Category Archives: Military/Military Build-up

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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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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US Marine Training on Okinawa & Its Global Mission: A Bird’s-Eye View of Bases From the Air

posted by Martha Duenas Baum

The online Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus has recently posted several articles piecing together the larger context of the shuffling by Japan, China and the US in the past months. These dance steps have taken us through numerous proposals by the Japanese government to appease the communities in Okinawa who have suffered the abusive presence of US soldiers “training” for war; threatening and intimidating statements and visits by various US government and military officials to Japan warning of security threats, and the overwhelming response of the Okinawan  people coming together on 25 April with the force of an estimated 93,000 people to claim, “NO MORE US BASES IN OKINAWA. PEACE TO THE WORLD.”

The video footage of the bases on the island of Okinawa included in this post are rare scenes of the training areas occupied by the US military on the island.

The story of Okinawa is the story of the people of Guåhan. We are to the United States what Okinawa is to Japan: a strategic posession that carries enormous importance in the political, economic and military dominance of the United States in their quest for global control, that carries NO consideration of the culture, the islands or the people of our beloved islands.

The work of Japan Focus’ reporting can inform us in ways that can help us to understand this many-headed monster we face in standing up to the hypermilitarization of our islands. The information can help us to see the process and pattern of the United States in its relationship and treatment of its hosts in their land. We the people of Guåhan and the Mariana are mere possessions of the United States. When have they ever listened to us?  Consulted with us? Collaborated with us? Acted in good faith in the democracy that peoples across the earth yearn to experience under the governance of the United States of America?

What we have as the people of Guåhan (we have) are resources to inform and educate ourselves to our own colonized history under the United States, about the movements across the globe resisting such aggressive militarism that brings harm and destruction to our culture and our environment and we have the will to claim our place in the world amongst the numerous peace-loving communities who say “NO” to militarism and war and join the voices who say, “YES” to peace and prosperity for our world and mother earth.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

from The Asia-Pacific Journal::Japan Focus:

http://www.japanfocus.org/-Furutachi-Ichiro/3363

 

Furutachi Ichiro (video) and Norimatsu Satoko (text)


On May 20, 2010, TV Asahi’s nightly news program “Hodo Station” broadcast a 20-minute special by anchor Furutachi Ichiro on the US Marine Corps bases in Okinawa.  The previous day Furutachi and his staff flew around those bases by helicopter, from the south to the north of Okinawa Island, then to Iejima and Torishima, two islands west of the main island.  They provide rare bird’s-eye views of the bases, despite restrictions on how close civilian aircraft can fly. This is supplemented by rare footage of Marine training and action from Okinawa and Japan to Vietnam and Iraq.

Map of US military bases in Okinawa.  Red: Marine Corps; Dark Blue: Air Force (Kadena); Green: Army; Bright Blue: Navy; Light Blue: Water Space and Airspace for Training

About 20% of Okinawa Island is occupied by bases exclusively for U.S. military use, 77% (15 bases and facilities) of which are managed by the Marines.  Furutachi flew from Makiminato Service Area (Camp Kinser) just north of Naha, a logistic service base that supplied everything “from toilet paper to missiles” during the Vietnam War, then to Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City and Camp Schwab in the northern city of Nago, the two bases that have been the centre of media attention, with a replacement facility of the former planned to be built near the latter.  Furutachi guides viewers beyond the often-reported Cape Henoko, proposed site of the new base jutting into the bay, to the mountainous inland area of Camp Schwab, where Marines conduct jungle training, drawing attention to several rectangular buildings described as ammunition depots.

Map from the website of Okinawa Prefecture.  Torishima, which is not shown on this map, is about 60 miles west of the Okinawa Island.

