AUDIO: Governor’s Weekly Address – “Fulfilling a Chamorro Dream”

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Guam – The theme of this Week’s Address from Governor Eddie Calvo is “Fulfilling a Chamorro Dream.”

In the address, the Governor says that in the coming months, the Land Trust will be working hard to distribute the remaining lots for about 8,600 Chamorro families. 

 

He said, “There is still much work to do before that can be accomplished, though. Most of these lots need power, water, and sewer infrastructure. All of them need to be surveyed. One of my goals is to carry out this heroic dream and vision that started with these great Chamorros.”

LISTEN to the Governor’s Weekly Address HERE >>> Weekly Address 6-30-14.mp3 

READ the Governor’s Weekly Address below:

Fulfilling a Chamorro dream: A weekly address
By Eddie Baza Calvo

Hafa Adai my fellow Guamanians,

Thousands of Chamorro families have been waiting up to 20 years for a promise. In 1995 they started applying to live on the land our ancestors left us. Some people got land. Sadly, 8,600 Chamorro families are still waiting.

For 20 years the dream of the late Senator Paul Bordallo went unrealized. He created the Chamorro Land Trust Act. He took all the unused government land and placed it in trust for the Chamorro people. The land cannot be sold or transferred. It belongs in trust and for the use of the Chamorros.

Paul Bordallo’s vision makes him a hero of our people. The Chamorros of that time lived differently. Families lived together on family land. No one went without.  Bordallo foresaw a different future. He saw Chamorros struggling for land and housing. And, so, he prepared the way for that time.

For so many years, Chamorros couldn’t benefit from the Trust. There were too many questions. There was fear that it would be declared unconstitutional. Finally, the court ruled that the Trust was legal. And a young activist named Angel Santos picked up the fight. He protested every day. He went hungry. He threw himself in front of the Governor’s car until executive security had to pick him up. He had one message: start giving the Chamorro people their right to live on the lands in Trust.

20 years after the trust was created there was a growing need. The boom days of the late 1980s and early 1990s were gone. Some Chamorros started struggling. And Angel Santos could not stand to see his people suffer. Not while the government of Guam was holding on to their land.

Angel Santos won that battle for the Chamorro people. The Governor finally relented and opened the application process. Over 10,000 Chamorros have turned in an application since.  Angel took this crusade to the Legislature when he was elected senator.  Senator Mark Forbes collaborated with him many times to promote land issues.

Between that first year and today, only about 3,000 leases have been issued. And that includes commercial and agricultural leases.

Over 8,600 Chamorros and their families are still waiting for their turn. The late Monte Mafnas—the last leader of the Chamorro Land Trust Commission—discovered incredible wrongdoing and injustice in the Trust when we stepped into office. The records were not maintained. Leaders gave preferential treatment to some Chamorros ahead of others. Companies were profiting without ever paying their leases. Leases were issued without surveys done. The condition of the Trust was a shame and a scandal.

Monte spent every waking moment until the day he died repairing the Trust. He wanted to see these lands leased to the Chamorro people once and for all. And he did it, along with other heroes: the men and women of the CLTC, Ancestral Lands, Land Management, and others in the government. They tirelessly advocated for the distribution of these lands. And Monte demanded fairness and equity in the process.

So did Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks. It was because of her that the Land Trust has been jump started following the massive clean up Monte did. Last week we valued the Trust lands for the first time in history. In order to do that, the CLTC created an inventory of the land—something Doris recommended since 2006. And they cleared up all the records. They found hundreds of bogus leases, errors, and much more. They cleaned it up. Now, there is transparency and accountability for the land of our ancestors—the land that our children, the future generations of Chamorros will inherit.

This happened after years of advocacy by people like Debbie Quinata, Trini Torres, Ben Garrido, and Hope Cristobal. All of them are heroes in this journey.

In the coming months, the Land Trust will venture into an exciting agenda. All their hard work is leading to a faster distribution of the remaining lots. There is still much work to do before that can be accomplished, though. Most of these lots need power, water, and sewer infrastructure. All of them need to be surveyed.

One of my goals is to carry out this heroic dream and vision that started with these great Chamorros. This is the heroic cause that the late Senator Angel Santos pledged his life and his heart to resurrect. It was an heroic mission that Monte Mafnas poured his soul and being to complete. I commit to completing this journey in their memory. This is a duty to our ancestors. It’s a duty to future generations of Chamorros.