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U.S. territory has no say in military buildup plans

By MarVic Cgurangan HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Oct. 14, 2009) – Civil rights lawyer Julian Aguon maintained that Guam should be granted the right to vote for president of the United States, noting that the island has a lot at stake in the US$15 billion force realignment plan in the Pacific region.

"We can’t vote for president. We can’t really make changes in the U.S. Congress. Yet, all the decisions made for us are made by people we don’t vote for," Agoun said in an interview with Juan Gonzalez, host of the independent news program Democracy Now, which is aired on over 300 stations in the United States. "We just want to vote for president. So, I mean, even in America’s own backyard, nuclear contamination is not cleaned up," the young activist said.

Aguon, an active supporter of Chamorro Nation, is the author of "The Fire this Time: Stories of Life Under U.S. Occupation" and "What We Bury at Night: Disposable Humanity."

Guam, one of the 16 remaining colonies in the world, has one nonvoting delegate in the U.S. Congress. Local voters are not entitled to participate in the presidential and congressional elections and most of the decisions pertaining to federal-territorial affairs are made in the nation’s capital.

Aguon noted that local residents have been deprived of the right to participate in the national democratic process despite the Organic Act’s provision that extended U.S. citizenship to Guam residents.

"We’re not allowed to vote for the U.S. president and we’re not allowed to have a voting -- an effective voting representative in the U.S. Congress," he said.

"I guess the best way to explain the Guam situation is that there’s nothing neo about our colonialism. This is such old school-styled colonialism, it’s unreal. It really is unreal," Aguon added.

As the nation turns its attention to the massive military movement that will cause a population surge on Guam, the island’s residents are left out of the loop, Aguon said.

"On Capitol Hill, the conversation has been restricted to whether the jobs expected from the military construction should go to the mainland Americans, foreign workers or Guam residents," Aguon said. "But we rarely hear the voices and concerns of the indigenous people of Guam, who constitute over a third of the island’s population."

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