Saturday, February 10, 2007

A sad story gets sadder

After netting 2,580 lbs of trash at our Beautify CNMI! cleanup of San Antonio Beach, yes, I said 2,580 lbs of trash, I went to the airport to show my respect for the CNMI's latest casualty in Iraq, Adam Quitugua Emul, as his remains arrived on Saipan.

I am of course just estimating, but it looked like there were over 500 cars lining airport road. There were probably about 2000 people.

A lot of the people lining the roads were families. Cinta Kaipat's family was one of them. Parents loaded up their kids and lined their cars up along the road so that the headlights were facing the road. There were also some community groups and businesses. I recognized the local VFW guys, the Reserves (or is it the National Guard?), Saipan Grand Hotel, and I think, Bank of Hawaii. There was even a little league team out there. I also saw several of our lawmakers lining the road. There were others, but it is kind of hard to remember them all.

The hearse carrying Adam's body finally came out of the airport around 4:00 PM. Everybody along the street stepped up to the edge of the pavement and watched as his body drove by. A lot of people were crying.

The title of this post is "A sad story gets sadder." That is because the CNMI lost yet another soldier in Iraq this week, brining our total to 5 (Adam was the fourth). Try to put this in perspective: there are 60,000 American citizens and guest workers in the CNMI and a New York Times article on July 31, 2005 reported that there are 245 local soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Is there any comparable sized community in the mainland US that has that many soldiers serving in Iraq? And you know what's even worse? The CNMI soldiers in Iraq don't even have the right to vote for the President that sent them there...but this isn't a diatribe, so I won't even go there.

Here are a few more pictures taken by JH:

I have a question: Is the Bush Administration still banning photos like the ones above? Am I going to get a visit from a Pentagon official for reprinting JH's photos?


Deece said...

I've been told that we have more soldiers in Iraq per capita than any of the 50 states.

I've also been told that the Guam-Saipan recruiters are the #1 in the nation.

Saipan Writer said...

Very nice photos.

You might want to check this recent Washington Post article--about why we can't vote.

It would take a constitutional amendment. US citizens in DC got the vote by amendment in 1961. The 4 million US citizens in Puerto Rico are disenfranchised, as are we.

This isn't a situation that will be fixed any time soon.

Kimiko said...

I am not from here, not American. I just came from the other country and living here. I don't know anybody who came back from Iraq, but I was really sad and couldn't stop crying when I went to the airport for 2 soldiers a year ago. I don't know well about war in Iraq, but I just don't want anybody to lose their life for it.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI negotiated for many years and selected both its political status and the provisions detailing that status---the Covenant. One of those provisions was a prohibition against voting in U.S. elections---unless within the 50 U.S. States. Neither Washington D.C. nor Puerto Rico nor Guam had this opportunity. The CNMI got what it bargained for.

Now if the CNMI wants to change that position---well, go ahead. Instead of the commonwealth status and Covenant agreement, the CNMi could have chosed independence or free association. But didn't.

Or maybe the CNMI should lead by example and let charity begin at home as to voting rights. Since the folks residing in the CNMI are not lawfully entitled to vote in U.S. elections (unless present in the U.S.) but now insist on the right to do so---well, let the tens of thousands of CNMI located workers, from other countries, vote in the CNMI's own elections. Now THAT would be leading by example. After all, these workers make up the vast majority of the CNMI's private workforce but have been disenfranchised for years by inability to vote in CNMI elections.

Or, perhaps if and CNMI residents see fit to relinquish the overwhelmingly generous benefits and preferential treatment provided during the past 20 years by the U.S., you might have reasonable grounds warranting the right to vote for your race-based Article XII land restrictions, your exemptions from U.S. taxes, your ludicrously-disproportionatly-high receipt of U.S. grants/aid/food stamps/etc...and put an end to your race-based-CNMI tax expenditures in violation of U.S. equal protection laws...expenditures like the use of U.S. funding to provide infrastructure at the CNMI's racially exclusive homestead sites.

Or the race-based-agenda initiated and championed by the late Ramon Villagomez as private lawyer, then CNMI Superior Court Judge, and then as CNMI Supreme Court Justice, resulting in the CNMI's passage of a race-based-voting-law purporting to prevent those not of the fictional "of NMI descent" from voting in elections as to the retention or abolition of the wholly unlawful Article XII provisions themselves (see Rice v. Cayetano and the Kamehameha School opinions).

