28 July 2015

American Samoa - U.S. citizenship court decision highlights U.S. perspective on its dependency governance of territories

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A three-judge panel with the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington recently ruled that people born in American Samoa do not automatically become citizens of the United States. According to a Dependency Studies Expert, "this unanimous ruling once again confirms the non self-governing nature of the U.S. - administered dependencies, and successfully counters the illusion that these territories exercise real self-government."


Excerpts from the United States District Court of Appeals ruling on the unilateral extension of U.S. citizenship to American Samoans 

"Although it possesses significant institutions of local self-government American Samoa is classified as a 'non self-governing territory' by the United Nations General Assembly." 


"...the (U.S.) Citizenship Clause is textually ambiguous as to whether (the phrase) 'in the United States' encompasses America's unincorporated territories(,) and we hold it 'impractible and anomalous' to impose citizenship by judicial fiat - where doing so requires to override the democratic prerogatives of the American Samoan people themselves. The judgment of the district court is afffirmed; the Citizenship Clause does not extend birthright citizenship (U.S.) citizenship to those born in American Samoa."


"Even if 'United States' is than 'among the several States,' it remains ambiguous whether territories situated like American Samoa are 'within' the United States for purposes of the (U.S. Citizenship) Clause."

"...we are sceptical the framers (of the U.S. Constitution) plainly intended to extend birthright citizenship to distinct, significantly self-governing (?) political territories within the United States sphere of sovereignty - even where, as is the case with American Samoa, ultimate governance remains with the United States Government." (emphasis added)


Analysis of the (U.S.) Citizenship Clause's application of American Samoa would be incomplete absent invocation of the sometimes contentious Insular Cases, where the (U.S.) Supreme Court addressed whether the Constitution, by its own force, applies in any territory that is not a (U.S.) State."


“The doctrine of ‘territorial incorporation’ announced in the Insular Cases distinguishes between incorporated territories, which are intended for (U.S.) statehood from the time of acquisition and in which the entire (U.S.) Constitution applies ex proprio vigore, and unincorporated territories [such as American Samoa], which are not intended for (U.S.) statehood and in which only [certain] fundamental (U.S.) constitutional rights apply by their own force..."

"Although some aspects of the Insular Cases’ analysis may now be deemed politically incorrect, the framework remains both applicable and of pragmatic use in assessing the applicability of rights to unincorporated territories." (emphasis added).

" While 'fundamental limitations in favor of personal rights' remain guaranteed to persons born in the unincorporated territories, the insular framework recognizes the difficulties that frequently inure when “determin[ing] [whether a] particular provision of the Constitution is applicable,' absent inquiry into the impractical or anomalous. [T]he determination of what particular provision of the Constitution is applicable, generally speaking, in all cases, involves an inquiry into the situation of the territory and its relations to the United States.)"


This Court, like the lower court, “is [also] mindful of the years of past practice in which territorial citizenship has been treated as a statutory, and not a constitutional right.”


“Whatever may be finally decided by the American people as to the status of these islands and their inhabitants . . . they are entitled under the principles of the Constitution to be protected in life, liberty, and property . . . even [if they are] not possessed of the political rights of citizens of the United States.”) (emphasis added)


"Despite American Samoa’s lengthy relationship with the United States, the American Samoan people have not formed a collective consensus in favor of United States citizenship. In part this reluctance stems from unique kinship practices and social structures inherent to the traditional Samoan way of life, including those related to the Samoan system of communal land ownership..."

"Representatives of the American Samoan people have long expressed concern that the extension of United States citizenship to the territory could potentially undermine these aspects of the Samoan way of life. For example (former) Congressman Faleomavaega and the American Samoan Government posit the extension of citizenship could result in greater scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, imperiling American Samoa’s traditional, racially (?) - based land alienation rules. Appellants contest the probable danger citizenship poses to American Samoa’s customs and cultural mores."


