The Commission on Decolonization has responded to a statement made by President Trump opposing statehood for Guam, saying it is “troubling” that the President would “so blatantly” disregard one of the three internationally recognized political status options available to Guam and other U.S. territories.
In a phone interview on October 1, 2020 with Sean Hannity of Fox News, President Trump expressed his opposition to granting statehood to U.S. territories like Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.). In the interview, the President expressed that if these places became states, it would lead to an awkward number of stars on the U.S. flag. Trump asked, and ended with, “So it’s a very, very sad thing for our country. Very, very sad thing.”
While many may have seen Trump’s comments as casual and inconsequential, the Commission on Decolonization pointed out that the colonized people of these territories undoubtedly feel different.
“As U.S. territories, our governments only exercise a superficial level of local democracy because without meaningful representation or the full protection of the Constitution, we are unilaterally controlled by the federal government. Clearly, this is an inequitable relationship that all territories have outgrown despite piecemeal changes throughout the years. His reasons for this denial are superficial and selfish –how the flag would look with more than 50 stars on it, and the possibility that a majority of voters in the territories would not vote for him or other Republicans,” the commission said in a statement.
The commission added: “President Trump claims that allowing Territories to become states would give Democrats a political advantage because it would add 4-6 more Senators and ‘twenty-something Congressional seats’ from islands that he claims Republicans can’t win. He went on to say, ‘We have islands all over the place. [Why] don’t they go for the whole ball game?,’ suggesting Democrats would gain more power and control by adding more Democratic states and influence.”
According to the commission, all territories have a long history of engagement with the federal government and the United Nations on this issue, and it will continue to push this conversation until a peaceful and just resolution is reached. Under the United Nations Charter, the U.S. has an international obligation to support Guam’s desires for a full measure of self-government.
“This is not a plea for statehood or any other status in particular. It is merely our assertion that if the United States truly values freedom, justice, and equality, then it must honor its international obligation to support our desire for self-determination. We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and we cannot remain possessions for another hundred years. We can put our long history of colonial rule and injustice behind us and start anew, but it must begin with recognition, dignity, and respect. It must begin with Self-Determination -and all options, regardless of partisan politics, should be available to our people,” the commission stated.