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Independence for Guam Task Force

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Commendations for Julian Aguon

Independence Task Force Commends Attorney Julian Aguon and Office of Attorney General for Arguments in Davis Case

FOR IMMEADIATE RELEASE, SEPTEMBER 2, 2016 – The Independence for Guåhan Task Force commends Attorney Julian Aguon and the Office of Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson for their monumental defense of the right of the Native Inhabitants of Guam to determine the island’s future political status in yesterday’s hearing for the Arnold Davis vs. Guam Election Commission case.

Attorney Aguon reminded the court that decolonization is not a right that applies to all, but rather, “a remedy to restore a right” that was taken away from a particular group of people, whom Congress itself defined as those who became U.S. citizens by virtue of the authority and enactment of the 1950 Organic Act of Guam and their descendants.

Davis’ argument rests on the premise that not allowing him to register in Guam’s decolonization registry is race-based discrimination. The Task Force finds it appalling that our island, which remains a U.S. colony and has been denied the right to vote under this premise, is being accused of racism. Attorney Aguon not only reminded the court that Guam’s definition of Native Inhabitant is “facially race-neutral” or not race-based, he also asked the court whether Davis’ right to vote in what is essentially a non-binding decision trumps the people of Guam’s long denied right to vote for elected officials who make decisions on their behalf.

The Task Force commends Attorney Aguon for his nuanced use of the Insular Cases. He argued that in this particular case, the Insular Cases, which are typically the villain in their denial of rights to the territories, are the hero because they prove that unincorporated territories have a unique relationship to the U.S., which cannot be compared to decisions the court has made in issues involving states, because the Constitution does not always apply to Guam in the way it does to states. The Insular Cases give Congress, not the Constitution, full authority over the rights of people in unincorporated territories, because the courts have determined that such territories are not on the path to statehood, but rather de-annexation and fuller self-governance, Attorney Aguon argued.

While the Task Forces recognizes the limitations of defending this case in a federal court, which upholds the authority of Guam’s colonizer, we value the dialogue that is taking place and hope the community continues to find inspiration and drive in Attorney Aguon’s arguments.

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Where do the national parties of the US stand on Guam’s decolonization?

How Guam’s Decolonization was Addressed at National Political Party Conventions

FOR IMMEADIATE RELEASE, AUGUST 2, 2016 – Now that the Republican and Democratic National Party Conventions are over, the Independence for Guåhan Task Force (Independent Guåhan) has taken a closer look at the parties’ respective stances on Guam’s decolonization.
Every four years the United States elects a new president. While this election is often represented as an example of the greatness of the United States, for those who live in America’s territories and cannot participate, this election is another example of the limits of American democracy and the realities of our colonial statuses.
 
As the Voice of America, the external broadcasting corporation of the United States, recently reported, for the people in the territories of the US, participation at this level of American democracy ends with the Republican and Democratic National conventions. Although residents of Guam and other territories are allowed to participate in the nomination of candidates for president of the United States, they do not have voting rights and other than Washington D.C., have no electoral college votes.

Continue reading “Where do the national parties of the US stand on Guam’s decolonization?”

Independence for Guam Task Force Honors Maga’låhi Ed Benavente

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.

Continue reading “Independence for Guam Task Force Honors Maga’låhi Ed Benavente”

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