DoD Plans to “Acquire” More Land and Build Firing Range Complex at Pågat Village Remain Unchanged

by Leevin Camacho on Thursday, January 20, 2011

A press release by WAG sent out this morning to clear up any confusion about DoD’s plans:

Officials from the Department of Defense 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.”

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Some Asia-Pacific Historical Context….A Mark Driscoll CounterPunch Article

This article just in from Auntie Mart:

“Good look at US military’s history & relationship w/Japan & people of Okinawa. This article gives us a good idea of what we can expect from our ‘good neighbors.’” -A. Mart

http://www.counterpunch.org/driscoll11022010.html

Undermining of Democracy in Japan
When the Pentagon “Kill Machines” Came to an Okinawan Paradise

By MARK DRISCOLL

When I arrived at the small village of Takae in the northernmost part of the main island of Okinawa to spend 5 days at a sit-in protest there in mid-July, my first image of the place was the unusual municipal charter that greeted me as I got off the bus. Codified in 1996, the residents pledge to: “1. Love nature and strive to create a beautiful environment resplendent with flowers and water; 2. Value our traditional culture, while always striving to learn new things; and 3. Create a municipality in which people can interact in a spirit of vitality and joy.” The charter mentioned no human founding fathers of Takae, rather it followed with lavish descriptions of the village flower (azalea) and bird (sea woodpecker) in addition to details about the gorgeous waterfalls and the rare combination of seacoast and mountains that creates a strong impression of a tropical paradise; UNESCO has identified the ecological diversity of this area as among the richest in the world. The sense of paradise is what brought Ashimine Genji to Takae ten years ago. Ashimine, a native of Okinawa who moved to the Japanese mainland during the economic bubble period in the mid-1980s, moved back to Okinawa when he got tired of the frenetic Tokyo life and exhausting wage labor. With his lover he bought some land in the mountains amidst waterfalls, animals and birds and started raising their 3 kids, while constructing a small organic restaurant. During my interview with him he insisted that the family was committed to living as simply, slowly, and sustainably as possible, and they deliberately spent the first two years in Takae without electricity, reluctantly attaching to a grid only when their oldest kid’s complaints wouldn’t stop.

It’s hard to avoid the descriptive mantra of Okinawan life as “simple and slow” in Japanese lifestyle magazines (with, in the last two years, “sustainable” [saiseisan] commonly appended) and perusal of these magazines convinced Naoko and Kôji Morioka to relocate to Takae four years ago. Amateur organic farmers and part-time artists raised in Tokyo, they had lived in Africa, India and Nepal before relocating with their two small kids to Takae to start full-time organic rice farming. Also refusing electricity, they built a small house from scratch just 30 yards north of a gorgeous waterfall and 300 yards from the sea, determined both to pioneer a new path of zero growth against Japanese postmodern capitalism and to enjoy the close community of Takae, consisting of farmers, fisherfolk and several convivial story-tellers/drunks. While about a fourth of Takae’s 160 residents are eco-conscious transplants from Tokyo and their kids, several claim descendants going back a millennium who have enjoyed the fruits (mango) and vegetables that grow wild in the area. Right smack in the middle of this sustainable paradise is where a large part of the newest US military base is about to be built.

Takae residents were kept in the dark about the base until just before construction was to begin. Leaks, reported in the Okinawa Times in late 2006, forced the Japanese Defense Ministry to hold an information session in early 2007. It was only here that the Ashimines and Moriokas were informed that the main helicopter base for the US military in Japan was about to be built in their backyard, including facilities for 3 Osprey heli-planes. When the Defense Ministry showed the people of Takae a Power Point slide of the projected base area, they realized that two of their homes would be within 400 meters of the proposed new base. Ashimine recalled how he felt after the session. “One minute I was living a life of harmony with nature with my family and friends, and the next minute I was being told that these killing machines (kiru- mashin) were coming to within a few hundred meters of my house; the disconnect (iwakan) was overwhelming” (Ku-yon June 2010; 101). Within a few months, Takae locals obtained a fuller picture of what was going on: based on a secret agreement between the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the US Pentagon made in 1996—finally signed into a dubious kind of legality in February 2009—the large, but increasingly obsolete US military base Futenma in central Okinawa was to be relocated with completely new infrastructure to northern Okinawa. The plan was to transfer the infrastructure of Futenma to the smaller US base Camp Schwab located 20 miles from Takae. But airport and helicopter facilities were necessary to fill out Futenma’s capacity and this is where Takae and the equally pristine fishing village of Henoko, 30 minutes southeast of Takae, would come into play. The old airport at Futenma would be replaced with a new V-shaped one carved out of the beach in Henoko, while Takae would get all the CH-47 and CH-54 helicopters together with the behemoth Ospreys.

Henoko’s proximity to Camp Schwab has created a palpable anti-base sentiment there, and local activists started mobilizing opposition to the proposed airport construction in 2004. With help from the all-women anti-base group Naha Broccoli, situated in the Okinawan capital of Naha, activist information sessions and bus tours of the proposed base areas began in June 2007 which jumpstarted regular contact among Takae, Henoko and Naha. Encouraged by activist friends in Tokyo to go Okinawa to look around, in July 2007, with about 40 others, I participated in the second Broccoli bus tour and was stunned—but I should have known better. The lack of transparency on the side of the Pentagon and the deafness to local Japanese concerns were standard neocolonial postures of US base presence in Asia going back to just after World War II. But witnessing the sustained protest in Henoko by anti-war activists spanning 3 generations inspired all of us on the tour. The required environmental assessment for new base construction had been underway for over a year and Henoko activists were doing their best to disrupt it, including a blockade of Japanese Navy vessels with cordons of local fishing boats and, with air tanks and wet suits, conducting underwater direction action against young Japanese Navy divers trying to complete the seabed assessment. In November 2007 a Henoko activist almost died when the breathing line to his airtank was severed.

