« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOSEPH F. ADA, FORMER
GOVERNOR OF GUAM Governor ADA. Mr. Chairman, and members of this august body, this document is the creation of our people in plebiscite. This document was approved by the majority of Guam voters, and especially by the Chamorros in Guam.
The document that is H.R. 100 is already an historic document, regardless of what happens to it, for the simple fact, Mr. Chairman, we have before us the only democratically expressed view on the political status of Guam that has ever existed in the 300 years that Guam and the Chamorro people have been administered by Governments other than ours. This document is the only expression of the democratic voice of our people that exists with respect to political status, the only one. For that reason alone, it must be treated with respect as you deliberate on the fate of that expression.
Today you are hearing from Guam—Democrats and Republicans. All of us, whether Democrats or Republicans, as Governors and Guam legislature, have fought for self-determination for the Chamorro people and self-government for Guam, because in Guam there is no Republican position or Democrat position on Commonwealth, because on this issue we are united.
I spent 8 years fighting for this Act as Governor. We brought this Act to an earlier Congress, and they insisted that we first begin discussions with the executive branch. That we did. We spoke to the task forces in both the Bush and Clinton administrations. At first, these discussions with the administration were extremely difficult. In the beginning, the Bush task force tried to claim that we were already self-governing, even though every Federal court decisionmakes it clear we are not.
Just because we can elect a legislature and a Governor, as you know Guam only is permitted to do these things by delegation of Congress, Congressional authority in the Organic Act. This congress has the authority, tomorrow, to throw our legislature out of office, nullify all local laws, to replace the Governor of Guam with the Commander of Naval Forces Marianas or Presidential appointees or naval officers, as indeed was done in the past.
As one Federal court put it, “Guam has less self-government than Boulder, Colorado.” It does not matter if Guam writes a constitution if that constitution is subject to congressional amendment or approval, or if that constitution does nothing to address the imbalance between Federal and local authorities.
What we seek in this Commonwealth is increased actual self-government for the people of Guam. We seek recognition of the fact that the Chamorro people have never been granted an exercise of their self-determination and recognition of their process to give the Chamorro people the opportunity to exercise that right.
Under Commonwealth, although Congress would retain very significant powers over Guam, very specific authorities would be vested in the Government of the Commonwealth. These powers would be permanently vested in the Commonwealth, not delegated and subject to revision. This is critical. That is why in the past I have referred to mutual consent as the heart of this act. Without mutual consent, this act just becomes another Organic Act.
When I left office, we were working closely with the Clinton administration, as we had with the Bush administration. Through their representative we signed agreements in which the administration agreed to mutual consent over the act. Unfortunately, in the Bush administration, signed agreements were reneged upon, and now it seems in this administration agreements reached with Mr. Heyman and his successor, Mr. Garamendi, are also being reneged upon. We have trusted in the administration, and Mr. Chairman, our trust has been betrayed.
Mr. Chairman, with all due respect for my language, Mr. Garamendi has just massacred the heart and soul of our people, their dreams and aspirations. He has been dishonest in his statement. Mr. Chairman, we shall continue to fight. I am sure that what I say today—that the Federal immigration in Guam will refuse my entry into my homeland.
We look to this Congress to restore our faith in the process. Our experience is the strongest proof of why mutual consent is so necessary. After all, if executive branch representatives and task forces are constantly changing their minds and betraying agreements, how can we relay on somebody's simple word? We need certainty, and only mutual consent can provide that certainty.
Self-government—given the limited self-government we seek at this time is only possible if Congress partially disposes of its plenary powers under the Territorial Clause. In our view, there is no doubt Congress has the power to do this under the plenary powers granted by the Territorial Clause, and the people of Guam deserve to have this done.
