29 December 2016

Guam Independence Task Force intensifies decolonization education


Victoria Leon Guerrero speaks to host Manny Cruz

A new podcast series put on by the Independence for Guam Task Force (Independent Guåhan) began earlier this month with the goal of educating listeners from the Guam community and beyond on issues relating to decolonization.
Titled “Fanachu!,” which translates to “stand tall” in Chamorro, the weekly podcasts will feature casual conversations and interviews with a variety of individuals who are either decolonization experts, have a hand in Guam’s three task forces, or who simply contribute to the movement in their profession.
“Fanachu!” is produced by the Independent Guåhan Media Committee, headed by Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua, and is spearheaded by Manny Cruz and Independent Guåhan partners Becca Garrison, Jesse Chargualaf, and Ed Leon Guerrero. The series host is Manny Cruz, a former reporter who had a short stint on radio and is pursuing a Master’s degree in English. Even as a volunteer host, he provides the audio equipment and guides the flow of the show, posing insightful questions on decolonization to featured guests.
Starting discussions
The inaugural episode was recorded at Java Junction in Hagåtña as part of their “Coffee Shop Convo” sessions, featuring Independent Guåhan members Dr. Bevaqcua and Victoria Leon Guerrero, and Free Association Task Force Chair Adrian Cruz.
At a glance, this first conversation covered topics including anti-American outlooks in pushing for independence, similarities between Guam and an independence push in Scotland, and the role of the United Nations in the process of decolonization. 
Their second podcast focused on the connection of Guam’s struggle to that of the highly contested Dakota Access Pipeline and explored ways to see Guam’s decolonization as a normal part of history.
Their third podcast featured Jason Datuin of DFRNT, to talk about how, according to Cruz, colonization’s affects can be found in virtually very aspect of our daily lives, including food.
Their fourth podcast in the ongoing series, scheduled to be released this week, features Moneka Flores and Melvin Won Pat-Borja, members of Independent Guåhan topics. They discuss the role of media companies in sometimes distorting decolonization efforts and, as they argue, creating an unbalanced picture of the status options, namely independence.
Progressive ideas
A grassroots operation, the task force decided to engage the public through podcasts as their medium of education due to their constraints on funding. But Cruz says that through the democratization of media, having his own microphones, a laptop, and an internet connection, he had all he needed to be able to publish engaging content with ease and at minimal expense.
"Podcasting just seemed like a great way to include the world in the conversations taking place locally," Cruz said. "There’s always a lot of great, progressive ideas floating around at our different meetings. But not everyone can be there all the time, so it just made sense to capture it in a way that's convenient for practically anyone."
The young graduate student and journalist took it upon himself to use the minimal equipment he had to contribute to the task force and to the decolonization conversation by producing the show. Cruz conducts the interviews, edits the recordings, and promotes the shows through social media.
“My interest in activism on Guam goes back a long way,” Cruz said. “This is my way of contributing with a skill that I have.”
Fighting colonization
The larger goal of Independent Guåhan, and Cruz's personal goal, is to contribute toward educating a community on a topic that is both far-reaching and frightening to some. 
“There’s a huge barrier in us trying to communicate to the public, to people who don’t think about decolonization on a day-to-day basis,” Cruz said. “Most people are like ‘why should I care’ or ‘I like what I have.’ Breaking through the status quo is what is challenging for all of the task forces; getting over the idea that decolonization isn’t crazy, and it’s not scary. This is a common obstacle between the status options, so we try to figure out ways, like podcasting, to get through to people.”
Cruz said the common goal between the three task forces representing the three status options of Free Association, Statehood, and Independence, is to move the island toward a decolonized Guam, with more power over its own resources, people, and political destiny.
“At the end of the day the common obstacle is colonization, and what we’re fighting for is sovereignty,” Cruz said. “Thanks to the educative efforts of some people, there’s a shift in consciousness and way of thinking about decolonization."

28 December 2016

French Polynesia anti nuclear freedom fighter joins the ancestors

Contact: World Council of Churches, +41 79 507 6363; www.oikoumene.org/press

GENEVA, Dec. 28, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- John Doom lived in a small place on the planet, but he was committed to big things through his faith, fighting to stem atomic testing in the fragile ecosystem of his homeland French Polynesia.

