Guam Land Grab

SUBHEAD: Property rights be damned! U.S. Military would like to use condemnation without compensation on Guam.

By Desiree Taimanglo-Ventura on 21 November 2009 in Drowning Mermaid 
Image above: My cousin Seth looks out at the family land which will be a Marine firing range.  

General David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, has repeatedly assured the local community that the federal government would not condemn lands for use of the military buildup, but JGPO director Col John Jackson did not back up Bice’s statements during a recent radio interview. 

 Jackson gave evasive, vague and noncommittal responses when K-57’s Breakfast Show host Ray Gibson asked him if the military intends to condemn Guam lands. Residents were also assured earlier that the military was not interested in acquiring land in the Sasayjan Valley in the Marbo area in Yigo, but the recently released draft environmental impact statement shows otherwise. During a recent interview with Variety, Bice said the military would look into the acquisition of lands. “That's how we're going to approach this. It would be a normal acquisition process and that has yet to be determined as we go forward on that,” he told Variety. 

 Not at any price  
 Some local landowners said they would be interested in negotiating with the military for their portions of property in the Yigo area, but landowners of the adjacent properties within the footprint of the proposed firing ranges on the northeastern coast of the island are not willing to give up their lands at any price. Landowner Glenn Nelson said that the draft environmental impact statement should have also taken into consideration other sites that are federally-owned to include off-island properties, and that non-federally owned lands should be the last option. “I’m not so sure anymore if people actually grasp the concept of the potential negative impacts associated with this buildup other than the dollar signs attached to the various projects. I need help, the island needs help. This project is moving much too quick and impacts are far too great,” said Nelson. 

 Not theirs yet 
 Landowners in that area have said Benny Crawford, who leads the Tiyan landowners, are not the only landowners involved. Crawford seems poised to negotiate lands without the authority of other landowners whose lands lie within the footprint. Furthermore, Crawford and the Tiyan landowners don't even own those properties. They are still under the inventory of the Ancestral Lands Commission.

Memories of Guam  

SUBHEAD: Making a record of US military taking of foreign lands.  

By Desiree Taimanglo-Ventura on 21 November 2009 in Drowning Mermaid - (

Image above: Koohan sits and speaks with friends and relatives at a regular family BBQ  

Award winning documentary filmmaker, and author of the recently published Superferry Chronicles, Koohan Paik, used her talents to help create footage of civilian lands scheduled for military take over.

I brought Koohan to my family's property, which is expected to be taken and used as a Marine firing range. She spent the day walking over the cliff line that held many happy memories for my family and I, and interviewing friends and relatives who regularly spend time on the property. 

 I have to admit, it was depressing doing this with her. She asked a lot of questions about how we felt; but it seemed pointless to answer them. As a territory, we don't get to decide. I'm grateful for what the United States did for our island when it was under Japanese occupation; but it's a situation that is hard to feel completely happy about. It's a very big sacrifice; and I do hope for the best for our island.

People keep trying to convince me that this will improve our economy and create new jobs, but anyone who takes a close look at their plans will see that the jobs created will not be those which significantly help our residents. They're mostly part-time jobs that will have limited to no benefits, or jobs that migrant workers and contracted employees from elsewhere will take. I wonder if completely trashing our environment is worth it. It's hard to feel ecstatic or eager about all of this. 

I guess my feeling is one of sad acceptance. Nonetheless, this piece of property is very special to my family. I'm glad Koohan's camera was able to preserve memories of it. Seeing the map in the newspaper showing how drastically the island will change has made me realize how much I need to take pictures, spend time hiking, going to the beach, and enjoying the island before it turns into this new place the military has planned for us.

See also:  
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam - Another strategic island 11/9/09  
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 3/15/04 


Anonymous said...

Below is "a facebook post written by a Chamorro girl living in Boston...I wanted you to read this. This girl is obviously very upset; and it's so rare to see another young Chamorro female express these feelings. Her name is Christina..."

"Inflammatory rant, why I say 'rape' a lot"
Today at 12:11pm

...I guess rape is a running theme in Guam's history. It seems like Guam is in some vortex where rape is ok, rape of people, rape of the earth, and rape of a nation. Yet, it always comes as a shock when I re-realize how short sighted people who drank the same water as me, swam in the same ocean, and sweated under the same sun can be so out of touch, infected with the sickness that is killing our values and turning us away from tradition, burying us deeper and deeper under the burdens of colonization. People who have been so seduced by the dream sold to us by Uncle Sam, deluding themselves into thinking this type of change is really progress.

People who care about $$$$$$$$, care about $$$$$$$$. What is culture to these people anyway? It sure isn't social or environmental justice or democracy that prevents exploitation. To these people, does culture even exist beyond personal gain? As long as these divas can roll around in their SUVS carrying their Luis Vutton purses listening to Lady Gaga who gives a fuck if our reefs die and we have no place to put our garbage. As long as these fools can have their cosmos at Hard Rock Cafe and open their stupid shitty chains while truly local establishments suffer. Short sighted greed is the only reason I can see a true Guamanian could support the expansion. I don't consider construction for foreigners, erosion and water pollution caused by bulldozing more of the jungle for townhouses and crappy American chains GROWTH or an advancement of our "social scene". If you want to live in a place crawling with brosios, covered in strip malls and Ruby Tuesdays, move to California and get the F-out of Guam.

But seriously, speaking of rape... is anyone else worried? Ladies, please raise your hand if you have ever been sexually harassed or assaulted (extra points if you were a minor at the time!) by these roving packs of rambunctious men who think because they are in a foreign place surrounded by "exotic" ladies, common decency does not apply to them? (Both hands raised!) It's well known that our boys have not been behaving themselves in Japan, just ask any woman from Okinawa and I'm sure she'll tell you the deal.

All the reasons why this buildup is so BAD for Guam are enormous it makes my head swim and my eyes cross to think about. Knowing that it is inevitable and we never had any chance to stop it is obvious but still difficult to absorb. Even though the Okinawans were able to create change, when have the people of Guam ever succeeded? We can't vote for president and we're barely represented in Congress. I feel betrayed, I feel panicked and I worry that by being out here I'm missing out on valuable time. I feel sad knowing my children (if I ever accidentally have any) will not know Guam as I knew it. Guam was such an AWESOME place to grow up. Alas, maybe Cory and I can raise our babies in Palau. He can be a prison guard for the Uighurs from Guantanamo and I can teach safe cycling and get used bicycles shipped from Anderson Air Force Base and distribute them amongst Palauan youth. Oh the irony...

Anonymous said...

Here is a report from the Pacific News Center:

"Guthertz Asking for DOD Stance on Land Condemnation"

Guam - Senator Judi Guthertz has fired off a letter to retired Major General David Bice. The letter asks Bice whether or not the military plans to condemn any land on Guam in order to use it for the miltiary buildup.

The senator says that although in the past she was given committments that the military would not need to condemn any land recent statements from Bice have been ambiguous. The senator says that if she does not receive a definitive answer from Bice she will go above him taking the matter as far President Obama if necessary.

The senator says that land condemnation would be a terrible injustice for the people of Guam particularly considering their experiences after World War II.

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