Just after our bus tour, protest signs and colorful anti-base paintings started to show up around the two main gates to the newly fenced-in Takae helicopter facility. By August 2007, Rie Ishihara, a Takae mother of two started daily sit-ins in front of the main entrance by herself; soon she was joined by other locals and then by Naha activists. Quickly, anti-base Japanese started coming from the mainland, often devoting one day of their Okinawa vacation week sitting in at Takae. The mushrooming anti-base movement in Takae caught the Japanese Defense Ministry in Okinawa off-guard and when the environment assessment group started its two-year survey at the Takae site a year later, the Okinawan office of the Japanese Defense Ministry—the local defender of the US bases— preemptively took the whole town to court, serving 15 Takae residents a summons for “disrupting traffic” on Dec. 16, 2008. Ishihara told me that when she got the summons she thought it was a practical joke as everyone knows there is no traffic in Takae and a few local residents even refuse to drive cars because of the impact on the environment. But this was no joke, as the drawn-out legal hearings lasted a year and forced the Takae farmers to spend money on lawyers and court fees. On December 11, the provincial court in Naha ruled in favor of 13 defendants, although it ruled against Ashimine and the head of the Takae residents anti-base group Toshio Isa. Isa and Ashimine can now be forced to stand trial in Tokyo at any point the Japanese government decides.

While the events were unfolding in Okinawa, politics on Japan’s mainland were revealing similar anti-US patterns. During the campaigning for the crucial Lower House elections in July 2009, the upstart Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) promised in their manifesto to establish a “different policy with respect to the US-Japan alliance,” one central aspect of which would be a “significant re-thinking (minaoshi) of the US military in Japan including the situation of all the US bases”.  Soon to be Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama refined his critique of the US-Japan security framework by focusing on the unfair “burden” placed on Okinawa by having some 24,000 US troops stationed there, including 18,000 Marines—65% of the US military presence in Japan installed on a land mass less than 1% of Japan’s total. The party in power for all but one year since the end of the US Occupation of Japan, the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had been losing support since it ordered Japanese soldiers to deploy to war-zones in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002-03 in the face of Japanese public opposition polling at 80-90%.

The historic victory of the DPJ over the LDP in August 2009 should be seen as the culmination of multiple forms of opposition to the LDP’s blind allegiance to the US, together with a pragmatic understanding that Japan’s economic future lies more closely entwined with China. In addition to pledging to reform aspects of Japan’s military-security framework with the US, the DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa promised to enhance ties to China beyond the economic sphere, where China is now Japan’s largest trading partner. The double whammy of a confirmation that closer ties with China are beneficial together with a groundswell of resistance to the US military swept the DPJ into power. Right away, new Prime Minister Hatoyama went to work on his party’s campaign promise and started exploring ways to reform the US-Japan alliance; in a flush of post-victory confidence he wondered out loud what a future security framework would look like with “zero US troops stationed in Japan” (chûryû naki ampô). Several months earlier, Ozawa insisted that, “the [US Navy] 7th Fleet alone is sufficient,” meaning that as far as the DPJ leaders were concerned, the remaining 35,000 US troops should begin packing up their things to leave Japan permanently.

Although the US media underplayed this challenge, the Pentagon understood exactly what was at stake and wasn’t liking it. Despite President Obama’s cautious wait and see approach to the democratic regime change in Japan, the Pentagon immediately starting sparring with the Japanese Ambassador to the US Ichiro Fujisaki in Washington over issues like the Guam Treaty signed by the weakened LDP in early 2009, which dictated the terms of the new base construction in Henoko/Takae and the planned move of somewhere between 3000 to 9000 of the 18,000 Marines in Okinawa to new facilities in Guam—with Japanese taxpayers forced to pay 65-70% of the costs for both the move and the new base in Guam. During the July 2009 campaign several DPJ candidates echoed the argument made by Okinawan critics that the Guam Treaty was clearly unequal because it obliged the Japanese to construct one new base in Okinawa and to contribute most of the money toward building another in Guam, while the American side merely offered an ambiguous pledge to withdraw some troops while reserving the right to change its commitments when it wanted. Furthermore, critics argued that the Guam Treaty was illegal as it violated Article 95 of Japan’s constitution, which stipulates that any law applicable only to one locale requires the consent of the majority of the voters of that province, and support for the construction of the new base among Okinawans had been almost completely absent. Defense Secretary Robert Gates traveled to Tokyo for two days of meetings in late October 2009 clearly intending to muzzle the critiques of the US presence in Japan and to remind the new DPJ leaders of the post-WW II status quo, where senior (US) and junior (Japan) partners would continue to work together to contain China and North Korea. “It is time to move on,” Gates scolded the new Japanese leaders on October 22, calling DPJ proposals to reopen the base issues “counterproductive.” Then, deliberately insulting the DPJ in the eyes of almost all Japanese commentators Gates refused to attend the welcoming ceremony and formal dinner organized for him at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo on October 23. In enumerating the insults and behind the scenes threats made by Gates in Tokyo a few days after his departure, the Okinawan newspaper the Ryukyu Shimpo lambasted the “diplomacy of intimidation” practiced by the US in its editorial of October 26.

