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Idle time, gangs, drunkenness alleged

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 26, 2011) – What was supposed to be a peaceful discussion between the Federated States of Micronesia Consulate and the Mayors Council got heated after Piti Mayor Ben Gumataotao said Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) citizens should be kicked out of Guam.

Consul General Gerson Jackson and leaders from the Yapese, Pohnpeian and Chuukese community came to talk to the mayors about the recent stabbing deaths of three Chuukese men in Dededo. It has been speculated that the incident was the result of a gang fight.

But Gumataotao felt the biggest problem as far as he’s concerned is what he called "a lack of cooperation." He also questioned the customs of the FSM citizens.

"The people from the FSM who live in my village, they don’t work, they drink all day, they beat up their wives. All those things are happening. Is that your custom?" he asked Jackson.

"No," Jackson said calmly.

"That’s not your custom but they are doing it anyway because they all have the free time? They have the food stamp. Is that why they come over here? All those things should not be a problem for Guam. Any action you do affecting the people of Guam is a problem to me and we don’t want that," he said. "Let’s work together."

"But that’s why we’re here — to work together to clear out these problems," responded Jackson.

"I have the floor," Gumataotao told Jackson. "I’m the one who recommended to the governor [to] deport anybody. For one, financial-wise, you’ve burdened us. Second, I said don’t let them come back to Guam. Don’t come in, get them out!"

Yigo Mayor Ben Lizama then stood up and apologized to the FSM leaders for Gumataotao’s behavior.

"I don’t think we are doing justice to our island as leaders and the leaders of the FSM community that are here. The consul general has come forth and our colleague has blasted him; has disrespected this gentleman here who’s a consul general. That’s not the way to work to solve a problem," Lizama said. Gumataotao also apologized for his outburst.

[CORRECTION: An earlier version of the headline for this story mistakenly said that Mayor Gumataotao was from Saipan.]

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