Guam AG Puts Federal Government On Notice: No Deal On Chamorro Land Trust

GovGuam told that Trust is discriminatory and violates Fair Housing Act

By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 30, 2017) – Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson this week officially put the federal government on notice that Guam doesn't want to cut any deals in connection with the Chamorro Land Trust program.

The attorney general has said Guam will instead decide the issue in court.

Barrett-Anderson sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, informing federal officials that Guam doesn't want to enter into a consent decree over the Land Trust. A consent decree is a binding legal agreement to resolve a dispute.

The Justice Department on Jan. 13 sent Gov. Eddie Calvo a letter, stating it believes the Land Trust program violates the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race or national origin, and said it might sue if Guam doesn't enter into a consent decree.

The Land Trust program, first implemented more than 20 years ago, holds large amounts of public land in trust for the island’s indigenous Chamorro people, who are allowed to receive long-term, low-cost leases of land for residential and agricultural use. Some land also is leased to non-Chamorros for commercial use to generate revenue for Land Trust programs.

In her March 27 letter, Barrett-Anderson said her office met with the governor and lawmakers on March 20 to discuss federal concerns. Barrett-Anderson said the issue stirred much public debate and comment in recent weeks.

“The consensus was reached, disfavoring the government of Guam entering into a consent decree,” she wrote. “As such, a further conference call this week between our offices would not be productive.”

Barrett-Anderson, in her letter, asked the Justice Department to tell Guam how soon it intends to file a lawsuit over the Land Trust issue.

Pacific Daily News
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