25 January 2011

"We Are Guahan": DoD Plans to Acquire More Land, Pagat Plans Unchanged

News Release

Guam - In contrast to a(n earlier) statement...by the Governor and the visiting federal  (U.S.) delegation, "We Are Guåhan" today released a statement of its own arguing that the Department of Defense actually plans on acquiring more land and claiming that DoD's plans for Pagat remain unchanged.

Officials from the Department of Defense (DoD) were on Guam for one day to pitch their plans to build a firing range complex at Pågat Village and the surrounding areas to island leaders. During their meetings, DoD officials confirmed that Pågat Village and the surrounding area remain its “preferred alternative” for the site of its 5 firing ranges.

Although DoD plans to “acquire” Pågat Village and the surrounding area – including the Guam International Raceway Park – DoD officials verbally promised “un-impeded access” to Pågat Village. This suggestion is similar to the one made by Undersecretary Jackalyn Pfannenstiel soon after DoD was sued by the Guam Preservation Trust, We Are Guåhan and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for not following the law.

For over a year, the people of Guam have opposed DoD’s plans to acquire any additional land or to build a firing range complex at Pågat Village. DoD’s continued plans of “acquiring” over 1,000 more acres of land and firing around and above Pågat Village do not address these concerns. “Un-impeded access” to Pågat Village was never the issue.

“The messengers may change, but the message remains the same: DoD plans on taking Pågat,” says We Are Guåhan member Cara Flores-Mays. “Pågat, and what it represents, is worth more to our island than vague promises of returning land that was taken from our people decades ago.”

Responding to DoD’s proposal is Governor Calvo’s first opportunity to fulfill his promise to the people of Guam that he will not abandon Pågat, and that the Calvo Tenorio administration will not agree to DoD expanding beyond its current footprint.

Governor Calvo ran on the promise that Pågat is not for sale. This means that he would never allow DoD to fire bullets over or around the graves of our ancestors. This means that Pågat will not be traded to DoD in exchange for the return of thousands of acres of land DoD currently owns but does not use, or a promise to ask Congress for money to pay for a museum and cultural center.

“Machine guns being fired overhead, and grenades blowing up in the distance, are unacceptable impacts on Pågat Village and the people living in the surrounding area,” says Flores-Mays. “We Are Guåhan will not give up on Pågat.”

Emotional State Funeral for late Montserrat Chief Minister

The Editorial Staff of Overseas Territories Review joins the people of Montserrat, and of the entire Caribbean, in mourning the loss of the former Chief Minister Dr. John A. Osbourne, a stalwart in the Caribbean regional integration movement.

Montserrat and regional leaders honor Dr. John A. Osborne in emotional funeral service.

SKN Vibes

BRADES, Montserrat (January 24, 2011) – “John Alfred Osborne was a great man, a truly noble son of Montserrat. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the region as a whole have lost a leader of immense stature, a man of deep conviction and strong commitment to the development of his country and the wider region.”

Those were the sentiments of Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis and Chairman of the OECS, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas at the official funeral of Montserrat’s former chief minister Dr. John A. Osborne last Friday. They were echoed throughout the two-hour service by various leaders including the Chief Minister of Montserrat, Hon. Reuben T. Meade, former Chief Minister Hon. Dr. Lowell Lewis, and Speaker of the House Ms. Teresina Bodkin.

Dr. Osborne’s body Lay in State from 8am until noon at the Montserrat Cultural Centre, which also serves as the island’s Legislative Chambers. Hundreds came to view the body which was surrounded by honour guards. Every 20 minutes the guards rotated between members of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force, the Royal Montserrat Police Force, the Montserrat Secondary School Cadet Corps and an Osborne Family Honour Guard.

The funeral followed an emotional procession of the body, with members of the RMPF, the RMDF and other uniformed bodies from the Government Headquarters in Brades to the Montserrat Cultural Centre, led by the Antigua & Barbuda Police Band.

Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Chief Minister Mrs. Beverley Mendes gave a stirring rendition of “Motherland” one of Montserrat’s national songs. The eulogy was given by daughter Shirley Osborne and Dr. Howard Fergus presented a poem which exemplified the former leader and the man who was a driving force in the island’s advancement economically and regionally.

“Dr. John A Osborne served his country and the region with distinction. He was a true patriot – a man who loved his country and devoted his life to its development… His patriotism was unparalleled, as was his abiding faith in his people, and concern for the welfare of the least among them. He was passionate about the OECS, and his enthusiasm and optimism energized his colleagues and peers at Meetings of the OECS Authority. Dr. John Osborne was a politician who inspired respect not just in Montserrat but throughout the Caribbean region and beyond. He was indeed a true public servant committed to public welfare, and the notion of service above self,” Dr. Douglas said of Montserrat’s longest serving statesman.

Other officials in attendance at the funeral included Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, the Hon. Baldwin Spencer, Chief Minister of Anguilla, the Hon. Hubert Hughes, Hon. Julian Fraser of the British Virgin Islands, Hon. Ambrose George of Dominica, Senator Maxine McClean of Barbados, Hon. Walcott Richardson of Anguilla, Ambassador Dr. June Soomer of St. Lucia, Acting Secretary General of CARICOM Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, and Sir Louis and Lady Linda Straker of St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Prime Minister Spencer called Dr. Osborne a true statesman and friend of Antigua & Barbuda. Ambassador Applewhaite, reading a statement from Chairman of CARICOM Heads of Government, Prime Minister of Grenada, Hon. Tillman Thomas called Dr. Osborne the “quintessential politician, statesman and [a] Caribbean integrationist.”

The former chief minister had a record 38 years in political office with 18 of them as chief minister. He was an entrepreneur and shipwright with a passion for his family and Montserrat. In a fitting homage to his love for the sea, Dr. Osborne’s coffin was a replica of one of his earlier ships the Western Sun and was built by Junie Irish. Dr. Osborne was buried after a private funeral service on Saturday morning, January 22 at the St. Peters Anglican Church.