Activists want to stop, not just pause, military construction

Since 2017, Independent Guåhan has organized an annual Na'lå'la': Songs of Freedom concert at the field in front of Adelup. This field has been the site of many events and protests over the years. This year's Na'lå'la' concert will take place on July 4th from 4-7 pm. Independent Guåhan is also calling for a halt, not just a pause, of all military buildup construction on Guam. (Independent Guåhan photo)

Activists are calling for a complete stop to all military construction related to the buildup, and not just a pause as what Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has agreed to.

The activists were reacting to the announcement that the governor and the military have agreed to a limited pause of military construction around certain areas where rare trees and artifacts have been found.

Victoria Leon Guerrero, of the activist group Independent Guåhan, told the Phill Leon Guerrero show on K-57, that the activist groups are not just concerned about the unearthing of artifacts.

“We have been very clear that we don’t want this buildup and we don’t want this firing range because this area is where we get our fresh water. We don’t want to protect just the rare and hundred-year-old trees but we want to protect the environment as a whole. We must protect all our native habitats and all our natural resources for the future,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added that there is a “disconnect” between what the community deems as important and what the military deems important

“We recognize that because of Guahan’s political status right now, even the governor doesn’t have the power to stop military construction and construction is going forward no matter what we do,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added that the activist groups didn’t want to sign the Programmatic Agreement precisely because they oppose all buildup construction.

As of June 19, a petition opposing any establishment of a military firing range complex on island and the degradation and militarization of native lands has already garnered 12,013 signatures.

Independent Guåhan, along with Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian, Micronesia Climate Alliance, and Manhoben Para Guåhan (Youth for Guam) have also requested the governor to reconsider the dismissal of Guam State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon.

“We are deeply concerned that the timing of her dismissal greatly hinders efforts to protect and preserve recently discovered ancient CHamoru settlements and our deep cultural heritage. With the status of Aguon’s replacement uncertain, the recent discoveries on and off military installations at Finegåyan, Magua’ and Tailalo’ are left vulnerable to suffer the same fate as Magua’ village,” the activist groups said in a news release. “The military has stated that the preservation of an identified ancient settlement is not an option, as stopping construction would impede the relocation of Marines to Guam.”