Critique of statements before the UN missed the mark

UNITED NATIONS: Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio provides testimony to the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee, or Fourth Committee, on Oct. 6. Tenorio told the committee that the U.S. government has shown "no interest" in addressing Guam's current political status as a non-self-governing territory. Photo courtesy of the governor's office

Your editorial criticizing GovGuam officials’ statements before the U.N. itself doesn’t tell the whole story. The editorial is disappointing on so many levels, it is unclear whether you understand the function of the Committee on Decolonization. The primary function is to assess the political progress of non-self-governing territories toward decolonization in accordance with an international process. This is a process crafted by the United States after World War II as part of the responsibilities of the United Nations.

The argument over foreign workers and whether they can be used in Guåhån or the cost of construction materials is entirely relevant to the issues of sustainability and the federal management of this non-self-governing territory. There is no ability to manage labor in accordance with Guåhan priorities. It is all determined and connected to the need for military bases. Absent that, no labor would be allowed at all. Either way, Guåhan is in no position to make those decisions.

As for the cost of materials, it is clear that we must ship them across the sea. Of course, who is authorized to ship those materials and where they come from happens to be largely out of Guåhan’s hands as well. It is a matter of federal authority over which we have no democratic participation. If your perspective began with Guåhan’s lack of ability to manage these important items in our economy and our sustainability, perhaps you would come up with concerns similar to those articulated by Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio.

To finish the blow, you bring in federal assistance for the pandemic as some kind of mitigating factor to expressing these concerns or any criticism. This is both illogical and un-American. All U.S. jurisdictions received assistance because we are U.S. citizens. Why shouldn’t we participate in these programs? Did the federal government give us anything more? Do you mean that if someone gives you resources, you should just shut up? Imagine an editorial board saying something like that. Well, the Post has.

That isn’t giving the whole picture. That is trying to distort the picture. Indeed, I hope the United Nations sends a mission out to Guåhan. But that is a matter for the United States to decide. If they were entirely secure and confident that federal-territorial relations are excellent, they would invite them here. Hafa Adai, world!


Robert A. Underwood is a former Guam delegate to Congress and a former president of the University of Guam.

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