"The resolution of this dispute would likely require delving into the particulars of American Samoa’s present legal and cultural structures to an extent ill-suited to the limited factual record before us.  ('The importance of the constitutional right at stake makes it essential that a decision in this case rest on a solid understanding of the present legal and cultural development of American Samoa. That understanding cannot be based on unsubstantiated opinion; it must be based on facts.'). 
We need not rest on such issues or otherwise speculate on the relative merits of the American Samoan Government’s Equal Protection concerns. The imposition of citizenship on the American Samoan territory is impractical and anomalous at a more fundamental level." (emphasis added)

Full U.S. Court of Appeals asked to review decision in citizenship case


Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the U.S. citizenship lawsuit have petitioned the full U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to review a decision made last month by the three-judge panel — of the same appeals court — which ruled that the constitutional citizenship birth on U.S. soil does not apply to those born in American Samoa.

Plaintiffs in the case, led by local resident Leneuoti Tuaua, are five American Samoans and the Los Angeles based non profit group the Samoan Federation of America. Their petition for a hearing en banc (or full court) was filed Monday, which was the deadline to file such a request after the three-judge panel upheld the lower court’s decision.
In their petition, attorneys for the plaintiffs maintain that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Citizenship Clause entitles individuals born in American Samoa to citizenship by virtue of their birth “in the United States.”
However, they argue that the three-member panel stopped short of decisively interpreting the Clause’s meaning, instead declining to apply the Clause to American Samoa in deference to the views of elected officials from American Samoa.


27 July 2015

U.N. Committee calls for U.S. support for political development in U.S. Virgin Islands

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The Question of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Resolution adopted by the 
Special Committee on Decolonization

June 2015

       Taking note of the working paper prepared by the Secretariat on the United States Virgin Islands[1] and other relevant information,

  Aware that, under United States law, the relations between the territorial Government and the federal Government in all matters that are not the programme responsibility of another federal department or agency are under the general administrative supervision of the Secretary of the Interior,[2]

   Aware also of the fifth attempt of the Territory to review the existing Revised Organic Act, which organizes its internal governance arrangements, as well as its requests to the administering Power and the United Nations system for assistance to its public education programme,

 Cognizant that a draft constitution was proposed in 2009 and subsequently forwarded to the administering Power, which in 2010 requested the Territory to consider its objections to the draft constitution,
 Cognizant also that the Fifth Revision Convention, established and convened in 2012, was mandated to ratify and approve the final revised draft constitution,
  Noting the holding of elections in the Territory in November 2014,

   Aware of the closing of the Hovensa plant, and noting the continuing negative impact on manufacturing and on the employment situation in the Territory,

 Cognizant of the potential usefulness of regional ties for the development of a small island Territory,
      1.     Welcomes the proposal of a draft constitution emanating from the Territory in 2009, as a result of the work of the United States Virgin Islands Fifth Constitutional Convention, for review by the administering Power, and requests the administering Power to assist the territorial Government in achieving its political, economic and social goals, in particular the successful conclusion of the internal Constitutional Convention exercise;

        2.     Requests the administering Power to facilitate the process for approval of the proposed territorial constitution in the United States Congress and its implementation, once agreed upon in the Territory;

        3.     Also requests the administering Power to assist the Territory by facilitating its work concerning a public education programme, consistent with Article 73 b of the Charter, and in that regard, calls upon the relevant United Nations organizations to provide assistance to the Territory, if requested;

        4.     Expresses its concern regarding the continuing negative impact of the Hovensa plant closure;

        5.     Reiterates its call for the inclusion of the Territory in regional programmes of the United Nations Development Programme, consistent with the participation of other Non-Self-Governing Territories;

        6.     Welcomes the active participation of the Territory in the work of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean;

        7.     Recalls the holding, in March 2014, of the meeting of the Inter-Virgin Islands Council between the Territory and the British Virgin Islands.

[2] United States Congress, Revised Organic Act, 1954.

26 July 2015

Western imperialism and the recolonization of Africa

From national independence and regionalism to neo-colonialism

Abayomi Azikiwe

The increased expansion of Empire in Africa now requires a re-examination of the theories of Pan-Africanism and Socialism as advanced by Kwame Nkrumah and other anti-imperialist leaders of the 1950s-1980s. Africa cries out for unity now more than any other period of the post-independence era.

