Pacific Island Times asked the two candidates for Guam Attorney General, Douglas B. Moylan and Leevin Taitano Camacho to weigh in on the question of Guam's future political status. The current options are statehood, independence or free association with the United States. Status-quo, maintaining the unincorporated territory status of Guam, will not be offered as a choice to voters and it remains to be seen what the composition of the voters will be. PIT did not set a word limit on the responses by the candidates.
In brief: Douglas B. Moylan: "Our best option is continuing to align ourselves with the greatest nation on our planet, the U.S.A... In my personal opinion, selecting “independence” or “free association” is a bad move that will ruin our economy, culture and quality of life, and that of our children and our children."
In Brief: Leevin Taitano Camacho: "I would support any of the three options - Statehood, Independence or Free Association - over our current status as an unincorporated territory.
We have seen a significant increase in education and outreach about the three options, but there is a lot of opportunity to educate our community on what it means to be an unincorporated territory, and why we should be pushing for a change in status at all. Litigation, such as such as the voting rights case (Segovia) I am involved in, has been another way of raising awareness on issues such as the lack of representation in the federal government facing Guam and others living in the territories on a national level. I would be open to looking at other cases and opportunities for the Office of the Attorney General to take on a larger role in expanding the conversation locally, nationally and internationally.
Guam needs to resolve its political status before we can decide issues such as the Chamorro Land Trust Act, and other race-based or economic questions, especially since such laws create conflict with the U.S. Constitution and our ability to do anything meaningful whilst a “territory.” Determining Guam’s political relationship with the U.S. is long overdue and will resolve the economic and cultural problems creating our fragile economic and cultural condition.
Instead of independently funding and determining the process to determine our political status, our leaders should involve the U.S. Congress and United Nations to structure, fund and call for a vote. Who would vote, when the vote would occur, how it would be conducted, who will fund it and what question would be voted upon should all be contained within either a United Nations resolution and/or a Congressional statute.
The nations and countries around us were all afforded this right in the past century, including the Philippines, the CNMI and the Freely Associated States of Micronesia. Guam has not. After WWII, the Trust Territories were created to help our neighbors decide their political futures. The U.S. helped in this self-determination effort. Guam has yet to do so, but must in order to be more than a “territory,” which hinders our ability to develop economically, politically, socially and as a People living on this largest island in the Marianas.
Our ability to attain and maintain resources directly affects our quality of life, especially on such a small Island, which is physically and economically isolated from our neighbors. Notably, several of our neighbors elected to band together to primarily improve their economic conditions. I believe our best option is to continue our path towards westernization, that the Spanish placed us and Nations like the Philippines upon. If Singapore and Hong Kong can become an economic power center, so too can Guam.
Our best option is continuing to align ourselves with the greatest nation on our planet, the U.S.A. Their democratic ideals and political structure, and fundamental reliance upon capitalism, has brought them centuries of economic prosperity. Providing comfortably for our families and our children are fundamental to our existing way of life, and aligning ourselves with a western culture that has influenced Guam for more than half a millennia will improve our lives. In my personal opinion, selecting “independence” or “free association” is a bad move that will ruin our economy, culture and quality of life, and that of our children and our children’s children.
As the English poet John Donne wrote hundreds of years ago, “No man is an Island,” and our culture must continue to grow, evolve and adapt to the world as it exists. A decision to isolate ourselves from the world will foretell our financial and cultural ruin. Chamorros are not really “indigenous” to this Island, as the Hawaiians are not indigenous to their Island chain either. We who call ourselves “Chamorro,” such as myself, are descendants of Peoples who most likely migrated from Asia (China region) on boats. Over the centuries, our ancestors developed their unique cultural traits, values and identity, in part mixing in with Spanish, Filipino and other Nations’ peoples, and also adopting their values as well, such as Roman Catholicism. From our point of view however, this small land mass is now what we call “our Island,” but more importantly is our “home.”
That being said, as an AG candidate, the AG’s role is to assist our leaders in getting this political status question on track to being decided in our lifetimes. The ability to effectuate a political change is a legal one requiring attorneys. Decades were wasted in platitudes professing our desire for independence and making registries that meant nothing, unless we now petition the U.S. and the World’s Nations at the U.N. to assist us in getting past this small, but important stepping stone to economic success and a cultural identity.
As it appears clear that Guam has historically defended its western cultural identity, adopted a western religion, and took the side of the U.S. during WWII, I am confident that we as a People will decide to change our status from being a territory” and move into a closer political and economic relationship with the United States of America, in order to protect ours and our progenies qualities of life.