09 March 2017

"Settler Colonialism" in Guam upheld by United States Court

An Overseas Territories Review commentary

"The decision of the United States (U.S.) court denying the authority of the government of the non self-governing territory of Guam to conduct a non-binding poll of its native inhabitants on their political status preference runs counter to the rights of the people. This is yet another example of the systematic deferral of their right to self-determination under international law long promised since the end of the Spanish American War in 1898. 

Such a decision comes despite the international legal obligations accepted by the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris of 1898 to address the political status of the territory which was transferred from Spain to the U.S. It runs counter to U.S. obligations under the 1945 United Nations (U.N.) Charter which serves as a protective shield against the colonial maneuvers of unilateralism which have been only reinforced by the court ruling.

What has become clear is that the self-determination of the people of Guam and the other U.S.-administered territories cannot be protected within the realm of U.S. legal considerations. Rather,  self-determination has always been within the purview of international law where countries are held to account for the legally binding commitments they have made through treaties and other international agreements. This is 'the rule of law' which the U.S. and other developed countries lecture the rest of the world about, and which is also supposed to apply to them. Otherwise, it is the 'law of the jungle.' It is clearly evident, however, that such commitments to this 'rule of law' have been summarily ignored by the U.S. in its obligation to bring about a genuine self-determination process in the territories under its administration leading to full decolonization.

Accordingly, the recent decision of the court to discount the relevance of international law and apply only U.S. law - as if the territory was an integrated U.S. state - serves to confirm the legitimacy of unilateral power routinely exercised by the U.S. over its colonies through the application of the 'fundamental' parts of the U.S. Constitution. The unilateral extension to the territories of that constitution's 14th and 15th amendments, and selected U.S. laws and regulations, is an illustration of such power employed to protect U.S. national interests and not necessarily the interests of the native inhabitants which the U.S. is legally bound to safeguard. 

The court decision also has the effect of legitimizing a form of settler colonialism whereby the rights of the 'native inhabitants' can be overwhelmed. That the case was successfully brought by a retired U.S. military officer residing in the territory, and who claimed discrimination on the basis that he was not a native inhabitant, severely distorts the intent of the 15th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Such provisions were never intended to interfere with the rights of indigenous peoples in their own land. But then again, the 'land' is considered the 'property' of the U.S. under the infamous "Territory or other Property Clause' of the U.S. Constitution.

In the end, the court decision was not unexpected given the conclusion of a similar decision by the same U.S. judge confirming settler voting rights in the neighboring dependency of the Northern Mariana Islands where the territory's constitution had refined the franchise on certain issues to native inhabitants.

The court decision on Guam appears to be confirmation that U.S. law is adverse to protecting the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of that territory, and by extension, the other U.S.-administered territories. The lingering question is whether this may have always been the intention - in which case, the people have been 'duped and baboozled' for over a century. This is but the latest evidence of the colonial nature of U.S. territorial status which can only be addressed through a legitimate process of self-determination under international law. 

Transpacific Project
The U.S. commitments in the Treaty of Paris, the U.N. Charter, and the core human rights conventions are ringing hollow in the aftermath of the court decision which further defers the fundamental human right of self-determination to the native inhabitants of Guam. This revelation should serve as a wake-up call to the U.S.-administered territories who should avoid being diverted by misguided, diversionary efforts to gain such unlikely, partial political 'rights' within the U.S. system, such as the U.S. presidential and Congressional votes. Such maneuvers can only serve to further legitimize the perpetual inequality under which the U.S. territories are governed since the same unilateral power would remain intact. 

Such 'rights' can only legitimately flow from the selection and implementation of a genuine political status which provides full political rights consistent with the options of independence, free association and integration. To this end, the decision of the people of Guam to consider only the options of absolute political equality was a critically important step in the territory's evolution in charting the path to full self-government. 

While considered a minor setback, the court decision to deny the political status vote to Guam's native inhabitants has provided important clarity, and only signals that contemporary colonialism has become increasing complex in the 21st century, requiring innovative methods to achieve genuine decolonization.

The people of Guahan are clearly up to the successful completion of this task. 