By several accounts, Defense Secretary Gates’ intimidation in late October 2009 ended the honeymoon Hatoyama and the DPJ were enjoying with the Japanese public. From that point on, the Japanese media grew increasingly vocal in criticizing Hatoyama’s sudden lack of political focus as “cluelessly running all over the place” (meitô). With respect to the issue of the new US base in Okinawa, he actually was running all over Japan trying to find an alternative location to Henoko/Takae since he was informed by Gates that the US Pentagon was unwilling to give up its plans for a new base there in Henoko/Takae. For his part, the DPJ’s pro-China leader Ichiro Ozawa responded to the Pentagon’s intimidation with a little of his own, and in November arranged a high-level trip to Beijing bringing 140 DPJ politicians and 400 other supporters to meet his friends. But the US and it’s LDP allies in Japan held the trump card in this high-stakes game as just a few weeks after Ozawa’s return from China in December he was greeted with a deafening chorus of accusations of financial impropriety. Based on rumors that dogged Ozawa months before the DPJ victory, on January 16, 2010 three of his former secretaries were indicted on charges that Ozawa neglected to publicly report the dormitory he purchased for them in Tokyo. During the ensuing trial it turned out that he didn’t declare it the first year, but did so properly from the second year on. The prosecutors never had any evidence of Ozawa’s direct involvement and his main secretary testified that Ozawa himself knew nothing about the failure to report. It became clear during the trial in March that the prosecutors were trying to use this court case to uncover facts in a second, potentially more serious case involving kickbacks from Nishimatsu Construction. Ozawa has been cleared of the first charge and has yet to be indicted for the second.

But the damage to the DPJ had been done. With Hatoyama unable to fulfill his campaign promise to prevent new base construction in Okinawa and reduce the US military’s footprint in Japan, the well-covered allegations of dirty money involving Ozawa and other DPJ leaders made the Japanese public think that the modus operandi of the corruption-prone LDP and the new DPJ were ultimately indistinguishable. The week after Ozawa’s secretaries were indicted, support for the DPJ dropped below 50%, and continued to plummet thereafter. Less than 9 months after their overwhelming victory, on May 25, 2010 Hatoyama announced that with all other options exhausted, construction on the new US base in Henoko/Takae would move forward. In dramatic contrast to their position of August 20009, Hatoyama spoke for the DPJ in saying that now, the US and Japan are in “complete agreement” on military-security matters. The DPJ’s coalition party, the leftist Social-Democratic Party, subsequently withdrew from the government; finally on June 2, Hatoyama himself was forced to resign. The Democratic Party, along with the democratic process, has been successfully undermined in Japan.

Japanese taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the US military presence in their own country. In Okinawa in recent decades, 80% of base costs are payed by Japan’s Foreign Ministry directly to the US who then pay “rent” to a few Okinawan landowners, a situation designed originally to camouflage the fact that the US military simply took at gunpoint the Okinawan land it wanted for new base construction. As the respected historian of post-WW II Okinawa Moriteru Arasaki has described in several books, the forced seizures (kyôsei sesshû) of Okinawan land by the US were largely of lush agricultural flatlands in the center of the main island, where the Futenma, Hanson and Kadena bases are located today. Arasaki explains that 44% of the pre-WW II rice farming area in Okinawa was stolen by the US, and these fields were filled in with sea water, sand and cement, a combination guaranteeing that they can never again be used as farmland. This situation transformed Okinawa from being an exporter of agricultural goods for 500 years into an importer overnight and made Okinawa dependent on shrinking development assistance from Tokyo. Moreover, the Marines have not proven to be the roles models for the new post-WW II democratic order that the US Occupation promised the Japanese people they would be. But in fairness to individual Marines, the legal structure of the Status of Forces (SOFA) agreement excuses outlaw behavior as soldiers are largely shielded from Japanese law. It took the gang rape of a 5th-grade Okinawan girl by 3 Marines in 1995 to slightly alter the situation of total extraterritoriality enjoyed until then. Furthermore, as Okinawa Times journalist Tomohiro Yara puts it in his 2009 book The US-Japan Alliance of Sand, the absurd fiction of owner (Japan) and renter (US military) encourages bad boy behavior in Okinawa. “What do you expect,” Yara quips, “when what has to be the most lenient landlord in the world pays 80% of the rent, doesn’t charge for any of the utilities, and then has to do the repairs himself when the renter decides to trash the place?”

But the last three years of anti-US sentiment in Okinawa has brought with it a renewed desire for independence—from the US military and from the Japanese government. The economic austerity facing Japan means that the old LDP mode of silencing Okinawan opposition through bribes and development assistance—what Okinawan leftists call “sweets (ame) to make us forget the whippings (muchi) handed out by the Marines”—is no longer feasible. Tokyo started being stingy about handing out sweet treats to Okinawa over a decade ago, leaving only the “whip” of the US military for Okinawans. The predictable outcome of the withdrawal of the sweets is the almost complete absence of Okinawan support for the new US base; a May 31, 2010 poll conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper found only 6.3% of Okinawans supporting it.

Mark Driscoll is an Associate Professor of East Asian History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He can be reached at: mdriscol@email.unc.edu

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Lunch…with a side of racism?

A couple of weeks ago I got a forwarded email from one of my fellow members of Famoksaiyan telling me this story that PNC has finally done a piece on. So it goes, while having lunch at a restaurant on Guam, Cara Flores-Mays, a member of We Are Guahan, overheard officials from the Joint Guam Program Office and Marine personnel having a flippant discussion about the marketing strategy for the build-up. As I understand the story, the snippet of conversation was full of arrogance and condescension towards the Chamorro people. They discussed ways to infiltrate the communities by way of the mayors and the pro-military stories of the manamko’ (Chamorro elders), exploiting the respect that we have for our elders.  There was even a moment when one of the participants, JGPO Colonel Paula Conhain, ridiculed an older Chamorro man for the way he speaks and his lack of teeth.

Cara immediately wrote about her experience in an open letter and sent it out on the internet. One of the participants, Marines Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Aisha Bakkar, found her way to the letter via facebook and wrote a pretty heartfelt apology, taking responsibility for the conversation and admonishing the disrespect.

Still, as Cara touches on in her response to the apology (the first comment to Bakkar’s apology), Bakkar is part of a system that’s doing its thing, no matter how much she apologizes for it. It’s her duty to apologize, it’s others’ duty to shrug it off. Case in point, a few hours after this PNC piece came out, Col. Conhain issued a tepid apology of the “I’m sorry you feel that way” brand, giving the air that she only vaguely recognizes she did anything wrong.

