Guam – We Are Guahan member Cara Flores Mays was having lunch at a restaurant in Hagatna when she overheard a conversation held amongst at least three military officers including D.C. JGPO Communications Director Paula Conhain, Marine Forces Pacific Forward Public Affairs Officer Lt. Colonel Aisha Bakkar and JGPO Colonel Paul Pond.
“I was actually very disturbed because I overheard Paula Conhain making fun of an older Chamorro gentleman she was making fun of his accent she was making fun of his UOG education and then she made a comment about the number of teeth that he had and she made the comment so so how many teeth does he have three? And I was just very disturbed by that conversation,” said Flores-Mays adding
“She was just making fun of the way that he talks and the accent that he had and questioning whether he was truly educated because of his accent.”
After hearing these comments Mays posted what she had heard on Facebook. Colonel Bakkar responded to her comments saying “Unfortunately Cara is correct about the comments made by individuals from off-island eating lunch with me.” Bakkar apologized for not stopping the conversation, and stated “Please know that her uninformed beliefs about Guam and it’s people are not shared by marine corps leadership.”
Mays says that the officers also spoke about a new strategy that JGPO would employ in order to get more people to be in favor of the buildup. “I was really disgusted by the strategy to use people in our own community against our own community so to use mayors and our Manamko and especially their stories to use those things to sell the buildup to our community I think is a disgusting idea,” said Flores-Mays
She says this conversation is indicative of the attitude that the military has towards Guam and the buildup in general. “I felt that her comments were definitely disrespectful arrogant and prejudiced and I was outraged when she was talking about his accent becuase I immediately thought about my grandmother and how much I missed her accent and hearing her speak and how her accent for me represents home,” said Flores-Mays adding “You know these are the people that have been assigned to oversee the buildup and these are the prejudices they have.” She says that in the very least the military should give Guam the respect it deserves. “Guam has given so much more than any other community has ever given and we’re being asked for so much more and in their asking us for so much more they can’t even give us respect,” she said.
Bakkar is the only individual who has come forward and apologized for the conversation. PNC news attempted to contact Paula Conhain via email this afternoon but it would’ve have been around one or two A.M. D.C. Time so we have yet to receive a response.