caribbean guilder” in six to nine months. While this is directly related to the
constitutional changes and dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles, it won’t be possible on 10-10-10, when the new relations within the Dutch Kingdom are to take effect.

However, nobody seems to be able to explain why a new joint currency is needed in the first place. After all, the intention is to peg the “Caribbean guilder” to the US dollar in exactly the same manner as the Antillean guilder, as also was done with the Aruba florin when that island gained its separate status.

19 August 2010

Montserrat Begins Public Education on Draft Constitution

Constitution Committee releases community education plans


The Constitution Implementation and Advice Committee (CIAC) has begun a campaign to educate the general public about the contents of the proposed draft Constitution Order for Montserrat. According to Alric “Jim” Taylor, Chairman of the CIAC every effort will be made to connect with the public through various forums and media. Following the decision in the Legislative Council in June to give an additional three months for public debate and discussion, the committee was asked to lead the education campaign on the new draft document.

In July, ZJB Radio Montserrat in collaboration with the Government Information Unit (GIU) began airing a series of infomercials called “Your Constitution Minute”. These spots have now been converted to YouTube videos with the text and information on how persons can share their views on the new laws. The videos are available on the Government of Montserrat website at http://www.gov.ms/  and on the Spirit of Montserrat fan page on Facebook.

Mr. Taylor along with representatives from the Attorney General’s office, including Parliamentary counsel Ms. Barbara Vargas will be part of panel which will lead weekly town hall meetings. Meetings are scheduled to be held in St. Peters, Brades and Look Out communities every Thursday in August.All of the meetings will be recorded for replay on radio and the local access channel on Cable TV.

Persons are still encouraged to download a copy of the draft constitution order at http://www.constitution.gov.ms/ .
 Copies have also been made available at local health centres, churches and the public library. A personal copy can be requested at the Office of the Chief Minister or the Deputy Governor’s office.
The debate on the new constitution is expected to resume in late September.

Mechanism in place to process comments from public on draft constitution, says CIAC

Attending and participating in the town hall meetings on the constitution is not an exercise in futility says a representative of the Constitution Implementation and Advisory Committee. According to Nerissa Golden, Director of Information & Communications the first town hall meeting in Salem was quite interactive and revealed several issues that members of the public wanted addressed before the draft document reaches back to the legislature in September.

“Since these educational meetings began on radio in June until now, we’ve been noting the recommendations of those who have come forward with their comments and have been forwarding them to the Clerk of Counsels,” explained Golden. “It is also important to note that the mandate of the CIAC is to educate the public about the contents of the document. However, the forum is open for persons who have read the document to make constructive suggestions about what it contains, and what areas they believe are deficient.”

Sir Howard Fergus, who chaired the Constitution Review Commission when it began in 2001, says “a mechanism is in place to handle these recommendations once they have been turned over to the Clerk of Counsels. All ideas and suggestions will be collated and presented to the government.”

The second town hall meeting will be held on Thursday, August 19 at 7:15pm at the Old School Room in St. Peters. The general public is invited to come out and discuss the section of the draft constitution order dealing with the Rights and Freedoms and more specifically the definition of a Montserratian.

Sir Howard Fergus says “one good thing about this educational process is that persons have begun to read the document. I’ve been involved in the constitutional process in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla and it has been the same, many people including government leaders had never read the document.”

“People need to be aware of what the laws say and thought must be given to what it does mean to be a Montserratian,” added the former Speaker of the House.

The town hall meetings are also being recorded and will be replayed on ZJB Radio Montserrat later in the week.Copies of the constitution can be read at www.constitution.gov.ms. Comments can be submitted at ciac@gov.ms .

18 August 2010

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Seeks Self-Determination

Chilean Troops Rout Protestors

Reclaiming Land and Dignity on Easter Island


Posted by Ahni on August 14, 2010
For the past two weeks, 500 Indigenous Peoples in Rapa Nui--a place more commonly known as Easter Island--have been occupying more than two dozen buildings over a land dispute that dates back to 1888.
In 1888, the remote island, known around the world for its monumental statues, called Moai, was annexed by a naval Officer, and turned into a province of the Chilean state.

From that point on, the Indigenous population was confined to the Hanga Roa settlement and the rest of the island was used as ranch land until 1953. 13 years later, in 1966, the Rapa Nui were given formal Chilean citizenship and the island was opened to the public for the first time.

In the years that followed, much of Easter Island was protected by the Rapa Nui National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site; and, in 2007, a constitutional reform gave the island the status of a "special territory", which granted the Indigenous People at least a degree of internal sovereignty.

Despite the gradual--or, at least, partial--restoration of their freedoms and rights, the Rapa Nui are deeply troubled over the "uncontrollable influx of tourists and settlers" on the island; and the fact that the Chilean government appears to be taking their ancestral lands to build more and more state office buildings.

The protest itself was sparked when the newly-elected Chilean President Sebastian Pinera appointed Pedro Edmunds Paoa to be the new Governor of Easter Island. According to the Guardian, Paoa is "suspected of plotting land deals" on the island.

After the protesters made their move, Paoa Impressively offered to resign from his position; and the government, also impressively, opted for a more reasoned approach. Instead of just simply attacking them, such as when the Mapuche attempt to reclaim some their own land,the government sent in a team of negotiators to begin addressing the Rapa Nui's concerns.

Negotiations appeared to be going well. As reported by the Santiago Times. "The government on Friday [August 6]... issued a proposal to resolve the land issues. The proposal, signed by Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, was given personally to Rapa Nui representatives by Celis. It proposes creating a committee to resolve the land issues, the protestors’ request for special status for the island, and their request for immigration regulation. The group would be made up of representatives from government ministries and the Rapa Nui community."

But then, just one day after the government offered its proposal, Celis, who is the Valparaiso Regional Governor [Easter Island falls with the Valparaiso Region of Chile] callously sent a team of police officers to the Island, according to the Times-Herald Record, with authorization to use force against the peaceful, unarmed indigenous protesters.

So far, the police have acted strictly as observers; however there is a grave risk--and an even greater concern among the Rapa Nui--that the police will make a move if the protesters don't leave the buildings by Monday, August 16. And in any case, the negotiations have been completely stalled.

With the deadline fast approaching, on Friday, August 13, the Rapa Nui parliament took things down an unexpected path. Representing almost half of the island's indigenous population of 5,000, the Parliament issued a letter to the Pacific Island Forum and President Pinera, requesting the Rapa Nui's right to secede from Chile.

The letter proposes that the island, situated on the southeastern point of the Polynesian triangle, would be better off if it was an official part of Oceania.

The government is attempting to downplay the request; nevertheless it is timely, given the fact that so many Rapa Nui may be brutally assaulted just two days from now, because they decided to occupy a handful of buildings on their ancestral land which is, as the same time, being inundated by settlers and tourists who went to get a glimpse into the history of the not-so-extinct Rapa Nui.

