Statehood ... Guam's ultimate destiny
Quo Vadis --
Where do we go from here?
From 1898 to 2008 and beyond, from being governed by naval governors, occupied by enemy forces during WWII to achieving limited self-government and U.S. citizenship under the 1950 Organic Act enacted by Congress, Guam and its people have come a long way. From a sleepy little island of yesteryears, it has emerged as a modern and still growing community with all the trappings of the American way of life. Although we elect members of our unicameral legislature, governor and lieutenant governor, and non-voting delegate to Congress, Guam is still listed as one of the few remaining non-self-governing territories as categorized under the UN charter.
In the 1899 Treaty of Paris signed by the U.S. and Spain at the end of the 1898 Spanish-American War, Spain ceded Guam to the U.S. The treaty calls for the U.S. Congress to determine the political status of Guam. The 1945 U.N. Charter, of which the U.S. is a major signatory, listed Guam as a non-self-governing territory and provides for the “inhabitants” of Guam to choose their ultimate political status at an appropriate time in the future.
Guam’s Quest for Statehood
Political evolution from 1898
** 1898 – U.S. Captured Guam from Spain during the Spanish-American War.
** 1899– Spain ceded Guam to U.S. in the Treaty of Paris. Guam was placed under Navy control and administered by the Navy commanding officer who also acted as Governor of the island civilian administration. The “Americanization” process of the inhabitants began.
** 1901 – Petition requesting the U.S. government to consider granting Guam a permanent civil government was signed by some 30 Chamorro leaders.
** 1908 – The Navy Department informed the naval governor of Guam that the people of Guam would eventually be granted U.S. citizenship once they become more acquainted with the English language and the U.S. Constitution.
** 1917– Guam Congress was established as an advisory body, with its members comprising of Chamorro leaders who were appointed by Naval Gov. Roy Smith. In 1931, the members were elected by the people – the first general election ever held in Guam.
** 1936 – Over 1,900 inhabitants of Guam signed a petition urging U.S. Congress to enact citizenship legislation. Francisco B. Leon Guerrero and Baltazar J. Bordallo, respectively representing the House of Assembly and the House of Council of the Guam Congress, traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby for the passage of citizenship legislation. The two Chamorro leaders met with President Roosevelt in the White House but the citizenship bill died in committee.
** Dec. 8, 1941-- Japanese Imperial Forces invaded Guam as World War II and occupied the island for two and a half years. Although they were captive and subjugated to enemy atrocities, beatings, execution, forced labor, forced march and placed in concentration camps, the native Chamorros were steadfast in their loyalty to the U.S. rather than capitulate to the enemy.
** July 21, 1944– After over two years of enemy occupation during WWII, U.S. armed forces recaptured Guam and liberated the people from enemy atrocities. Once again, naval governors resumed administration of the island’s civilian affairs. Shortly thereafter, the Guam Congress was re-established as an advisory body made up of Guam leaders.
** 1949– Guam Congress staged a walkout in protest to a certain action by the Naval governor. The walkout generated national attention over the lack of civil rights for the people of Guam and revived Guam’s drive for self-government and U.S. citizenship.
** 1950 – U.S. Congress enacted the Guam Organic Act and conferred U.S. citizenship on the inhabitants of Guam. It also established a unicameral Legislature with the power to appropriate local government funds, pass local laws not inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution and federal laws applicable to Guam. The first civilian Governor, Carlton Skinner, was appointed by Pres. Harry Truman, and confirmed by Congress.
** 1960 – Pres. Richard Nixon appointed the first Governor of Chamorro ancestry, Gov. Joseph Flores, publisher of the Guam Daily News.
** 1969– The first Guam Constitutional Convention established by Guam law was convened, with members elected to review the Organic Act and make recommendations to enhance Guam’s political status with the U.S. Tony Palomo served as president.
** 1970 – Guam elected its first civilian chief executive officer, Republican Gov. Carlos G. Camacho, who had served as the last appointed Governor and earlier was elected a Senator in the 8thGuam Legislature.
** 1972 – Guam elected its first non-voting delegate to Congress. Democrat Antonio B. Won Pat won that seat.
** 1976 – A political status referendum was held in a move to more clearly define Guam’s political aspiration.
** 1977 – The 2ndGuam Constitutional Convention was authorized by Congress. With then Sen. Carl Gutierrez serving as president, the elected delegates crafted a document that was presented to Washington D.C. The Constitution was then submitted to the people of Guam for ratification.
