HAWAII'S MINK INTRODUCES NORTHERN MARIANAS

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PLEBISCITE BILL

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 6, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS)---A resolution has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink calling for a plebiscite in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Mink wants the people of the North Pacific U.S. commonwealth, located between Guam and Japan, to determine, by vote, whether they want to remain an integral part of the United States of America or to become an independent nation.

Marianas Governor Froilan Tenorio recently said he would seek independence rather than comply with U.S. laws pertaining to minimum wages and immigration requirements, which the federal government in Washington seeks to implement.

Exemptions to the laws granted the commonwealth, when it became a legal part of the United States in 1986, have been used to develop a large alien work force, primarily from China. The workers are involved in the manufacturing of garments worth at least $50 million in direct and indirect revenues to the Marianas government, according to the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association.

However, the success of the basically alien industry, and the fact that no import taxes are required to be paid when garments are shipped from the Marianas to the mainland U.S., is cause for concern by U.S. union, manufacturer, and government officials.

Mink said in a news release that "Since the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands refuses to comply with U.S. laws and the Governor has expressed defiance by stating he would prefer to be independent, the people of the Northern Marianas should be given a choice. If they want to be U.S. citizens then they must comply with our laws. If not, they can vote to become an independent nation."

Prior to becoming a U.S. commonwealth, the Northern Mariana Islands were part of the U.S.-administered, post World War II U.N. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, which once included the now independent countries of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau.

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