Charting the Marianas’ political future


Independence, statehood, and free association are the options that will be made available to Guam voters in an upcoming non-binding political status plebiscite to be held sometime within the next couple of years. Each selection has its strengths and challenges, but it is a good thing that a non-binding political status vote is finally going to take place. As the education campaign moves along in Guam, questions should also be asked about the political future of the Mariana Islands chain.

For example, is it correct to assume that Chamorros from Guam and residents from Guam are the only ones in the Mariana Islands who desire to move forward on matters of political status? Is it correct to assume that the commonwealth arrangement between the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. government is satisfactory as a 21st century political arrangement? Is it correct to assume that matters of political status for one island should be separated from matters of political reunification of the entire island chain?

These questions are being posed for consideration because while political status change is important for Guam, the separate idea of political reunification of the Mariana Islands and a political status selection of the Mariana Islands is also important because the island chain is one island chain, not two.

Having a plebiscite held throughout the Mariana Islands on the topics of political reunification and political status change may make more sense. For starters, political reunification of the Marianas will finally bring together a people that have been and continue to be geographically united, linguistically united, historically united, and culturally united on most fronts, but were separated politically by outside powers back in the late 19th century.

With a second American military transformation presumably coming to the Mariana Islands in the near future, it makes sense for Chamorros and islanders to consider holding discussions that include a dual track approach of political reunification and political status change.

If the Mariana Islands united politically, islanders would then be able to establish a stronger negotiating position with real political power when it comes dealing with the United States, Japan, and various nations located throughout the Asia Pacific region. This is not the case presently.

Rick Perez
Via email

Contributing Author

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