 This address was delivered during a panel discussion at the United National Antiwar Coalition Conference held in Secaucus, New Jersey on May 9, 2015. The panel was chaired by Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report and also featured Maurice Carney of Friends of the Congo.


On June 30, 1960, the former Belgian Congo gained its independence from Belgium. Patrice Lumumba of the Congolese National Movement (MNC-Lumumba) became the dominant political party within the newly-created parliament in Leopoldville, now known as Kinshasa.

Several days later the Force Publique (the paramilitary force trained by Belgium) revolted plunging the country into uncertainty. Later Belgium along with the United States engineered the secession of the mineral-rich region of Katanga.

Lumumba requested the intervention of the United Nations in an effort to maintain some semblance of an international balance of forces in Congo. Nonetheless, the UN would act to isolate Lumumba leading to a coup and the subsequent capture and brutal execution of the revolutionary leader and his close comrades in January 1961.


20 July 2015

Leaking Nuclear Waste from Cold War threatens health of Micronesia

Deadly dome of Runit Island leaking radioactive waste

A giant, concrete dome filled with radioactive waste looms above Runit Island, and it’s leaking. Locals call it “The Tomb”.

Runit (or Cactus) dome was used for Cold War nuclear testing by the US government for 10 years from 1948. There were 42 tests in total on Enewetak Atoll, including 22 explosions on platforms, barges and underwater in the space of just three months in 1958, just before a moratorium on atomic testing.

In the late 1970s, an estimated 73,000 cubic metres of contaminated topsoil was deposited in the Cactus nuclear test crater beneath the dome, according to a report commissioned by the US government.

It was only supposed to be a temporary measure — but the dome remains.

Scientists now fear that a major storm, typhoon or other natural disaster could damage the 46cm-thick concrete dome, releasing nuclear waste into the sea, The Guardian reports.

The US Department of Energy insists cracks in the dome are merely cosmetic, a result of drying and shrinking of the half-submerged dome, but there are plans for repairs.

The 2013 report states that this is to satisfy local concerns, but adds that rainwater could infiltrate through the cracks, possibly affecting groundwater flow and “radionuclide migration into the marine environment”.

Inhabitants of Runit were resettled on nearby Enewetak Island in 1980. Even in the early days, concerns were raised over human exposure to radiation through locally grown food, with resettlers resorting to cans of spam, Columbia University’s Michael Gerrard wrote last year in The New York Times.

Runit remains uninhabited, home only to abandoned bunkers and cables, but locals still visit to fish and salvage scrap metal. It sounds dangerous, but impoverished Marshall Islanders say they have no choice.

And just because Runit is remote, doesn’t mean other countries are totally immune from its influence. A report published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal last year traced plutonium found in Guangdong province in the South China Sea back to the Marshall Islands.

Professor Alex Sen Gupta, from the University of NSW, told news.com.au that it was likely the radioactive material would be diluted to a very low concentration by the time it reached other countries, but said it would be of serious local concern.

“If radioactive material is leaching over a long period of time, you get bioaccumulation,” he said. “It’s the same as when oysters in a river magnify a situation.

“There’s a reasonable population in that area, and if radioactive waste is hanging around, it could be a problem.”

Runit is not the only Pacific island dealing with a nuclear legacy. “Poor islands have to deal with the mess left by large governments,” Professor Gupta said.

An association of governments in French Polynesia is preparing to ask France for nearly a billion US dollars in compensation for damage caused by nuclear weapons tests around Mururoa Atoll, The Independent reported last year.

Other atolls in the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, have shared this dubious honour. The very first US hydrogen bomb test vaporised the islet of Elugelab in 1952. Then Bikini Atoll became the site of the country’s most powerful hydrogen bomb detonation, codename Bravo, set off on its reef in 1954.

A fireball shot into the air at 480km/h, taking millions of tons of sand, coral and marine life with it. Locals were moved to Kili, a small island with few resources, where they faced starvation. Many returned to Bikini Island, despite the contamination of its water wells, breadfruit and coconut crabs, which were found to be too radioactive for human consumption. Many now rely on US rice and canned goods to survive.

The nuclear crisis continues out in the Pacific. But it’s far enough away for everyone to forget about it.

