31 March 2011

Congressional Delegate Calls for a Legitimate Act of Self-Determination for Guahan (Guam)


Political leaders in Guam have stepped up their efforts to bring about the modernisation of the political status of the territory through a self-determination process in the U.S.-administered territory in the Pacific. Recently, Guam Congressional Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo called for the resolution of the political status dilemma in the territory through “a legitimate act of Chamorro self determination.” In an address to the people of Guam delivered at the Antonio R. Unpingco Legislative Session Hall at the Guam Legislature in Hagatna, Delegate Bordallo made the following points:

“As we embark on this journey to our future, one of the first steps—maybe the most important step—is to resolve our political status through a legitimate act of Chamorro self determination. Last year Congress passed, and the President signed, a bill I authored to provide federal funding for political status education in the territories.

I have asked Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta to make this a top priority, even as his budget cuts dictate that not all needs will be met in this fiscal year. I commend the Governor for stating that this is also his priority, and Senators Pangelinan and Respicio for their initiatives to move us toward decolonization.

Resolving our political status, and decolonizing Guam, is a process that will cause us to examine our relationship with the United States, and determine what is best for our island and our people. We need to get on with this process and I will do my part in joining with the Governor and Legislature to make the self-determination vote a reality.”

This statement of Delegate Bordallo follows the extensive report on political status issued by the transition team of Governor Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo who began his first term last January. The report provided an extensive history of past action on the political status front, and made a number of key recmmendations:

"While the Government of Guam’s participation in political status and the area of Chamorro Self-Determination has been minimal over the past eight years, there have been a number of initiatives on the part of civil society that has advanced this area of work. Initiatives towards this end have included the following: testimonies before the United Nations’ (UN) Committee on Decolonization, the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; participation in the UN Pacific Seminars bi-annually; revitalization of the Chamorro Registry; University of Guam educational initiatives; the production of scholarly articles deepening the legal understanding of Chamorro Self-Determination; and the passage of a Congressional authorization to fund a local political status educational campaign...

Executive Summary of Recommendations

The Political Status &  External Affairs Subcommittee recommends that Governor-Elect Calvo and Lt. Governor-Elect Tenorio reactivate the work of the Commission on Decolonization in order to fulfill their intentions of conducting a political status plebiscite during their term of office."

As the international community has embarked on the third decade to focus attention on the decolonization of the remaining territories worldwide, the increased attention to the issue in Guam concides with the issuance of the 2011 White House Report on Puerto Rico which has important implicatins for the evolution of a permanent political status for the five U.S. territories.

UPDATEGuam senator: Move forward on Chamorro-only vote

See also:

Self-Determination Legislation - Opportunity for US Administered Territories?
US House Approves Political Status Education Bill
US Congressional Committee Approves Self-Determination Assistance to Territories
US Virgin Islands Delegate Clarifies Status of Political Status Legislation

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