The July 4th celebrations at beach parties, picnics, fireworks and the waving of American flags on this land of islanders who have been denied the basic human right of self-determination and decolonization remind us about the deep disparities between the principles and the practices of American democracy in the Chamorro archipelago of the Mariana Islands.
For Guam, much of this is in fact caused by U.S. military presence and strategies of the 21st century.
In 1776, the unanimous declaration of the 13 United States of America severely criticized the King of Gr. Britain for having:
“Kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
“For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.”
It was clear that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were in fact, decidedly anti-military in their castigation of America’s then-ruler.
Today, however, the United States’ spread of over 900 military bases outside of the continental U.S. exists separate from civilian life, with its own set of laws and technology that abridge basic human rights and civil liberties in colonial territories and distant countries.
The United States’ own foundational document, with its anti-colonial and anti-military values, deserves an honest review in our classrooms and should be at the forefront of our thoughts today and every day until the day we are allowed to exercise our basic human rights in our own land.
Hope A. Cristobal is a former senator and resident of Tamuning.