"Papa John's passionate commitment and dedication to the ecumenical movement and our Lord's call to unity was and continues to be a source of inspiration for the many blessed enough to have known him and to work with him," wrote the World Council of Churches' general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

The general secretary sent a letter on 28 December to the Maòhi Protestant Church after Mr John Doom passed away, aged 80, on Christmas Day, in Papeari, Tahiti.

The fifth sibling of 12 children, John Taroanui Doom was born on 6 May 1936, in Papeete, French Polynesia.

Doom became a deacon of the Maòhi Protestant Church (French Polynesia) in 1962.

From 1971 to 1988, he served as general secretary of his church. Between 1972 and 1977, he also served as principal of the Hermon Theological School, Tahiti. He was a member of the executive committee of the Pacific Conference of Churches from 1966 to 1989.

Doom was a member of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) from 1983-1989, and of the WCC Central Committee 1976-1983.

In 1989, he was appointed as the WCC's executive secretary for the Pacific region, a position he held until his retirement in 2000.

Between 2006 and 2013, Doom was the WCC President for the Pacific Region.

In his letter, Tveit praised Doom's leadership and vision, stressing that his "life and witness as a faithful disciple of Jesus truly exemplify one who lived in assured hope and in readiness for Christ's coming in his daily walk by faith."

A committed citizen, John Doom was also the co-founder and coordinator of the Nuclear Workers' Association in French Polynesia, Mururoa e Tatou.

Being an eye witness of the first French atomic test in the Pacific, in 1966, he was also known for his strong commitment to anti-nuclear advocacy campaigns.

In the early 1980s, the Evangelical Church in Polynesia officially denounced French atomic tests at Moruroa and Fangataufa, encouraged by the Pacific Conference of Churches, which also firmly opposed the American nuclear tests in Marshall and Kiribati.

When the atomic tests in the region were resumed, in 1995, Doom sent 80,000 postcards of protest to the French government from the Pacific office of the WCC. In 2001, he took part in the founding of the association of victims Moruroa e tatou in Papeete.

In his condolence letter, the WCC general secretary shared his testimony on Doom's crucial role to raise awareness in the world "to address the enormous damage for his peoples and region after the nuclear testing going on in the Pacific."

Tveit's letter ends with words of support to Doom's family and the churches in the Pacific.

"We stand with you in your sorrow and give thanks for a man whose spirit encouraged unity in our faith and participation in God's mission," he wrote.

Doom's funeral service took place on 27 December, in the cemetery of Papeari, where he was buried next to his wife Tetua Tau, who died five years earlier.

27 December 2016

The "Illusion of Inclusion" - Guam's non-voting delegate seeks "symbolic" vote for territories in U.S. House of Representatives

(OTR Comments highlighted)

Democrats push for symbolic voting rights for territorial delegates


The U.S. House of Representatives once again is considering whether to allow members from the territories, including Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo, and the District of Columbia to have a symbolic vote during the Committee of the Whole.

Unlike other members of Congress, the delegates from the territories and the District of Columbia do not have the right to vote on the passage of legislation, unless Congress amends its rules to allow them to vote.

“I thank our Democratic Whip, Congressman Steny Hoyer, for again urging the Republican Majority to amend the Rules of the House to permit the Delegates from the territories and D.C. to vote in the Committee of the Whole. Whip Hoyer has been a firm supporter of the territories, and I appreciate his consistent leadership in working to ensure that votes cast in the House reflect the voices of all Americans,” Bordallo stated Wednesday. “I testified before the Rules Committee in September to encourage this rule change, and I believe that doing so would allow the territories’ voices to be heard more fully during debate on the House floor. It would give us parity with other members (?) and strengthen the long-cherished values of the House.”
Here is a partial transcript of the Sept. 14 hearing, when Bordallo testified before the House Committee on Rules, asking that the rules be changed to allow territorial delegates to vote:
Bordallo: Members of the committee, I request that the House rules be amended for the 115th Congress to permit the delegates and the resident commissioner to cast votes when we are debating amendments and legislation in the committee of the whole. Same as was granted in the rules of the House for the 110th and 111th Congress. Votes cast by members of Congress make us accountable to our constituents and allow them to understand where we stand on important issues. The rules that were adopted by the 112th, 113th and the 114th Congress denied these voting rights for members from the territories and the District of Columbia. It makes the house less responsive to the more than 4 million Americans who live in these districts.
Extending voting rights would be wholly symbolic. Our votes cannot change the outcome of legislation or amendments considered on the floor. However, these votes allow us to ensure that the needs of our constituents are addressed. 