Pacific Islands Report

1,000 indigenous islanders occupy buildings


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Aug. 17, 2010) - A Rapa Nui man says 1,000 people who had been occupying buildings on the isolated Chilean island have been forced out at gunpoint by the military.
The indigenous people on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, claim that the buildings are unlawfully on their land.

They are also protesting over immigration to the island.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio Australia News reported two days earlier that the indigenous people of Rapa Nui have officially affirmed their desire to secede from Chilean sovereignty and ally with Oceania.]

Santi Hitorangi, who’s based in New York, says his family has been occupying the Hangaroa Hotel for the past week.

He says all the protestors were removed from the buildings but haven’t been charged with any offences.

[PIR editor’s note: Rapa Nui native and indigenous rights activist Santi Hitorangi noted in a news release yesterday that "the indigenous Easter Islanders have lodged an order for protection with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights."]

"In the meantime the owners of the Hangaroa Hotel have filed a lawsuit against my sister and my aunt and the people who were there, you know, reclaiming the land. And I don’t know whether the Government has done the same thing for the other people who have been reclaiming the land."

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/

16 August 2010

US Virgin Islands Delegate Clarifies Status of Political Status Legislation

Press Release of the US Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen


Email Misconstrues Christensen Support for Status Education Funding

August 16, 2010

Contact: Monique C. Watson (202) 226-7973 or email: monique.watson@mail.house.gov

Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen said today that a circulating email is giving the false impression that she does not support public funding for status education in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “This is ridiculous because I am a co-sponsor of HR 3940 which clarifies the role of the Department of Interior in providing public education funding for status to the territories and I initially was responsible for the Virgin Islands being included in the bill. I raised the issue at the committee hearing on technical assistance and made efforts to ensure funding for that purpose if the bill did not pass,” said Congresswoman Christensen on Monday. “Not only am I a co-sponsor, I voted for it in committee and supported it as it passed the House,” she said.

Christensen explained that when the bill got to the Senate it was amended with language to delay the increase in the minimum wage in American Samoa and the Northern Marianas, because of reasons pertaining to their particular economic situation. “The Senate decided to strip out the public education funding language out in order to be able to pass the minimum wage legislation, but left references to Guam intact, because the original bill was proposed by Guam Delegate Madeline Bordallo,” she said.

Congresswoman Christensen explained that what is being circulated is a portion of a press release by American Samoa Delegate Eni Faleomaevega where he thanks her for supporting the Senate action which would move the minimum wage issue forward. “Technically, it was staff that agreed to the removal with the understanding that the other territories would be re-included in an Omnibus measure being moved in the fall,” she said. “As a former member of the Virgin Islands Status Commission and as Congresswoman who has always fought to include the Virgin Islands in any potential funding, I want to say once again, that I did not agree to having the Virgin Islands stripped of any funding, and I look forward to supporting the original language when the issue comes up in the fall.”

Congresswoman Christensen said that she hoped that her long record of protecting the interest of Virgin Islanders would make an explanation unnecessary, but felt it was important to respond before the whole issue is taken out of context.

13 August 2010

Amer. Samoa, US Virgin Islands Removed from Political Status Legislation

Replaced by language on minimum wage delay for American Samoa, N. Marianas

Press Release - Office of the Congressional Delegate


Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is providing an update regarding efforts to delay minimum wage increases for American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

“Since the GAO released its report in April 2010 on the impact of minimum wage increases in American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, my office has had ongoing discussions with Chairman George Miller of the House Committee on Education and Labor regarding the need to delay increases in American Samoa for 2010 and 2011 and, in late April, we reached agreement to modify existing law.”

“By mid-May, Congressman Sablan decided to join this effort and we worked out language that was acceptable to Chairman Miller. As a matter of courtesy, we forwarded that language to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. At the same time, we asked the House and Senate appropriators to include our language in the Supplemental bill.”

“The House and Senate were unable to do this so, last week, Senator Jeff Bingaman and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, agreed to attach our minimum wage language to H.R. 943, a bill introduced by Congressman Sablan to convey certain submerged lands to CNMI.”

“H.R. 934 had already passed the House and was pending in the Senate, which made it possible for Senator Bingaman and Senator Murkowski to amend it to include minimum wage delays for American Samoa and CNMI, and then hot-line the bill for unanimous consent.”

“As I explained in a previous release, the hot-lining process is an informal term to describe the procedure whereby the Leaders inform Senators of their respective party caucus about changes to the floor schedule and/or proposed business. Part of the hotline is also to inform Senators of any unanimous consent (UC) requests the Leaders intend to eventually make on the floor. It is a way of clearing legislation by all Senators so that it can actually move to the floor and be called up, read for a third time, and passed by UC.”

“On Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signed off on the UC request and later on the same day the Democratic hotline went out. Normally, Senators are given about 24 hours to object and if there are no objections from the Majority party then the minority party will run its hotline.”

"No Democrats objected. But, when the Republicans ran their hotline, a hold was placed by one Senator. In principle, the Senator supported our minimum wage provision and has a great love for Pacific Islanders. His only reason for the hold was so he could add a non-controversial bill that would be helpful for his people and State, which is also understandable.”

“When my office reached out to the Senator’s office and explained that H.R. 934 was in all probability one of the few options left to include minimum wage language for American Samoa prior to the next scheduled increase going into effect on September 30, 2010, the Senator agreed to lift his hold on minimum wage delays for American Samoa and CNMI if the submerged lands request was taken out of H.R. 934.

“However, Congressman Sablan was unable to agree to this condition, and so the Senate was unable to pass either our minimum wage delays or Congressman Sablan’s submerged lands request.”

“In view of those facts, Senator Bingaman then agreed to amend H.R. 3940 and attach our minimum wage language to it, and Senator Murkowski had no objection. H.R. 3940 was originally introduced in the House by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and cosponsored by the Delegates to clarify the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to extend grants and other assistance to facilitate political status public education programs for the peoples of the non-self-governing territories of the United States. H.R. 3940 passed the House but the Senate had concerns.”

“To move H.R. 3940 forward by unanimous consent, we were asked to strip out portions pertaining to political status grants and assistance for all other territories except for Guam. In turn, minimum wage language for American Samoa and CNMI would be included. Each of us agreed to this request, including Congresswoman Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I thank her for her support.”

“On August 5, 2010, H.R. 3940 was hot-lined and no Democrats placed a hold. However, it is believed that the Republicans didn’t have enough time to review it before the Senate recessed last night, so we will have to hotline it again when Congress goes back in Session in September. If we are able to pass it in the Senate by unanimous consent, it will come back to the House, but not for a vote. The House will only need to concur to send it to the President for signature.”

