Assessing The Course Of Action In Regard To Guam's Plebiscite

3353 words - 13 pages

In 1946 almost half of the world's population lived in a colonial territory." (Commission 2). Now however, Guam is one of only 16 non-self-governing in the world. With the rest of the world taking strides to self-governing, why is Guam one of the only unincorporated territories? The people of Guam want to take steps to become something more than a possession of a country. So, like many other territories Guam has held and will continue to hold plebiscites to see what is the will of the people in regards to the direction of the territory.

But we have to look comparatively at our fellow island nations and in the context of today's society. Even with its large size and wealth, the Philippines still has many economic problems. The Federated States of Micronesia has the same problems. And looking back on our history, one can find the attitude of the United States toward Guam's request for political change

Guam's quest for self-identity started in 1899 when Joaquin Perez tried to establish a local legislature. His dream and others' were realized in 1950 with the passing of the Organic Act of Guam, which established the Guam Legislature and made Guamanians United States citizens. Soon followed were the "lifting if the military's Security Clearance Program in 1962; and the Elective Governor act of 1970." (Ibid. 3). In order to satisfy leaders' questions on changning the political status on Guam, the United States approved the drafting of a Guam Constitution in 1976. Three years later, in 1979, Guam voters rejected the constitution because in did not address the issue of Guam's political status (Ibid. 3.) Because of this, the fifteenth Guam Legislature considered many options to change the political status, such as joining the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) or joining Hawaii as a county (Rogers 55.)

After an important meeting in Albuquerque, in which a bipartisan delgation from Guam met with Congressman Manuel Lujan, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Insular Affairs, the Guam Legislature wrote Public Law 17-14 in January of 1984, which established the Commission on Self-Determination. The purpose of the commission was to draft the Guam Commonwealth Act in order to establish Guam as a commonwealth. After submission to Congress however, the language of the Act became a major hurdle. Among issues Guam would not budge on:

Determination of a new political status for Guam as a self-governing commonwealth protected from congressional plenary power in a matter similar to a state of the Union;
The adverse impact on Guam of certain federal statutes and policies;
Military ownership of Guam's most valuble land and economic resources;
The nonavailability of local capital to invest in facilities likely to promote commerce and industry;
The need for liberal, locally controlled tax, finance, and immigration authority;
Federal assistance to Guam;
Ending the Department of the Interior fiscal oversight of Guam

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