Further, many of our nation’s men and women in uniform are residents of the territories and D.C. These dedicated service members sacrificed much for our country, and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. In fact, the per capita death rate for service members from the territories is higher than most states. Beyond high levels of military service, residents from the territories and D.C. contribute to and serve our nation in all other aspects of American life. Yet, we, their representatives in Congress, are denied the very basic right to vote on matters that impact their very lives. 

Permitting the delegates and the resident commissioner to cast votes in the Committee of the Whole will not lessen the representation of the 435 members, rather it would allow territories’ voices to be heard more fully. It will give us parity with other members (?) and strengthen the long -cherished values of this body. 
I want to leave you, Mr. Chairman and ranking member, with something that one of my predecessors, Guam’s former Republican congressman and general, Ben Blaz, told me when I was first elected to Congress, in 2003. He said, that as a delegate from a territory who could not vote on the floor of the House, and, I quote, “I would be a member of Congress, but not one of its members.” So I hope that this rule will be changed.”
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio: You already said this, but I want to make sure I understand it. You would give voting rights to the resident delegates, but they could not change the outcome of a vote?
Bordallo: If the vote would be a tie on amendments, then they would vote again, leaving us out. So it makes no difference, whatsoever. It’s just the idea of being down on the floor with our colleagues, and then letting our constituents know how we stand on these issues.
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, Rules Committee ranking member: “It seems a terrible thing to ask a member to come all the way from Guam and not be able to participate in a lot of things we’re doing. And I thought it worked out very well. As you pointed out, if there’s a tie, they re-vote and take the delegates out.
Bordallo: “It’s simply symbolic”
Slaughter: Right, but an important symbol, and you’re here. I think we need to do that.”
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington: This is an interesting idea, that you’ve brought forward, and I’ve often wondered that myself, why territories are not allowed to vote, although you have voting privileges in committee, correct?
Bordallo: In committee, that’s correct.
Newhouse: So if you’re asking for a symbolic vote on the floor, I’m not sure how that gives you parity, if you could help me understand that. If it’s only symbolic, you’re not quite there, and you do have the opportunity to express your opinions clearly in committees. So if your complaint is that you can’t express how you feel on issues to your constituents, there’s an opportunity there.
Bordallo: I guess in answer to you, Mr. Newhouse, is the fact that you’re elected to a body and you are not allowed to go on the floor at all. We don’t vote for final passage. That’s even a disparity, in my opinion. But to not be able to go down and vote when there’s a committee of the whole — It’s a matter of just going down on the floor and meeting our colleagues once in a while. I’m very seldom down on the floor because we don’t have a vote — the Committee of the Whole or final passage. I think it’s just a matter of belonging to a family, the House family.
Newhouse: So, only in the event of a tie would those votes then be discounted?
Bordallo: That’s right.
Slaughter: It seemed to work pretty well. At least I don’t recall hearing any complaints about it. And it did make people who’ve come a great distance to get here really feel like a part of what was going on.
Bordallo: Most important, too, is our constituents don’t know where we stand, because our votes are never publicized or whatever. We may be on the bill as a cosponsor, but
Newhouse: Aren’t committee votes publicized?
Bordallo: Yes, they are, but in every aspect. I’m on defense and I’m on natural resources, but what about all the other – the health, the education committees, and so forth? And we did have it in two congresses. We did have the right to vote, but it was taken away then, when the parties changed.
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rules Committee chairman: Bringing the issue up is important. I’m not promising any change this time, but you are ensuring that there will be a discussion. And I think from that perspective, you would not consider that a victory, but that we do recognize what we’re doing and we probably need to get better at it.
Bordallo: I just want to make it very clear that, although we wish could have final vote on the passage of bills, we’re just asking for this Committee of the Whole vote. And I understand it has been through various courts and it’s come out affirmatively. So I want you to know there’s been some background done on this. And, as I said, it’s just a symbolic vote, and we represent 4 million American citizens.
Sessions: Yes, ma’am, but you don’t come from States.
Bordallo: Well, I guess you could say that.
Sessions: I guess I could.