Hm, it’s easy to drown in the negative in this situation, but Cara brought a positive into this whole thing. That conversation could have easily stayed at that table, in that restaurant that day, if Cara hadn’t blown it up. Way to keep them in check! And that’s what we got to keep on doing. Read the action letter below that Cara wrote as follow-up and contact your congressperson.

Dear Friends,

You may remember a letter that I sent a few weeks back where I detailed a conversation that I’d overheard at Mermaid Tavern. Though I did not know everyone at the table, they have since been identified. What I found particularly interesting is that the woman who made insulting comments about the older Chamorro man is Paula Conhain, JGPO Communications Director. The other Colonel present was Colonel Pond. Although COL Bakkar has reached out to apologize for the conversation that took place, no one else in that group has apologized for tolerating such blatant disgust of our culture.


It was Paula Conhain, JGPO Communications Director (working both in Guam and DC) who made the comments that I referred to in this portion of my letter:

I was most disgusted by the last piece of the conversation that I overheard where this group laughed at an older Chamorro man who was not present. They made fun of the number of teeth he had left and the way he speaks (his Chamorro accent, I’m assuming).  They mocked the fact that he had received a degree at the University of Guam.

These are the people who have been assigned to work on the Guam buildup: people who have no respect for our community, for the native language of Guam, or for people who can’t afford health care and maybe go toothless. These are people who lack the integrity to come forward to apologize, even when they’ve made a mistake. Instead, they allowed one woman, Aisha Bakkar, who was the only person who I could identify by name, to take the full fall for it.

I would encourage you to write a letter to the White House and Our Congresswoman, demanding that more respect be shown to the many sacrifices that our community has made in the name of “freedom, liberty and democracy”.  And more, it’s time for our community to be extended the same rights to freedom, liberty and democracy. This military buildup on Guam has made a mockery of democracy and has dishonored those who die fighting for it.



To contact Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo
OR Call 477-4272

To contact the White House
OR Call 202-456-1111


Biba Guåhan,si Cara Flores-Mays 

 

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Project Censored: 25 Most Underreported Stories for 2010

2. US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet

Sources:

Sara Flounders, “Add Climate Havoc to War Crimes: Pentagon’s Role in Global Catastrophe,” International Action Center, December 18, 2009, http://www.iacenter.org/o/world/climatesummit_pentagon121809.

Mickey Z., “Can You Identify the Worst Polluter on the Planet? Here’s a Hint: Shock and Awe,” Planet Green, August 10, 2009, http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tech-transport/identify-worst-polluter-planet.html.

Julian Aguon, “Guam Residents Organize Against US Plans for $15B Military Buildup on Pacific Island,” Democracy Now!, October 9, 2009, http://www.democracynow.org/ 2009/10/9/guam_residents_organize_against_us_plans.

Ian Macleod, “U.S. Plots Arctic Push,” Ottawa Citizen, November 28, 2009, http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/navy+plots+Arctic+push/2278324/story.html.

Nick Turse, “Vietnam Still in Shambles after American War,” In These Times, May 2009, http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4363/casualties_continue_in_vietnam.

Jalal Ghazi, “Cancer—The Deadly Legacy of the Invasion of Iraq,” New America Media, January 6, 2010, http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article _id=80e260b3839daf2084fdeb0965ad31ab.

Student Researchers:

Dimitrina Semova, Joan Pedro, and Luis Luján (Complutense University of Madrid)

Ashley Jackson-Lesti, Ryan Stevens, Chris Marten, and Kristy Nelson (Sonoma State University)

Christopher Lue (Indian River State College)

Cassie Barthel (St. Cloud State University)

Faculty Evaluators:

Ana I. Segovia (Complutense University of Madrid)

Julie Flohr and Mryna Goodman (Sonoma State University)

Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)

Julie Andrzejewski (St. Cloud State University)


The US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported. In spite of the evidence, the environmental impact of the US military goes largely unaddressed by environmental organizations and was not the focus of any discussions or proposed restrictions at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.

The extensive global operations of the US military (wars, interventions, and secret operations on over one thousand bases around the world and six thousand facilities in the United States) are not counted against US greenhouse gas limits. Sara Flounders writes, “By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy in general. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.”

While official accounts put US military usage at 320,000 barrels of oil a day, that does not include fuel consumed by contractors, in leased or private facilities, or in the production of weapons. The US military is a major contributor of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that most scientists believe is to blame for climate change. Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, reports, “The Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) from March 2003 through December 2007. . . . That war emits more than 60 percent that of all countries. . . . This information is not readily available . . . because military emissions abroad are exempt from national reporting requirements under US law and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

According to Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, “the greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from one agency . . . the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Throughout the long history of military preparations, actions, and wars, the US military has not been held responsible for the effects of its activities upon environments, peoples, or animals. During the Kyoto Accords negotiations in December 1997, the US demanded as a provision of signing that any and all of its military operations worldwide, including operations in participation with the UN and NATO, be exempted from measurement or reductions. After attaining this concession, the Bush administration then refused to sign the accords and the US Congress passed an explicit provision guaranteeing the US military exemption from any energy reduction or measurement.

Environmental journalist Johanna Peace reports that military activities will continue to be exempt based on an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that calls for other federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Peace states, “The military accounts for a full 80 percent of the federal government’s energy demand.”

As it stands, the Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined. Depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation from weaponry produced, tested, and used, are just some of the pollutants with which the US military is contaminating the environment. Flounders identifies key examples:

 Depleted uranium: Tens of thousands of pounds of microparticles of radioactive and highly toxic waste contaminate the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans.

 US-made land mines and cluster bombs spread over wide areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East continue to spread death and destruction even after wars have ceased.

 Thirty-five years after the Vietnam War, dioxin contamination is three hundred to four hundred times higher than “safe” levels, resulting in severe birth defects and cancers into the third generation of those affected.