Marianas Variety

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Wednesday ruled that a plebiscite on Guam that restricts voting to “native inhabitants” violates the U.S. Constitution.
The judge said: “The U.S. Constitution does not permit the government to exclude otherwise qualified voters from participating in an election where public issues are decided simply because those otherwise qualified voters do not have the correct ancestry or bloodline. Having found that the classification is racial, this court finds that the plebiscite statute impermissibly imposes race-based restrictions on the voting rights of non-native inhabitants of Guam, in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment.”

This decision was announced following recent discussions that Guam should soon vote on its political status, whether to vote for independence, statehood or free association with the United States.

The federal judge also permanently barred the government of Guam and its officers, employees, agents, and political subdivisions from enforcing the political status plebiscite under Guam law, as it specifically limits the voting to “native inhabitants of Guam.”

GovGuam and its officials are likewise barred from implementing “any laws and regulations designed to enforce the plebiscite law, insofar as such enforcement would prevent or hinder [the] plaintiff and other qualified voters who are not native inhabitants of Guam from registering for, and voting in, the political status plebiscite.”

The suit was filed by an Air Force veteran, Arnold “Dave” Davis, who has lived on Guam for decades, against the Guam Election Commission and its board members.

Proyecto de ley en favor de la libre asociación o independencia para Puerto Rico

El Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano (MINH)

Luis Gutiérrez es uno de los nuestros


Julio A. Muriente Pérez / Copresidente del MINH - Aplaudimos la iniciativa del querido compatriota Luis Gutiérrez, de radicar un proyecto de ley en el Congreso de Estados Unidos en favor de la libre asociación o independencia para Puerto Rico. Una vez más, Luis da un paso al frente en defensa de los mejores intereses de nuestro Pueblo.

La actitud asumida ya por anexionistas y colonialistas ante la iniciativa de Luis Gutiérrez, les delata. Cometen el sacrilegio mayor, al pretender des cualificar esa iniciativa, porque proviene de un puertorriqueño "de los Estados Unidos". No es casualidad que la consulta mal llamada plebiscitaria diseñada por el PNP para celebrarse en junio próximo, excluya la participación de la mayor parte de nuestra población, que reside en aquel país.

Luis Gutiérrez es hijo de una emigración multitudinaria preconcebida para que esa inmensa horda de desposeídos lanzada a la pobreza, el frío y el discrimina, se diluyera en el "american way of lifestyle". Pero han podido más el patriotismo, el amor a la cultura y el afán de prevalecer como nación en esos millones de puertorriqueños y puertorriqueñas.

Estados Unidos nos impuso su ciudadanía. Nosotros no la pedimos. Le permitieron a la diáspora participar en sus procesos electorales, y lo hemos hecho. Ellos lo elucubraron para que fuéramos asimilándonos. A través de personas como Luis Gutiérrez, nosotros lo hemos aprovechado para adelantar la causa libertaria de nuestra única nación, Puerto Rico.

Para sorpresa y consternación de los enemigos de la Patria, hemos plantado en el corazón mismo del Congreso yanqui, a un boricua oriundo de San Sebastián, militante de la causa de Vieques, activista de la libertad de Oscar López, e independentista comprometido. Eso es lo que le duele a los colonialistas y anexionistas.

!Ya hubieran querido --en su día-- contar los independentistas de las trece colonias con uno de los suyos metido en el parlamento de Jorge III de Inglaterra!

Con toda seguridad el proyecto al Congreso de Luis Gutiérrez terminará en la gaveta de algún archivo o en algún cesto de la basura. Evidentemente, en el Congreso de Estados Unidos no hay la voluntad necesaria para contribuir a la verdadera descolonización de Puerto Rico, que sólo será posible a través de la soberanía nacional.

Per, con la sola radicación de dicho proyecto de ley, ya se cumplió el cometido de impactar, de llamar la atención y particularmente de denunciar e impugnar las pretensiones antinacionales de Jennifer González y el PNP.

Hace sesenta y dos años --el primero de marzo de 1954-- fuimos al Congreso encabezados por Lolita Lebrón, a los tiros, a reclamar respeto para Puerto Rico. Hoy volvemos a la carga, con otros proyectiles y el mismo propósito.

Un hijo predilecto de esta nación se ha encargado de tan patriótica tarea.