The Federated States of Micronesia has flexed its muscles as an independent country in recent weeks. The country remains Covid19- free and refuses to allow FSM citizens who are stranded in Guam to return home.
The FSM even kept the U.S. Ambassador to the FSM from returning to Pohnpei. The FSM even canceled the Christmas Drop to isolated islands. Next time you listen to the Air Force song (“off we go into the wild blue yonder” and “no one can stop the U.S. Air Force”), remember December 2020. The FSM did stop the Air Force. At least they stopped the C-130’s from going there.
President David Panuelo is the force behind all of these decisions. He seems to do so with clarity and firmness. While he comprehends that he leads a small nation, he is fully aware that he is in charge of a sovereign entity. He can exercise full authority over entry into his country, make pronouncements on important matters and make state visits to other countries.
Last week, he gave me the opportunity to ask questions about the current state of affairs for his country. He answered questions, discussed his experiences and revealed his perspective on the FSM today and in the future. He did so firmly, but with the characteristic friendliness and respectful demeanor that is part of most successful Micronesian leaders. Being direct is not incompatible with being friendly or, in this case, an important ally for the United States.
He is completing one phase of the Compact negotiations with the United States under the Trump Administration. It didn’t stop him from extending his congratulations to President-elect Biden after the latter’s victory in November.
Even after he was invited to visit President Trump and had the honor of being visited by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Palikir, the capital of the FSM, he did not hesitate to make the strongest denunciation emanating from our region about the Capitol riots and sedition, which occurred on Jan. 6 of this year.
Immediately upon watching the events in Washington D.C., President Panuelo wrote on behalf of the people of the FSM. “The people and government of the Federated States of Micronesia woke up this morning of Jan. 7, 2021, to watch in abject horror as President Donald J. Trump openly solicited acts of domestic terrorism against the people