14 July 2015

1848 Emancipation in the Virgin Islands: Where do we go from here?

167th Anniversary of Emancipation
An Address by

Gerard M. Emanuel
July 3, 2015
Frederiksted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands

Image result for Gerard M. EmanuelGerard Emanuel is an adjunct professor in the St. Croix Campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. He was an elected member to the Virgin Islands Fifth Constitutional Convention, and was the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Commission on Status and Federal Relations which conducted the only political status referendum in the history of the territory in 1993. July 3rd each year is commemorated by the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, formerly the Danish West Indies, as the emancipation from physical slavery. The territory was subsequently transferred to the U.S. in 1917.

Peace and Greetings to all!  Today, July 3, 2015, marks the 167th anniversary of the emancipation of Virgin Islanders from physical slavery.  The attainment of freedom by our enslaved African ancestors on July the 3rd 1848 is certainly the most important accomplishment that affected all Africans in the VI.  Although it was a self-determined effort, it was not a complete attempt at self-determination.  This is the first main point of this presentation.  It is a departure from my earlier speeches and writings.  

For example, in the brochure prepared for the 150th anniversary celebration of emancipation in 1998, I wrote that “150 years ago, enslaved Africans on St. Croix fully exercised their inalienable right of self-determination.  They executed a socio-economic coup and liberated themselves from the chains of chattel slavery.” (See p. 2 of the brochure).  However, in the years since then, I have revisited the event and subjected it to closer and more objective scrutiny, mostly within the context of self-determination.  

Resultantly, my position has changed. Notwithstanding this change, I still hold that nothing that we have accomplished either before or since then has had such a major status changing impact on all African Virgin Islanders. 

Now some of you might be scratching your heads and whispering, has Mr. Emanuel forgotten the accomplishments of Queen Mary and the workers due to the “Fire Bun of 1878”?  

Has he forgotten Queen Coziah and the Coal Workers on St. Thomas?  

He certainly has not forgotten what David Hamilton Jackson, Rothschild Francis, Valdemar Hill, Cyril King, Mario Moorhead, Adelbert Bryan, Dr. Carlyle Corbin, his cousins Lezmore and Gene Emanuel, the Virgin Islands Action Group, the St. Croix Retirees Association, We Grow Food Inc. on St. Thomas, and others have done individually and collectively in the area of self-determination?  

No I have not.  

I am not quite ready for the Herbert Grigg Home for the Elderly yet.  Just follow my line of thinking closely.  First let me indicate how I am using the word “self-determination”.  In this presentation, self-determination means “the right of a people to decide upon its own form of government without coercion or outside influence.”  This is straight from Webster’s dictionary.  Therefore any attempt to put Virgin Islanders in a position to exercise greater autonomy, is what I mean by self-determination.  

The Emancipation of 1848 was a single event that was conceived, planned and carried out mostly by enslaved persons on St. Croix that did this to an extent that was remarkable for that time.  It significantly affected the status of every enslaved African in the entire Danish West Indies, in less than one day of self-determined actions.  As far as I can remember, no single event in 167 years even comes close to this. The persons and events mentioned previously, affected persons usually on one island, or their efforts took place over a period of time.

Now it is not because we have not tried that we have not accomplished any status change comparable to the July 3, 1848 Emancipation.  Yes we now elect our own governors and senators.  We choose our judges on the local and Supreme Court levels.  We have also had constitutional conventions and status commissions. Aren’t these achievements evidence of self-determination?  Yes they are, but even after all of these “advances”, we still are a colony as we were under Danish rule, except with a few embellishments.  

Moreover, none of them have produced any fundamental change in our status as the 1848 emancipation did. The US Congress can annul any law passed by the VI Government, or make any court decision either apply or not apply to us without our input, as in the case of the recent Supreme Court ruling on citizenship in American Samoa, or the very recent decision on Same-Sex Marriages.  Further, none of the “advances” we made, produced a fundamental change in our ability to be self-determined, as the Emancipation of 1848 did.  

