SPECIAL COMMITTEE TAKES UP QUESTION OF GUAM

11 July 2000
GA/COL/3034

SPECIAL COMMITTEE TAKES UP QUESTION OF GUAM

11 July 2000


Press Release
GA/COL/3034


SPECIAL COMMITTEE TAKES UP QUESTION OF GUAM

20000711

The deleterious effects of colonial activity on the Chamorro people of Guam included the degradation of traditions and the overburdening of educational and health systems, through imposed immigration policies, the Vice-Chairman of the Guam Commission on Decolonization told the Special Committee on decolonization this afternoon.

As the Special Committee heard statements by representatives from Guam, Ronald Rivera said that the native people were over-represented in correctional facilities, probation rolls, and in rates of family violence, teenage suicides, school drop-outs, and other social problems typical of subjugated native peoples. The actions of the Government of Guam were only relevant within the boundaries determined by the laws of the administering Power. Those laws had served the administering Power’s interests – providing the basis for taking land, reshaping demography and marginalizing native people.

Madeleine Bordallo, Lieutenant-Governor of Guam, speaking on behalf of Governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez, stressed that the objective of the Special Committee’s work should bring about a self-governing status. A delisting process without decolonization would be void of meeting. The focus on self-government was best brought about by having all parties – administering Powers, Non-Self- Governing Territories and the Special Committee in its oversight capacity – engaged in meaningful discourse.

She urged the Special Committee to consider amendments to language in the portion of the draft resolution on Guam to make clear the current status of discussions between Guam and the United States and the processes now under way in the Territory. Guam was ready to work with the Special Committee and the administering Power to assure that the resolution reflected the present circumstances.

Also this afternoon, the representatives of Syria and Papua New Guinea raised issues to which the two officials responded.

When it meets tomorrow at 10 a.m., the Special Committee will hear petitioners on the question of Puerto Rico.

Special Committee Work Programme

The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this afternoon to hear statements by the Lieutenant-Governor of Guam and the Vice-Chairman of the Guam Commission on Decolonization.

Statements

MADELEINE BORDALLO, Lieutenant-Governor of Guam, speaking on behalf of Governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez, said it was essential that the completion of the Special Committee's work involve the active participation of those who maintained the mechanisms of external governance. It was equally important that representatives of the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories also be involved in the processes intended to lead to decolonization and delisting. The Charter was clear about the paramountcy of the interests of the Territory's people. Those interests could only be represented by the people of the Territory themselves.

She said that the objective of the Special Committee's work should bring about a self-governing status. A delisting process without decolonization would be void of meaning. Guam's perspective was well founded in the international conventions and customs which had helped to create the law of self-determination. The focus on self-government was best brought about by having all parties -- administering Powers, Non-Self-Governing Territories and the oversight of the Special Committee -- engaged in meaningful discourse.

Recalling that Guam's views in that regard had been widely shared with the Committee’s Chairman during his visit to the Territory, she urged the Special Committee's expeditious consideration of the Guam question within the framework of the 10-Step Plan to end colonialism the Chairman had advanced. Guam appreciated the Special Committee's interest in moving forward with those Territories where delisting might come more easily, owing to unique or historic circumstances. There remained, however, many weighty items involved in completing the decolonization process. The question of Guam was one of them.

She said that in a 6 June letter to the President of the United States, the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee with oversight of Guam had noted the years of discussion with Guam and the impasse in making progress on the Territory's political status and changes in the application of United States law to Guam. The letter was a petition on the need for meaningful dialogue. If the Chairman of the Senate Committee could note the need for dialogue, the Special Committee's work could also reflect such a tenor.

The Territory would welcome the Special Committee's consideration of amendments to language in the portion of the resolution on Guam that made clear the current status of discussions between Guam and the United States and the processes now under way in the Territory, she said. Suggested amendments had been informally advanced for the Special Committee's review and disposition. Guam was ready to work with the Special Committee and the administering Power to assure that the resolution reflected the present circumstances.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that despite the Special Committee's wish to hold this year's Pacific Regional Seminar in Guam, the administration had not responded favourably to the suggestion. Though holding it in the Territory would have been to the advantage of all parties concerned, certain reservations had been expressed that made it impossible.

He said the people of Guam had a right to self-determination, and the administering Power must act in accordance with United Nations resolutions on the question of Guam. It was also necessary to undertake efforts to give the Chamorro people of Guam the right to their own property and resources. The Special Committee wanted a dialogue between itself, the people of Guam and the administering Power.

Ms. BORDALLO said the Governor had extended an invitation to the Special Committee, but a representative from the United States had said Guam did not have the right to involve itself in policy. That was why the seminar had not been held in Guam.

JIMMY OVIA (Papua New Guinea) asked what preparations were being made for the plebiscite and what the whole exercise would mean for the Special Committee and for the Chamorro people.

Ms. BORDALLO replied that the question would be better answered by the Vice- Chairman of the Guam Commission on Decolonization.

RONALD RIVERA, Vice-Chairman of the Guam Commission on Decolonization, said that the government of Guam was a subject government whose actions were only relevant within the boundaries determined by the laws of the administering Power. Those laws had served the administering Power’s interests -– providing the basis for taking land, reshaping demography, marginalizing native people, shifting income from the people of Guam to commercial entities, jailing non-violent protesters, and other actions that evidence subjugation, domination, and exploitation.

The deleterious effects of such colonial activity on the Chamorro people, he said, included the degradation of traditions, and the overburdening of educational and health systems, through imposed immigration policies. Native people were over-represented in correctional facilities, probation rolls, and in rates of family violence, teenage suicides, school drop-outs, and other social problems typical to subjugated native peoples.

These negative conditions, he added, were often hidden behind the apparent prosperity of Guam. And in many ways, the relationship between the people of Guam and the United States was mutually beneficial. In particular, they appreciated having a security arrangement with the United States and would want one to continue in any status option considered. But this could not compensate for the damage being done, which tore at the very existence of the Chamorro people.

The people of Guam had resolved to move forward with the process of self- determination and had advanced a process for its accomplishment. They claimed, however, that the administering Power had yet to become engaged in that process and that engagement was essential for progress. The people of Guam would also like to see the Special Committee more engaged in this question. There was no substitute for the direct participation of the people of Guam in that regard and they stood prepared to engage in any activity that advanced their standing.

In response to a previous query, he said that the upcoming plebiscite was now scheduled for 7 November, though the Special Committee has been given flexibility to change that date in response to new developments.

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For information media. Not an official record.