** 1979 – After an exhaustive campaign by proponents and opponents, the Guam Constitution failed ratification by the voters of Guam.
** 1980– The Guam Commission on Self-Determination was enacted by the Guam Legislature. Authored by Sen. Eddie Duenas, the Commission was charged with undertaking an in-depth research on five possible political statuses – Statehood, Commonwealth, status quo, Independence and Free Association.
** 1982 – Self-Determination plebiscite was held. Although no one status garnered a majority vote, a required run–off was conducted between the two top vote-getters – Commonwealth and Statehood -- in which Commonwealth was favored. Independence and Free Association came in the last two in the initial balloting.
** 1986 – Guam Commonwealth Act consequently was written and two years later was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate.
** 1989 – Congress held a public hearing on the Guam Commonwealth Act in Hawaii, then referred it to Executive branch for review.
** 1990 – Negotiation talks were begun to get a consensus on the final draft but bogged down because of disagreements on some major issues.
** 1997 – The Guam Decolonization Commission was established by local law to spearhead research on the three terminal status options – Statehood, Independence and Free Association – as endorsed by the U.N.
** 2000 – Decolonization plebiscite was scheduled in conjunction with the 2000 general election. However, a separate voter registration was required for the plebiscite and adequate public education on the three options and funding were lacking, thus postponing the plebiscite. It has languished since then, encountering one obstacles after another, including lack of adequate funding. Efforts in completing the required voter registration continue. The Decolonization Commission, with the Governor Eddie Baza Calvo as chairman, has been revitalized and is now meeting regularly.
Guam’s Quest for Statehood
What Statehood means…
** Full integration into the Union of U.S. States on equal footing. As a State, Guam will be accorded all the rights and privileges enjoyed by the 50 states.
** State sovereignty, total autonomy and control of all state affairs. As a state, Guam decides on its governmental organization, court system, state taxes and regulate state commerce.
** Foreign relations is under U.S. jurisdiction.
** Form of government– three (3) equal branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary.
** Full protection under the U.S. Constitution, with full application of the Bill of Rights:
** Bill of Rights:
-- Freedom of religion, free speech, free press, peaceful assembly, redress of grievance.
-- Right to own and bear arms.
-- Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
-- Due process of law, protection from double jeopardy and self- incrimination.
-- Just compensation for private property taken for public use.
-- Fair and speedy trial, trial by jury for criminal charges.
-- Jury trial for civil litigation.
-- No excessive bail or fines, cruel and unusual punishment.
-- Rights of states.
** National defense– U.S. armed forces provide for common defense from external threats.
** Economy/financial structure– based on free enterprise, free market; use U.S. currency.
** Tax structure– as determined by federal/state laws.
** Legal/judicial structure– as provided by U.S. Constitution, federal/state laws, federal/state courts.
** Private property rights– protected by the U.S. Constitution, federal/state laws, federal/state courts.
** Civil rights– guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
** Economic/political stability– ensured by federal/state laws, and the U.S. Constitution.
Guam’s Quest for Statehood
As a State, Guam will achieve …..
** Equality with all other states on equal footing.
** Right to vote for the President and Vice President.
** Voting in Congress– two (2) seats in the Senate and one in the House.
** Permanent U.S. citizenship under the U.S. Constitution.
** Authority to structure state government.
** Create state courts and appoint judges.
** National defense for protection from enemy threats.
** Equal opportunity to access federal $$$, revenue sharing from federal government, programs, grants, aids and entitlements.
** Greater leverage in Congress through voting representation of two Senators and a Representative.
** Enhanced prestige economically and politically in the Pacific-Asia region.
** Increased economic growth and population base.
Guam’s Quest for Statehood
Economic/financial benefits ……
** Revenue sharing – For every federal income tax dollar the state pays into the national treasury, the federal government returns portion of the amount back to the state in various forms, such as program funding, capital outlay, grants, aids and entitlements. Most of the states receive more than what they pay in federal income taxes.