“Once more, I thank Senator Bingaman and Senator Murkowski for their leadership. I also especially thank Al Stayman, Professional Staff Member and Isaac Edwards, Counsel, of the Senate Energy Committee for their hard work and dedication. As a result of our collective efforts and, with the support of our Democratic and Republican friends, I remain hopeful that we will be able to get this done before the deadline expires, although this is still an uphill climb, and other measures may also have to be considered,” Faleomavaega said.

11 August 2010

13th Micronesian Chief Executives Summit


The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia and its States, Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Chuuk, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau:


The Chief Executives of the Governments of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Territory of Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia and its states, Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Chuuk, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau held their Thirteenth Micronesian Chief Executives' Summit (MCES) in Saipan, CNMI, on June 23-25, 2010.

This Summit resulted in the adoption of regional programs of action in the focal areas of solid waste
management, conservation through the Micronesia Challenge and related environmental programs, renewable energy, invasive species, health, transportation, workforce investment, communications and tourism. The Summit also resulted in actions in miscellaneous areas of concern to the sub-region.

The Summit reaffirmed the commitment of each of the participants, on behalf of their people and their governments, to establish closer ties, expand future discussions and agree on beneficial initiatives for the benefit of the entire Micronesian Region.

The Honorable Benigno Fitial of the CNMI, as Chairman, expressed his appreciation to the Chief
Executives and their jurisdictional representatives for their attendance and active participation in the Thirteenth Micronesian Chief Executives' Summit.

Following the opening ceremonies of the Summit, which included statements by each of the Chief Executives, reports and recommendations from regional committees were given, along with presentations on a number of issues of interest in the region and jointly directed action in their respective jurisdictions, as reflected in this 13th Communique.

Regional Workforce Development Council (RWDC)

The Regional Workforce Development Council (RWDC) reported to the Chief Executives that their activities at the Thirteenth Summit addressed recurring workforce issues while promoting the RWDC's regional workforce "Good Jobs for Everyone" signature. This included support to its Micronesian and Pacific regionalism charter and updates of its action plans within the RWDC's Strategic Plan. The RWDC also recognized the importance of aligning policy interest areas related to workforce legislation and the need to invite representation in appropriate policy forums like the Association of Pacific Island Legislators.

The Chief Executives expressed their appreciation for the work of the RWDC and took the following actions:

Regional Guam Job Corp Letter of Support. Related to the earlier endorsement of a regional satellite Job Corp Center in Guam, the MCES agreed to send a letter of support directed to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Procurement and Contracts Acquisitions Training Initiative. Endorsed a regional procurement and contracts acquisition training strategy, including the need to institutionalize steps through the RWDC supported training initiatives.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture/Aquaculture, Math (STEAM) Initiative.
Endorsed the RWDC STEAM initiative, which represents the latest addition to its recruitment pipeline priority area strategies and localizes the STEAM programming efforts through the inclusion of agriculture and aquaculture as viable economic sectors.

E-Commerce Micronesia, Made-in-Micronesia, and Micronesia Saves. Endorsed the establishment and alignment of the e-commerce initiative supporting the RWDC's entrepreneurial priority area. This includes positioning a product signature identity.

"Made-in-Micronesia" strategy." This endorsement extended to the corresponding recommendation to establish a similar strategy entitled 'Micronesia Saves', which supports the RWDC's computer and financial literacy strategy.

• Endorsed expansion of the NDAA recruitment requirements for contractors to include the PWIW/RWDC talent recruitment priority areas of Guam, the CNMI, the FSM, the RMI and the Republic of Palau.

Micronesia Regional Invasive Species Council (RISC)

Since the Ith MCES, the Micronesia Regional Invasive Species Council (RISC) has remained engaged in the development of the Micronesia Biosecurity Plan (MBP). RISC is also addressing funding needs, the creation of an interagency biosecurity taskforce on Guam, ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of the brown tree-snake and various prevention and control activities in the nine RISC-member jurisdictions.

The Chief Executives supported the following recommendations by RISC:

• The execution by the Chief Executives of a letter requesting the Department of the Interior to support a National Invasive Species Council representative be stationed in Micronesia (Guam) for assistance to RISC and other Federal partners in programs relating to invasive species;

• That the Chief Executives commit to pnontizmg funding for a full-time permanent Invasive Species Coordinator for all RISC-Member jurisdictions;

• That Chief Executives direct their invasive species island coordinators and other appropriate staff to actively participate in the development of the MBP;

• That each Chief Executive, in writing to the Chair of RISC, identify two representatives to RISC from each state and national jurisdiction by September 2010;

• That two workshop-style meetings be held each year, between Summits, to collaborate on invasive species issues and priority actions; and

• That each jurisdiction reaffirm their respective commitment to provide a minimum of $2,500 to fund RISC's priority projects.

Micronesia Challenge

Since the Ith Micronesian Chief Executive Summit, solid progress has been made on implementation of the Micronesia Challenge. The MC Steering Committee reported that the baseline of existing areas under some form of management has been identified, working groups were established to finalize a regional monitoring framework to assess management effectiveness, and a regional database for the MC was developed. In terms of fundraising, approval was received from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which will result in $5.05 million for the MC endowment for Palau, FSM, and RMI. This serves as part of the match for the $6M pledged by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International in 2006. In addition, the MC Regional Business Plan was finalized and is under review by the MC Focal Points and appropriate agencies in each jurisdiction. The Committee provided leaders with a brief overview of additional progress made by each jurisdiction, including the following highlights:

• The CNMI is focusing on watershed management to address the deficiencies in the marine benthic environment and provided the example of road and drainage improvements and revegetation activities being implemented in the Laolao Bay project;

• Guam is working on implementing the Piti-Asan Watershed Conservation Action Plan and has launched a Rare Campaign to reduce wildland fires;

• The FSM has completed an Atoll Vulnerability Assessment that included participation by the Department of Resources & Development, the Office of Environment and Emergency Management, State departments/agencies/offices, community-based and nongovernmental organizations and other partners;

• The RMI completed a community based process to fully incorporate actions needed to address climate impacts in their national conservation area plan, the Reimaanlok, and is working on its climate change national policy and action plan, which incorporates the MC as a major response to impacts; and

• Palau has brought in a total of over $700K in 'Green Fees' since November 2009. These funds will go toward community-managed protected areas.

The MC Committee then briefed leaders on the next steps that need to be taken to continue to
move the MC forward, including:

• Implement recommendations for sustainable financing identified in the MC Regional Business Plan, at the jurisdictional level;

• Secure funding for a regional terrestrial measures workshop; and

• Collaborate with other environmental initiatives (e.g., invasive species, solid waste, energy, MCSF, etc.)

Based on the recommendations of the MC Steering Committee, the Chief Executives directed the following:

• Request assistance of the Government of Palau to provide office space for the Micronesia Challenge Regional Office.

