Monday, July 7, 2008

Guam tomorrow?

The Marianas Variety says National Geographic names Guam one of the 'last colonies'. Sure enough, June's Last Colonies article doesn't say much, but Guam's on the list.

In fact, the author refers to 'the committee that deals with the issue', he can't even tell us it's the Special Committee on Decolonization, also known as the Fourth Committee. Here's a pretty up-to-date blog.

The Committee wants wants "non-self-governing" territories to settle their status by 2010. Not likely since the controlling countries, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, view the Fourth Committee as a relic of the Cold War. The name doesn't help in nixing that impression.

I've never understood why the U.S. doesn't just finally deal with the issue. Guam deserves a vote, whatever the outcome.


cactus said...

Instead of getting Guam de-colonized and off the list, the US seems to focusing its energies on getting the CNMI re-colonized and back on it.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI determined its status.

Lil' Hammerhead said...

I agree Ken.. guam is long overdue for a vote on their political status.

Noni is right cactus.. the CNMI determined its status. If they didn't like the "fine print".. they shouldn't have opted to sign the "contract".

cactus said...

Lil, if I signed a contract selling myself into slavery, would you tell me that I had determined my status, and if if I didn't like the "fine print," I shouldn't have opted to sign?

cactus said...

And if I sold my kids as well, what would you tell them?

Anonymous said...

Slavery. Any of these broke ass, podunk islands would sell their soul to get the same political status as the CNMI. Slavery is as hilarious as it is ungrateful. Please start the CNMI secession movement. The folks in the states would appreciate not wasting money on your shithole.

bigsoxfan said...

Noni Two, don't time your comments to end of the day at mandatory summer school. For the adults, Guam has a tough row to hoe with mainland assistance, at times they make the CNMI look good. For that matter, I rather see the US contribution to those worthless fucks at the UN go to the CuC. No wonder they aren't lining up for autonomy given the sucess of the African republics and Timor is a real winner. I'd rather see S.Torres lighting his loose cannon with a wad of notes, than some UN buthead. (two T's?)

KAP said...

Though I may bridle at or shrug about his rhetoric, depending on the day of the week, there's nothing wrong with revisiting the Covenant with Stanley. In fact, that's a requirement under Section 902.

It isn't carved in stone, as demonstrated by the recent minimum wage and immigration amendments.

That said, the word 'colony' hasn't been in play here since the plebiscite. The 'status' is settled, unless you can convince an unlikely coalition of Homeland Security and Human Rights types otherwise.

The Covenant's first sentence says "under the sovereignty of the United States of America". The U.S. has the power of Eminent Domain. That's not fine print.

The U.S. should make the same offer to Guam and see what happens.

cactus said...

Is that the same first sentence that also says "a self-governing commonwealth?"

If the US makes the same offer to Guam, it should be sure to tell the Guamaninans that it doesn't really mean that part.

KAP said...

I don't know what the lawyers would say, but I've always looked at it as analogous to the states being self-governing. Some even call themselves Commonwealths.

But I see your point.

Saipan Writer said...

The whole concept of "self-governing" is problematic, not in theory, but in practice.

Per the standard set forth by the UN, colonization means:

"• As long as administering powers exercise unilateral authority to make laws and other regulations affecting the Non Self-Governing Territories without their consent, pursuant to such methods as legislation, orders in council and other methods, a territory should not be considered self-governing."

Consent? When does that consent need to be given?

The CNMI had a plebiscite and established its relationship to the U.S. That was consent.

Under that consent, the CNMI agreed that the U.S. could legislate, with unilateral authority, and make laws, etc.

This is what "nony" feels constitutes slavery.

Any given state in the U.S. could have the same situation: even if all of its congressmen and senators vote against a bill, a law can be made that includes application to that state.

And then you get down to smaller and smaller units-towns, villages.

So what does it mean to have consent?

No government could continue in existence if consent meant that every single law had to have consent of each and every political unit. The American South would never have given up slavery (the real kind of slavery). The rifts between big states and small ones, coastal states and inland states, industrial and agricultural, would be endless.

So I do think that consent, in this colonial context, means only a plebiscite vote, a government based on a constitution (not "organic laws..."), and some measure of participation.

The anger in the CNMI towards the U.S. confounds me. Our local leaders have led the CNMI into the ground. They are responsible for the power situation. They are responsible for the bad reputation we have everywhere for "sweatshops" and "human trafficking abuses." And we, as voters who elected them, share that blame.

So why are we angry with the U.S.?

Application of U.S. labor laws and U.S. immigration control is not "slavery." The "colonization" effect of applying these laws to the CNMI is no different than the colonization effect on application of those laws in the several states (and in fact, application is flexible to take into account the situation here, with a lower minimum wage, and alternatives in immigration that aren't available elsewhere).

We don't seriously think the several states are colonies, so it's not about these laws applying here that relates to colonization.

At least not to anyone with an honest evaluation of the situation.

The real problem, as I see it, is that we (U.S. citizens in the CNMI) can't vote in important federal elections (well, except for the absentee law, but if you've never lived and registered to vote in the U.S. that doesn't help). U.S. citizens, born and bred and resident in the CNMI are excluded from the federal election process. We don't get to vote for President.

