On the colonisation and the imperialist exploitation of Guam

Dear Editor

With respect to the condemnation of US warmongering and threats against the Korean people, I would like to bring to the attention of your readers that Guam, an island in the Pacific Ocean with a little over 200,000 people is one of the bases for the US military.

For over the past 110 years Guam has been a colony of the United States. Just after World War II, 1944, this take over was a representation of US expansion into a global power. Guam was taken by the US for purely strategic reasons, as it provided a nautical link, a transit site through which American economic and military power could be used to their advantage in the emerging Asian region. Guam offered the largest deep-water port in the Western Pacific. And so Guam, along with other American controlled islands such as American Samoa, Midway and Hawai`i that stretched across the Pacific, guaranteed the US a smooth route of commerce and military resources from America to Asia.

The first and all the military commanders that followed were given clear instructions to publicly declare that “we come, not as invaders or conquerors, but as friends…win the confidence, respect and affection of the inhabitants of the Island of Guam … by proving to them that the mission of the US is one of benevolent assimilation”. In reality, this rhetoric masks the underlying racist, militaristic and imperial intentions.

The first task of the US imperialists was eradication of the Chamorro language and the mandatory public education in English, with the usage of the Chamorro language banned from all government facilities, including schools and offices. The navy at one point went so far as to burn books written in the Chamorro language. The Chamorros of Guam were forced to follow patriarchal notions of descent, when they had all along followed matrilineal customs and traditions. The navy positioned itself as a civilizing teacher to Chamorros, it crammed its spheres of influences with “lessons” on American greatness and Chamorro inferiority. The US deported the Spanish Catholic priests and instead brought in their own. The identity, language and culture of the people was trampled underfoot. Among the Chamorros of Guam – the land and its produce belonged to everyone. This is the core that everything in Chamorro culture revolves around. It is a powerful concern for mutuality rather than individualism and private property rights.

With US imperialism came the imperialist culture, its TV, violence, individualism, competition, and a concerted effort to teach them the “glories of American democracy” and the “American way of life”, etc. The people of Guam were declared as US nationals, but not allowed to vote on the floor of the US Congress nor are they eligible to vote for the US president. They do not have the right to jury trials or to any judicial appeals process.

Yours,
Gopal

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