 US military policies and wars in Iraq have created severe desertification of 90 percent of the land, changing Iraq from a food exporter into a country that imports 80 percent of its food.

 In the US, military bases top the Superfund list of the most polluted places, as perchlorate and trichloroethylene seep into the drinking water, aquifers, and soil.

 Nuclear weapons testing in the American Southwest and the South Pacific Islands has contaminated millions of acres of land and water with radiation, while uranium tailings defile Navajo reservations.

 Rusting barrels of chemicals and solvents and millions of rounds of ammunition are criminally abandoned by the Pentagon in bases around the world.

The United States is planning an enormous $15 billion military buildup on the Pacific island of Guam. The project would turn the thirty-mile-long island into a major hub for US military operations in the Pacific. It has been described as the largest military buildup in recent history and could bring as many as fifty thousand people to the tiny island. Chamoru civil rights attorney Julian Aguon warns that this military operation will bring irreversible social and environmental consequences to Guam. As an unincorporated territory, or colony, and of the US, the people of Guam have no right to self-determination, and no governmental means to oppose an unpopular and destructive occupation.

Between 1946 and 1958, the US dropped more than sixty nuclear weapons on the people of the Marshall Islands. The Chamoru people of Guam, being so close and downwind, still experience an alarmingly high rate of related cancer.

On Capitol Hill, the conversation has been restricted to whether the jobs expected from the military construction should go to mainland Americans, foreign workers, or Guam residents. But we rarely hear the voices and concerns of the indigenous people of Guam, who constitute over a third of the island’s population.

Meanwhile, as if the US military has not contaminated enough of the world already, a new five-year strategic plan by the US Navy outlines the militarization of the Arctic to defend national security, potential undersea riches, and other maritime interests, anticipating the frozen Arctic Ocean to be open waters by the year 2030. This plan strategizes expanding fleet operations, resource development, research, and tourism, and could possibly reshape global transportation.

While the plan discusses “strong partnerships” with other nations (Canada, Norway, Denmark, and Russia have also made substantial investments in Arctic-capable military armaments), it is quite evident that the US is serious about increasing its military presence and naval combat capabilities. The US, in addition to planned naval rearmament, is stationing thirty-six F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets, which is 20 percent of the F-22 fleet, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Some of the action items in the US Navy Arctic Roadmap document include:

 Assessing current and required capability to execute undersea warfare, expeditionary warfare, strike warfare, strategic sealift, and regional security cooperation.

 Assessing current and predicted threats in order to determine the most dangerous and most likely threats in the Arctic region in 2010, 2015, and 2025.

 Focusing on threats to US national security, although threats to maritime safety and security may also be considered.

Behind the public façade of international Arctic cooperation, Rob Heubert, associate director at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, points out, “If you read the document carefully you’ll see a dual language, one where they’re saying, ‘We’ve got to start working together’ . . . and [then] they start saying, ‘We have to get new instrumentation for our combat officers.’ . . . They’re clearly understanding that the future is not nearly as nice as what all the public policy statements say.”

Beyond the concerns about human conflicts in the Arctic, the consequences of militarization on the Arctic environment are not even being considered. Given the record of environmental devastation that the US military has wrought, such a silence is unacceptable.

Update by Mickey Z.

As I sit here, typing this “update,” the predator drones are still flying over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, the oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, and 53.3 percent of our tax money is still being funneled to the US military. Simply put, hope and change feels no different from shock and awe . . . but the mainstream media continues to propagate the two-party lie.

Linking the antiwar and environmental movements is a much-needed step. As Cindy Sheehan recently told me, “I think one of the best things that we can do is look into economic conversion of the defense industry into green industries, working on sustainable and renewable forms of energy, and/or connect[ing] with indigenous people who are trying to reclaim their lands from the pollution of the military industrial complex. The best thing to do would be to start on a very local level to reclaim a planet healthy for life.”

It comes down to recognizing the connections, recognizing how we are manipulated into supporting wars and how those wars are killing our ecosystem. We must also recognize our connection to the natural world. For if we were to view all living things, including ourselves, as part of one collective soul, how could we not defend that collective soul by any means necessary?

We are on the brink of economic, social, and environmental collapse. In other words, this is the best time ever to be an activist.

Update by Julian Aguon

In 2010, the people of Guam are bracing themselves for a cataclysmic round of militarization with virtually no parallel in recent history. Set to formally begin this year, the military buildup comes on the heels of a decision by the United States to aggrandize its military posture in the Asia-Pacific region. At the center of the US military realignment schema is the hotly contested agreement between the United States and Japan to relocate thousands of US Marines from Okinawa to Guam. This portentous development, which is linked to the United States’ perception of China as a security threat, bodes great harm to the people and environment of Guam yet remains virtually unknown to Americans and the rest of the international community.

What is happening in Guam is inherently interesting because while America trots its soldiers and its citizenry off to war to the tune of “spreading democracy” in its own proverbial backyard, an entire civilization of so-called “Americans” watch with bated breath as people thousands of miles away—people we cannot vote for—make decisions for us at ethnocidal costs. Although this military buildup marks the most volatile demographic change in recent Guam history, the people of Guam have never had an opportunity to meaningfully participate in any discussion about the buildup. To date, the scant coverage of the military buildup has centered almost exclusively around the United States and Japan. In fact, the story entitled “Guam Residents Organize Against US Plans for $15B Military Buildup on Pacific Island” on Democracy Now! was the first bona fide US media coverage of the military buildup since 2005 to consider, let alone privilege, the people’s opposition.

The heart of this story is not so much in the finer details of the military buildup as it is in the larger political context of real-life twenty-first-century colonialism. Under US domestic law, Guam is an unincorporated territory. What this means is that Guam is a territory that belongs to the United States but is not a part of it. As an unincorporated territory, the US Constitution does not necessarily or automatically apply in Guam. Instead, the US Congress has broad powers over the unincorporated territories, including the power to choose what portions of the Constitution apply to them. In reality, Guam remains under the purview of the Office of Insular Affairs in the US Department of the Interior.

