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FW: [nousbases] Marines' Relocation Angers the Indigenous

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    VIEQUES EN SOLIDARIDAD CON EL PUEBLO CHAMORO…. GUAM…. _____ From: Corazon Valdez Fabros [mailto:corafabros2000@yahoo.com] Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 9:12
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2007
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      From: Corazon Valdez Fabros [mailto:corafabros2000@...]
      Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 9:12 PM
      To: US Bases List
      Subject: [nousbases] Marines' Relocation Angers the Indigenous

      Islands Business News


      They say it could mean the death of their race

      Elenoa Baselala
      In a desperate attempt to save their race, identity and culture, the
      indigenous people of Guam¡½the Chamorus¡½are strongly opposing the
      relocation of US Marines from Okinawa, Japan, to their country.

      HYPERLINK "http://www.islandsbusiness.com/images/ibmar07/pol2pic1guam.jpg"

      Building up... B52s at Guam's Andersen Air Base. Photo: US Defense

      Fronting the opposition is the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, which
      is trying to bring the world's attention to their plight.

      Already, the organisation has made presentations to the United Nations.
      Currently, it is seeking signatures for a petition against the relocation,
      expected to be completed by 2012.

      Recently, American President George Bush announced his budget proposal which
      includes a US$345 million plan to carry out military construction projects
      on Guam during 2008. The proposed military construction budget includes
      seven projects¡½

      Naval Base Guam:
      Kilo Wharf Extension: $102 million
      Hardening of Naval Base Electrical Systems: $59 million
      Navy Family Housing: $57 million
      Navy Fitness Center: $45 million
      Wastewater Treatment Plant Repairs and Upgrade: $41 million
      Potable Water Distribution System (Phase I): $31 million.
      Andersen Air Force Base:
      Northwest Field Infrastructure Upgrade: $10 million.

      THE PRICE: The relocation of the Marines is expected to cost around US$10
      billion with Japan footing US$6 billion.

      While the news of the relocation is good news to Guam's business community,
      for the Chamorus, the billions of dollars may just be the price of death of
      their race, culture and identity.

      The population of Guam is estimated at around 154,805, with 37 percent
      (about 63,270) being the indigenous population.

      Lisalinda Nativdad, of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, says the
      relocation of Marines is expected push Guam's population up by 55,000.

      "The local population has increased considerably since then because the
      military population has been increasing on bases.

      "The current population of Marines is unknown. While their physical presence
      on the island is seen, the actual relocation from Okinawa has not occurred.

      "Initially it was quoted at 7000. Then 8000. Now possibly 16,000. When
      dependents and ancillary support personnel are also factored in, the
      relocation may increase the population by up to 55,000. This is an
      approximately 36 percent population increase," Nativdad says.

      Nativdad and her organisation are fiercely opposing the relocation.

      In October last year, a group of Chamorus, which included Nativdad's
      association, testified at the United Nations that the relocation plans could
      bring about the irreversible decline of the indigenous culture and further
      undermine their political rights.

      According to the petition for Justice and Peace for Guam and the Pacific
      blogspot, the strength of their testimonies prompted the UN under-secretary
      general for political affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, to later meet with the
      coalition members.

      While Gambari believed Guam had a right to self-determination, he did not
      believe a resolution would be passed because the United States would veto
      it. But there was a recommendation for a UN representative to visit Guam and
      report on the situation to take the country off "that status of being an
      invisible colony".

      The relocation of the Marines is part of the changes America and Japan are
      making to their alliances, which include the realignment of US bases in

      It is also to return "very valuable land on Okinawa to the Japanese" and
      ease the burden on Japanese people who are paying for the stationing of US
      forces in Okinawa.

      Guam is also close enough for the defence of Japan, should the need arise.

      PROBLEMS: For the Chamorus, the move will only create a host of social,
      economic, health and environmental problems.