• Encourage Chief Executives to take part in the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) - to be held on September 10-20, 2010 in Guam, Saipan, and Pohnpei), which will focus on the MC.

• Engage in bi-lateral and multi-lateral high level discussions to leverage support for MC.

• Continue to promote the MC at regional and international levels to sustain interest in the initiative and help fundraising efforts for both the endowment and ongoing regional work.

• Continue to support policies for on-the-ground conservation and main streaming of environmental efforts in development plans.

Regional Energy Committee

Since the 12th MCES held in December 2009 in Guam, the Regional Energy Committee (REC) has met and discussed several key directives, primarily relating to this Committee's objectives to support and promote alternative energy technologies, programs and policies, both jurisdictionally and through a collaborative effort within this Committee to develop a Micronesian Energy Association. Some of the projects engaged in since the last MCES include:


*  Waste-to-energy composite and characterization study that will lead to a feasibility analysis;

*  Photo voltaic systems on governmental buildings and a LED retrofit street lighting project;

*  Weatherization of residential homes and an appliance rebate program;

*  Commonwealth Utilities Corp. "supply side" energy efficiency improvements;


• Weatherization for retrofitting low income housing and promotion of energy efficient appliances and proper disposal;

• Grid connected solar system with the military;

CNMI and Guam

• Passage of Executive Orders supporting development of a renewable energy committee to create and implement an energy plan;


• Installation of Solar Street Lights and creation of a financial mechanism to pay for their Operation and Maintenance costs;

• Launching of a Renewable Energy Fund through the National Development Bank of Palau


• Implementation of EU Solar Projects and solarizing of the outer islands;

• Implementation of "Gassification" project funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB);


• Undertaking of a wind mapping study for potential wind energy projects;

• Connection of 6 PV grid systems in Kosrae;

• Establishment of the Association of Micronesian Utilities; and

FSM, RMI and Palau

• Completion of a "draft" Energy Plan and are seeking endorsement of said plan by their respective governments for implementation.

Since the last committee meeting, Articles of Incorporation and By-laws for a Micronesian Energy Association (MEA) have been created and a final draft will be circulated within each jurisdiction for final approval. The REC will finalize and adopt the by-laws and articles of incorporation for the MEA, develop a mission and vision statement for MEA and plan the next REC meeting at a time geographically convenient within the next 3 months.

The Chief Executives endorsed the recommendations from the Regional Energy Committee (REC) to the Micronesian Chief Executives as follows:

• Continued support for the creation of the Micronesia Energy Association (MEA) to be implemented by the REC, with the MCES determining the location of its Secretariat by no later than the upcoming Micronesian Presidential Summit;

• Support for the continued sharing of information regarding innovative energy mechanisms, as well as capacity building of skill sets for technical, mechanical, programmatic and policy initiatives; and

• Endorsement of Energy Planning for an "Energy Secure Pacific" by strengthening relations within the utilities and energy departments and other stakeholders, along with formalization of state plans to be incorporated into a regional plan.

Dan Wilson of Science Applications International Corporation briefed the Chief Executives on a Micronesia Energy Solution and offered similar models to consider adopting in the region. He further offered a number of best practices and examples of emerging technologies that can be adopted in Micronesia. The Chief Executives remarked on challenges faced with securing alternative sources of energy and asked for white papers to review and use for future discussions on this important issue to the people of Micronesia.

Solid Waste Management - Pacific Islands Regional Recycling Initiative Council (PIRRIC)

The Pacific Islands Regional Recycling Initiative Council (PIRRIC) reported that continued headway has been made following the 12th Micronesian Chief Executives Summit held on Guam in December 2009. Significant forward momentum has been maintained in the public-private partnerships designed to remove metallic waste from our islands. PIRRIC indicated that the concentrated efforts of the group, combined with the current market condition related to recovered metals, has made the removal of metallic waste an effective project. This has also allowed formation of partnerships that may assist in developing effective processing and marketing consortiums to allow efficient recovery of additional recyclable commodities.

However, PIRRIC noted that this current private sector interest involves the removal of recovered metallic material accumulated over years, but does not necessarily involve the future removal of such metallic material, where the economies of scale will be smaller. Therefore, long-term management options must include public systems for metallic waste management.

To facilitate future activities and include additional environmental issues of regional concern, PIRRIC recommended partnering with the "Micronesian Center for A Sustainable Future" which will allow a more targeted and holistic implementation action plan to be developed.

PIRRIC reported that the CNMI has developed a reasonably stable market for scrap tires and that
coordinated efforts amongst PIRRIC members would drive the potential access to this market for other jurisdictions and allow for consolidation and cost savings. This should further strengthen market access and allow for development of a coordinated approach to processing and exporting scrap tires.

PIRRIC also reported that the CNMI was currently soliciting proposals to conduct a waste characterization/feasibility study of Saipan's waste to determine the potential for waste-to-energy (WTE) technology applications. Once completed, the data generated will be made available to all members and allow for development of a capitalization and implementation recommendation.

The PIRRIC also restated its goals to create a Comprehensive Regional Solid Waste Action Plan patterned after SPREP's "Strategy for Solid Waste Management Pacific Island Countries and
Territories ".

The Chief Executives congratulated the PIRRIC on its efforts since the last summit and directed the following actions:

• Continue to monitor the progress of regional material removal projects;

• Continue the evaluation of technologies and report back findings at the next summit;

• Undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the alternatives available for managing solid waste, including an evaluation of cryogenics, pyrolysis, and shredding of tires for use locally or to maximize shipping and shipping whole tires; and

• Continue to develop sources for policy and financial support for the continuation of activities.

Regional Tourism Committee Report

The PATA Micronesia Chapter (PATAMC) held its First Tri-Annual Meeting in Saipan on June 14th to 16th with its 2nd Tri-Annual Meeting scheduled for Yap in August 2010. Accomplishments included Kosrae and Pohnpei joining Palau, Yap, Guam, CNMI, and the Marshall Islands in having produced their "Destination eGuides" (electronic brochures) and the near finalization of Chuuk's guide.

PATAMC also developed a Request for Proposals and the establishment of a Selection Committee to select an agency to develop a "regional brand message". Other accomplishments since the last MCES include:

• On-going creation of package deals for each island destination;

• Regional Exhibitions in February 2010 in Guam, attended by and with exhibitions by CNMI, Guam, Palau, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap and the Marshall Islands;

• LIVE Radio Talk Show - K57 in February 2010 in Guam featuring Guam, CNMI and Kosrae;

• On-going Print Advertisements in R&R Pacific Magazine by CNMI and Palau; and

• Initiation of marketing strategies for the Luxury Cruise market.

