FW: [nousbases] Marines' Relocation Angers the Indigenous
- VIEQUES EN SOLIDARIDAD CON EL PUEBLO CHAMORO . GUAM .
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
Politics: MARINES' RELOCATION ANGERS THE INDIGENOUS
They say it could mean the death of their race
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
Maga'Haga -I Nasion Chamoru
P.O. Box 6132
Merizo, Guam 96916
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