Camacho: Guam experiencing a brain drain due to bleak economic prospects
By Aurora Kohn
Former Gov. Felix Camacho said Guam is at a critical juncture and that he is stepping out of retirement to offer the experience and wisdom he gained when he led the island to recovery during his first two terms in Adelup.
“We are really at the crossroads as we must be aware that there will be consequences,” Camacho said, speaking before the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay on Tuesday.
Camacho, the Republican Party’s candidate in this year’s gubernatorial race, said Guam is facing bleak economic prospects that trigger an exodus of the island's talent.
“The losses that we feel here as a people are not just immediate, it’s generational. Is there not a cause to fight for? Is there not a calling that we, collectively, must answer for something that is greater than ourselves? I say yes,” said Camacho, who is running with Sen. Tony Ada.
Camacho served as the 7th governor of Guam from 2003 to 2011.
“The leaders that we elect for the next term must be proven. They must be experienced, they must be wise, they must be capable of providing the leadership and the vision that the island deserves and needs,” the former governor said.
Camacho said Guam is facing a tough challenge as the Covid-19 pandemic has undone 50 years of work that went into developing Guam’s tourism industry.
“What you see on TV, on social media, in print and what you hear on the radio, the conversations among co-workers, family, friends, neighbors and concerned citizens on a daily basis … paints a very bleak picture of doom and gloom and hopelessness that many of our people are feeling but nobody wants to admit,” he said.
Camacho talked about his experience and the wisdom that he gained as a two-term governor, and before that, as a senator, director, public servant and businessman.
He recalled that when he first took office as Guam governor in 2003, he had to deal with an island that was devastated by Typhoon Chataan and by Typhoon Pongsona.
He called himself a “war governor,” referring to the conflict in Iraq that was ongoing during his term, and cost the lives of many enlisted from Guam.
The former governor said he succeeded in leading Guam to recovery, despite all the challenges, by working collectively with the people of Guam.
“I offer experience, I offer wisdom. I’ve been tested, I’ve been proven, I’ve been tried and I bring these to the table and I ask the people to consider all that as they think about who to vote for,” Camacho said.
He said Guam is facing a monumental challenge “to revive and restore” the island back to where it was prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Camacho said the island's recovery will require cooperation with the private sector, non-profits and faith-based organizations, the federal government, foreign governments and foreign investors.
“I simply want to step in there, stabilize things, fix things and work on the next generation that’s coming up behind me and hand off the baton," he said.
Camacho said his platform of government will be released after he and Sen. Tom Ada file their certificate of candidacy in the gubernatorial elections later this month.