Furutachi’s guided tour reminds viewers that Marines are really in Okinawa for training, a global mission that has little to do with “protecting Japan”, as many Japanese have been led to believe by the notion of “deterrence” incessantly cited by politicians. Particularly striking is the scale and nature of the drills conducted within Camp Hansen in central Okinawa, which is ten times the size of Futenma and occupyies more than half of the towns of Kin and Ginoza, and significant portions of Onna and Nago.  The camera reveals several “simulated cities” among the thick forests of the base where live-fire training prepares Marines for urban combat. 2,200 troops were dispatched from this base for the attack on Fallujah, Iraq, in November and December, 2004, in which thousands of civilians were killed and the city virtually destroyed.  Furutachi discloses that “Three months prior to the Battle of Fallujah, a USMC helicopter crashed into the campus of Okinawa International University adjacent to Futenma Air Station.  That helicopter was scheduled to go to Iraq after being joined by battle units of Camp Hansen.”

Camp Gonsalves, the largest of all Okinawa bases, is set in the rich “Yanbaru Forest” of northern Okinawa. Home to the Jungle Warfare Training Center, it is the only US jungle training facility in the world.  Furutachi moves onto Camp Kuwae (Camp Lester), where the largest military hospital in the Far East is located, Camp Zukeran (Camp Foster), where spacious suburban-style family houses “built with the ‘sympathy budget’ of Japan” are shown, and then on to Camp Courtney, headquarters of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force and 3rd Marine Division.  Furutachi points out that “These facilities are command centers of US global wars from Hawaii to the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.”

The last two stops of Furutachi’s helicopter tour are the islands of Iejima and Torishima.  Iejima’s Marine air station is used for parachute drop training and take-off and landing training.  Torishima serves as an aircraft firing range for both Air Force and Marines.  The island, once covered with rich forests, is now completely disfigured.  After testing depleted uranium weapons on Torishima in the mid-90’s, the Marines have recently assaulted it with cluster bombs.

The significance of Furutachi’s report is in the detailed visual exposure of the training fields and live-fire ranges that have rarely been subject to scrutiny in Japan, the United States or internationally, in contrast to such visible emblems of the U.S. military presence in Okinawa as air stations and beaches.  Furutachi and other commentators were stunned to encounter the reality of simulated battlefields, beyond the dry statistics of bases that comprise “20% of the island”, a figure that the media repeat ad infinitum.

On May 23, Prime Minister Hatoyama announced the government’s plan to build a Marine runway over the Cape of Henoko, betraying his pre-election pledge not to build a Futenma replacement facility within Okinawa, an island already saturated with military bases. Okinawan people have expressed overwhelming opposition to base expansion on the island.  Footage like that provided below can not only strengthen the deep Okinawan resistance to expansion of the military base footprint on their island, but also could help to awaken Japanese who have found it easy to look the other way so long as the bases were largely confined to Okinawa. 

Norimatsu Satoko prepared this introduction for The Asia-Pacific Journal and for the Peace Philosophy Centre. She leads various peace initiatives in Vancouver and beyond, including, Peace Philosophy Centre and Vancouver Save Article 9.

U.S. Marine Corps Bases in Okinawa (1)

U.S. Marine Corps Bases in Okinawa (2)

 Recommended citation: Furutachi Ichiro and Norimatsu Satoko, “US Marine Training on Okinawa and Its Global Mission: a Birds-Eye View of Bases From the Air,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 22-1-10, May 31, 2010.

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In response to the May 12, 2010, Honolulu Star Bulletin’s article: “$4B Guam deal benefits Hawaii”

Contributed by: Hope Cristobal

Thanks to Kyle at dmzhawaii.org for posting this. You can see his piece here.

This article is a sad realization of the fight for power among those that have none…where short-sighted monetary gains outweigh the larger issue of indigenous sovereignty and rights to existence.  In a world where our indigenous people—our Kanaka Maoli and Chamorus—fight for meager survival (food, shelter, family) in our own land, it becomes all too easy for us to forget the larger picture.  My indigenous brothers and sisters of the Pacific:  I ask that you not forget that the giant whale of the US Federal Government swallows us all up like krill in the ocean—where the largest of the animals survives by feeding on the smallest.