Nor do we have a vote in Congress. Our new delegate is "non-voting," although having a delegate who can at least introduce bills in Congress is an improvement over the previous situation with a "resident representative" without any power.

We have too few citizens to really lobby for recognition on par with the several states-a Congressman or Senator. But, to me, it is this lack of voting rights that smacks of colonization. And nothing else.

Not the extension of labor and immigration here. Not the "poor" plight of the CNMI. Certainly not the vast amounts of federal wealth redistributed here for our benefit.

We need to be able to vote.

And the U.S. needs to get Guam off the colonization list.

A plebiscite with a constitution? Or a new plebiscite for the CNMI & Guam together?

Lil' Hammerhead said...

Cactus.. if you signed a contract selling yourself into slavery.. "the fine print" is kind of a moot point. I mean, you just knowingly sold yourself into slavery.. what could be worse?

And if you didn't read the fine print.. and agree with it, than you should not have signed that contract.

cactus said...

To Saipan Writer:

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say "We need to be able to vote." That is what distinguishes us from the states. The people in the states have VOTING representation in the House. Even more significantly, the states as such are represented in the Senate and Electoral College. Sure, the states are bound by federal laws, but that is because the states, through their representatives, MAKE the federal laws.

Also: That UN standard is interesting. Where did you find it?

TO Hammerhead:

You're right -- I shouldn't have signed the contract. Selling myself into slavery was a boneheaded thing to do. So am I stuck with it anyway? And my kids too?

Jeff said...

This part below is exactly how I feel as well, Jane. I'm not a huge fan of the U.S. government, especially in how they operate of late in this day and age, but the biggest problems in the CNMI were brought about by local politicians, who have done a good job of shifting blame to the federal government.

The anger in the CNMI towards the U.S. confounds me. Our local leaders have led the CNMI into the ground. They are responsible for the power situation. They are responsible for the bad reputation we have everywhere for "sweatshops" and "human trafficking abuses." And we, as voters who elected them, share that blame.

So why are we angry with the U.S.?

Lil' Hammerhead said...

Really.. slavery Cactus? You're delusional. The only thing close to slavery that's taken place here in the last 30 years, is how close the treatment of non-res workers came to it. That's it.

The fact that the U.S. now opts to take actions that both parties mutually agreed they could, via the covenant.. is not even close to "slavery".

cactus said...

Lil, you are avoiding my question.

Of course, you can do that if you want, but it suggests that you know the answer, and don't like it.

Saipan Writer said...

cactus, I'll answer your question.

Some contracts are against public policy and unconscionable. A contract selling yourself into slavery would not be an enforceable contract for those reasons.

In case you're interested, this is what's going on here with some of the nighclubs trafficking in sex workers. Some women in the Philippines and China (and possibly elsewhere), have signed contracts where they agree to restrictions on their liberty (being locked inside barracks), agree to wage-withholding until the "successful" end of their contracts (meaning the employers make up excuses to fire them two days before the end and they get zero wages for a year's work), agree to do some kinds of work but find that they have to do much more, different, and objectionable acts. This is slavery.

And it's happened here in the most recent past few years (it's not only an old problem).

The Covenant is not a contract that results in slavery. I doubt that any court of law, federal or international, would find it against public policy, unconscionable, or objectionable as creating slavery.

And while I strongly feel every US citizen anywhere in the world should be allowed to vote in elections, the failure of our Covenant to give us the vote in federal elections does not make the CNMI a colony or a slave.

cactus said...

I adhere to the view of Thomas Paine (quoted by Bruce Bateman in yesterdy's Tribune):

"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case."

Lil' Hammerhead said...

You can vote for your representatives. I voted for mine. Where do you reside?

Saipan Writer said...

Tom Paine was an eloquent writer.

His twist on the word slavery is expansive. More commonly, though, slavery means "absolute power over another's life, fortune, and liberty." [Black's Law Dictionary]

How we use words helps us define our world. I may feel that gray is as bad as black, when I need white, but that doesn't make gray into black for everyone else.

For you, cactus, the lack of the right to vote here in the CNMI in U.S. federal elections feels like slavery. But as I said before, I doubt that any court in any tribunal would agree.

The inability to vote applies only in federal elections. As Lil points out, we do vote for our representatives. We just don't have a vote at the federal level. So that absolute quality of the power/bondage is absent here.

Another of the qualities of slavery is the inability to free oneself. If voting at the federal level is so important that it feels like slavery, you can free yourself of your bonds and move to the states where you can vote in federal elections. And you don't need an Underground Railway or some other illicit means to do that. You can buy a ticket, travel on your US passport, and be "free."

The Covenant doesn't put the CNMI in bondage. We're not slaves to the U.S. Slavery and the vote are not the same.

But even though it's not slavery, we need to be able to vote in federal elections.

cactus said...

I won't quibble about who is or is not a slave. My point is that certain rights are too fundamental to give up even if you want to. Personal liberty is one of these. Therefore a contract to sell yourself into slavery is void.

The right of self-government is another. Therefore a vote to become or remain a colony, however free and popular a vote it may be at the time, cannot be perpetually binding.

Anonymous said...

You would think Iraq is the newest to the last colony. Thats a pretty darn big embassy they are building over there.