Sounds a little harsh? You bet it is. It’s a little short of grandstanding. But how else should we approach the root of the many problems we face today and as written, can potentially spell our doom in the future? With a handshake and a smile followed by endless mother, may I’s? Maybe not. Why did our Covenant negotiators were so willing to hand off our sovereignty to the United States under the Covenant? But they did. Did we understand sovereignty then? Do we really understand sovereignty now? What does it mean? Does it impact us? Our livelihood and our ability and desire to govern ourselves? Sovereignty is a real serious issue. In my opinion, sovereignty is our soul. It is the soul of our government, the very foundation that holds the Chamorros, the Refaluasch, the Chamolinians together.
When we signed the Covenant, we gave away that binding foundation, the authority and the right to govern ourselves in a global sense. The U.N. Trusteeship Council back then said that we were a sovereign nation. And we were sovereign, and that creates sovereignty. We had sovereignty. We had had that sovereignty since the day we were born in East Asia, and as we left East Asia and crossed the Gobi, crossed China. and traversed the vast China Sea, plowed through the Philippines, and the Malay Peninsula, and braved another vast ocean crossing into the now Guam. Our mother island. Our sovereignty came with us. Sovereignty cannot be torn away from the bearer. And each one of us, wayfarers, is sovereign. Our ancestors in Guam, they got leaders. Sovereign and sovereignty. And they argue with the Americans about it. They, too, know about being sovereign and sovereignty. All the while, our sovereignty migrated with us. That’s because sovereignty cannot be extricated or torn away from us. It’s an integral part of us. It is the authority and right to govern ourselves and to usher our people into an organized group. If you remove that, you get chaos. Helter skelter. Doldrum.
When we handed over to the Americans our sovereignty, we destroyed our foundation, our very soul which came with us from East Asia, and we placed ourselves at the mercy of this multi-ethnic country America. Our sovereignty is sitting in Washington, not with us. We handed it away. Because the U.S. has our sovereignty, it can come and make demands. It took away our control of our own immigration as well as our submerged lands and wetlands and swamps. That’s a nice way of putting it. The truth is, the United States took advantage of our unique relationship knowing very well that we were in our political infancy back then. We were to be brought up gradually into the 20th century so we don’t destroy our culture and traditions. So say the American anthropologists. President Kennedy didn’t agree. He sent in the Peace Corp, and the AESCP people to hasten our education. So now, we’re not that naive. But for the record and those who do not know any better, we are not a U.S. territory, we’re not under the U.S., we’re not a possession of the U.S. Commonwealth is a kind of government, a political partnership, which we adopted from Puerto Rico, instead of the Cook Island.
We allowed the U.S. as our overseer. Not possessor. Do not let the term commonwealth fool you. It is a kind of political status that’s amendable. Period. Despite the Covenant, the U.S., unilaterally, took over our immigration and submerged lands. Was it vengeance? Abramoff and DeLay? Objection to the garment labels? It didn’t want us to live in comfort? Congressman George Miller, the friend of the garment factories in California? In 1976, we voted for a political union with the U.S., and with that we handed over our sovereignty on a silver platter. Why did we do that? Is it because we are humble people? In deep humility? “Con respeto, saina, na magof hao ya un atiende i bisita?” In Sablan v. Inos, 3 N.M.I 418 (1993) court case, it says in part, “they did not enter into the Covenant to become a territory or possession of the U.S.” In reviewing the Covenant and discussing it with several Con-Con delegates involved in the Covenant negotiation, our aspirations, and the U.S. purpose, should be kept in mind. Our aspirations? Grant-in-aid, citizenship, food stamp (NAP), etc. A welfare state. What about the U.S.? What exactly did it want? Our archipelago. The entire Marianas archipelago. U.S. defense forward echelon, a blocker for the West Coast against Asia and the Vladivostok-Kamchatka line?