The Chief Executives supported the recommendations of the Tourism Committee and directed the Committee as follows:

• Support the launching by PATAMC of an outreach campaign to encourage the public and private sectors to recycle goods, conserve our natural resources and utilize energy efficient appliance or items so as to reduce climate change impacts.

• Support government partnerships in identifying sites for nomination as World Heritage sites.

• Support PATAMC soliciting proposals from qualified companies to do a study of the economic impact of the tourism industry in the Micronesia region.

• Support the creation of a Micronesia Cruise Taskforce representing island members to collaborate regionally in its governmental policy development in areas of immigration & customs clearance policy, uniform island port calls and cruise ship fee policy, marine, environmental and marine security policies, development of home port service facilities, and to work with federal agencies to secure financial support.

• Support the creation of a Micronesian Cruise Association to learn about the leisure cruise market and collaborate regionally to develop industry relationships between island destinations and cruise companies, as well as developing marketing and development strategies in conjunction with the region's regulatory structures.

• Continue to support their respective tourism organizations' active participation in Trade/Travel Shows / Exhibitions / Seminars, etc. in key markets and their other promotional/training activities in the region.

Governor Camacho recommended the creation of a task force within the Tourism Committee for
the cruise ship industry and Governor Fitial suggested that PATAMC serve as the umbrella organization for the Micronesian Cruise Association.

Regional Health Committee (HC)

During this 13th MCES, the Regional Health Committee focused on the regional epidemic of non-communicable diseases and its current and projected impact on the societies and economies of MCES member states. The U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) have among the highest rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity in the world. As a result, the Pacific Island Officers Association (PIHOA) declared, in May, 2010, a regional state of emergency (PIHO Resolution 48-01).

The Regional Health Committee also addressed the need to pro actively leverage the opportunities of health care reform legislation recently passed in the United States and the need for executive level support for Public Health Education in the region.

Finally, Committee updated the Chief Executives on the lack of access of FAS citizens to Medicaid benefits in the United States.

The Health Council also reported on progress made toward recommendations from previous MCES Communiques. Work continues to development the Micronesian Health District, which requires finalization of funding options to develop a briefing paper on the subject.

Regarding the 12th Communique recommendation to developing Level 1 lab capacity in Guam, PIHOA recently partnered with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and Guam DPHSS to undertake and complete an assessment of level 1 lab needs in Guam. In addition, PIHOA has identified funds to undertake an analysis of level 2 lab needs in the region.

In the area of Human Resources for Health Management (HRH) Management Offices in USAPI Health Agencies, PIHOA is now assessing the available curriculum and resources for developing and delivering "HRH 101" courses in the USAPI, for health agency focal points charged with staffing the implementation of local HRH plans.

The Chief Executives supported the reported efforts of Committee and recommended the following:

• Actions be undertaken by each member state to support Pll-IOA Resolution No. 48-01;

• Work to leverage the opportunities available through the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010;

• Work to restore Medicaid eligibility for Citizens of the FAS residing in the United States and its territories in line with a MCES Resolution directed to the U.S. Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

• Continue its work to develop Levell Lab capacity in the region;

• Continue to work towards the development of a Micronesian Health District and to finalize efforts to identified necessary funding;

• Continue to work on Emergency Preparedness and USAPI Mutual Aid Agreements for finalization prior to the 14th MCES;

• Continue to work towards the development of human resource and educational opportunities, including the creation of a Fiji School of Medicine, North;

• Complete the drafting of the Worker Migration Agreement by the 14th MCES; and

• Continue to work on developing Human Resource for Health (HRH) Management Offices in USAPI Health Agencies.

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee met on 23 June 2010 in Saipan, CNMI and was attended by representatives from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, FSM, Palau, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. A presentation was made by Palau to the Committee on Information Communication and Telecommunication (ICT) initiatives they have implemented including the linking of outer islands using VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminals), unregulated competition in the telecommunication sector, e-Government applications, and a Palau National ICT Policy.

The SPC provided a briefing on the Pacific Regional ICT Officials and Ministers meeting of 16-18 June 2010, in Nuku'alofa Tonga. The outcomes of this ministerial meeting included a "Tonga Declaration" , a "Framework for Action on ICT for Development in the Pacific", assignment of the lead coordination role of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the establishment of regional initiatives including the Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team (PacCERT), Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center (PIRRC), and ICT Capacity Building for Pacific ACP Countries (ICB4PAC).

The Chief Executives accepted the recommendations of the Committee advocating greater organizational coordination of the various ICT entities, policies and programs, and

• Adopted a Resolution encouraging the u.s. Government and other funding agencies to support broadband submarine fiber optics connectivity for the FSM States and the Palau;

• Adopted a Resolution encouraging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support the implementation of the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS), by the FAS States, to enable the exchange of patient information through the National Health Information Network to improve patient care and safety, public health surveillance and effectiveness and efficiency in health care delivery; and

• Adopted a Resolution requesting that the Government of Japan, with support from the International Telecommunications Union, implement the WINDS satellite experiments for the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau; and

• Adopted a Resolution recognizing the need for a more coordinated approach in the use of ICT to assist development and to improve livelihood of our communities, and to acknowledge the Tonga Declaration and outcomes of the Pacific Regional ICT Ministers meeting.

Miscellaneous Issues

1. United States Coast Guard

At the invitation of the Transportation Committee, United States Coast Guard Sector Guam Captain Thomas M. Sparks gave a presentation on the role of the United States Coast Guard in Micronesia. Captain Sparks shared with the Chief Executives the duties of Commander Sector Guam and its missions in the area which is one of the largest areas of responsibility in the United States Coast Guard (2,000,000 square nautical miles). Captain Sparks remarked upon the inadequate resources available to respond to their mission as related to the Guam Military Buildup Program. Chief Executives were briefed on future placement of United States Marines in the United States Coast Guard footprint in Naval Station Guam. He also stated that Search and Rescue Operations in Micronesia remain a challenge and encouraged early notification and coordination with the US Coast Guard Command Center. He also requested that the Governments of the FSM and Palau prioritize the refueling of Australian Patrol Boats in their respective ports. The Chief Executives were appreciative of the services provided by the United States Coast Guard in the region.

2. Military Expansion Assistance in the Insular Areas

Joint Guam Program Office Forward Director John Jackson gave an update on the military expansion in the Northern Pacific. Mr. Jackson spoke regarding future forces in Guam, including the relocation of 8,500 United States Marine Corps and their 9,000 dependents to Guam from Okinawa, the development of a United States Army Missile Defense Task Force and construction of a transient Aircraft Carrier Pier at Apra Harbor. He also briefed the Chief Executives on the status of the Environmental Impact Statement which Mr. Jackson said would be completed by September 20 I0 with the Record of Decision. He also spoke of the pending Draft Master Plan that details the funding and construction plans to support the military missions in Guam and Tinian. Chief Executives commented on a lack of budgeting action by the U.S. Congress. Mr. Jackson replied that while projects have been identified there are other factors that mayor may not delay funds for Guam and Tinian projects by 2014, the proposed completion date of the Guam Military Buildup Program.

