Self-Determination Options

About two decades ago, the United Nations endorsed the holding of a plebiscite in which the inhabitants of Guam will exercise final self-determination on their political future. The three status options include Statehood, Free Association and Independence. The plebiscite is part of a process to allow Guam to delink itself from the UN designation as a non-self governing territory.

In line with this, the Guam Legislature in 1997 enacted a law establishing the Commission on Decolonization. Its mission is to research and provide mass education on each of the three options and to conduct a plebiscite to determine the ultimate political status chosen by the people.

For one reason or another, the plebiscite has been delayed three times until a future date to be determined by the Guam Election Commission.

To understand  better the differences between the three status options, the following common format is used for comparison purposes:

STATEHOOD ======================

o FULL INTEGRATION with the U.S. on equal footing with all other states in the Union.

o STATE SOVEREIGNTY/AUTONOMY.  Total control of state affairs.

o FOREIGN RELATIONS -- Federal jurisdiction to grant diplomatic recognition and make treaties with sovereign countries.

o FORM OF GOVERNMENT -- Republican form, with three (3) equal branches: Executive, Legislative, Judiciary.

o CITIZENSHIP -- Permanent U.S. citizenship guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

o CONSTITUTION -- U.S. Constitution prevails, but State Constitution dictates on all state matters.

o INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS -- Guaranteed by the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution:

. -- Freedom of religion, free press, free speech, peaceful assembly, redress of grievance.

-- Right to own and bear arms.

-- Protection from unreasonable search and seizure of private property.

-- Due process of law, protection from double jeopardy and self-incrimination, just compensation for private property taken for public use.

-- Fair and speedy trial, including trial by jury when charged with a crime.

-- Jury trial for civil suit

-- No excessive bail or fines, or cruel and unusual punishment.

-- Rights of state.

o NATIONAL DEFENSE -- U.S. armed services provide common defense from external threat.

o ECONOMIC/FINANCIAL STRUCTURE-- Free enterprise/free market competition, U.S. currency.

o TAX STRUCTURE-- According to federal (Internal Revenue Service) laws and State tax laws.

o LEGAL/JUDICIAL STRUCTURE-- Based on the U.S. Constitution/ State Constitution, federal/state laws, federal/state courts.

o PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS-- Guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

o CIVIL RIGHTS-- Guaranteed under U.S. the Constitution, federal/state laws.

o VOTE IN NATIONAL ELECTION -- Vote for the President and Vice President.

o VOTING REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS -- Two (2) Senators and a House representative.

o INCREASED ACCESS-- to federal $$$ assistance, revenue sharing, programs, grants, aids and entitlement.

o ECONOMIC/POLITICAL STABILY -- ensured by federal/state laws, and the U.S. Constitution.

FREE ASSOCIATION ===========================

o TOTAL SOVEREIGNTY-- with intention to freely associate with the U.S.

o FOREIGN RELATIONS -- may make treaty with other sovereign country.

o FORM OF GOVERNMENT -- ???? until established after attaining independence.

o CITIZENSHIP -- Guam citizenship with Guam passport.

o CONSTITUTION -- ???? until framed after attaining independence.

o INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS -- ???? until included in its Constitution after attaining independence.

o NATIONAL DEFENSE -- ???? until negotiated and agreed upon by the U.S.

o ECONOMY/FINANCIAL STRUCTURE -- may continue or modify present set up.

o TAX STRUCTURE -- ???? until set up after attaining independence.

o LEGAL/JUDICIAL SYSTEM -- ???? until established after attaining independence.

o PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS -- ???? until included in its Constitution after attaining independence.

o CIVIL RIGHTS -- ???? until included in its Constitution or laws after attaining independence.

o INDEPENDENCE =============================

o TOTAL SOVEREIGNTY and self-rule.

o FOREIGN RELATIONS -- may make treaty with other sovereign country.

o FORM OF GOVERNMENT -- ???? until established after attaining independence.

o CITIZENSHIP -- Guam citizenship with Guam passport.

o CONSTITUTION -- ???? until framed after attaining independence.

o INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS -- ???? until included in its Constitution after attaining independence.

o NATIONAL DEFENSE -- organize and pay for its own armed forces.

o ECONOMY/FINANCIAL STRUCTURE -- may continue or  modify present set up.

o TAX STRUCTURE -- ???? until set up after attaining independence.

o LEGAL/JUDICIAL SYSTEM -- ???? until established after attaining independence.

o Private Property Rights  -- ???? until included in its Constitution after attaining independence.

o CIVIL RIGHTS -- ???? until included in its Constitution after attaining independence.


ADVERSE IMPACT LOOMS IF GUAM DISENGAGES FROM THE U.S. ========

If Free Association or Independence should prevail in the coming plebiscite, there would be changes that could adversely impact the people of Guam under a new political order. For examples:

o Guam's status as a U.S. territory would be discontinued since it would no longer be under U.S. sovereignty. The Organic Act of Guam would be repealed by Congress.

o U.S. citizenship could be jeopardized or compromised. U.S. citizens who also would seek Guam citizenship could place their U.S. citizenship at risk. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act provides for the revocation of U.S. citizenship or denial of U.S. citizenship for future decendants of U.S. citizens under certain conditions.

o Application of the U.S. Constitution to Guam would be withdrawn since Guam would no longer be under U.S. sovereignty. Protection of U.S. citizens living on Guam could be compromised or restricted.

o U.S. military presence  could be withdrawn or limited in size. This would depend on what could be negotiated with the U.S.

o Federal assistance and funding for social programs, health and welfare, public safety, law and order, education, scholarships, heritage and cultural preservation, highway and infrastructure construction, aids and grants would be discontinued. Any assistance from the U.S. would be negotiated under a treaty agreement.

o Military reserve units, including the Guam National Guard, would be dismantled.

o Social Security for future generations would not be available.

o Medicare/medicaid would be discontinued.

o New form of government and political order would replace the present system.

o Continued presence of foreign investments would depend on the stability and protection of law under the new political order.