What would free association mean for Guam?

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Guam – PNC will be carrying UOG’s One Guam gubernatorial debate live Tuesday May 8. The topic of the debate is self-determination. Leading up to the debate PNC will be featuring stories on the different political status options and tonight’s installment is about Free Association.

There are three political status options if Guam holds a plebiscite or vote for self-determination. Namely Statehood, Independence and Free Association. We sat down with Commission on Decolonization Free Association Task Force Chairman Adrian Cruz to find out what Free Association is.

“Put simply Free Association is an independent country that makes a treaty deal with another independent country,” said Cruz.

For example, our neighbors in Micronesia are all forms of Free Association hence the reason we refer to them as Freely Associated States or FAS. The FAS includes the Federated States of Micronesia or FSM, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. These three independent nations have three separate treaties of Free Association with the United States.

“It’s a way to form a relationship with a larger country. Typically, the tradeoff is for things like military access to property or air space as in the case with the rest of the FSM and typically that’s what these relationships are made up of,” said Cruz adding, “for example in the case of Guam what it would be and what it would entail is Andersen, Naval Station the new Marine Corps base things like that to be leased out or rented by the military along with clauses in which Guam will not deal with other nations for military technology or we could have the United States take care of our military matters for us. Also, other things like citizenship in Free Association you can tailor it so you can have dual citizenship with the country that you’re in,” said Cruz adding, “So there’s many ways you can tailor that relationship to be. The point is you get what you negotiate for. And in a strategic place like Guam we have lots of cards on our deck.”

Cruz says this strategic importance is a major advantage for Guam. So Free Association is basically a form of Independence in which a country maintains it’s sovereignty but also maintains a close relationship with another larger more powerful country.

So why not just become a state?

“We see a place like Puerto Rico another U.S. territory in fact a commonwealth. They have like 3 and a half million people. They voted for statehood I think more than once. Systematically they’ve been denied that and one of the major reasons was because they said that the population was too small and here we have Guam with about 160 thousand people,” said Cruz.

Cruz believes it is highly unlikely that the U.S. would ever grant Guam statehood. But if free association is a form of independence why not just go for full independence?

“As leaders of Guam and as people trying to shape our future we have to understand our people and we have to understand the deep seeded American loyalty that lies in the people of Guam,” said Cruz.

“I mean we’re sitting here speaking English we’re wearing American brand clothes we watch American brand tv we are thoroughly Americanized,” said Cruz adding, “Having a free association with the united states is a lot more palatable for all of the players involved. Simply because we understand that our current situation as an unincorporated territory is just not working out. We have unfunded federal mandates that we have to deal with. Recently the federal tax code has had an extreme burden on our local government. We have to deal with things like compact impact in which we have no say on what goes on in our own homeland and so recognizing all of those things I think forging away with free association is going to be an easier way to deal with these problems rather than flat out independence or asking for a reality of statehood which probably will never happen. So, if we want to move anywhere we might as well move somewhere where we know we can gain some traction,” said Cruz.

With free association, Cruz says Guam would be able to have a seat in the United Nations, and more control over its government and economy. He says we’d be able to do away with the Jones Act which makes shipping products to Guam far more expensive than it should be. All while still enjoying a close relationship and federal funds through a treaty with the U.S.

“Negotiating those really, really, well for our benefit and getting the maximum for what we can get is gonna be entirely up to us but we can’t do it if the people of Guam don’t rise to that occasion. And so, I encourage everybody to try to be involved and to be informed and when it comes time to it to exercise your god given right to determine for yourself what should be our path in the future,” said Cruz.

Again, we will be broadcasting the One Guam gubernatorial debate on self-determination at the UOG Fieldhouse on Tuesday.

 

Guam – This Saturday the University of Guam will host the 40th annual island-wide science fair in their Guam Science Building.

Students from schools across the island of Guam will be entering in categories like ecology and earth science, biology and medical, chemistry, sustainability, aerospace, robotics, and computer science. The grand prize is a trip to a Nasa sponsored space camp. UOG Professor Dr. Austin Shelton says the science fair which was founded by local long-time educator Claudia Taitano, is a great way to get students interested in science. So why is science so important?

“Science is important because it explains things in everyday life and it’s really evidence based. I think sometimes it’s easier not to believe science if it’s going to change your opinions or your values, but nothing is more evidence based than science,” said Dr. Shelton adding, “Science is valid it helps us to find answers to everyday problems and also very complex problems in the world that need to be solved.”

“There are careers in science if you’re interested in getting a biology or chemistry or computer science degree there will be careers in those fields,” said Dr. Shelton.

The island-wide science fair is this Saturday at the UOG science building from 8am to 3pm.

The Guam Museum’s permanent exhibit is now open and yesterday the governor and other officials unveiled the long-awaited exhibit.

The first floor has been housing a revolving exhibit that features different exhibits. Now the second floor of the Senator Antonio M. Palomo Guam Museum and Chamorro Educational Facility will finally house its permanent exhibit called “I Hinanao-ta Nu I Manaotao Tano I Chamoru Siha” or the Journey of the Chamoru people.

“The opening of this exhibition also marks the completion of our permanent facility. A place for learning and sharing. It’s your Guam Museum folks. It also has an exhibition that strives to tell the story from the perspectives of the Chamoru people,” said Guam Museum board of trustees President Johnny Sablan.

Governor Eddie Calvo said this museum will help educate the children of Guam about the island’s rich history.