Is ANZUS not adequate? Wabol v. Villacrusis, 1 N.M.I. 34 (1989), rev’d, 11 F.3d 124 (9th Cir. 1993) says, in part, “All acts of U.S. Congress and NMI Legislature relevant to Covenant should be interpreted consistent with Covenant, unless a contrary intention is clear.” The U.S. actions on our immigration and submerged lands signify a contrary intention in that both actions had the potential to negatively impact our ability to self-govern. They knew that, but acted against our interest. Why did these happen and why has the U.S. ignored our cases and pleas? Not exactly what we had in mind when we had the plebiscite. Our problems did not just surface yesterday. Take a long hard look at cases brought before the 9th Circuit Court and you’ll begin to understand that our political partner has, in fact, abused our relationship because of one word “sovereignty.” This clause “under the sovereignty of the United States” has to be taken out. No excuses. We were sovereign once until some people, somehow, willingly surrendered it. The following excerpts on sovereignty highlight the issue: 1. The Covenant is a solemn agreement entered into between the U.S. and us. The U.S. and we, mutually, agreed on the level as two separate but equal sovereign entities. The Covenant governs the relationship between the parties. Sablan v. Inos, 2 N.M.I. 388 (1991). 2. The Covenant is a permanent, binding and solemn agreement entered into between two sovereign peoples, the U.S. and us. Wabol v. Villacrusis, 1 N.M.I. 34 (1989), rev’d, 11 F.3d 124 (9th Cir. 1993). Our issues, problems, and countless challenges now and in the foreseeable future, say we need change. The notion that by dumping dollar handouts for funded programs and projects, we shall remain minions of a political partner is an insult to us. The submerged lands. The U.S. took from the ocean floor up to what used to be our 200-mile economic zone. Manganese nodules, oil platforms, oil refinery up north, etc. And what about our wetlands? The hagoi, the sisomyan Susupe-Chalan Piao, the Sadog Tasi, the Sadog Mamis, the Sadog Dogas, the sisomyan Achugao, the sisomyan Puntan Flores, etc.? Who says these are under U.S. jurisdiction? And our designated endangered species—flora and fauna and marked off-limits. Who decided that? Sovereignty?
Finally, for now anyway, the issue of our immigration control. If we do not control our immigration, we’ll continue to be under U.S. mercy, and hopes of economic survival and prosperity are diminished substantially. The visa-waiver policy for China, the ill-conceived and applied CW program and the restrictions under the E2C and H2 programs are not helping us whatsoever. They are choking our economy and our hopes and chances at successful self-government as mandated by the U.N. The CW program has been drawing down and capped with an end date of Dec. 31, 2019. This does not mean that when it ceases, all the CW workers must then exit. The program has a set duration of 12 months only for each and every applicant. Those who expire on Jan. 1, 2019 must exit within 10 days unless they convert to the more expensive and restrictive H2 program.
So our CW workers and many business operators, will go, barring anything big that could not be handled. By the way, do you know that we have many Chinese workers and since China is not included in the H2 program, they simply do not qualify and must leave as well? Bye, bye most small businesses. Bye, bye employees. Welcome to our version of hell on earth. So, 902 team, Governor Torres, 19th Legislature, and soon to be 20th Legislature, take heed. Seek solutions to our Covenant casualties and our economy. Do you understand what is economy and economics, for that matter? Galbraith? Keynes? Macro-economics and Micro-economics? We have many educated residents who majored in economics, and could easily unravel those questions. Now, let’s restructure the legislature—unicameral—nine senators. Use the initiative process. Governor Torres, reorganize the administration. Cut or merge offices, divisions, departments performing similar or duplicate projects, goals and objectives, especially those who are not sure what’s their departments’ goals and objectives. Take SHEFA out of the Saipan Mayor’s Office and merge it with the Commonwealth scholarship office. Re-program the money of those offices you closed. Take back CUC, abolish the board, and put it under DPW as before. You save money. Move DPL back to re-merge with land management office in DLNR and abolish the board. Save money and duplicity. We do not have forever for a solution and neither do you. Neither do we have enough operating money. We owe more gazillions than what we have. Whooping liabilities and minute assets, and even a pinhead capital. We owe the world millions of money, and even if kingdom come, we’ll still owe Lucifer (figure of speech) tera-billions. Re-arrange our source of money to save as much as possible so we could pay our zillions of debts. Roundup those economic majors, political science majors, finance experts, management experts, and see what you can get out of them. And include Red Foxx, Texas oil tycoon. He came to buy Saipan, and hire the High Commissioner as manager. We could have sold Saipan to him had not the High Commissioner objected to the proposal. But, you won’t regret it if you do.
Rudy M. Sablan