Now those of you, who know VI history might still be saying, wait a minute.  What about the African revolutions before the Emancipation of 1848 - especially the November 23rd 1733 revolution on St. John?  For those of you who do not remember this event, on this date the island and government on St. John were taken over for half of a year from the Danish authorities by a brilliant and well-planned strategy that was executed by our enslaved African ancestors living on that island. Dr. Gilbert Sprauve, Professor Sele Adeyami, Educator Leba Olaniyi and others, discuss this event in detail when they lead pilgrimages to Fortberg, the site of the takeover, every November 23rd. 

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Incidentally, November 23rd is also the birthdate of Professor Gene Emanuel, who was one of the main presenters on these pilgrimages, before his untimely passing a few years ago.  In any event, the Danes were not able to retake control of the island from the Africans until they enlisted assistance from several other European countries.

Other than this revolution, there were two documented attempts by our African ancestors to take over the island and government of St. Croix in 1746 and 1759.  In the latter attempt, the Africans had even gone so far as to choose who would be the governor and his assistants.  Both of these plots failed because of the loose tongue of one of the planners.

Notwithstanding the fact that none of these self-determination attempts succeeded in effectuating a permanent change, I consider each of them to be a fundamental and complete self-determination effort, because they  included not only the physical liberation of the enslaved Africans, but also the governing of the island by them.  Contrastingly, the Emancipation of July 3rd, 1848, did not include the takeover of the government by the Africans.  That is why I consider it an incomplete self-determination attempt. Be that as it may though, none of the attempts before July the 3rd, 1848, produced a permanent change in the status of all enslaved persons in the then Danish West Indies. 

This is why even though the Enslaved African Emancipation of July 1848 was an incomplete self-determination attempt, it stands above all other complete or incomplete self-determination attempts either before or after it on any of the Virgin Islands because it was permanently successful in achieving its limited aims. 

Nevertheless though, what I am leading up to and will say next might seem like a contradiction and shock some of you who have listened to our beloved historian, Mario Moorhead, praise two of the leaders of the Emancipation of 1848 - namely General Buddoe and Admiral Martin King, for many years from this very same bandstand.

As discussed above, because the slave emancipation attempt on St. John and the two on St. Croix in the 1700’s included in addition to physical emancipation, specific plans to govern the respective islands by the Africans, this singular feature makes them greater and more complete attempts at self-determination than the Emancipation of July 3rd, 1848.  
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Now please listen carefully.  Yes!  I said it! The attempts on St. John and the two on St Croix in the 1700’s constituted greater and more complete attempts at self-determination than the Emancipation of July 3, 1848 on St. Croix.  This is a key point that we tend to overlook, but Neville Hall in his groundbreaking work, “Slave Society in the Danish West Indies”, did not.  On pages 210 & 211, he indicated that the Emancipation of 1848 was one “approved” by the Danish Governor.  Every institution of government and law remained the same other than the fact that slavery was no longer legal. 

He further wrote that this type of emancipation prevented the type sought by the Akans, and he might have been referring to the one I mentioned previously on St. John, as well as the Haitian Revolution, where the Africans did not ask or demand their freedom, but they took full control of the government on those islands.  Hall also named the last chapter in his book, which discussed in detail the July 3, 1848 Emancipation events and the court cases, etc., “THE VICTOR VANQUISHED”.  

What does this mean?  Hall’s view is that yes, the enslaved Africans on St. Croix in 1848 achieved their ultimate goal - physical freedom.  But because they did not dare to “turn the wheel full circle”, they “were made to suffer the fate of the vanquished.”  In other words, since it seems as though the Africans on St. Croix in 1848 were satisfied to be only physically free, because their emancipation plans did not include taking control of the government from the Danes, they suffered the consequences of their incomplete revolution.  They ended up as though they were the defeated party. Buddoe, their chief leader, was deported, never to be seen or heard from again. Nothing else changed fundamentally in their condition. The Labor Law of 1849 made sure of this.  

In fact, things got worse.  Even though they now were all able to earn money for their labor, it was barely sufficient to pay for everything that had been provided by the plantation owners before. This left them virtually penniless.  So even though they were physically free, they were still economically and politically in bondage.   However, were they really physically free?  

