The news was buzzing only months ago about Puerto Rico changing their official standing with the United States, but even still, no one saw what was coming out of Guam today. Seventy-three years after being liberated from Japanese conquest by the U.S. and after becoming a colony two hundred years ago (one of only 17 remaining in the world), they are demanding a change.
Liberation Day (who knew?) is about to occur in Guam this week and the debate is quite active about whether or not Guam should remain a U.S. colony or become an independent state, the South China Morning Post confirms.
Former Senator Eddie Duenas, who is in favor of self-rule says, “We have been driving but we don’t know where we’re driving to and how far we will go.” He feels that a vote is “overdue” and should happen “during a gubernatorial election expected next year.”
“We just keep driving and driving. It’s annoying,” he added with great frustration.
Guam is an “unincorporated territory of the United States” and has been since 1898. The 160,000 who dwell there are U.S. citizens, but they do not have the same rights since they are not fully a state.
For instance, they can participate in elections and “Guam’s sole representative in the US Congress does not get to vote on legislation.”
Guam Governor Eddie Calvo wants voters presented with three options, much like Puerto Rico suggested, that would offer voters to choose “independence, becoming a US state, or remaining in ‘free association’ with Washington.”
Clearly unhappy with things as they are, the leader said, “Anything is better than the status quo. I would be happier if we became a state [but] if voters chose independence or free association I would be happier than I am right now.”
Independence is going to be quite tricky since “one of the largest US military contingents in the Asia-Pacific” is located there, often called America’s “tip of the spear.” It is vital in dealing with not only a potential Chinese threat, but a real North Korean one.
Also, Guam is quite poor and “44,900 individuals and 15,650 households” get food stamps or some kind of assistance from Uncle Sam. How would moving the military bases and U.S. money($600 million a year) help this new country in this regard?
These few problems are the “tip of the iceberg,” not the spear. There are a lot of interlocking systems, grants, loans, institutions, and similar complexities hidden in this vote.
While much of the world may be unaware of it, Guam could actually become quite a hot topic in the coming months.