26 December 2016

Outgoing Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner to U.S. Congress terms territorial status 'undignified and unsustainable'

"My Tenure as Resident Commissioner" 

Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi

December 7, 2016 

Mr. Speaker:

 After eight years, this will be my last floor speech as the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Congress. I want to thank my constituents for giving me the opportunity to serve as their voice in Washington. They are enduring difficult times, but they never lose their hope, dignity, or appreciation for life’s blessings. 

I also want to thank my colleagues in the House and the Senate. I respect your dedication to public service, energy, and commitment to the causes you champion. In addition, I want to thank my staff, which has served me—and the people of Puerto Rico—with skill, passion and loyalty. 

Most importantly, I want to thank my wife, Maria-Elena; my four children; and the rest of my family. They have walked alongside me on this journey, through the peaks and valleys, and my love for them cannot be captured with words. 2 It is impossible to condense eight action-packed years into five minutes. 

However, if there is a central theme to my tenure as Resident Commissioner, it has been “fighting the good fight” on behalf of the 3.4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico, who have been treated unfairly for too long. 

In an example of baptism by fire, the battle began almost as soon as I assumed office in 2009, when Congress was debating the stimulus bill known as ARRA. Even as I was still learning to navigate my way through the Capitol, we managed to secure virtually state-like treatment for Puerto Rico, injecting almost $7 billion into the island’s economy when we needed it most. 

The fight continued the following year with the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in the largest funding increase in history for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program. Separately, we secured legislative and administrative action eliminating many of the disparities that Puerto Rico faced under the Medicare program. 

I am also proud of our work to combat drug-related violence in Puerto Rico, requiring the federal government to prepare a Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy and persuading federal law enforcement agencies to increase the resources they assign to Puerto Rico. The number of homicides on the island was cut in half between 2011 and 2015. This is not about statistics. It is about preserving human life. 

Moreover, I have tried my best to serve those who have served us. Residents of Puerto Rico have a rich military tradition, and no unit exemplifies their courage and character better than the 65th Infantry Regiment, which fought the enemy on the battlefield and discrimination in the barracks. After we enacted legislation to award them the Congressional Gold Medal, these warriors—now in the twilight of their lives—stood beside President Obama as he signed the bill into law and were honored at a ceremony in the Capitol that I will never forget. 

The toughest fight of my tenure came earlier this year, when Congress and the White House worked together to enact legislation—called PROMESA—to prevent the government of Puerto Rico from collapsing. Nobody was pleased that such legislation was necessary, and nobody liked every provision in the bill, but I firmly believe that PROMESA—if properly implemented— provides a path to a better future for Puerto Rico. (emphasis added)

I close with this thought. Puerto Rico’s current territory status, which gives Congress license to treat my constituents like second-class citizens, is undignified and unsustainable. (emphasis added)

Following a 2012 local referendum in which island residents expressed their opposition to the current status and their support for statehood, Congress enacted legislation providing funding for the first federally-sponsored referendum in Puerto Rico’s history. The significance of this achievement has yet to be sufficiently appreciated. 

Puerto Rico should use this authority to conduct a vote on whether the territory should become a state. If the people of Puerto Rico ratify their support for statehood, as I expect they will, it will be incumbent upon Congress to implement that result. This country, which was founded on the principles of equality and justice, must live up to its creed. May God bless Puerto Rico and the United States of America.

24 December 2016


State of the Black World Conference IV


Intensifying the U.S. and Global Reparations Movement

Work to intensify the U.S. and global struggle for reparations within the context of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action and the U.N. Decade for People of African Descent.  To that end, IBW will:
  • Strive to strengthen the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) as a co-partner with the CARICOM Reparations Commission in expanding the global Reparations Movement.
  • With the consent of Congressional John Conyers, finalize the revision of HR-40 from a “Study Bill” to a “Remedy Bill” to be introduced in the next Congress of the United States as a tool for mass public education, mobilizing/organizing and action to advance the struggle for reparations.
  • Encourage the creation of Reparations Studies Curricula at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in collaboration with the University of West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica.
  • Support the convening of Reparations Summits in Africa and Columbia in 2017.