In Mario Moorhead’s book “SHE AND ME”, this issue was raised in his discussion of the relationship between Mary Thomas, popularly known as “Queen Mary” and her lover Joe Parris, both of whom were prominent leaders in the Laborers’ uprising of 1878, which we call the “Fire Bun”.  They lived and worked on different estates. Due to the restrictions of the Labor Act, but particularly because of restrictions from his employer, Mr. Parris could not freely move to marry and live with his fiancée, Queen Mary, without giving up his job.

Now this leads me straight to the second main point of this presentation.  After you hear it, you will be able to see and better understand why some of us get technical and call the accomplishment of July 3rd 1848, only “Physical Emancipation”.  This is not done just to be critical of what our ancestors accomplished, but to be honest and accurate about precisely what they did achieve.  

The second main point is this. Although Emancipation Day is a major highlight in our history, it not only was an incomplete emancipation attempt, but it also only represented the most elementary or lowest form of freedom – physical freedom.  Let me repeat this.  If we are honest, although the freedom declaration on July 3rd, 1848, which we commemorate and celebrate today, was a seminal occurrence, what was achieved 167 years ago, only represents the most elementary or lowest form of freedom.  

As we all know, our Crucian ancestors executed a well-planned and organized protest in Frederiksted, beginning on the evening of July 2nd, 1848, which forced Governor General Peter von Scholten to grant them their freedom from physical slavery the next day.  This was a revolution in their status and way of life.  From the evening of July 3, 1848, in theory or by law, they could choose where they wanted to work and get paid.  However, as we learned 30 years after in 1878, and as I discussed previously in the case of Queen Mary and Joe Parris, were they really physically free? Whatever physical freedom they achieved, was squashed by the Labor Act of January 1849, which stipulated a set of working regulations that were almost as harsh as physical slavery, as well as by restrictions of their employers.  This is also why the workers needed to protest again in what we call the “Fire Bun” of October 1, 1878.

Later on in this presentation, I will expand some more on my controversial and probably unpopular main points, which are that while Physical Emancipation was a great accomplishment, it really was an incomplete act of self-determination, as well as the lowest form of freedom that our ancestors could have achieved.  Some of you may disagree with this point, but I have to be honest, and not give you a romantic or one-sided view of our history. 

Thus almost every time I write an essay or make a speech, I manage to include something controversial, because we must continually review and reassess our history.  Being controversial is not only my personal nature, but it seems to be the nature of the outspoken Emanuels in the Virgin Islands for at least a century.  Although I have not received much severe criticism for my statements, my grandfather, Charles H. Emanuel was not as fortunate.  He was one of four persons to criticize the US Naval Governor in a letter that was printed in the New York News in 1918 or 1919, because of the racist and inhumane treatment of several African Virgin Islanders on St. Thomas, 70 years after the emancipation.  

According to William Boyer in his well-documented history of the VI, Governor Oliver attacked “the character and reputation” of my grandfather and the other three signers of the letter by reporting to the US Director of Naval Intelligence, some legal and other character allegations that reportedly had been made against them.   My grandfather had also written a poem in the West End News of April 1915, strongly supporting David Hamilton Jackson, after he was criticized by the planters for having the audacity as a Black man to go to petition the King of Denmark.  

In 1972, Dr. Lezmore Emanuel was fired from CVI (then College of the Virgin Islands) for organizing and raising the consciousness of students as an African history Professor.  Of course the administration at the time stated other reasons as the basis for their decision. 

From the 1980’s until his departure from his physical body, Professor Gene Emanuel was harassed and not treated as the eminent scholar that he was due to his African-centered views, and because he raised the consciousness of, taught and organized African males and females in Washington D.C., on St. Thomas and throughout the Caribbean Diaspora.  

Even my brilliant adopted St. Lucian Cousin, Cletus Emanuel, was relieved of his duties as a key official in the Department of Education’s Human Resources Office, after his testimony on many topics of public concern before the Legislature, but especially because of his irrefutable statements on the fatally flawed Diageo contract.  Of course as is the typical modus operandi, other reasons were touted for the decision to terminate him.  

