This informational sheet was first developed as part of outreach conducted by the Independence for Guam Task Force at the 2016 Guam Liberation Day parade.
Independent Guåhan Honors the Life of Chamoru Rights Leader, Educator and Community Organizer Ed Benavente
For Immediate Release, July 20, 2016 — One of Guåhan’s most passionate advocates for decolonization and independence will be laid to rest today. Eddie “Ed” L.G. Benavante left us too soon on July 6 at the age of 59. He was a passionate community organizer; a teacher of Guam history and the Chamoru language; a writer and musician; and a highly respected leader in the Chamoru rights movement.
Maga’låhi Benavente dedicated his life to his family and to the decolonization and independence of the island he loved so deeply. He has been a guiding force and inspiration to the membership of the Independence for Guåhan Task Force (Independent Guåhan). We celebrate and honor the incredible life, work, and wisdom he shared with so many.
Maga’låhi Benavente served as the Maga’låhi of Nasion Chamoru from 1995 – 2003. He led numerous protests and demonstrations that helped reshape the political consciousness of the island. As the group’s leader he was instrumental in compelling the Government of Guam to at last implement the Chamorro Land Trust Act.
As a founding member of Nasion Chamoru, Maga’låhi Benavente fought for decolonization and Chamoru self-determination; freedom from the harmful impacts of militarization; the return of Chamoru lands; and sustaining the Chamoru language, traditional arts, and customs for future generations.
At the heart of Maga’låhi Benavente’s activism was a belief that Guåhan could and should be independent. He wanted Guåhan to have genuine autonomy and the Chamoru people to exercise true self-determination. Maga’låhi Benavente has received international recognition for this work, most prominently in the form of the prestigious Alston/Bannerman Fellowship in 2002.
Was the US retaking of Guam in 1944 a liberation or a reoccupation? A teach-in on the issue is being held this Friday, July 22 at 3 pm at the University of Guam HSS 106. If you are interested in learning more and obtaining a diverse range of literature on the topic please come and join the conversation.
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Guam Daily Post
July 20, 2016
As part of the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts, a series of panel discussions was organized by Dr. Lisa Natividad at the University of Guam, that focused on the three future political status options for Guam and different places around the Pacific that have already achieved them. A final panel discussion with representatives from the three political status task forces took place on June 2nd, 2016. Below are excerpts from a live-blog of the event that was recorded by Dr. Isa Kelley Bowman for the website “Mumun Linhayan.” This discussion between the task forces representatives was historic and emblematic of the new momentum that we are finding around Guam’s decolonization. I am optimistic that we will be able to maintain this momentum and continue to educate the island community about this issue.
Some in Guam push for Independence from US as Marines prepare for buildup
by Anna Fifield
June 17, 2016
HAGATNA, Guam — This tiny Pacific island has several nicknames. There is “the tip of the spear” because it is the closest U.S. territory to potential hot spots in Asia, such as North Korea and the South China Sea.
There is “America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier,” because the island is home to a huge air force base. And then there is “Fortress Pacific,” because of the huge military buildup that is planned to take place over the next decade.
But Guam’s population calls it by another name: Ours. And a sizable portion wants a real say in how it is run.
“This American territory is not enjoying democracy, where citizens can determine who their leader will be and what laws will be put upon them,” said Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo, who has called a vote for November on Guam’s political status. “It’s up to our people to decide which way to go: whether to be fully in union with the United States or to chart a separate course.” Continue reading “Independence Push in Guam…”
Decolonization Debate Reveals that When Informed, People Choose Independence
April 26, 2016, MANGILAO, GUAM – At a decolonization debate held at Tiyan High School Friday before an audience of 800, a team of high school students arguing in favor of independence successfully changed the most minds according to polls held before and after the debate.
The April 22 debate was organized in collaboration between the Guam Department of Education and the Commission on Decolonization and featured student representatives from four high schools (Tiyan High School, George Washington High School, Southern High School and Southern Christian Academy). One student from each school was assigned as a representative on each political status option’s team. Each team was assisted by coaches from each of the official political status task forces, who prepared them to make informed arguments for their status. The overall winning team of the debate was determined by two audience polls – one taken prior to the debate and the second taken after all the arguments had been presented. The team that had the largest positive increase in audience support between the two polls was declared the victor, as they had swayed the most minds.
The pre-debate polls revealed that prior to any education or discussion on the status options, 51% of the audience chose Statehood, 30% chose Free Association, and 19% chose Independence. After more than an hour of discussion, the post-debate poll showed the following changes: Statehood dipped 3 points to 48%, Free Association fell 12 points to 18%, and Independence jumped 15 points to 34%, winning the debate. Continue reading “Debate Reveals that When Informed, People Choose Independence”
Independence will grant our people the autonomy to decide what laws, institutions and programs to create in order to best suit our needs and ensure the protection of our human and natural resources. Guam will negotiate agreements and treaties with other countries to help protect our island and improve our economic, social, and cultural welfare. Independence will not happen over night. Guam will work with the United States to transition out of our current political status. If Guam chooses to maintain a relationship with the U.S. for defense or other purposes, we will negotiate the terms of this relationship. Our community will shape the type of governance, economy, health care, education, public safety, justice systems, and environmental and cultural protections necessary to create a prosperous and sustainable Guam for future generations.