What is ‘persona non grata’ and is it really a bad thing?


What does Elizabeth Drumwright, Ron Hodges, Saipan Development LLC, and Zaji Zajradhara have in common?

They have all been designated persona non grata by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government, and for what?

First, before I go on, I must clarify: Zaji Zajradhara is my children’s father and my baby daddy. I wanted to write this letter because, after being with Zaji, I now understood his position on the issues at hand.

What is persona non grata? What I have learned from research is that it basically means “person not appreciated.” It can be used in two ways.

1. A member of a diplomatic mission who violates the law of the host nation cannot be prosecuted or held accountable due to his or her diplomatic status. The host nation can use a declaration of persona non grata to demonstrate its displeasure over the individual’s activities.

2. The term can be applied to any situation in which someone is rejected by a group from whom the person obtained or sought acceptance. (This one is definitely not my baby daddy, because all he wants is to feed his family, pay his bills and live his life)

As I was saying, Zaji isn’t the first and I am sure how the CNMI government forgets about “we the people” that he will be the last persona non grata in the CNMI.

I don’t know this for sure but what I can find on Google (I think) is that the first mainlander declared so was Ms. Elizabeth Drumwright, during the 1990s, who wrote about the corruption within the CNMI government, the labor abuses and general Wild West attitude of the CNMI at that time; and Mr. Ron Hodges, who still lives in the CNMI and wrote a running series of letters to the editor from 2008 until 2011 that he titled “Chamberonomics” that supported the U.S. takeover of the CNMI labor and immigration and, as some still say, made President Bush sign the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 into law, thus federalizing CNMI labor and immigration.

My reason for writing this letter is because I talked to some man’amko who has said to me that what my “husband” is doing is the right thing. So I want to talk about that.

Many of us know people in our families who have been denied jobs for things that we can do, but many of us do not know the laws and our rights in order to sue companies to hire us, even when we know that the company has done wrong; plus, many of us don’t want our friends and family saying to us that ,“We are making problems with our family name.” So, we take no action and the foreign company hires another foreign worker and then they call us lazy, stupid, or whatever. Zaji is not like that. He is from the U.S. mainland and people in the U.S. will fight for their rights if they feel that they are right.

Some of you will say, “Why does he sue everybody?”

We have many black American friends that call, stop by, or with whom we hang out with, so let me tell you that Zaji is not the only black American guy on this island who is having problems with finding a job or who has had problems with employers. Everybody wants to forget that he is an American citizen and a former militaryman, that the Northern Mariana Islands U.S Workforce Act of 2018 says “qualified” U.S citizens have preference in hiring. That means, that employers cannot hire or renew CW-1 employees just because they like them more than locals, indigenous Micronesian or mainland American citizens.

Let me ask you: What would you do if you apply for many jobs and no one calls you for interviews? We have children and Zaji takes his role as a provider for his family seriously. He will do whatever it takes to make sure that our baby daughter and our coming newborn have what they need and, if that means that he has to sue a company in order for us to eat, pay our bills and keep a roof over our heads, then thank him for doing that instead of selling drugs or committing crimes. He has the constitutional right to protect himself against a violation of his civil rights and his right to live in peace and to have a job.

He is an American citizen and I am a citizen of the CNMI and the Federated States of Micronesia and we, our children, and our future comes first. Not imported workers.

The CNMI government does not want the federal government to notice what is going on here in the CNMI and Zaji is not afraid to give them a call or send them an email of what is happening here.

I just want all of you who have done nothing to bring about equality, fairness and good living to all American citizens here in the CNMI to think about what you are saying about my children’s father because, for our family, he is only doing what it takes to survive against all odds.
Jasmine Taman
China Town, Saipan

Contributing Author

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