It seems as though whenever we Emanuel’s speak publicly, the ancestors take over, and we are not allowed to lie or hide the truth.  However, we pay the price.

So while my presentation last year focused on the important role played by women in the Emancipation, this year we concentrate on the importance of going beyond physical emancipation.  Yes we must continue to commemorate and celebrate what our ancestors have done, but we must also continue to build where they left off today. 

So what type of leadership is needed to take the next step in our continual struggle for full emancipation?  Who has the characteristics that Buddoe and D. Hamilton Jackson had in common, and which person or organization in the VI today with these attributes can take us beyond physical emancipation to fully achieve the higher levels and types of emancipation?

Don’t get me wrong!  Yes!  July 3rd 1848 still is probably the most important event in Virgin Islands history thus far, and it will remain the most important victory until we fully achieve a change in our status through attainment of the other forms of liberation and self-determination that we are missing as a people.  

Some of you already know what I am referring to, but others may be asking, what is he talking about?  Aren’t we free to go wherever we want, and do whatever we choose already?  Don’t we elect our own governor and senators? Where is he going with this?  I am really confused.  

To these persons, I ask them to be patient.  Yes, you are correct.  As was indicated earlier in this presentation, we have moved further up the road towards political and economic self-determination. But we have not achieved a fundamental change in our political or economic status that is as seminal as what physical emancipation was to the enslaved Africans in 1848.  

In other words, we have not completely achieved any of the higher forms of emancipation beyond physical emancipation. I do not have the time to go into great detail in this presentation, but I will attempt to concisely shed some light on this.

The higher forms of emancipation to which I am referring are spiritual emancipation, mental emancipation, political emancipation and economic emancipation.  Although we can work on all four at the same time, spiritual and mental emancipation need to be prioritized to provide the foundation and confidence to pursue political and economic emancipation.  

Believe it or not, our enslaved African ancestors were spiritually and mentally emancipated to some extent. Without this, they could not have accomplished what they did against the odds that confronted them.  However, we seem to have regressed as a people in these two critical areas.

This type of discussion scares some persons.  However, isn’t a principal goal of parents the desire to see their children get a good education to either get a good job, or create a job for themselves?  In other words, parents want to see their children eventually become fully emancipated at least physically and economically from them.  

Therefore, why don’t we all have the same expectation for our territory?  Are we too dumb or too incompetent to become independent?  Or are we too afraid?  We attend the same schools and universities as our brothers and sisters in the rest of the Caribbean, and those in other countries throughout the world.  Yet we become spiritually and mentally paralyzed when it comes to confidently taking the steps beyond physical emancipation to change our status politically, and economically.  We are supposed to be a leading territory in the Caribbean, but most other islands have caught up and surpassed us in these two areas.

To get beyond this, we must become fully, spiritually and mentally emancipated.  Spiritual Emancipation includes knowing and believing in who we truly are, and directly experiencing the presence of a higher power within us, that gives us the confidence that whatever we conceive and truly believe in our hearts, we have already achieved.  It also gives us the strength to be guided by moral principles and virtues which build our character and integrity, and serve as the basis for our decision making.

Mental emancipation includes having total self-confidence in our education, training and thinking abilities, which will motivate us to make decisions and act victoriously from a position of strength, in our own self-interest as a people, to continue to build a solid foundation in our communities that will put us on the road to achieving complete political and economic emancipation and independence.

Many of the persons, who have been at the forefront of this battle, are now senior citizens.  We must mentor, encourage and support the brilliant young minds, who are graduating from our high schools to go forth and pursue their academic and career ambitions, but implore them not forget where they came from, and always be willing to return and take their rightful place as leaders in their homeland.  

I am really happy that the valedictorian of St. Croix Central High School’s Class of 2015, Miss Bria James, agreed to make a presentation in today’s program.  She is a shining example of what our youth can accomplish when they raise their consciousness.  If we succeed in doing this with other youth, we will be well on the road to achieving the three other forms of emancipation, which will complete our goal of complete self-determination.

Thank you for listening. I know that I did not adequately discuss what all we need to do to transcend physical emancipation; however, this is not a classroom, and you are not my students.  My aim was not to provide a plan of action.  It was just to point out that we should not be comfortable with what our ancestors have accomplished. 

