Guam – “We are Guahan” is a group that sponsors Heritage Hikes to sights around the island that have historical and cultural significance. But according one of its members, the Navy is making it more difficult to gain assess to certain areas on military property.
A couple of months ago , Washington D.C. officials came to Guam to discuss the programmatic agreement. Attorney Leevin Camacho says during that time the navy advertised that upon request, the public can gain access to historical areas around the island that may be located on military property, such as Tweed’s Cave, the Spanish steps and the Sumay Village. Camacho is a member of “We are Guahan” which sponsors the Heritage hikes that brings people to sights around the island that have historical and cultural significance. Camacho says when the group saw the list they felt this would be a great opportunity for those who don’t have access to base to see these various locations.
Camacho says they put in a requested to see Tweed’s Cave located in Urunao and the navy granted them access to the cave. Camacho contacted Franklin and Pascual Artero, the landowners of where the cave is located at in Urunao. Artero’s father was responsible for hiding U.S.Navy Radioman George Tweed from the Japanese for over 31 months. Tweed was the sole survivor of US personnel on Guam during the Japanese invasion in 1941.
According to Camacho, both Franklin and Pascual both said there wouldn’t be a problem getting to the cave and they would be happy to take them on the tour.
Camacho says, “When we showed up to the hike, there were security guards there. What had happened , was after we had put in the request DOD had put concrete barriers blocking the trail so no one could drive down so basically the trail Mr. Artero had been using for years, which had never been blocked before, literally within weeks of our request it was blocked.”
Because the barrier was blocking the trail, the group was unable to drive their cars down the steep trail. They were all forced to walk down the slopping terrain in the heat for nearly a mile.”
Camacho says, “It was very sad to see this is how we were treated and this is his families land . There were many people who had never been to Tweed’s Cave and we wanted to see it first hand. To see that’s how our elders are being treated for people who have first hand of knowledge of these various sites, it was very discouraging and very upsetting.”
The small group was met by two military personnel to escort them while they were on this peaceful historical hike.
Camacho says, “There were two security guards following us and there were two or three security officers waiting for us at the trail head. We were just there to go hiking we never had any intentions of running off, pillaging or taking any artifacts.”
Leevin says the group is not going to give up on seeing these historical sights. He says the reality is that when DOD talks about access it’s not as simple as you show up and then you can get on the land. Because there’s a policy in place. He adds that its frustrating because the rules to get on military land always change whenever there’s a change in command at Navy.