Become a state then

>> Friday, October 16, 2009

Just finished listening to this interview (recorded last Friday) from Democracy Now:

JUAN GONZALEZ: So the people of Guam are US citizens but cannot vote in any kind of federal elections at all.

JULIAN AGUON: Yes. The document that purports to be our foundational or constitution document is actually a document passed by the US Congress, or the Organic Act of 1950, passed on August 1st, 1950. Basically, by virtue of that act, we are statutory citizens. US citizenship was extended to us. However, we’re not allowed to vote for the US president, and we’re not allowed to have a voting—an effective voting representative in the US Congress.

And that’s what’s so ironic, and you hear about—I just heard about the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Obama, and that’s great, but for us, it’s really like the US has, you know, really justified its current war on terror, I mean, using all—employing all of the classic language of human rights and international law. And that was my specialty area in law school, international law and human rights, and for indigenous people specifically, as well as for colonized peoples.

And we don’t even have to necessarily talk about human rights in Guam; we’ll settle for civil rights. We just want to vote for president. So, I mean, even in America’s own backyard, nuclear contamination is not cleaned up. We can’t vote for president. We can’t really make changes in the US Congress. Yet, all the decisions made for us are made by people we don’t vote for. I mean, this is such a wildly deficient phenomenon today, I mean, because, really, I mean, I guess the best way to explain the Guam situation is that there’s nothing neo about our colonialism. This is such old school-styled colonialism, it’s unreal. It really is unreal. And I think that’s why the Chamoru people of late, our indignation and our moral outrage is sort of taking a new lease of life.
Guam residents don't pay federal income taxes like US citizens in California, Arizona, Alabama or Vermont. They either pay taxes directly to the Guam government or to the US government, which then gives the money back to Guam. Residents of Guam receive many of the benefits of US Citizenship, yet very little of the responsibilities. They may not be able to "vote" for president because they have no electoral votes, but they can send delegates to the national party conventions.

But, please, stop complaining that you have no "civil rights." Residents of the District of Columbia actually PAY federal taxes to the US Government and have no voting rights in Congress. Please pick a concrete movement such as independence, statehood or union with either Hawaii or the Northern Mariana Islands and be done with it.


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