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Friday, April 25, 2014

CNMI pays tribute to former Guam delegate

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) extended the CNMI’s condolences to the people of Guam on the passing last week of their former delegate to Congress, Vicente “Ben” Garrido Blaz, a World War II survivor and the first Chamorro to become a brigadier general in the U.S. military. He was 85.

Juan N. Babauta, a former CNMI governor and former CNMI resident representative to Washington, D.C., also shared Blaz’s untiring support for the CNMI.

Sablan read a statement for the Congressional Record recognizing Blaz as a “trail-blazer for all the Chamorros of the Mariana Islands, being the first of us ever to rise to the rank of general officer in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Blaz served as Guam’s second delegate for eight years, from the 99th through the 102nd Congresses.

Sablan said Blaz often looked out for the interests of the people of the Northern Marianas, at a time when the CNMI was without congressional representation. Sablan joined Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo for a tribute and moment of silence in honor of Blaz.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and to the people of Guam as they mourn the passing of General Ben Garrido Blaz,” Sablan said.

Babauta, in a phone interview, remembers with fondness Blaz’s contributions to CNMI causes. He said Blaz worked closely with him when he was resident representative to D.C. He also extends his deepest condolences to the Blaz family and the people of Guam

“Congressman Blaz was very courteous and helpful regarding CNMI issues. One thing I remember vividly, he supported the CNMI in keeping its CIP [capital improvement project] Covenant 702 funding. He did that because he recognized how the CNMI needed to continue to improve its infrastructure for us to keep our economy. He supported the CNMI position when it comes to military issues. I’m very grateful for all his support for the people of the CNMI, knowing very well he’s the representing the people of Guam first and foremost,” Babauta told Saipan Tribune.

Blaz was elected in 1984 to serve the first of four terms as a member of U.S. Congress representing Guam.

Bordallo earlier said Blaz was “a distinguished individual whose wartime experience, knowledge, and passion for Chamorro history made him a great role model throughout generations.”

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