Members of activist group Prutehi Litekyan stood outside Joint Region Marianas today to express their opposition to several Department of Defense construction projects — including the Live Fire Training Range Complex at Northwest Field — for its potential impact on the cultural and natural resources in the area.
These resources include the northern lens aquifer, the island’s limestone forest, as well as ancestral sites.
According to Monaeka Flores, a member of the group, the demonstration was organized on All Souls Day for a reason.
“This is a time when we think about our ancestors, our loved ones who have gone before us. This is a time where we gather today at their graves to put fresh flowers and this is the same time that our ancestors are being desecrated in our ancient village sites,” Flores said.
While she acknowledges that some aspects of the military’s presence can be beneficial to the island, Maria Sol Marques, another member of the group, disagrees with the construction of additional military installations.
“In the long term, overall, it’s not beneficial to anyone. Anyone alive now, anyone born in the future generations, and our ancestors,” she said.
The protest comes in the aftermath of the denial of Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s request for a pause in the construction of the training range.
Maria Hernandez, another member of Prutehi, said: “At no point are we going to let the construction and the destruction move forward. We’re going to continue to let our voices be heard and let them know that at no point are we willing to sacrifice our culture and heritage.”
She also says that Joint Region Marianas closed today at 3 p.m. and that it is unclear why, considering that the group’s protest happened at 4 p.m.