“What price? The Myth of Independence” was the provocative title of an address delivered last night by University of Guam adjunct professor Gerry Perez.
It was the latest installment in the ongoing lecture series sponsored by the Micronesia Area Research Center.
Perez spoke bluntly about what he called the never-ending debate over Guam’s political status.
Whether Guam chooses independence, statehood or free association, Perez said Guam’s political status will ultimately be decided by larger forces in an increasingly multi-polar world order.
“At best, we have very limited control over these external forces and the political realities. To believe otherwise, I would argue, is to embrace futility. And so the myth of political independence is exactly that, a myth on the false notions and misbelief that the outcome of political independence will somehow be decolonizing from our historic past and our current relationship with the United States,” Perez said.
Perez, who was born during the Japanese occupation, spoke about the unity of purpose that united the people of Guam following the war.
That unanimity of purpose, he said, enabled the island to achieve much of the political autonomy it enjoys today. But he says that is now gone and today we can’t even agree on war reparations.
“Petty politics has been our biggest single obstacle in getting things done and in resolving the question of political status. We want political independence, a status implicitly in which are the attributes of financial responsibility, political maturity, and competence in the delivery of our most basic services. How are all these working for us?” Perez asked.
Perez said that the public debate on independence has focused on the singular theme of letting the island’s indigenous inhabitants decide the island’s political status.
“The problem, I would argue, is the way that this distinct identity is to be determined by a voting poll of qualified voters chosen arbitrarily by historical calendar, absent indigenous purity,” Perez said.
Perez is the president of MicroMed Suppliers and has a long history of service with GovGuam. He is a former general manager of the Guam Visitors Bureau and administrator at the Guam Economic Development Authority.