Outside the Chamber of Commerce meeting today, a group of protesters held signs in opposition to the U.S. control of Guam while calling for independence and native rights. Howard Hemsing says that he doesn't think that any of the high–level military or civilian U.S. officials are listening to the pleas of Guam's indigenous people.
"Why should they? They own the island. They can do as they please, when they please, that's ownership. They can sell Guam today if they wanted to. Do they pay rent on Guam for all the military land? All the land they're using for the military are they paying a penny? No, but they send billions of dollars to Iraq and yet in Guam we can't even get war reparations, nuclear down winders. We can't even get native rights."
(Pacific Daily News)
A senior Pentagon officials believes its target of 2014 to complete the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam can still be met, the Pacific Daily News reports.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy B.J. Penn yesterday said that despite a number of obstacles, he remains confident the huge project, estimated to cost about $15 billion including construction of housing and base facilities on Guam, will be met. He spoke to the Guam Chamber of Commerce.
The biggest challenge will be a relatively small amount of funds allocated for the initial phase of the buildup, which is scheduled to begin in 2010. Japan is providing $6 billion in cash and in-kind support, of which $400 million will be distributed for the initial phase in 2010. The U.S. will match that amount.
Penn yesterday that given the scope of the project the $800 million is a relatively small amount to move into the construction phase. But he said the Pentagon can work with the figure.
"We usually require about twice that much just to get the program. ... started. We're still targeting 2014, but we're starting out with half the amount of money. But that's good as well, because if we put too much money into the program, and we don't understand our goals, the money is pulled from us and we lose it forever and forever, so it's best to start low and build," Penn said.
Penn also said the U.S. has been in discussion with the territorial government of Guam to use public land to build housing for the estimated 12,000 workers who will have to be imported for the buildup. Those facilities would revert to the local government once they are no longer needed, Penn said.
Guam and the Banality of American Colonialism