GUAM ACTIVISTS QUESTION BENEFITS OF MILITARIZATION

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By Gerardo R. Partido

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 21) – Local activists opposed to increased military presence on Guam have begun citing the alleged adverse effects of increased U.S. militarization in other American jurisdictions.

Debbie Quinata, a leader of the Nasion Chamoru, has been distributing a study done by Pakistani human rights activist Surina Khan titled "Colonies in Question: Supporting Indigenous Movements in the U.S. Jurisdictions."

The study examined the legacy of "colonization" of U.S. islands and Freely Associated States and argued that current strategic militarization had adverse effects on land use, the environment, and public health.

According to the Funding Exchange, a national network of community-based foundations, the U.S. has deliberately and carefully undermined its territories and forced an economic dependency that has allowed the Pentagon to use many of the islands as testing grounds for nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and space warfare technologies.

According to Ellen Gurzinsky, executive director of the Funding Exchange, increased militarization by the U.S. has had a devastating effect on local communities in the territories and the strain on infrastructure caused by increased militarization has had a direct impact on the viability and sustainability of island communities.

Khan, the author of the study, said that in many ways, the U.S. islands are a forgotten phenomenon.

"Their status in the international community as part of the U.S. makes them ineligible for many international programs because they are technically part of the U.S. And yet, the territories have not been adequately supported by the U.S.," she charged.

The U.S. has a military presence in all its territories, commonwealths and the Freely Associated States with the exception of the Virgin Islands.

According to the study, the Kwajalein missile testing range in the Marshall Islands is currently the primary testing center for the accelerated American missile defense program.

In April 2003 the Compact of Free Association between the Marshall Islands and the U.S. was amended, extending the use of the missile testing range to 2066, with an option to extend access to 2086.

Khan concluded that the U.S. military testing has, for decades, contaminated many islands and displaced their populations.

November 21, 2005

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