Addressing Key Issues in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America

Based on the deliberations and documents developed by the Pan African Unity Dialogue convened by IBW in New York, work to mobilize mass based, popular support for:
  • African-centered Principles of Democratic Governance in Africa and the Caribbean.
  • Guidelines for Addressing and Resolving Crises in Africa and the Caribbean.
  • Principles and Guidelines for Foreign Investment in Africa to counter the “new scramble for Africa.”
In addition, continue efforts to strengthen the capacity of the Diaspora to impact U.S. policy toward Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South Americastrengthen bonds of solidarity and action with Afro-Descendant communities in Central and South America; and intensify efforts to develop mutually beneficial business and commercial relations between Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Diaspora in the U.S.

22 December 2016

UK continues to justify illegal removal of Chagossians from their homeland

Update on the British Indian Ocean Territory:Written statement - HCWS260

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 16 November 2016
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )

Update on the British Indian Ocean Territory

My right Honourable Friend, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

On 24 March 2016 the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge) informed the House that the Government would be carrying out further work on its review of resettlement policy in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). I would now like to inform Parliament of two decisions which have been made concerning the future of BIOT.

Parliament will be aware of the Government’s review and consultation over the resettlement of the Chagossian people to BIOT. The manner in which the Chagossian community was removed from the Territory in the 1960s and 1970s, and the way they were treated, was wrong and we look back with deep regret. We have taken care in coming to our final decision on resettlement, noting the community’s emotional ties to BIOT and their desire to go back to their former way of life.

This comprehensive programme of work included an independent feasibility study followed by a full public consultation in the UK, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

I am today announcing that the Government has decided against resettlement of the Chagossian people to the British Indian Ocean Territory on the grounds of feasibility, defence and security interests, and cost to the British taxpayer. In coming to this decision the Government has considered carefully the practicalities of setting up a small remote community on low-lying islands and the challenges that any community would face. These are significant, and include the challenge of effectively establishing modern public services, the limited healthcare and education that it would be possible to provide, and the lack of economic opportunities, particularly job prospects. The Government has also considered the interaction of any potential community with the US Naval Support Facility – a vital part of our defence relationship.

The Government will instead seek to support improvements to the livelihoods of Chagossians in the communities where they now live. I can today announce that we have agreed to fund a package of approximately £40 million over the next ten years to achieve this goal. This money addresses the most pressing needs of the community by improving access to health and social care and to improved education and employment opportunities. Moreover, this fund will support a significantly expanded programme of visits to BIOT for native Chagossians. The Government will work closely with Chagossian communities in the UK and overseas to develop cost-effective programmes which will make the biggest improvement in the life chances of those Chagossians who need it most.

Parliament will also be aware that the agreements underpinning the UK/US defence facility will roll over automatically on 31 December if neither side breaks silence. In an increasingly dangerous world, the defence facility is used by us and our allies to combat some of the most difficult problems of the 21st century including terrorism, international criminality, instability and piracy. I can today confirm that the UK continues to welcome the US presence, and that the agreements will continue as they stand until 30 December 2036.

December 7, 2016
|Tom Guha & Stefan Donnelly

It will come as no surprise  that the UK Chagos Support Association are deeply saddened by the Government’s recent decision against pilot resettlement of the Chagos Islands. The decision came as a shock to us and has paralysed many in the community.

As a group dedicated to supporting the people of the Chagos Islands, we do not speak on their behalf. However we are in regular contact with many in the Chagossian community and those conversations have formed the basis of our position.    

The UK Chagos Support Association do not accept the Government’s decision. We believe it was based on flawed evidence and we will support the Chagossian community however they choose to respond.  

However, we welcome the Government’s new commitment to “improving the lives of the Chagossians in the places where they are now” and we hope we can work constructively with both Government and the Chagossian community to come to a settlement that works for both parties.

