GUAM, MARIANAS UNIFICATION HOPE ALIVE

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Gov. Camacho urges: Keep open mind

By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 27) –Guam Gov. Felix P. Camacho asked forgiveness from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for his island’s rejection of the proposed Marianas reunification in 1969.

Camacho was the keynote speaker during Friday’s Attorney General’s Cup speech competition whose theme this year was: "Should the Northern Marianas and Guam unite as One Marianas to form the 51st state of the union?"

Camacho said the issue was "very timely" and "very important."

On Nov. 4, 1969, the people of Guam voted against reintegration.

Some believed that the rejection was "payback" to the Northern Marianas Chamorros for their assistance to the Japanese forces during the occupation of Guam.

During World War II, the NMI was a Japanese possession.

Others argued that the reunification issue lost its significance on Guam which was preparing to hold its first gubernatorial election in the following year.

Camacho’s father was the last appointed governor of Guam and became its first elected chief executive in 1970.

"He told me… ‘Son, this was what happened.’ " Camacho said, adding that Guam and the NMI inherited what their former leaders have left behind.

Noting that the reunification issue continues to be discussed, Camacho said "it is time to focus on a vision and plan for unity —we cannot allow others to break that hope."

He encouraged the CNMI people not to lose hope.

"Keep an open mind about the possibility of reunification," he said. "I have faith in the Northern Marianas…and this is the right time to realize our expectations—expect the very best vision of reunification."

Camacho believes that 40 long years "is enough to end all bitterness and isolation among" the Chamorros of Guam and the NMI.

"You must tear down the walls. Learn to forgive because it’s a choice, not an option," he said.

According to Camacho, Guam will consider holding similar competitions to get their youth’s opinions on reunification.

From 1667 to 1898, Guam and the NMI were known as the Marianas and administered by Spain. In 1898, Guam was ceded to the U.S. In the following year, Spain sold the NMI to Germany. In 1914, the Japanese took over the Northern Marianas, which was invaded by the U.S. in 1944.

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