There are many ways that Commonwealth benefits Guam, but perhaps the greatest benefit we receive is the least tangible justice. In peace and war, Chamorros have been loyal friends of America. We have been alongside you in many wars. We have supported you, given of our land, our blood, our lives, and nobody can deny that. If any people have earned the consideration of this Government, I can say without fear and contradiction, it is the Chamorro people. I hope the reward for loyalty is just respect. I hope that after 300 years you will do what the Spanish never did, and what so far this Federal Government has not done. We hope you will do what is right for the Chamorro people, for the people of Guam, for America.
And last, Mr. Chairman, I resent the fact that Mr. Garamendi does not believe in our people to exercise self-determination. It is an insult to say that our people cannot distinguish between right and wrong. We are people just like you. We are people like people in America and in every other country, and those people are fortunate to have self-determination. And we have been robbed of that self-determination for over 300 years, and we're still the victim of discrimination.
Mr. Chairman, I ask this august body to take a handle on this process because we cannot trust the administration anymore. For over 8 years they have said, “Let's do this; trust us—and trust us and trust us.” And yet as we turn around, and at the end of every administration, they have reneged on all of the agreements that we have signed, too. That is not justice. I beg of this august body to take handle of this and achieve for the people of Guam the same
dream that this American country is noted for in helping countries achieve their democratic process.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. [The prepared statement of Governor Ada may be found at end of hearing.)
Mr. PETERSON. I'd like to thank Governor Ada for his fine, impassioned testimony, and the other two Governors for their testimony.
At this time, we will open it to questions. Does the gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Duncan, have a question?
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, Mr. Chairman, no; I don't have any questions. I just would say I thank the witnesses for coming this great distance and taking such time to get here, and I certainly can understand why they would desire more self-government. I did read this description of the bill that says, “U.S. income taxes will generally not apply to Guam, yet Guam will receive the full State level of Federal assistance and programs.” And I wonder if there might be some way we could get that to apply to the citizens of Tennessee, also.
(Laughter.) But I am very favorable toward what they're requesting. That's all I would say at this time.
Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Farr, from California.
Mr. FARR. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome everyone to Washington, and to my Chamorro friends, Hafa Adai.
I want to tell this committee something. I served in the California State legislature, and in 1992 I had the opportunity to lead a group of State legislators from the Western United States to Guam for a legislative conference. That experience opened my eyes. It opened my eyes to the fact that so few people who live on the mainland even know where Guam is or how far away it is. In fact, you can't get there from here. You can't get from Washington to Guam. You can't get from the west coast to Guam without going through Hawaii or some other place offshore. It is so far away that most people on this side of the globe don't get there.
What I was struck by is what an incredible island it is, a beautiful place that obviously generates its income from tourism and the pride of the Chamorroan people. It's an incredibly rich culture, and it's a very diversified island. In fact, I would submit that that island is more diversified than any congressional district, and there are only 135,000 people on the island. The island's economy is in the region.
Everything done there, though, is dependent on Washington, DC. Why does Washington want to be so possessive, so paternal about a place that most of the bureaucrats have never even visited? And yet those bureaucrats are in control of the ambient air quality of Guam. People don't even know about prevailing winds; the wind blows all the time. Anything that goes up gets blown away, and yet you have bureaucrats out there checking the ambient air quality, trying to do things on wetlands in Guam. It's a small island, and yet we put all that bureaucratic legislation on top of them.
I mean, if you are in Guam and you sit there and try to understand why this country has been so possessive of an island, not allowing people to have self-determination, I think you begin to echo
what the Chamorro people are saying, which is, “Let my people go."
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, yes. I would like to ask one question just to give the panel an opportunity to dispute a little more on the issue.
First of all, I was thinking that maybe many of the States would like to join in Mr. Farr's sentiments and get rid of many of these federally imposed laws. In fact, you could come over on this side if you'd like, Mr. Farr. We'd love that.
Mr. FARR. Well, you have State's rights, and they don't have State's rights; that's what they're asking for.
Mr. CANNON. That's right. On the other hand, this august body is often difficult to work with, and then if we're not able to pass the Guam Commonwealth Act, what are the three of you thinking are the next steps for Guam? When I say “not pass," I mean in this session or the next session. It may take us a while to move that forward. What do you think are the next steps for Guam?