      "These range from noise pollution that has been found to affect the birth
      weight of babies in other highly militarised areas, an increase in traffic,
      an overtaxing of our already strained infrastructure (such as utility
      systems) and an increase in the rental market, thereby crowding out the
      local population from land and home ownership in their own homeland.

      "There is also the threat to the opportunity for the Chamoru to exercise
      self-determination rights as defined by the United Nations.

      "As a first strike zone location in military tactics, the safety of the
      island from military attack is compromised as in the case of World War II,
      in which the island was invaded by the Japanese before being reoccupied by
      the United States," says Nativdad.

      She claims the American government has continued to disregard their concerns
      for the environmental contamination left by the military.

      Examples of this include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) found in Guam's
      harbours, Agents Orange and Purple found in illegal dumping sites by the
      military throughout the island, the island's continued struggle with
      radiation exposure as a result of ships being sunk in Guam's harbours in the
      1970s as well as down winds bringing radiation to Guam as a result of US
      nuclear testing in Micronesia in the 1950s.
      Manufactures of PCBs, Agent Orange and Agent Purple have long been banned by
      America because of their harmful effects on human health.

      "These environmental concerns have resulted in extremely high rates of
      cancer and other diseases among the Chamoru population as indicated in the
      5.2 percent of the island's population being elderly compared with the US
      national average of about 12 percent.

      "The US military presence on Guam has resulted in poor health outcomes for
      the Chamoru people.

      "The local government is primarily motivated by the promise of the
      relocation of the Marines being an economic panacea, thereby revitalising
      the local economy.

      "However, true economists know that militarisation does not lead to economic
      stability. Rather, it reinforces the economic dependency of the host
      jurisdiction (in this case Guam) on the administering power (in this case
      the United States).

      "The only panacea to Guam's economic woes is the development of alternative
      industries to militarisation and tourism," Nativdad says.

      According to the Chamorus, there has also been no study done on the social
      and economic impacts of the military presence in Guam. The American
      occupation of Okinawa has not been a good record either.

      In 1995, three marines were charged with the rape of a 12-year-old
      schoolgirl and in 2000 another marine was charged with molesting a
      14-year-old high school student.

      One of the Chamoru activists, Julian Aguon, in his testimony to the UN said
      Guam could also suffer the same fate.

      In an interview with ABC News in 2003, soon after the news of the relocation
      was known, Hideo Asato from the Okinawa Peace Movement Centre said Okinawa
      had been suffering from American military presence for decades.

      "The report suggests the Marines will move to Australia but they should move
      back to America, otherwise Australia will suffer like us," he told ABC news.

      According to the Marianas Variety, over the next 10 years Guam will see an
      increase of Air Force personnel to about 4500 and navy personnel from 4000
      to 8000. This is apart from the 17,000 marines and their dependents who will
      would be relocated to Guam.

      At the Andersen Air Force base, military installation was preparing for 3100
      more active duty personnel and their dependants to be deployed in the next
      few years¡½in addition to the 8500 officers and their dependants already at
      the base.

      CAMPAIGN: Nativdad says they will campaign for as long as it takes to have
      their concerns heard.

      Their fight is particularly difficult because though they are US citizens,
      they are citizens without the right to vote, thereby weakening their ability
      to determine local policies that are set by the federal government.

      Guam's congressional representative does not have a vote and can only
      lobby¡½Guam is an unincorporated US territory with limited constitutional

      "We are currently working very closely with alliances in the Asia Pacific
      region," Nativdad says.

      "In addition, we have launched a stick campaign stating "8000? How will it
      change our lives" to help stir the debate amongst our population. There are
      also efforts to bring Okinawan activists to share the truth of their
      experiences in hosting the marines over these past years.

      "Most importantly, we are challenging people to ponder the critical
      question: "If the presence of the Marines is such a good thing for Guam,
      then why is Japan willing to pay US$6 billion to get them out?

      Debbie Quinata
      Maga'Haga -I Nasion Chamoru
      P.O. Box 6132
      Merizo, Guam 96916
      (671) 828-2957
      (671) 483-2957-cell


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