U.S. MUST RIGHT WRONGS IN GUAM BEFORE NEW BUILDUP

Commentary

By Tony Artero

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 10, 2009) - We all need the land to exist, ships dock to it and planes land on it. Even creatures of the air and the sea depend on the land to survive. In other words, without the land we have nothing. So what is the problem?

Money motivates everything and power corrupts. The U.S. government trumps justice, economic freedoms and liberty on Guam. Dirty politics and imperialism, not the lack of natural resources, have become the problem.

The government of Guam took advantage of the federal government's forceful land scam and has been making millions of dollars on peoples' land without paying. (Companies and organizations) are in Tiyan without paying the landowners. The mistreatment of landowners and GovGuam's Chamorro Land Trust fiasco are the problem's testimony.

Around 500 years ago, for geopolitical advantage, Guam became a global concern. The superpowers, beginning with Spain in the 1500s, followed by America in 1898, came to Guam, plundered the land and ruled the people autocratically. Japan attacked and occupied Guam in World War II for the same reason as Spain and America, but was wicked with cruelty and carnage beyond measure. Under Japan, however, the productivity of Guam and its people was allowed since the island was cut off from the rest of the world. The people of Guam survived World War II's deadly havoc without outside help, even though the barbaric Japanese Army had to be fed first.

Guam's successful World War II experience, despite unspeakable brutality at the hands of dreadful murderers, proves that Guam had a thriving local economy and was self-reliant. Food stamps, government housing and welfare were unheard of. Everyone was accountable and earned his keep. That's the way the people of Guam were since the beginning of time.

Self-sufficiency was the hallmark of Guam despite hundreds of years of major upheaval caused by suppressive, oppressive and lethal foreign powers. But that self-reliant quality, in which the people of Guam took great pride, was extinguished after World War II for all the wrong reasons.

World War II did not extinguish Guam's ability to feed, care and house its people. Our poor-to-dreadful dependency today began with the U.S. government's unjust and excessive land takings. Two-thirds of Guam's land mass was taken, from the northern tip to within four miles of the southern end. This extinguished every bit of progress made from 1898 to 1945.

It is from the shore that the Navy fleet deploys. It is from the land that the Air Force wing takes off. It is from the land that everything is maintained, trained and qualified, and new combat capabilities are researched and developed; all while simultaneously supporting the war fighters and families with enhancements to their quality of life.

The quality of life for the indigenous people, however, is ignored. The massive military spending in the past six decades has not delivered equality, freedom, liberty and justice. There is no glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel or any hope for fairness and balance in this military buildup. The wrongs must first be righted.

Tony Artero is a retired Navy submariner, a realtor and a resident of Agana Heights.

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