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Cruz unveils platform with five main action goals for Guam


Ginger Cruz

By Jayvee Vallejera

 

Ginger Cruz, who aspires to become Guam’s next delegate in the U.S. Congress, unveiled yesterday a campaign platform that seeks a larger role for Guam in the United States’ decision-making process for the territory and to reap the benefits that go with that bigger voice.


At a press conference Thursday, Cruz outlined the main points of what she calls “Platform 2.0,” citing five key themes for her platform: · Elevating Guam’s place in the federal system from the Department of the Interior to the White House.


  • Expanding protection to the Guam community and not just for the U.S. military;

  • Using Guam’s unincorporated territory status as a bargaining chip to create unique solutions to issues;

  • Increasing Guam’s involvement in regional trade, commerce and defense agreements between the U.S. and its allies will allow Guam to reap the benefits of increasing Indo-Pacific prosperity; and

  • Leading the development of a shared vision for the island called “Guam 2044: A Path to Empowerment”


Cruz will face off with two other candidates in the August primary for the Democratic Party’s candidate for Guam delegate. The other aspirants are former delegate Michael San Nicolas and Sen. Amanda Shelton.


Guam will hold its election on Nov. 5,


In pushing for a more visible role for Guam in the national spotlight, Cruz said: “We need to aim higher and be the agents for our own change.”


She pointed out that the balance of power in the world has now shifted to the Pacific and the center of that shift is Guam.


“Our importance as an island has risen,” she added, citing the increased military buildup and activities in Guam as evidence.


She said Guam has been seeing the effects of the increasing importance of the Pacific region and Guam’s role in all these, yet the territory doesn’t really have a clear idea of the things it needs to ask for and doesn’t have had a vision  of what the territory wants out of all of these, Cruz said. This is where her platform comes in, she said, with its specific to-do list of what she intends to accomplish.

In her plan to elevate Guam’s role in the federal system, Cruz said the territory is right now under the purview of the Department of the Interior, yet DOI does


not have the capability to advocate for Guam’s issues across all the federal agencies.


Moving the territory from under DOI to the White House is not new, Cruz said. She cited the case of Puerto Rico, which is at the White House level and she wants Guam to be treated the same way. If this happens, she said, this would fundamentally raise the level of attention that Guam is able to get and it will be able to get more supports for the issues that are important to the people of Guam.


Of the five U.S. territories—Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands—only Puerto Rico is under the White House.


The second big key is protecting the people of Guam, Cruz said. Despite Guam’s central role in the U.S. military’s plans for the region, she believes the U.S. Department of Defense has not adequately responded to concerns about protecting people “outside the fence,” referring to Guam’s civilian population.

Saying “let the DOD handle that” is not enough, Cruz said, adding that Guam is behind the curve in getting federal resources and attention to protect the people of Guam. She said the Guam National Guard and Homeland Security must be strengthened. 


As part of that , she wants dedicated funding and a local training facility for the Guam National Guard that will allow it to train locally. Given the level of threat Guam faces, it must also be given the same level of resources to reflect its important role, she added.


Security matters not only refer to the missile shield being built in Guam, she said. There is also water security, which she identifies as a top priority. Cruz wants federal support to upgrade and improve security for the island’s water supply.


Cruz supports decolonization, but concedes that changing Guam’s political status will take time. Right now, she believes Guam can use its unincorporated territorial status to leverage its “unique status to create opportunities for unique solutions.”


She thinks this can be done by giving Guam the tools to fix its problems by both updating legislation and influencing executive policy at an agency level.


“The time is now for Guam to fight for federal policy changes that give us the advantage and ensure effective interagency coordination of our issues,” she said.

Cruz cited the case of the Northern Mariana Islands, whose unique political relationship with the United States has a clause called “902 talks,” where they sit down to resolve issues. She said Guam can have something like this by amending the legislation governing it to create a system where they can put issues on the table so problems can be addressed.


“There is no reason for us to lament the lack of federal-Guam negotiation mechanisms when we can put them in place ourselves,” she added. “…We need to open dialogue that finds new ways to meet federal intent while not hurting our people.”


That includes amending policies like “Buy America” and “Cabotage” that may work at the national level, but don’t make sense for Guam.


“We are the only ones who can leverage our value to build a better future for our people. We cannot expect others to do it for us,” she said.


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Now is also the time to ensure that the military build-up is good for Guam, she said. That includes improving schools, hardening Guam’s infrastructure, pushing for better healthcare, and shutting down drug importation.

Cruz also believes that Guam’s delegate must be an active participant in discussions related to America’s positioning in the Indo-Pacific. 


“We need reasonable airfares, lower prices at the grocery store, and new investment from regional partners who are best able to help us improve healthcare and expand into technology industries,” she said.


She identified investing in people and building opportunities as priorities, and intends to work to expand workforce development, advanced manufacturing and federal investment in new high-tech industries.


“At the same time, we have to secure SSI, finally relocate veteran’s services from Hawaii to Guam, and raise the quality of life for everyone,” she added.


In her vision for “A Path to Empowerment,” Cruz said developing that vision must be a collaborative effort, developed via quarterly meetings and consultations with Guam’s local leadership in both the public and private sectors and the community.





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