By Alex J. Rhowuniong
Staying out of trouble
FSM leaders on Guam steering Micronesian citizens out of the criminal court— and onto the basketball court
Two fights involving FSM citizens in separate locations in Dededo broke out and went viral on social media a few days after Typhoon Mangkhut. They were not the first display of the mischief that gives migrants from freely associated states such a bad rap.
“That's why we are forming up,” said John Patis, spokesman for the newly formed FSM Association, "to address these problems and see how we can help our people.”
“Chuuk leaders on Guam actually organized the whole thing— FSM union — and we've been encouraging the other states to come aboard and help,” said Casanova Nakamura, the association’s president.
According to International Overseas migration’s 2016 statistics, there are 13,019 FSM citizens living on Guam. Under the Compact of Free Association with the United States, FSM citizens are allowed to travel to and work visa-free in any U.S. jurisdictions. The first wave of migration was primarily to Guam, but later migrations continued on to Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. IOM said a series of surveys shows the growing numbers of emigrants in the receiving areas. “The main reason so many Micronesians are emigrating is the almost complete lack of economic development within the Federated States of Micronesia,” IOM said in its 2016 report.
On Guam, the impact of growing emigration, especially on law enforcement and public safety, has been a cause for concern for the government. A big fraction of the total of 55 convicted migrants whom Gov. Eddie Calvo deported in the past two years are from FSM.
For their part, FSM citizens on Guam are concerned that the misbehaviors of the few are resulting in unfounded prejudice and triggering tension in the community. Leaders of the FSM community will not allow this to worsen.
The FSM Association is looking to sports as a means to disrupt the negative activities of young FSMers. “To keep them off the streets and out of troubles,” he added. "It will take all of us working together.”
In the past months, the FSMA basketball and volleyball leagues have been ongoing in various places. Mayor Melissa B. Savares of Dededo and Paul M. McDonald of Agana Heights have been very responsive by providing the sport venues and have taken the lead with the governor’s office to work with the FSMers, Patis said.
Patis, a Yigo resident who is also the sports coordinator for Chuukese Association on Guam, said next up for the FSM youth is track and field.
When asked if this is a move on the part of ChAG leaders here on Guam to oppose the movement for Chuuk to break away from the FSM, members responded, no. “You must understand,” said ChAG treasurer, Hentrick Eveluck, “that this movement to unite the whole FSM is not remotely related to this Chuuk secession at all. It’s been motivated by the way we’ve been negatively conducting ourselves on Guam, way before the leaders thought of secession.”
Patis added that a triple homicide in the village of Dededo provided a strong motivation for the Micronesian leaders to come together— not just with each other but with local community leaders on Guam, including Gov. Eddie Calvo, village mayors, community leaders, church leaders...and also with as many FSM citizens on Guam as possible.
Patis sad, “We need to help each other as FSM citizens on Guam. No one is going to do that better than us, for us. And as Chuukese, we need to be strong, despite the secession and the election around the corner.”
On March 5, 2019 looms a plebiscite, which will either chart a new course for the fourth and most populated state in the FSM, or alter the trajectory of the federation all together.
Joseph Urusumal, a member of the FSM congress expressed his hope: “At the outset, I wish to share with you my long and strong conviction in that in unity there is strength. I have not seen nor understood the rationale for this movement, but I sincerely hope that it is not driven by self-interest and personal glory. There is much at stake here and the people of Chuuk deserve no less to understand fully the pros and cons of this before making their decisions.
“Let us pledge with hearts, voice, and hands to improve these islands (Federated States of Micronesia) one nation indivisible forever.”
Urusumal is a representative from the state of Yap with strong ties to the outer islands in Chuuk.
A long time Guam resident from FSM who wished not to be identified said, “There was a time when we, the Chuukese people, lived in relative peace with the Guamanians… Today, that is not the case. My people have been stigmatized with a not-so-good reputation since our mass exodus began from our home islands into these United States in 1986.”
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