During 2019, Guam saw the loss of the political status plebiscite case, the closure of Public Health, and more.
Over the course of 2019, several incidents have made their mark on the history of the island.
They include the court ruling that Guam cannot hold a political status plebiscite authorized by a 1997 law that was deemed in violation of the 15th amendment.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero announced her intent to appeal the decision and the international law firm Kirkland and Ellis petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
In November, Public Health’s main office was shut down by an electrical fire. The agency worked to transfer their division and remain in operation to offer services, even in the midst of controlling the spread of dengue fever.
Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas introduced H.R. 1365, a measure that would authorize the payment of war reparations. Speaker Tina Muna Barnes also introduced Bill 181-35, a rival bill to start paying the claims using local funds.
In 2019, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana, opening doors for a new cannabis industry that would be monitored by the local government.
In addition, the governor made history as she became the first female governor of Guam and Joshua Tenorio the first openly gay lieutenant governor.
Concerns about the fate of the Guam Memorial Hospital arose and a survey by the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the estimated cost to repair the facility’s structure would be upwards of $200 million. The Corps is expected to issue a recommendation later this year.
Anonymous letters targeting government officials such as Esther Aguigui, the Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard, and former DOC Director Samantha Brennan, arose, claiming that both women contributed to an unstable work environment in their respective agencies.
As for another government official, Yona Mayor Jesse Blas was arrested and charged in federal court for drug and extortion-related offenses. A petition was filed calling for the election of a new mayor for the village.
And finally, violent crimes were rampant throughout 2019, with drugs and alcohol playing a role in the various physical altercations and murders that happened during the year. These incidents have raised concerns within the community and taxed the understaffed police department’s efforts to keep up with these cases.
Click the video below for the top stories of 2019.