Under international law, Guam is a non-self-governing territory, or UN-recognized colony whose people have yet to exercise the fundamental right to self-determination. Article 73 of the United Nations Charter, which addresses the rights of peoples in non-self-governing territories, commands states administering them to “recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants are paramount.” These “administering powers” accept as a “sacred trust” the obligation to develop self-government in the territories, taking due account of the political aspirations of the people. As a matter of international treaty and customary law, the colonized people of Guam have a right to self-determination under international law that the United States, at least in theory, recognizes.

The military buildup, however, reveals the United States’ failure to fulfill its international legal mandate. This is particularly troubling in light of the fact that this very year, 2010, marks the formal conclusion of not one but two UN-designated international decades for the eradication of colonialism. In 1990, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1990–2000 as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. To this end, the General Assembly adopted a detailed plan of action to expedite the unqualified end of all forms of colonialism. In 2001, citing a wholesale lack of progress during the first decade, the General Assembly proclaimed a second one to effect the same goal. The second decade has come and all but gone with only Timor-Leste, or East Timor, managing to attain independence from Indonesia in 2002.

In November 2009—one month after “Guam Residents Organize Against US Plans for $15B Military Buildup on Pacific Island” aired—the US Department of Defense released an unprecedented 11,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), detailing for the first time the true enormity of the contemplated militarization of Guam. At its peak, the military buildup will bring more than 80,000 new residents to Guam, which includes more than 8,600 US Marines and their 9,000 dependents; 7,000 so-called transient US Navy personnel; 600 to 1,000 US Army personnel; and 20,000 foreign workers on military construction contracts. This “human tsunami,” as it is being called, represents a roughly 47 percent increase in Guam’s total population in a four-to-six-year window. Today, the total population of Guam is roughly 178,000 people, the indigenous Chamoru people making up only 37 percent of that number. We are looking at a volatile and virtually overnight demographic change in the makeup of the island that even the US military admits will result in the political dispossession of the Chamoru people. To put the pace of this ethnocide in context, just prior to World War II, Chamorus comprised more than 90 percent of Guam’s population.

At the center of the buildup are three major proposed actions: 1) the construction of permanent facilities and infrastructure to support the full spectrum of warfare training for the thousands of relocated Marines; 2) the construction of a new deep-draft wharf in the island’s only harbor to provide for the passage of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers; and 3) the construction of an Army Missile Defense Task Force modeled on the Marshall Islands–based Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, for the practice of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In terms of adverse impact, these developments will mean, among other things, the clearing of whole limestone forests and the desecration of burial sites some 3,500 years old; the restricting of access to areas rich in plants necessary for indigenous medicinal practice; the denying of access to places of worship and traditional fishing grounds; the destroying of seventy acres of thriving coral reef, which currently serve as critical habitat for several endangered species; and the over-tapping of Guam’s water system to include the drilling of twenty-two additional wells. In addition, the likelihood of military-related accidents will greatly increase. Seven crashes occurred during military training from August 2007 to July 2008, the most recent of which involved a crash of a B-52 bomber that killed the entire crew. The increased presence of US military forces in Guam also increases the island’s visibility as a target for enemies of the United States.

Finally, an issue that has sparked some of the sharpest debate in Guam has been the Department of Defense’s announcement that it will, if needed, forcibly condemn an additional 2,200 acres of land in Guam to support the construction of new military facilities. This potential new land grab has been met with mounting protest by island residents, mainly due to the fact that the US military already owns close to one-third of the small island, the majority of which was illegally taken after World War II.

In February 2010, upon review of the DEIS, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated it “insufficient” and “environmentally unsatisfactory,” giving it the lowest possible rating for a DEIS. Among other things, the EPA’s findings suggest that Guam’s water infrastructure cannot handle the population boom and that the island’s fresh water resources will be at high risk for contamination. The EPA predicts that without infrastructural upgrades to the water system, the population outside the bases will experience a 13.1 million gallons of water shortage per day in 2014. The agency stated that the Pentagon’s massive buildup plans for Guam “should not proceed as proposed.” The people of Guam were given a mere ninety days to read through the voluminous 11,000-page document and make comments about its contents. The ninety-day comment period ended on February 17, 2010. The final EIS is scheduled for release in August 2010, with the record of decision to follow immediately thereafter.

The response to this story from the mainstream US media has been deafening silence. Since the military buildup was first announced in 2005, it was more than three years before any US media outlet picked up on the story. In fact, the October 2009 Democracy Now! interview was the first substantive national news coverage of the military buildup.

For more information on the military buildup:

We Are Guahan, http://www.weareguahan.com

Draft Environmental Impact Study Guam & Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Military Relocation, http://www.guambuildupeis.us

Center for Biological Diversity Response to DEIS, http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/
center/articles/2010/los-angeles-times-02-24-2010.html

EPA Response to Guam DEIS, http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=68298

For more information on Guam’s movement to resist militarization and unresolved colonialism:

The Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice: Lisa Linda Natividad, lisanati@yahoo.com; Hope Cristobal, ecris64@teleguam.net; Julian Aguon, julianaguon@gmail.com; Michael Lujan Bevacqua, mlbasquiat@hotmail.com; Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, victoria.lola@gmail.com

We Are Guahan—We Are Guahan Public Forum: http://www.weareguahan.com

Famoksaiyan: Martha Duenas, martduenas@yahoo.com; famoksaiyanwc.wordpress.com

 

http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/2-us-department-of-defense-is-the-worst-polluter-on-the-planet/

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Cal Screening of The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands

Happy fall y’all!