A presentation was also given by Gary Kurabara, Western Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, on funding assistance for the military buildup in Guam and the CNMI. Mr. Kurabara focused his discussions on a conceptual approach to assisting the island communities with expansion efforts. Chief Executives were briefed on the Technical Assistance programs of the OEA and the creation of coalitions to address local government challenges in planning for the Guam Military Buildup Program.

3. Airport Improvement Programs in the Region

Ronnie Simpson, the Manager of the Honolulu Airports District Office of the (US) Federal Aviation Administration gave a presentation on the Airport Improvement Program in the Pacific Region.
Mr. Simpson remarked that there have been fundamental changes to the development of all the airports in Micronesia. Since 2004, nearly $700 million has been invested in Northern Pacific airports for safety, reconstruction, standards and capacity enhancement projects. TheChief  Executives praised Mr. Simpson for his advocacy for Area airports for the past ten years.

The President of Continental Micronesia, Charles Duncan, gave an update on Continental Airlines activities in the region, including the merger of United-Continental Airlines in May 2010 which will create the largest airline in the United States. He stated that Micronesia will benefit by Continental Micronesia joining a stronger network across the Pacific and the West Coast of the United States. He sought continued support of the airline's programs and asked that departure fees be used to support respective airport programmatic needs. The Chief Executives were also briefed on Continental Micronesia's route activities in the region and the need for increased seat capacity in line with demands related to the Guam Military Buildup Program. Mr.
Duncan fielded questions from Chief Executives regarding the resumption of Manila-Saipan routes for humanitarian medical and tourism business, cargo handling concerns and price reductions for travel within Micronesia.

Micronesia Center for Sustainable Future

The Secretary General (SG), with the assistance of the Strategic Design and Planning (SDPT) Team, reports the following accomplishments in line with the recommendations of the Chief Executives at the 12thMicronesia Chief Executives Summit:

• Submitted a $400,000 grant proposal with the Department of Interior and received preliminary notice of support of the Grant, which will be officially announced in August at the Micronesia Games to be held in Palau. The Grant focuses on three primary delivery areas, as follows:

• Organizational development;

• Program Delivery; and

• Further development of the Regional Strategic Framework as a living document.

To expedite immediate implementation of the grant, the SDPT held inception meetings with the Administrator of the Grant selected by the Department of Interior, the Graduate School. The Graduate School will be the official recipient of the Grant and will work with the Secretary General and the SDPT to implement all components of the grant within the next year. The inception meeting focused on fine tuning the actual costs
associated with the specific programs and activities approved under the grant.

• Completed and gained signatures on a Teaming Agreement with the University of Guam.

• Completed and gained signatures on a Teaming Agreement with the College of Micronesia, Federated States of Micronesia (COM-FSM).

• Completed and gained signatures on a Strategic Alliance Agreement with the Micronesian Seminar (MICSEM).

• Finalized and filed corporate documents for the MCES in Guam, and, within this context:

     * Amended Corporate By-Laws to reflect each Chief Executive's status as the Directors of the MCSF;

     * Gained a Guam Business License;

     * Received U.S. Employee Identification Number; and

     * Applied for 501(c)(3) non-profit status, which status is anticipated within the next two months.

In addition to on-going Center activities, the Secretary General reported, on the behalf of the Center for Micronesian Empowerment (CME) that the CME has assisted in placing 63 graduates in full time employment. By the end of 2010, the CME will have assisted and found full time employment for 245 participants. The Governor of Chuuk formalized the relationship between the State of Chuuk and the CME during the Summit with a $120,000 program commitment for job training in Guam in preparation for the military buildup. The first 15 students will arrive in Guam on July 3rd.

The Secretary General continues to work on a number of approved initiatives to strengthen the MCES and the Center and seeks the support of the Chief Executives for these and additional initiatives, as set forth below:

• Prepare for the formal announcement of the DOl Grant, and, upon final announcement, immediately begin implementation activities, to include:

     * Development of Legal and Financial Protocols;

     * Establishment of a Facilities and Staffing Plan;

     * Creation of a Programmatic Evaluation System for the MCSF;

     * Implementation of the broad variety of programs funded by the grant;

     * Establishment of a representative body composed of one member from each jurisdiction; and

     * Development of the MCSF Strategic Framework, taking into account Jurisdictional review and      enhanced data gathering through the Grant.

     * Continue to develop teaming and strategic alliance relationships with regional and
 international organizations, including:

    * A teaming agreement with the Pacific Post Secondary-Education Council (PPEC) and its members;

    * Teaming agreements with other appropriate higher learning institutions, including the South Pacific University and the College of the Marshal Islands (CMI); and
    * A Strategic Alliance with the Island Research and Education Initiative (IREI).

• Pursue funding opportunities from Australia and New Zealand for a remittance study by the Micronesian Seminar, through the MCSF, in the FSM, Palau and the RMI (This study will serve as a critical element in the development of a regional socio-economic assessment of the region);

• Establish membership in the National Association of Regional Planning Councils (NARC) in order to leverage ARRA funding for the region;

• Continue to support CME in its efforts to rapidly increase the number of participants served by the program (750 participants anticipated in 2011 and over 1,000 anticipated in 2012, with revenues generated from the program being reinvested into expanded and improved services and training);

• Continue negotiations with the APIL regarding the development of a framework of consensus building and cooperation;

• Continue to move forward in discussions with the Bank of Guam to finalize the development of a Micronesian Monetary Fund;

• Take such other actions on behalf of the Chief Executives as will move forward, with all due expediency, the development of the Micronesia Center for a Sustainable Future;

• Collaborate with other regional and national initiatives; and

• Continue to pursue and leverage funding opportunities for regional initiatives.

The Chief Executives once again confirmed their strong support for the Center and recommended that anticipatory work begin in anticipation of the finalization of the Department of Interior (OIA) Start-up Grant. The Chief Executives also agreed to send representatives to an inception meeting to develop organizational structures, initial program delivery and development of a regional strategic framework.

The Secretary General and the Officers of the Center are working with the U.S. National Invasive Species Council, and other U.S. Federal and international partners to sponsor a side event at the upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity to highlight the development of the U.S. Department of Defense-funded Micronesia Biosecurity Plan (MBP). The MBP is an unprecedented collaborative effort between Micronesia and the U.S. Government to proactively study invasive species threats to the region of Micronesia posed by the military buildup and to make responsive recommendations based on scientific analyses to prevent any damage from occurring, now and in the future. In addition to the MBP, the side event will focus on the exemplary regional coordination under the auspices of the MCSF and cooperation with the U.S. Government that has lead to the development of this globally unique plan.