** Greater participation in federal programs, grants, aids and entitlements. As a state, Guam will receive its share based on equitable formula applied to all states. As a territory, Guam received federal funding as authorized by law, which in most cases set a cap on the amount lower than the formula applied to states.
** Social Security Supplemental Income benefit will be applicable to Guam residents. It’s 100% federally funded.
** Earned Income Tax Credit will be extended to workers, federally funded at 100%. Because Guam is not a state, EITC is paid by local funds in the millions.
** Tax Treaty benefits to local investments. This will enable Guam to better attract foreign investments and enjoy reduced taxes.
** Domestic rates instead of international rate in trade and commerce. At present, Guam in some instances is charged higher international rate, particularly in shipping and communications.
** Greater opportunity to receive appropriation and financial benefits from Congress since their two senators and one House representative could directly introduce funding measures and leverage their voting power in Congress.
Guam’s Quest for Statehood
Federal jurisdiction ……
== Immigration and Naturalization Services are under the exclusive jurisdiction and control of the federal government.
== Federal Income Taxes collected in Guam is paid into the national treasury. The mirror Guam Income Tax now being collected on Guam is authorized by Congress to be retained in the local treasury and used for Guam purposes.
== Air and Shipping rights are under federal control and are regulated by federal laws. These include all sea, surface and air flight activities originating to and from Guam..
== National defense protects Guam from any external hostile threat or invasion by foreign powers. U.S. armed services maintain vigilant protection from assault or invasion by hostile forces by land, air or sea.
== Foreign relations is exclusive powers of the U.S. government, including making treaties and compacts with other independent sovereign states and countries.
== U.S. labor laws enforcement is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. This includes wage and hour and fair labor standards regulating commerce, trade and industries.
== Costal zone management and control within boundaries and limits of the state.
== Fishery and wildlife preservation protects natural resources and habitats.
== Environmental Protection ensures Guam comply to all laws and policies designed to protect island’s environment and natural resources from pollution, hazardous, toxic waste and environmental health issues.
== Federal court system adjudicates all civil and criminal cases arising from violation of Constitution, federal criminal and civil laws.
Guam Statehood Task Force ……
Edward R. Duenas is a retired Guam senator and former Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard. He served for nine consecutive terms (18 years) in the Guam Legislature before he was appointed by Gov. Joseph Ada to command the Guard in 1992. As a member of the Republican majority in his first four terms as a law-maker, he chaired a committee that had oversight on Youth and Senior Citizens, Federal-Territorial Relations, and Military and Veterans Affairs. Among his major accomplishments were the creation of the Department of Youth Affairs, Department of Military Affairs and Division of Senior Citizens.
In a move to enhance greater cooperation and mutual support among the various island governments in Micronesia, he spearheaded the formation of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures. With strong passion to see Guam achieve greater political status, he authored a law that initially created the Commission on Self-Determination which conducted the 1982 plebiscite for self-determination. He is a graduate of Marquette University and the Army Command and General Staff College.
ELOY P. HARA , a Navy retiree, also retired from Gov-Guam after serving as administrator of Guam Memorial Hospital. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of the Guam Civil Service Commission for six years and Deputy Manager for Administration of the Guam Power Authority.
He graduated from East Texas State University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and an Associate of Arts degrees in Computer Science and Accounting. He also completed 11 o 12 courses towards a Master's degree in Management Science.
Eloy had served as member of the Guam Utility Commission which has regulatory oversight over the island’s water and power system.
A man with a vision of Guam’s future
“Our forefathers were right in hanging on to our U.S. connection. And at times we had to fight tenaciously and even die to protect that connection. U.S. citizenship, coveted by most people throughout the world, has kept us going – a stroke of genius, indeed, by our forefathers.
“We are on the threshold of a permanent relationship with the U.S. Statehood , in my judgment, is the last punch. We will become full-fledged member of the American family – the strongest, biggest, and the most powerful democratic form of government in the world.
“People will ask, What is that 51ststar on the flag?”
“Where is Guam?”
“Guam is in Asia.”
“What is Guam?”
“Guam is the Chamorros.”
“Who is Jesus?”
“Jesus is a Chamorro-American in Little America.”
** Excerpt from Jesus Sablan Leon Guerrero autobiography “Jesus in Little America." He was a prominent community leader, politically astute, and founder and president of the Bank of Guam, the first locally-owned bank.