Washington D.C. – Guam Governor Eddie Calvo met briefly with President Barak Obama at a White House luncheon for the nations Governors Tuesday.
Governor Calvo is in Washington for the National Governor’s Association winter meeting.
Calvo said “We had a nice talk with the President,” said Calvo. “I said ‘aloha,’ to him, because he is from Hawaii. We had a nice picture taken with myself, Governor Fitial, Hawaii Governor Tulafono, with the President, at the luncheon meeting we had.”
The Governor also said he told Obama, the U.S. needs Guam, there’s a big military build-up in the works, and Guam is looking to Washington for help, because, Calvo said, “We need your help, as well.”
Also on Tuesday in D.C., Governor Calvo met with Federal officials on Guam’s bid to get the same visa waiver treatment as the CNMI for Russian and Chinese tourists.
“We feel that this would really ‘catch two-birds with one-stone.’ On one hand, you have the territory of Guam, as well as the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, trying to get ourselves out of a recession, and one way to do it is to tap into those markets in China and Russia.
Q: “But, no commitment on how much longer you have to wait?”
Governor Calvo: “No commitment, there.”
The Governor meantime, says he’s confident the military build-up planning is moving forward in keeping with commitments the Navy made in the programmatic agreement.
The Interior Department also announced a $272-thousand dollar grant to UOG and GCC.
OIA Director Pula said the funds will “provide for the Guam Community College to hold a second annual forensic science symposium, as well as for the University of Guam for its regional workforce sustainability, and its sustainability of regional aquaculture projects.”
The Governor’s Office also released the following statement about the return of 450 acres of Federally controlled property to Guam:
The U.S. government moments ago returned 450 acres of land—including historic Hila’an village and a potential bike bath to Lost Pond at South Finegayan.
The united response from Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tony Babauta, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and Governor Eddie Baza Calvo: “Si Yu’os Ma’ase.”
Governor Calvo went to Washington, D.C. to get the Navy’s promise to shrink the federal footprint in writing. As it turns out, the federal government is showing good faith by following through on promises previously made regarding the return of land.
“The return of 450 acres of excess federal land in South Finegayan transmits the remaining available property identified in Public Law 103-339, the Guam Excess Lands Act, to the Government of Guam. I commend Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta for his leadership in ensuring that the requirements of the Guam Excess Lands Act were fulfilled. I also commend the General Services Administration and Department of Defense for their coordination during this process. These 450 acres are not part of the Navy’s commitment to have a net negative footprint on Guam as part of the military build-up. I will work with Governor Eddie Calvo and the Legislature to ensure that the Navy’s commitments are fulfilled,” Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo said.
Governor Calvo signed the Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. General Services Agency returning the land to the government of Guam. The signing occurred shortly before the start of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas meeting at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Team Guam sent a victory home today,” Governor Calvo said. “This is a step forward in the right direction. It also demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to honor longstanding and important agreements with Guamanians. Our negotiations will continue until the promise of the shrinking of the federal footprint on Guam is met. The federal government recognizes that Team Guam is speaking with one voice. We know what we want and we have the courage to fight for our future. Our people fought for decades for this. The return of this sacred and historic property is a victory for the Guamanian people.”
Assistant Secretary Babauta has been working with Congresswoman Bordallo in Washington, D.C. to finalize the terms of the land return. The three leaders have agreed to work together to negotiate the return of more land.
“Today’s ceremony, which returned 450 acres of excess Federal property to the people of Guam, was a meaningful and symbolic act resulting from years of hard work. Beginning with former Congressman Robert Underwood and later shepherded by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo; the process of implementing the commitments made by the Guam Excess Lands Act, to return former Navy and Air Force property at no cost to Guam, has now been completed by the Obama Administration. I commend the leadership and diligence of the General Services Administration, the Departments of the Navy and the Air Force, and all who have worked on returning excess Federal land to Guam over the past 17 years.”