CLARE CALVO, speaking on behalf of Eddie Baza Calvo, Governor of Guam, said: “The people of Guam need your help.” Colonialism had weighed on them for nearly 500 years. The island had suffered over 230 years of Spanish colonial rule, during which the Chamorros had been devastated by disease, war and oppression. After the Spanish-American War, the United States had claimed Guam, and rule had begun under the “Naval Government”. Japan’s foray into imperialism during the Second World War had been especially brutal, when Chamorro women had been raped and men beheaded by the Japanese Imperial Army.
In July 1944, the United States had taken back the island, she continued, and while the Chamorros had been liberated from slavery and war, they were still suppressed under colonialism, and worse, had yet to receive reparations for the atrocities they had suffered. The Chamorros of the Second World War had endured slavery, murder and genocide, yet the United States had been silent on its obligations for war reparations. That silence reinforced the point that Guam could no longer be a colony in perpetuity.
She said the Chamorros had been unable to reach their full socio-economic potential because of their political status. “Now, more than ever, it is important to move forward”, while there were still Chamorros left to express their right to self-determination. She was thankful that the United States, the administering Power, recognized that right. The Obama Administration had agreed to match local funding allocated for decolonization efforts. The Government of Guam was committed to a plebiscite, and she wished to see a vote taken in the next general election or the one thereafter.
Most important was to ensure that Chamorros made an educated decision on their political status, she said, underscoring that “exercising this human right is long overdue”. For far too long, the Chamorro people had been told to be satisfied with a political status that did not respect their wishes first. For far too long, they had dealt with taxation without full representation, quasi-citizenship and partial belonging. She urged the Special Committee to support their human rights and help them become citizens of their own place in this world.
EDWARD ALVAREZ, Executive Director of the Commission on Decolonization of Guam, said his Government would embark on an aggressive campaign to parlay its situation to a national and international audience. Legislation had been introduced to appropriate money for a Chamorro self-determination educational campaign, a programme which the United States Department of the Interior had expressed its intention to fund. Moreover, the Governor aimed to hold a plebiscite in the next five years for the Chamorro people to exercise their right to self-determination.
He said that Guam did not plan to draft a constitution at this time, but rather, it would pursue the resolution of its political status by helping Chamorros exercise their right to self-determination, particularly amid the military build-up. With that, he recommended that a representative from the United States President’s Office facilitate the issue in Congress, as Guam engaged the Departments of the Interior and Defence.
For its part, Guam would reach out to national and international media “to get our story told and message across”, he pledged. It also would seek advocacy from as many groups and celebrities as possible. He also recommended that the United Nations advocate for Guam by pressuring the United States. Along with a national and international media campaign, Guam might request an invitation to the International Court of Justice. “The time has come for all of us to come to grips with what is right and just for the Chamorro people of Guam,” he said.