With regards the Written Ministerial Statement that announced the decision, while we are pleased that the Government acknowledged that historic treatment of Chagossians was wrong, we believe it should be acknowledged as illegal. The basis of Chagossian exile was a falsehood and should be recognised as such.

It is also misleading to suggest Chagossians wanted to “go back to their former way of life.” The Foreign Office consultation demonstrated Chagossians understood that life on the returned islands would be different from the life they used to lead. There was great enthusiasm for modern industries like eco-tourism, environmental protection and administrative roles within BIOT and the US base.

The enthusiasm found in the consultation was matched by requisite skill found in the KPMG study, which states, “the wide range of employment skills present in the Chagossian community has allowed the team to identify major livelihood options for a resettled community”. This seriously brings into question the Government’s concerns around “job prospects”.

Chagossians are not naive. They are aware of the challenges that return presents. But all these challenges were accounted for in the KPMG study - on which after completion, Ministers accepted return was “practically feasible”

The KPMG study also addressed security and defence concerns - concerns that have never been properly outlined. Almost all US military bases have an attached civilian population and the base on Diego Garcia has a large population of temporary labourers. The statement says that Ministers had “considered the interaction of any potential community with the US Naval Support Facility”, which prompts the question; what are the outcomes of these considerations?

The idea that “costs to the British taxpayer” are a barrier is difficult to accept and frankly insulting. Firstly, many Chagossians are the British taxpayers mentioned. Moreover, the £60m resettlement start-up costs over three years are a tiny proportion of the international aid budget, over which citizens of British Overseas Territories have first call. We would also expect contributions from the US, the EU, the private sector and NGOs.

Recently the Government spent £285m on an airport on St Helena. It is not even fit for purpose. Every year defence of the Falklands costs UK taxpayers upwards of £60m. Why is the Government so opposed to funding a resettlement programme on the Chagos Islands?

We absolutely welcome the Government’s new commitment to make “improvements to the livelihoods of Chagossians in the communities where they now live” and are willing to work with the Government to make this happen. However, we are sceptical of the £40m funding package.

The fund’s stated aim is to “[address] the most pressing needs of the community by improving access to health and social care and to improved education and employment opportunities”. This raises a number of questions: how was the fund calculated? What will it be spent on? How will it reach the community? Who will be eligible to receive it?

We know that the fund will “support a significantly expanded programme of visits to BIOT for native Chagossians”. Visits to BIOT (the Government name for the Chagos Islands) used to take place almost annually - what does a “significantly expanded programme” mean? It is also vital that the criteria of ‘native’ is clarified. If it only means those who were born on the islands then anyone under the age of 40 will be excluded, robbing younger Chagossians of their identity and links to their birthplace.

There are extremely serious problems affecting the Chagossian community that urgently need to be addressed and could be with minimal funding.

Families are routinely torn apart because the Home Office does not recognise Chagossian identity. Many Chagossians have been deported or are in Immigration Removal Centres. Simply trying to keep a family together is an inconceivable challenge to many - costing time and money and removing any chances of social or economic mobility.

If the Government is to do just one thing to improve the lives of Chagossians where they are now, it must be to fix the immigration laws that are literally ripping their community apart. One Chagossian put it very poignantly; “these laws are causing a second exile”.

We do not accept the decision and we will support Chagossians in any campaign they mount against it. However it is also important that we hold the Government to account on their commitment to improving the lives of Chagossians.

It is embarrassing that the Government threw away such a perfect opportunity to right a historical wrong. To address these laws would at least offer them some redemption - but crucially it would offer some hope to a community that has been on history’s losing side for far too long.  

Dutch violation of democracy in Bonaire raises serious concerns amid ongoing settler colonialism in defiance of international law

"Member States shall adopt the necessary measures to discourage or prevent the systematic influx of outside immigrants and settlers into Territories under colonial domination which disrupts the demographic composition of those Territories and may constitute a major obstacle to the genuine exercise of the right to self-determination..."  - United Nations General Assembly Resolution 35/118 of  11 December 1980
Open letter

 from James Finies 
Nos Kier Boneiru Bek

Kingdom Day and commemoration of one year 
of Dutch anti-democracy governance

To: Second Chamber of the Netherlands

 First Chamber of the Netherlands, 
Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 
Public Entity of Bonaire 