For our first fall event, West Coast Famoksaiyan, in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Anthropology Department, presents a screening of The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

6-8pm

UC Berkeley

160 Kroeber Hall

The film will run for 60 minutes, followed by a discussion led by Dr. Hope Cristobal exploring the effects of U.S. colonialism and militarism in Guahan (Guam), the largest island in the Marianas.

facebook invite

facebook page for The Insular Empire

Official website for The Insular Empire

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US Social Forum 2010: A commentary on the challenges facing our movement toward social justice

By: Dr. Hope Cristobal

This year’s US Social Forum was held in downtown Detroit, Michigan from June 22 to June 26.  As one of the 10,000 progressive activists registered for the Forum, my experience that week was both captivating and disenchanting.

I was part of a small group of indigenous Chamorus representing a local non-governmental organization (NGO).  Our group – four from Guam, one from California, and one from Boston – was well organized.   Each was strategically packed with a schedule of mandatory workshops and People’s Movement Assemblies (PMAs) in order to maximize our attendance at such an important forum.  Our goal was to bring home good solid knowledge and skills in addition to networking with strategic folks involved in issues of decolonization and self-determination.  I can tell you, in this respect, we certainly were NOT disappointed!

Our information table was also brimming with material for the American public about Guam, especially about the proposed hyper militarization of our island home by the Department of Defense.  The biggest draw to our table was this quote, spelled out in big bold white letters, “The indigenous Chamoru people of Guam who have already suffered near genocide and violent colonization for over 400 years will bear the burden of U.S. military buildup on Guam – and have been given no say in the process.”  Many people who passed by our table slowed to read the sign, shaking their heads in disbelief.  Manning the table was valuable experience for each of us.  We learned how fellow Americans knew little about what is happening in the westernmost U.S. territory of Guam.  Our efforts did not go unheeded; we received a few hundred signatures in support of our petition to stop the military buildup and to grant the Chamoru people the exercise of our legal and political Right of Self-Determination.  I do, however, wonder, “What does the American public understand about this Right and the struggles of colonized indigenous peoples in this world?”

I quickly realized through the week, that the terms “self-determination,” “anti-imperialism,” and “decolonization” appear to be the new ‘cool’ terms thrown into the political rhetoric.  I witnessed the term “self-determination” be reduced to anyone’s right to personal freedom. The truth of the matter is that self-determination in the case of the indigenous people of Guam is not just a “right,” but a “Right.”  Meaning, the Right of Self-Determination as recognized in the United Nations Charter of 1945 and other relevant United Nations documents—and further identified as “jus cogens” in the international sphere – is an inherent Right of indigenous peoples to simply exist independently from our colonial power.  This independent existence is made real through the expression of our right to freely choose our political status, or our Self-Determination.

On the third day, I was drawn toward a workshop strategizing a revolutionary movement from the left.  The workshop handout read, “building a more powerful movement and a stronger left that can defeat capitalism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, xenophobia, and gender oppression.”  What about political oppression?  The sad truth is even among revolutionaries, this struggle – familiar to many colonized indigenous people – goes unnoticed most of the time.  Colonized indigenous groups can’t yet deal with the struggles of racism, heterosexism, ableism, xenophobia, gender oppression, and other equality issues until they are allowed the basic Right to exist and have a voice.  Ultimately, an able-bodied, white, heterosexual, male can’t vote for the President of the United States or be protected under the U.S. Constitution as long as he is a resident of Guam!

There are two problems that I can see with our revolutionary movement so far.  First, when the term “self-determination” is loosely akin to anyone’s right to freely choose their future, it undermines the larger human rights struggle for indigenous people.  This struggle is a legitimate struggle for those living in colonies – indigenous or non-indigenous – especially the 16 remaining Non-Self Governing Territories around the world who go to the United Nations multiple times a year, demanding their right to exist independently from their administering power.  Secondly, discussions on social transformation will continue to fall short as long as the left continues to be blind to their own political-privilege, ignoring the fact that there are politically disenfranchised groups that truly have no political voice in their future or how they choose to live their life.  I will define political-privilege as the political advantage, benefit, or immunity enjoyed by people who can freely choose or express their governmental, civic, legal, and constitutional options and who are exempt from the burden or liabilities incurred by people who lack this privilege. Political-privilege results in laws, regulations, and political viewpoints favoring the desires, needs, and perspectives of those who have this privilege over those who do not.

What should the left do?  First of all, acknowledge that political-privilege exists in this country and the fact that there are people who are not politically recognized as legitimate entities, is an equity issue and a human rights issue.  Secondly, be aware, understand, and make distinction between the Right of Self-Determination and the right of the politically-privileged to make personal choices in their lives.  Political-privilege will continue as long as those who have it remain ignorant to the true political meaning of “Self-Determination.”  Lastly, any revolutionary strategy needs to be inclusive of the politically-underprivileged and disenfranchised.  By this inclusion, privileged folks discourage the reenactment of colonial marginalization already committed by administering Powers of colonial territories and peoples.

Ultimately, until indigenous people living in this country can be afforded our right to political equity, there can be no legitimate fight for equality.

About the author:  As an indigenous Chamoru and active member of Famoksaiyan, Dr. Hope Cristobal was born and raised on the island-territory of Guahan.  She is a licensed psychologist who specializes in the treatment and assessment of indigenous and marginalized populations, focusing on the unique situation for colonized Chamorus from Guahan. She is a community advocate at the local, national, and international levels. She has presented at a number of workshops and conferences regarding the psychosocial problems currently facing the Chamoru people in Guahan and abroad.  Her testimonies to the United Nations’ Committee on Decolonization is highlighted in a documentary film, The Insular Empire: America in the Marianas Islands. You can contact Dr. Cristobal at hope.cristobal@gmail.com.