<<>>

http://www.starbulletin.com/editorials/20100512_4B_Guam_deal_benefits_Hawaii.html

EDITORIAL

$4B Guam deal benefits Hawaii

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 12, 2010

Hawaii’s construction industry has gained part of $4 billion in initial contracts for building military facilities on Guam for U.S. military forces to be transferred from Okinawa. The potential boost to Hawaii’s companies was provided last year but the weakening of a provision that then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie attached to a defense spending bill casts uncertainty about the opportunities for rank-and-file workers.

The total five-year construction project is expected to cost $10 billion, $6 billion of it to be paid by Japan. Opponents of Abercrombie’s initial proposal warned that it could double the cost during a recession that has entailed huge deficit spending. He responded that it came “at a time when a depressed economy has dealt a body blow to our construction industry.”

A project that includes headquarters, homes and facilities for the relocation of 8,000 Marines and supporting units from Okinawa to Guam is expected to create 15,000 construction jobs, increasing the island territory’s population by 14 percent. The seven companies that won bids include four joint ventures based in Hawaii: CNMS; Core-Tech-AMEC-SKEC, LLC; Guam MACC Builders JV; and KiewitMortenson.

Before resigning from Congress to run for governor, Abercrombie first proposed requiring contractors for the project to hire Americans for 70 percent of the jobs created. Instead, Congress agreed to require the contractors to advertise and recruit American workers under U.S. Labor Department oversight before hiring any foreign workers.

That does not mean they will be paid average Hawaii or even mainland wages. The 1931 Davis-Bacon Act requires that civilian workers in federal projects be paid the local prevailing wage, and Congress rightly rejected Abercrombie’s proposal that it be Hawaii’s prevailing wage, which is at least twice that of Guam. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Abercrombie’s proposal would have doubled the construction cost, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Pentagon could not afford such a price tag. It has become alarmingly apparent that government spending cannot continue with a blank-check mentality.

Instead, the defense spending act calls for a reassessment of Guam’s wages and, if necessary, an adjustment. The Labor Department has scheduled a three-day public conference on the issue on Guam next week.

In the past, Abercrombie has said, contractors have been allowed to “bring in thousands of foreign workers, pay a bounty of $1,000 per worker to the government of Guam, pay the workers bare subsistence wages with no benefits, house them in work camps and charge them for room and meals.”

The construction contracts are great for the four Hawaii joint ventures, but the makeup of their Guam workforce is uncertain. The Labor Department should determine how to require adequate wages to lure American workers without shocking Guam’s island economy with abnormally high pay.

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‘Do not allow Guam to sink into oblivion’

For the deeper word on Hank Johnson & the capsize controversy check out this Melvin Won Pat-Borja article posted by Kyle at dmzhawaii.org. Guam can’t sink, can it? Oh yes it can.

from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Conference 2010 NYC

by: Melvin Won Pat-Borja, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice/We Are Guahan

During a congressional hearing on the Guam military buildup in early April, US Representative Hank Johnson said that he feared the Military Relocation on Guam would cause our tiny island to capsize and sink. The comment, though not meant to be taken literally, caused an uproar among Chamorus everywhere. People were so outraged at his perceived ignorance that they continually bashed him in the media and all over the internet. The sad truth however is that Guam WILL sink. It will sink under the weight of tons of toxic waste dumped by the military each year, sink under the pressure of contaminated drinking water, sink under the weight of overpopulated schools, massive amounts of traffic, inadequate health care, and extreme over population. If this military expansion goes as planned, the people of Guam will surely sink to the bottom of the Marianas Trench and become nothing more than a footnote in America’s colonial history…(go to the article)

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From Radio Australia, interview with Camacho’s spokesman.

Japan protests could cause delays in relocation of US troops

Updated May 4, 2010 07:54:12

Protests in Japan could cause delays in the movement of U.S bases and troops.