Kralendijk, December 15, 2016

Subject: Kingdom Day and commemoration of one year of Dutch Anti-Democracy governance

Dear Colleagues,

Today, December 15, 2016, we are celebrating Kingdoms day, or previously Statute-day, commemorating December 15, 1955 where the Dutch Government with the consent of the elite of the colonized Caribbean territories, not the people, officially manipulated the world community in the United Nations with a very disputed vote (U.N. General Assembly Resolution 945 X), and the majority of the world community distrusted this statute-arrangement to dissolve you from your reporting obligations towards the so-called autonomous country Netherlands Antilles. Since then this new country Netherlands Antilles political deficiency has been hided from the world as this well planned and executed imposed governmental structure intended road to self-destruction has became reality on October 10, 2010 with the dissolution and dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles.

As we are reaching December 18, 2016, a year after the Bonerian peoples (and Statian peoples in December 2014 referendum) has by a referendum officially and democratically rejected the imposed constitutional status and ratified these results by their democratic elected leadership in the Island Councils and made these indisputable legally binding democratic decisions.

By not respecting the democratic decision and voice of the peoples of the Dutch administered Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius and moving forward to annex and anchor these territories in the Dutch constitution on a on-equal base the Dutch State and Kingdom has degraded itself to a anti-democratic state and nation. 

Your government should reach out to start a corrective justified process according to the democratic vote and decision of our innocent peoples, whose are desperate to maintain their own culture and identity as we are experiencing a inevitable gloomy future of being assimilated and exterminated by substitution by your open immigration influx of European Dutch flocking our island. We expected from your government respect to democracy but are now under a seemingly military intimidation regime with clear bullying practices to suppress our only other democratic pillar and defense our fundamental right of expression and manifestation.

We may understand that you may feel uneasy that our people will stand up one day and say enough is enough, maybe it is this 18th December or maybe not, or maybe another time, but you may be sure that history will not dissolve you of your crime against democracy and our fundamental rights, because we all are born equal in rights and dignity and maybe one day your conscience will turn you back towards humanity, towards your brothers in the Kingdom which you agreed and signed in the United Nations to be as equal and free as yourselves. 

Also Read:

Spain’s Constitutional Court Suspends Referendum on Catalan Independence

MADRID – The highest court in Spain has decided to provisionally suspend a resolution by the Catalan parliament calling for a 2017 referendum on the northeastern region’s independence from Spain, the court said Wednesday.

Spain’s plenary Constitutional Court – tasked with determining the constitutionality of acts and statutes – voted to admit a motion by the State’s counsel arguing that the resolution passed by the regional parliament of Catalonia was unconstitutional.

The court also warned the Catalan regional government it could incur penal responsibilities if it ignored the court’s mandate.

The Spanish government accused the Catalan parliament of disobeying previous Constitutional Court decisions when the regional legislative passed a resolution on Oct. 6 titled “The Political Future of Catalonia,” with references a “referendum” and a “constituent process.”

The resolution passed the chamber with favorable votes from independence coalition party Together for Yes (JxSí, primarily made up by the center-right Democratic Convergence of Catalonia and progressive Republican Left of Catalonia) and the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), as well as the abstention of Catalonia Yes We Can, a left-wing coalition that supports the right of self-determination but does not explicitly back Catalonia’s secession from Spain.

The document called for a binding referendum to be held no later than Sept. 2017, and for “constituent elections” to be held six months after a hypothetical win for the “yes” to independence option.

The President of Catalonia’s parliament, Carme Forcadell, is set to appear before the Catalan High Court of Justice on Dec. 16 under charges of disobeying previous decisions by the Constitutional Court that blocked any attempts at creating a legislative roadmap for Catalan independence from Spain.

Catalan nationalism has long been an important political force that started as an effort by 19th-century intellectuals to restore self-government and obtain recognition for the Catalan language.

Following four decades of brutal repression by the regime of Gen. Francisco Franco, Catalan nationalism re-emerged from clandestinity in the late 1970s and has since become a growing political movement with vast support among the population of the region, which has the highest GDP in Spain and is the country’s most industrialized and prosperous territory.