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Christina Illarmo: USSF Presentation at the ‘American Lake’ or Ka Moana Nui?: Demilitarization Movements in the Asia-Pacific Workshop

Presentation at the
USSF – United States Social Forum
24 June 2010

‘American Lake’ or Ka Moana Nui?: Demilitarization Movements in the Asia-Pacific

The Pacific island of Guahan, where I was born and raised, has been touted to mainstream audiences as “the tip of the spear,” “the unsinkable aircraft carrier,” or as a kind of  “gas station” for U.S troops.  But this island is more than a military outpost, it’s place of waterfalls, fresh water caves, thick jungles, and warm sandy beaches. It’s also home to a loving and resilient native people who after surviving centuries of Western colonization have yet to receive their inherent right to self-determination.

We’ve been citizens since the 50’s, yet we still can’t vote for President, we aren’t represented in the senate, and our one Congressional Delegate can’t vote on the floor; but our voices are valid and our concerns are real.

This massive military buildup, which will realign troops from Okinawa to Guahan, puts our culture, environment, and our ­quality of life at risk while simultaneously violating our human rights. While Okinawa, Hawai’i, California, Philippines, and Korea have said no- we have not; and it is not because we say “yes”; it is because we were never ASKED. Our political status as a US Territory provides the United States a place wherein they may implement their plans with “no restrictions,” meaning: they can do whatever is in their best interest. When our local leaders voiced concerns during realignment negotiations, they were told that this was a “nation-to-nation” conversation.  This response reminds our people that we have never been equals within this country.  We are Americans; but then we are not.

Why does the US go so far out of its way to subjugate a peaceful little island 30 miles long and 7 miles wide with a population of 171,000?

In a simple word: LOCATION.

Any military official will tell you as a US Territory, Guahan is the only location of its kind in the Pacific, from which long-range bombers can strike nearly any target in Northeast, East and Southeast Asia. They see us as the “Diego Garcia of the Pacific”.

But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter how important the Pentagon thinks we are, this costly, immoral and unsustainable practice of forcing bases on unwilling soil has a huge price tag ($4 billion) and it is breaking the backs of the American working class while destroying the lives of native peoples abroad.

Currently, the military is Guahan’s largest landowner, occupying roughly 1/3 of the land. Air force and naval bases restricted to the civilian public have not only displaced thousands of people, they have created a unique form of racial and socioeconomic segregation in which the service people behind the fence have their own hospitals, schools, homes, parks, churches, shopping centers, camping grounds, and beaches- all on land which was mostly stolen or forcibly bought for insultingly low prices from the indigenous Chamoru people. Besides the trauma of displacement, and being forced to use the English language in place of our own, our quality of life has seen other impacts. Before much of our rich and fertile ancestral farmlands were confiscated we had sustainable agriculture. Our farmers produced over 90% of our food. Today we must rely on expensive importing with our own local production reduced to 5%.

Last November the required draft environmental impact was released, outlining plans for the buildup. Those familiar with environmental impact statements and NEPA regulations will quickly tell you that the typical length of these types of documents run somewhere around 350 pages.  However, the DEIS detailing US plans to realign Okinawan troops to Guam was over 11,000 pages and contained three separate projects (all three of which contained plans large enough to justify their own formal commenting period).  This forced residents of Guam to digest, understand, and critique this massive document within a 90 day period. Residents were welcome to submit written comments but each were only given 3 minutes to testify at a series of only 3 hearings. You can see a few of these testimonies on the Voice of Guam Youtube Channel.

At first, attention and most discussion on the buildup was about how it was going to help our economy and create more jobs. But as the inadequacy of plans became apparent during the formal comment period, a shift in the island’s attitude occurred as agencies, such as the Guam Water Authority, began to speak out in concern, worried that the expected population boom of 80,000 people would overwhelm our already outdated and stressed sewage system and threaten our freshwater source.

Other organizations such as the Boonie Stompers, a club of hiking enthusiasts, began doing outreach, revealing that the military intended to acquire more land to create live firing ranges in pristine jungles. One such site for a proposed firing range is on the Northeastern shore between Anderson Air Force Base and another base we call “Andy-South”. This site includes the ancient Chamoru village of Pagat, considered to not only hold archeological and historical significance- to us it is a truly spiritual place- one of the few left intact that we still have access to. A firing range in Pagat would be no less an outrage than when the Taliban blew up the treasured, ancient Buddhas carved into the cliffs of Afghanistan.

The Guam’s Fisherman Coop helped make the public aware that the military wants to dredge 73 acres of thriving coral reef at Apra Harbor to make another parking spot for a nuclear aircraft carrier. Against the wishes of our people, local leaders, and the urging of the EPA and Center for Biological Diversity, they want to slam the reef with giant weights where the spinner dolphin plays, scalloped hammer head sharks pup, sea turtles swim, and giant blue elephant ear sponge grow. Then they want to scoop the remains out with giant cranes and dispose the equivalent of 50,000 dump truck loads several miles off the coast of the island.

Now, thanks to the work and dedication of local agencies and organizations, and help from off-island folks, our local people have chosen to reject the sense that all of these sacrifices are worth the false promise of economic security from an increased military presence.

It has been truly inspiring to see this grassroots movement explode. And this is where you come in.

First, commit to further educating yourself on the what is happening in the Pacific. Peruse the newsletter, “Stop the military buildup” produced by Famoksaiyan, a group of Chamoru activist based out of California. On it you will find more background on the issue and links to awesome resources such as “No Rest for the Awake” and the “Drowning Mermaid Blog”. Both blogs are written by University of Guam instructors, bright minds who are very active in youth work and are driving forces behind this movement. There is also an amazing podcast you can subscribe to for free on Itunes called “Beyond the Fence”. This is a weekly radio show on the islands NPR station which discuses different aspects of the buildup on every episode.

Next I implore you to stand in solidarity with us and take action. Spread the word about what you’ve learned. Tell your leaders that you don’t support your tax money being used on any more excessive military expenditures. Join the movement to close the base on Okinawa and other sites abroad. Because whether we are talking about Guam, Okinawa or Hawai’i… it’s no different, our suffering and our commitment to oppose the militarization of our homelands is the same.

- Christina Illarmo

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