SOCIOCULTURAL issues must be addressed if the 8,000 Marines and their families, as well as off-island contract workers are to interact harmoniously with local residents, military and local official acknowledge.
The draft environmental impact statement for Guam military buildup identifies some of the sociocultural problems that the island will have to deal with as a result of increased military presence.
According to the study, there is a potential for more prostitution, alcohol/substance abuse, and family violence associated with young military populations in general, including sailors taking shore leave after weeks at sea.
The draft report acknowledges the Marines’ reputation as “fighters” that “could well trigger a transitional period of adjustment in which local young men test themselves against Marines in fights.”
The Guam Police Department acknowledged this concern and are hoping to get much needed funding to beef up their police force.
There is potential for ongoing social friction due both to more military personnel and more off island civilian migrants, especially in the initial stages of adaptation, stated the report.
The draft report noted that island mayors hope to work with the military to foster more adopt-a-village campaigns that will help bridge the gap between civilians and Marines.
The report also stated that Guam’s Chamorro population has strong concerns about whether incoming military populations would recognize them as both American by nationality and also as a unique ethnic culture worthy of respect and preservation.
The report went on to say that this is an example of a potential social impact that could either occur or be avoided depending on events and policies.
Another sociocultural concern mentioned in the report is the expansion in non-Chamorro voting population that could affect the proportion of Chamorro office-holders and government workers, eventually affecting the current government budgets and activities dedicated to cultural issues and practices.
Senator Judi Guthertz said she hoped that the military will take all the issues of Guam's people and its unique culture into serious consideration.
She stressed it is imperative that sensitive issues be given great importance.