The Fourteenth Summit of the Micronesian Chief Executives will be held in Kosrae, FSM. The Chief Executives closed the 13th Summit and once again stressed the need to move forward on prior and new initiatives. There was also a recommitment by the Chief Executives to the implementation of these sub-regional initiatives endorsed since the start of the Micronesian Chief Executives' Summits, They agreed to greater coordination and communication to accomplish the goals set out since 2003. They also committed to fully integrating regional issues into ongoing governmental planning and budget processes within each jurisdiction.

Governor Fitial thanked all the participants for their attendance and attention to these pressing issues before the Summit.

09 August 2010

Bermuda Dep. Premier Vies for Party Leadership

Would Succeed Premier Ewart Brown


On 5th August 2010, the Deputy Premier & Minister of Finance the Hon. Paula A. Cox announced her intention to vie for leadership of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party. Following are the remarks in full of Hon. Cox.

Good Morning.

A couple of days ago I submitted a letter to the Party Chairman and to the Party Leader advising that I intended to be a candidate in the upcoming Party leadership election.

Today I publicly affirm my decision to contest the election for the position of the Leader of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party. I stand here today to announce my desire to serve the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party as its next Party Leader and to lead our country as the next Premier of Bermuda.

When we first became Government in November 9, 1998, we excited the imagination of the country. It was felt to be our time. I remember saying on the Cabinet grounds on November 10, 1998 that the air smelled better, and that even the French fries tasted better, post a PLP Government. So expectations were high and we were excited.

Since that time, we have had some casualties. Some of our veteran Members are no longer with us, but they will always be remembered as standard-bearers for justice, equity and integrity. These included former Tourism Minister, the Hon. David Allen, JP MP, the Hon Dame Lois Brown-Evans DLBE, JP MP, the Hon Nelson Bascome, JP MP and my father, the Hon. C. Eugene Cox, CBE, JP MP.

Today I stand on the shoulders of all those who have gone before us, including, former Opposition Leader, L. Frederick Wade, JP MP and all our founding PLP founding members.

My task, if successful, at the PLP Annual Delegates’ Conference will be to carry the torch our earlier stalwarts lit into a new era.

Since 1998, I have served my country as an advocate for education, a guardian of our nation’s labour force as Home Affairs Minister and as an innovator and enabler in economic empowerment and economic development.

I believe that Government is most successful when we are accountable, while standing united as a Government, working together for the good of our country.

I am committed to my fellow Bermudians and I am committed to our Party. However, I have a greater commitment to reaching our potential as a country with integrity, honour and openness. A Bermuda whose people see what is possible and are not afraid to reach beyond themselves to achieve it.

Bermuda must be a great place for Bermudians and those that work and reside here. Bermuda must also acknowledge her global status and embrace the change that is required to be a top class global player. We have to be willing to open some doors that we may have shied away from in the past but we have to hold hands and we have to walk into the future together, respectful of each other’s differences but prepared to push the differences aside in order to make Bermuda the best place to be.

We have an economic downturn and we have to devise ways to be even more innovative in providing jobs and expanded opportunities for those who have lost employment. Our system of concessions and relief can be an enabler here. We have to be prepared to dialogue and to consider ways to interact that can be mutually beneficial, not just when there are ‘hot’ issues. We accept that there are challenges, but there are also opportunities.

I know that many of you see this. I am heartened by the knowledge that you are willing to stand with me; work with me; and succeed with me, in serving our Bermuda.

We have many challenges to face as a country and as a Party. Our community is changing. Keynes once asked: “When circumstances change, I change my mind: what do you do?”

Well, when circumstances change, the Progressive Labour Party Government that I am a proud member of, rolls up its sleeves and gets on with doing the job.

As we turn the page and prepare to bid farewell to our current Party Leader and the country’s Premier and open the chapter to a new administration, we will press forward to work in the people’s interests. It will not be business as usual or politics of usual. So, what next?

I intend to bring together a team that will believe as I do- that to serve one’s country is a noble undertaking. Together, we will transform Bermuda into a place of greater opportunity, harmony and social progress, with a team of Ministers and Parliamentarians who will be responsive to your needs and who will never forget that we are the people’s servants.

People are aching for another wave of change following the high of 1998. This is normal. Familiarity can sometimes get dull, even in the most dynamic of relationships. So this next wave of PLP Government has to bring not just substance with style. We have to recapture some of the dizzying heights of the November 1998 aura. This we will do. We will re-connect and we will need all hands on deck- youth and experience, wisdom and wit and energy.

We have a job to do and we will get on with it. Let us build one another –together. I believe that Bermuda will move forward together with this brand of leadership as we turn the page and start a new chapter.

04 August 2010

Caribbean Group bids for Turks & Caicos bank

By Jason Richards


A consortium of Caribbean banks headed by Dominican Milton Lawrence is vowing to save the Turks and Caicos International (TCI) Bank after the bank was forced into liquidation earlier this year.

Milton Lawrence CEO of ECIC Holdings Ltd along with Stephen Lander, of the National Bank of Dominica, says they will invest up to $30.5m in new money towards getting the collapsed institution back on its feet, which will enable the country’s 4,500 account holders to access all funds up to $50,000 instantly.

The two also vowed to overturn TCI Bank’s fortunes to become one of the most successful financial institutions in the Caribbean.

The disclosure was made at a town hall meeting in the Turks and Caicos Islands as ECIC – one of TCI Bank’s major shareholders – put forward their rescue plan.

It also involves ECIC paying off a $5.5m secured loan by the National Insurance Board, which saved TCI Bank from disaster last year, and $25m to resuscitate the bank, which held around eight per cent of the country’s total bank deposits.

Lawrence promised that all deposits would be kept whole. Customers would get back all their money up to the first $50,000 immediately with access to an additional $50,000 taking place over 12 months for chequing account holders.

All other accounts over $50,000, excluding chequing accounts up to $100,000, would be kept for a period of five years at an annual interest rate of 1.75 per cent.

The ECIC Holdings bid for the failed bank is one of three offers that have been made thus far for the bank. The Supreme Court in that island is expected to rule soon on which of the offers will be accepted.

ECIC holdings is a private consortium of 10 indigenous East Caribbean banks. They include Grenada Co-operative Bank, First National Bank St Lucia, National Bank of Dominica, ABI Bank, Caribbean Union Bank, St Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank, Bank of Nevis, National Bank of Anguilla, Caribbean Commercial Bank (Anguilla) and TCI Bank. The firm’s headquarters are in Basseterre, St Kitts.