The mayors of three towns on Tokunoshima Island in Japan will meet with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Friday.

They’re objecting to an idea to transfer some of the U-S Marines stationed in Okinawa to the island.

The spokesman for the Governor of Guam says delays in the movement of US troops in Japan could also delay plans by the US government to relocate thousands of troops from Japan to Guam.

Presenter: Helene Hofman
Speaker Shawn Gumataotao, spokesman for the Governor of Guam

GUMATAOTAO: Absolutely, in fact it’s been very clear that any lack of movement from any of the areas in Okinawa of the US marines to Guam, well actually any move to those outer prefectures would have a direct impact. It’s been very clear that this is an agreement between two sovereign nations, the US and Japan, anything that would go against the 2006 accord would have an adverse effect on that movement.

HOFMAN: And then also yesterday the head of the government coalition said that the people of Okinawa seem to be in no rush to come to a decision by the end of May. Is that in some way frustrating for you in Guam?

GUMATAOTAO: Absolutely, as the delays continue to happen in Japan it also delays some of the issues in the United States as we are all watching to see what will be the next step. And we know that the US Congress is watching very closely. If there’s a lack of movement in Japan we believe that the Congress will probably either take a different tack related to the buildup, or could wait it out to be in for the long haul. But it will definitely challenge our efforts to have the US marines move from Okinawa to Guam.

HOFMAN: And how thoroughly are you updated about developments in Japan, and where does the information come from?

GUMATAOTAO: Well interestingly enough Governor Camacho mid last week met with assistant secretary Wallace Chip Gregson who was in Guam invited to speak at the University of Guam. He was on his way back from Hawaii and into Japan regularly as the officials come through from Washington into the region we’re normally getting our briefs on the lead-in. So we have an idea of what to expect from their visits into the region. But fairly regularly now, especially in the last seven, eight months there’s been quite a lot of activity by the US government going into Japan and they are very concerned about the situation as well and continue to brief the Governor on a fairly regular basis.

HOFMAN: Now Palau last week stepped in and offered an alternative location to the US Futenma airbase in Okinawa. What did you make of that proposal?

GUMATAOTAO: For President Toribiong to make that kind of request I’m sure he’s looking for the best interests of the people of the Republic of Palau. But the infrastructure is a bit different than say Guam and the sheer size of the islands are a bit different. So I’m sure that’ll pose as challenges.

HOFMAN: Absolutely, it seems to be a case of a lot of Pacific neighbours weighing in and trying to cash in on this one sometimes?

GUMATAOTAO: Absolutely, and I think for us we’ve focussed more on bringing the labour forces from those areas, so that the labour force from say Palau or the CNMI, from our friends even as far down as Australia and New Zealand, we want to give them the opportunities to be able to come into the region, into Guam for the buildup as it is really this one time that we’ll see this kind of activity that we believe that they can be very helpful in that capacity. Anything else I think would be much more of a challenge in terms of relocation of US troops there and that’s just my opinion on that.

HOFMAN: Now moving on to something slightly different, the US Senate has appointed the first ever female Chamorro as the next US Attorney for Guam and the CNMI. Good for Guam?

GUMATAOTAO: Absolutely, Alicia Limtiaco has been an outstanding Attorney General to Guam. of course Governor Camacho will be appointing her replacement when she’s officially sworn in. But yes, for her to be the first woman Chamorro to serve in this position is a great station and we are very proud of her and much of the island leaders are in full support of her efforts, and she will continue the good work of the US Attorney in Guam and the CNMI.

HOFMAN: Now the hard part is finding her replacement?

GUMATAOTAO: Absolutely and in fact as of today because she did not resign and then she’ll be kind of waiting to see what will be the next steps with the appointment by the US Department of Justice. Governor Camacho will be apointing the next Attorney General of Guam to fill the unexpired term of Alicia Limtiaco.

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