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STATEMENT OF CARLOS TAITANO
Over three hundred years after the Spanish invaded the Marianas in 1668 and ninety years after the United States replaced Spain in 1898 as the ruling power over Guam, this island remains today, as in 1668 and in 1898, a non-self-governing territory; in other words, a colony -- a breed that is almost extinct around the world today. It is not an independent nation and it has not been integrated into the political system of the United States. The people of Guam have been ruled by outside nations without their consent. They have been denied their right self-determination. They live under limited home rule and abide by laws passed by Congress in which they have no representation with voting privileges and administered by a President for whom they cannot
Since the Second World War world leaders became concerned for the many people throughout the world who had no voice in the enactment of laws that governed them and who continued to live under conditions of inequality and without regard for the rights of the individual. Since the end of that war many people under colonial rule were given the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination. In our part of the world the United States granted this opportunity to all the islands under its control,
Naturally, Guam looks with disappointment and envy
at its neighbors, island communities that came under American rule almost fifty years after Guam was acquired from Spain.
Whether at home or abroad, I am always ready whenever the occasion requires, to defend, protect and expound the ideals of the Nation. Like many other Americans, I get emotional over such subjects as patriotism and the flag. But, gentlemen, I also experience deep disappointment and anger, at times, at the discrimination against the residents of Guam.
I was in the Guam Congress Walkout of 1949, or, as some people call it, the Guam Rebellion of 1949, because that was exactly what it was. It was a rebellion against the ruling authority for fifty years of political neglect, for conditions of inequality and for denial of civil and political rights. The following year the Organic Act of Guam was passed. I was also involved in the struggle for the right to elect our own Governor and to send a delegate to Washington. There was tremendous resistance by certain key members of Congress, especially with respect to the governorship bill. One member told me that they could not allow the Guamanians to elect their own Governor, because the United States had a very large investment in military facilities on the
island requiring tight control by Congress. The chief of staff of one of the leading senators offered the prediction that I would not see a Guamanian Governor in my lifetime. After the enactment of the governorship bill in 1968, the petition for a non-voting delegate to Congress was granted in 1972. The people of Guam are United States citizens, yet, these fundamental rights are doled out to them, piece by piece.
In a period of rapid political changes throughout the world, even in Eastern Europe, politically, Guam under congressional rule is moving at a snail pace, if not at a standstill. The time is long overdue for Congress to act. In this day and age, the situation on Guam is outmoded. Congress must give Guam the freedom to develop in their own way.
Mr. DE LUGO. Thank you very much.
I want to thank you all for your statements here this morning. I think they have contributed tremendously to this hearing.
Thank you very much.
The next panel will be a panel made up of leaders of the future, the Guam Youth Council and other students. The Chair looks forward to receiving this testimony from these young people. PANEL CONSISTING OF ART SAN AGUSTIN, TRISHA ADA, AL
FREDO ANTOLIN, MELISSA TAITANO, GUAM YOUTH CONGRESS; ANNALYNN SEBASTIAN, AND VINCENT AKIMOTO Mr. DE LUGO. We have Mr. Art San Agustin, Ms. Trisha Ada, Mr. Alfredo Antolin, Ms. Melissa Taitano, Guam Youth Congress; Ms. Annalynn Sebastian and Vincent Akimoto.
I want to welcome you all here. Your statements, without objection, will be made a part of the record in their entirety.
We would like you to try and stay within the five minute rule, if possible. Thank you.
Who will lead off? Mr. AGUSTIN. Mr. Chairman, we have a request on behalf of the Youth Congress, our testimony is actually one piece divided into four spheres and we would like to know if we can be permitted to speak one right after another?
Mr. DE LUGO. Certainly. You are well organized. Mr. AGUSTIN. Today's testimony on behalf of the Youth Congress will be presented by myself, Arthur U. San Agustin, Speaker of the Youth Congress, followed by Trisha Ada, Chairperson, Committee on Federal Foreign and Legal Affairs, followed by Alfredo, Chairperson, Committee on Rules and ended with Melissa Taitano.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, distinguished leaders from Guam, ladies and gentlemen. Hafa Adai.
On behalf of the youth of Guam, we are honored to be here to testify in support of H.R. 98, the Guam Commonwealth Act. We have come to state and echo the voices of our peers.
We are members of the 15 Guam Youth Congress, future leaders of our island.
The members present today before you are myself, Arthur U. San Agustin, Youth Speaker; Melissa Taitano, Youth Vice Speaker; Joshua Tenorio, Youth Legislative Secretary; Alfredo O. Antolin, Jr.; Chairman, Committee on Rules; Tricia Ada, Chairperson, Committee on Federal, Foreign and Legal Affairs; Francis Flisco, Chairman, Committee on Youth, Senior Citizens, Cultural Affairs and Human Resources; Christine Cruz, Chairperson, Committee on Education; Therese Guerrero, Chairperson, Committee on Tourism, Economic and Community Development; Rory Respicio, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means; Melissa Cefre, Jessica Morta and Tracy Haggard, members at large.
At this time, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to express the opinions of our constituents. Before we proceed with our testimony, we would like to give a brief description of the Youth Congress.
The Youth Congress is a youth, part-time legislative body with the power to make its own rules, establish committees, hold hearings, pass resolutions, and to prepare and pass bills for action as with a legislative bill.
This youth body is comprised of young men and women between the ages of 14 and 25 who represent the aspirations of the Youth of Guam. We are elected by our peers and represent public and private high schools, the University of Guam, Guam Community College and the 21 villages of our island. In total, we represent 35,000 youths on the island of Guam which is approximately 25 percent of the population of the Territory of Guam.
Years ago, your forefathers came before an official body not unlike this one pleading for their just rights as English citizens. Today, we stand before you pleading for our just rights as Chamorro people. If you lend us a deaf ear, your fathers will scream from the earth at such hypocrisy. We have been patient and tolerant of the indifference shown toward our people. We have experienced domination by three nations with each one directing the lives of our people.
With each period of domination various changes have resulted, including modernization and westernization. Now the time has come for us to take a decisive role in the destiny of our island, our home and our people.
This Commonwealth Act represents our island's desire for greater autonomy and our yearning for a right long denied, the right to political self-determination. This statement reflects both the frustration and the hope that has gained momentum after years of suppression and denial of our inalienable right to political self-determination.
Your forefathers loathed to be a colony. So do we. Our political development is not directed by our needs and aspirations but by the needs and interests of our trustee, the United States. The very act American revolutionaries detested and sought to rectify, you continue to perform
Are you now prepared to extend the very basic principle of freedom for which your fathers died for? Let it flow, let it be nourished and let it come alive. Give rebirth to a principle hundreds of years old in which America takes pride. Such a measure on your part will truly give the people of Guam a taste of democracy, a taste of liberty, a taste of commonwealth.
[Applause.) Mr. AGUSTIN. The United States is generous in its support to other nations to provide them the opportunity to develop themselves politically, economically and socially. She strives to ensure that true democracy is exercised in other nations outside the United States. Yet, Guam's status as a colonial possession has long been overlooked.
We are America citizens and take pride in this fact. However, we are also the people of Guam. We have an inalienable right that belongs only to us as a people. We feel it is not only your political, but also your moral obligation to support the development of Guam's political institution-to grant us commonwealth.
Today's society presents many uncertainties to us as young people. We fear what fate may hold for us with the increasing drug problem, worldwide terrorism and the arms race to name a few.