Emotiva despedida a Lolita Lebrón

by José R. Bas García - independencia.net

Solamente un independentista puertorriqueño puede referirse a la vida de otro independentista puertorriqueño con la carga emocional y el sentido de responsabilidad con que Rubén Berríos Martínez, Presidente del Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP), describió a quien en vida fue Lolita Lebrón. Fue a Rubén Berríos a quien le correspondió, por voluntad de la propia fenecida, la responsabilidad de ofrecer un mensaje poco antes del sepelio de la extraordinaria mujer que lo sacrificó todo por la independencia de Puerto Rico denunciando la patraña colonial que se perpetraba contra nuestra patria a manos del gobierno de Estados Unidos con la ayuda del liderato del partido pro colonia que colaboró para completar la agenda de la potencia administradora que pretendía mantenernos sujetos y subordinados a su poder político e intereses económicos y militares.
“Nosotros somos hijos agradecidos de doña Lolita por haber sido el ejemplo mayor en la defensa de la independencia de Puerto Rico”, declaró el orador al iniciar su discurso en que exaltó la grandeza de la independentista que irónicamente hoy reclaman como también suya algunos herederos del liderato de aquel partido que en 1952 se robó la bandera puertorriqueña y la humillaron izándola al lado de la de Estados Unidos. Es el mismo liderato del partido que aún sostiene y defiende la permanencia de la condición colonial de Puerto Rico.
“A cada uno de nosotros”, aseguró Berríos dirigiéndose a los presentes, “nos une el mismo ideal por el que Lolita vivió y entregó su vida entera”. Por supuesto, ese ideal no podía ser otro que el de la libertad y la independencia de Puerto Rico.
El presidente del PIP narró una historia muy impresionante sobre la manera en que la figura de Lolita Lebrón contribuyó, sin ella habérselo propuesto, a facilitar los trámites con el liderato político de Brasil para conseguir el apoyo de ese país para la independencia de Puerto Rico. Ya esa generación de líderes brasileños conocía las ejecutorias de Lolita Lebrón en el Congreso de Estados Unidos en 1953 y la admiraban profundamente por su integridad y valentía.
El sacrificio de Lolita Lebrón no fue sencillo. El imperio la condenó a muchos años de cárcel, de los cuales cumplió 25. Durante los mismos, estuvo sujeta a constantes intentos de hacerla claudicar a cambio de excarcelarla en un tiempo mucho más breve. Según ella misma le narró a Berríos durante conversaciones sostenidas luego de su regreso a la Isla, los carceleros solo le pedían que declarar que se había equivocado, que lo sentía mucho y se arrepentía.
“Tenía las llaves de su cárcel, pero Lolita Lebrón no aceptó. Lolita Lebrón no dio ni un paso atrás”, exclamó Rubén Berríos. “El mejor homenaje que podemos ofrecerle es no dar ni un paso atrás en la búsqueda de la independencia”.
“Hoy venimos a enterrar a una independentista puertorriqueña, a una nacionalista puertorriqueña que sabía que sin libertad, sin independencia no hay una patria digna. Hoy venimos a renovar votos”, sostuvo Berríos con la pasión que lo caracteriza y que surge de su corazón al referirse a una verdadera líder de la independencia, como Lolita Lebrón, que supo poner la lucha por la libertad por encima de todas las cosas.

Las exequias fúnebres en honor a Lolita Lebrón comenzaron el domingo con una misa que se celebró en la Parroquia San Lucas de la Urbanización El Señorial, donde residía. Cerca de las 9:00 de la noche su cuerpo fue trasladado al Ateneo Puertorriqueño en San Juan en donde hubo actos artísticos y otras expresiones por parte del público que asistió y de los miembros del Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico. Hoy, lunes, cerca del mediodía hubo una misa en su honor en la Catedral del Viejo San Juan, luego de la cual se trasladó el féretro al Cementerio Nacional del Viejo San Juan. Sus restos permanecerán en un panteón cercano al de Gilberto Concepción de Gracia y Pedro Albizu Campos, entre otros que, en vida, también dieron la cara por la independencia de Puerto Rico.

03 August 2010

Partnership for Peace - A Violence Intervention Programme

Statement of Deputy Premier Hon. Dancia Penn, British Virgin Islands

Twelfth Sitting of the Third Session of the First House of Assembly

Mr. Speaker, some months ago, I stated in this Honourable House that The Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Development, had embarked on “Partnership for Peace: A Violence Intervention Programme”.

Spearheaded by the Office of Gender Affairs, the initiative is being undertaken with support from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Caribbean Office, in Barbados.

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that domestic violence continues to plague our region and the rest of the world. Admittedly, here in the British Virgin Islands, we are not insulated from the problem. That is why Partnership for Peace: A Violence Intervention Programme, which is a 16-week psycho-educational programme, is an important one for us to introduce and maintain in the British Virgin Islands.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the first cycle of the Partnership for Peace Programme has been completed, and that it has been rated as a success by UNIFEM. It lasted from February 3 - May 19, 2010. Six participants were referred to the programme by the Magistrate’s Court. Their ages ranged from 21-50 years. To date none of the participants from the first cycle has reoffended, and it is expected that the tools that they received over the 16 weeks would make them think twice about repeating the offence.

Some of the topics covered during the initial cycle, Mr. Speaker, were: understanding and managing feelings-managing life’s transitions, effective communication, conflict resolution, family history, manhood, womanhood, power and control in relationships, sexuality, STI’s and HIV prevention, among others.

I am happy to also report that the second cycle of the programme started with nine men on May 27 and will end on September 9, 2010. As of today’s date, seven men remain in the second cycle.

I am indeed pleased to be able to report to this Honourable House that in the first and second cycles the men have bonded very well with each other. Participants have been responding well to the programme, and early indications are that the Partnership for Peace Violence Intervention Programme is poised to have a very positive impact on the social fabric of this Territory.

Mr. Speaker, last week, a UNIFEM team visited the Territory from July 7 - 9 to monitor and evaluate the programme and to ensure that there is adherence to programme. They met with the Partnership for Peace team, including the Programme Director and the current facilitators to get their feedback on the impact of the programme on the participants. The OGA also organized its second progress report meeting on July 9 with key stakeholders and the trained facilitators, where feedback from the participants of the programme was reported by the facilitators, programme coordinator and clinical supervisor.

Mr. Speaker, the preliminary feedback I received from the Programme Director was heartening. In addition, the UNIFEM team reported that the programme is well managed, and they commended the Government of the Virgin Islands for its commitment and dedication to the programme. UNIFEM will submit a full report to the Ministry of Health and Social Development within a month.

Mr. Speaker, the Government is very grateful to UNIFEM and its team for this partnership to end the scourge of violence against women and girls in the Territory.

We are particularly very grateful for the technical and financial support UNIFEM has provided for the successful implementation of Partnership for Peace: A Violence Intervention Programme. Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Development, is anticipating a long-lasting partnership with UNIFEM.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.