We are all leaders and followers together, and as such we simply need as much information, enlightenment and motivation as possible to organize ourselves and do what we know we must if this territory and its people are not only to survive, but thrive as we move forward in the 21st century and beyond.  

Enjoy the rest of the program and this weekend of self-determination.

13 July 2015

U.N. Committee calls on U.S. to fund Guam political status campaign

Territory's representative, expert addressed 
2015 United Nations Decolonization Seminar in May 

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The Question of Guam
U.N. Decolonization Committee 
June 2015

Resolution adopted by the 
Special Committee on Decolonization

Taking note of the working paper prepared by the Secretariat on Guam and other relevant information,

Noting the statement made by the representative of the Governor of Guam at the Caribbean regional seminar held in Managua from 19 to 21 May 2015, in which he presented an update on the efforts of Guam towards decolonization, including by securing funding for the public education programme on self-determination, and on the engagement of the Guam Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation and Exercise of Chamorro Self-Determination in reinforcing public awareness in order to address the limited and distorted understanding of decolonization,

Noting also the concern expressed by the representative of the Governor about the reinstatement of a lawsuit challenging the voting restrictions for the Territory’s plebiscite on self-determination,

Cognizant of the efforts made by the Guam Commission on Decolonization to promote in the Territory the holding of a plebiscite on self-determination, to populate the decolonization registry, as required by public law, to enhance the ability to expediently register those who have not yet been registered and to identify and secure territorial and federal resources for a self-determination education programme,

Aware that, under United States law, the relations between the territorial Government and the federal Government in all matters that are not the programme responsibility of another federal department or agency are under the general administrative supervision of the Secretary of the Interior,

Recalling that, in a referendum held in 1987, the registered and eligible voters of Guam endorsed a draft Guam Commonwealth Act that would establish a new framework for relations between the Territory and the administering Power, providing for a greater measure of internal self-government for Guam and recognition of the right of the Chamorro people of Guam to self-determination for the Territory,

Aware that negotiations between the administering Power and the territorial Government on the draft Guam Commonwealth Act ended in 1997 and that Guam has subsequently established a non-binding plebiscite process for a self-determination vote by the eligible Chamorro voters,

Cognizant of the importance of the administering Power continuing to implement its programme of transferring surplus federal land to the Government of Guam,

Noting that the people of the Territory have called for reform in the programme of the administering Power with respect to the thorough, unconditional and expeditious transfer of land property to the people of Guam,

Aware of the deep concern expressed by civil society and other parties regarding the potential social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of the planned transfer of additional military personnel of the administering Power to the Territory, 

Conscious that immigration into Guam has resulted in the indigenous Chamorros becoming a minority in their homeland,

1. Welcomes the convening of the Guam Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation and Exercise of Chamorro Self-Determination and its ongoing work on a self-determination vote, as well as its public education efforts;

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2. Stresses that the decolonization process in Guam should be compatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

3. Calls once again upon the administering Power to take into consideration the expressed will of the Chamorro people as supported by Guam voters in the referendum of 1987 and as subsequently provided for in Guam law regarding Chamorro self-determination efforts, encourages the administering Power and the territorial Government to enter into negotiations on the matter, and stresses the need for continued close monitoring of the overall situation in the Territory;

4. Requests the administering Power, in cooperation with the territorial Government, to continue to transfer land to the original landowners of the Territory, to continue to recognize and to respect the political rights and the cultural and ethnic identity of the Chamorro people of Guam and to take all measures necessary to address the concerns of the territorial Government with regard to the question of immigration;

5. Also requests the administering Power to assist the Territory by facilitating public outreach efforts, including through the funding of the public education campaign, consistent with Article 73 b of the Charter, and in that regard calls upon the relevant United Nations organizations to provide assistance to the Territory, if requested, and welcomes the recent outreach work by the territorial Government;

6. Further requests the administering Power to cooperate in establishing programmes for the sustainable development of the economic activities and enterprises of the Territory, noting the special role of the Chamorro people in the development of Guam.