Governor GUTIERREZ. Well, I think the process at this particular time, as the door was opened by this administration, is to have a tri-partite negotiation process between the people of Guam, as mandated by H.R. 100, this administration, and this Congress, who has this plenary power to make that final decision. What we have been going through in an exercise of futility is the fact that we have to come back and negotiate with this Congress again. We have made a lot of progress.
I think the core principles as embodied in H.R. 100, as the people of Guam have voted on it, need to be brought to a closure. The opening of this administration to say that if we put this tri-partite negotiation together, that we should look at June 20, 1998 as the drop-off date that we should come to some kind of a resolution to this 100-year quest by the Chamorro people, it's only right, Congressman, that if all else fails with this Congress, the people of Guam then will decide that; and I would not want to second-guess what the people of Guam would do.
I am the chairman of the Commission on Self-Determination, present Governor, and I'm carrying the mandate of the people of Guam to this Commonwealth Act, and I can only speak to that at this particular time.
Mr. CANNON. Do the other members of the panel want to address that at all?
Governor CALVO. I am the oldest of the Governors here, so I have been removed from politics, but I can tell you that not only are our aspirations, Mr. Chairman, good for us, but I think it is a good investment, a very good investment for this Congress to consider giving us what we're asking. And the reason I say this is because we just had a situation where what happens in Hong Kong affected the whole Nation, the whole globe. And I think that you have an opportunity to have a presence-not just a colony, but a presence U.S. soil.
And you know, I know that we have been coming to the Congress here, and we're saying, “Hey, practice what you preach.” You tell China what happened in Tiananmem Square was wrong. You know, you tell third-rate countries that, “Hey, you should treat your citizens-remember civil rights and civil liberties.” That is nice, but I'm sure that everybody asks, "What's in it for us?” And I say you are against us because we are thousands of miles away, and although we are Americans by virtue of your act, you can take it away from us at any time.
But if you were to—the trading partners of the United States, which are Korea, Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia, and Taiwan, they comprise about 46 percent of all the global production. And they say that in China, by the year 2010 or 2015, it is going to surpass the United States. I think that it's not just good for you to consider what's good for us, but it is good investment for the United States.
And even though I'm not involved in the process that Governor Gutierrez is involved in, being the chairman, I think that besides asking the question of what is good for us, the people of Guam, ask what's good for the United States. Because this is where the action isso pass it.
Governor ADA. Mr. Chairman? May I also respond?
Governor ADA. Mr. Chairman, I've been in politics for 24 years, and I've often come to Congress to testify before the Ways and Means Committee. And I always remember Congressman Yates looking at me, testifying before him on budgetary matters, and he would always say to me, "Mr. Speaker, why don't you go back home and develop your economic potential, and do something back home to generate revenues for your people?" And I looked up to him, Mr. Chairman, and in my own mind I wanted to tell him, “Mr. Chairman, you have tied our hands for so many years that we cannot move ahead economically.”
This is the reason why, Mr. Chairman, that we are embarking on this Commonwealth, because we want some economic liberty where we have very limited resources in Guam, and we cannot in any way move ahead and take advantage of the creativeness of our local people to go into ventures without having the Federal Government coming in and tying our hands.
The Governor here mentioned prosperous garment factories in the 1970's, prosperous watch factories in the 1970's; hundreds and hundreds of our local people were gainfully employed. But through the efforts of the people in the US, the garment industry people and the watch industry people the lobbies—who had influenced the administration to kill the industry that we had in Guam that we had been exporting-approximately $100 million worth of garments and watches into the United States—and at the same period of time other countries, like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, have been exporting into the United States $6 billion worth of garments and watches, compared to the $100 million worth of garments and watches from Guam, and this as a result of the lobbies killing and robbing our people of their livelihood.
These are the kinds of things that we want to prevent in this Act, and this Act will help. If you look into this Act, Mr. Chairman,