Or if the CNMI no longer wants to be part of the U.S. family then go it alone---relinquish the U.S. passports you received without effort for starters...better yet, demand that all incoming flights converse with the U.S. funded CNMI air traffic controllers in the Chamorro language.

Like the late Mr. Villagomez, many in the CNMI seem to want all of the benefits of U.S. citizenship/affiliation without any of the burdens.

And like Mr. Villagomez, many apparently neglect to see the hypocrisy of this posturing---evinced, for example, by then Judge Villagomez's refusal to recuse himself from Article XII ligitation in which of course he possessed a gross conflict-of-interest given that he'd written the underlying leases in dispute.

Quite interesting to watch his son, Angelo O'Connor Villagomez, now champion his so-called "Chamorro" roots (primarily Filipino-Mexican as unquestionably documented/proven over the years) while distancing himself rom the roots/values of the kind and generous American mother who took the effort and time to raise him in the U.S. Mainland...never mind that it was his American mother and America itself which proved so good to him throughout over 20-plus years-----after his mother relocated there from the CNMI in the aftermath of a highly abusive marriage at the hands of her ex-husband, Angelo's late father.

Or maybe it's the late father's "ancestral lands" and related economic benefits his son now finds so attractive about the CNMI he's not called home for 20-plus years, but now so dearly covets?

In any event, the Covenant was negotiated and agreed upon. The provisions of which some now complain respecting right to vote were part of that Covenant. Which was and remains a give-and-take deal.

Don't want it? Go for independence. Please, please, please.

Or start paying U.S. taxes, do away with CNMI-institutional-race-discrimination, and maybe the U.S. will listen as to CNMI residents voting for the President.

Better yet, let the tens-of-thousands of disenfranchised CNMI private sector workers---from other countries but years'long CNMI residents themselves---vote in CNMI elections. After all, they comprise the majority of the CNMi's populace in the pribate workforce.

Meanwhile, give the "victimization" card a rest. The CNMI's no victim here in any regard, it's benefitted hugely from the Covenant provisions on which it agreed---and is simply required to abide by those it might now find disfavorable.

As for the late Mr. Adam Quitugua Emul: (1) of course, it's erroneous to suggest that he was prevented from voting for the U.S. president, since he lived 4 years in Washington, graduated from high school there, and enlisted in the military there---entitling him to vote for the U.S. president; and, (2) unlike the Vietnam conflict (of which I was a part), the U.S. government has imposed no draft relating to Iraq, nobody's forcing anyone to join or serve in the U.S. military, and unfortunately Mr. Emul signed on knowing the prospective consequence of his enlistment during a time of conflict.

The Saipan Blogger said...

To Arnold DLG Camacho:

I was asked by someone to take down the post to which you responded.

Thank you for your comment...but in time you will eventually realize that I am not my father.

I can not change the past, nor can I be responsible for the actions of a man that I saw once every two or three years.

All I can do is to do my best to keep these islands moving forward. Part of that includes making sure that we retain what remains of our Micronesian character and part of that means making room for the dozens of other ethnicities that have helped the CNMI become what it is today.

As for your last paragraph of your comment, perhaps you have failed to understand that blogs are written in the first person?

Please feel free to repost your comment on another post.

To everyone else reading this:

You have no idea what I am talking about out of context, unless Arnold reposts.

I welcome all comments, so keep 'em coming.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Looks like you beat me to it, Arnold. You've got fast fingers.

Anthony DLG Camacho said...

Perhaps blogs intended to be written in the first person should, then, bear titles which reflect this purpose. Your blog title ihfbhcbnntimates a blog designed to relate not merely to yourself, but to Saipan as a whole-indeed, much of your postings reflect such a design.

As to your professed desire to have these islands "keep moving forward", perhaps you should focus to that end on familiarizing yourself and others better as to the recent historical events/background-say the last 30 years-which culminated in the currently dismal state of the CNMI.

In particular, folks should read the Covenant and related documents-like the section-by-section analysis of the Covenant...all easily readable and available at public and law libraries...before dishing criticism relating to various political themes/agendas. You/others equate the CNMI's situation to that of Guam/Puerto Rico when the scenarios are wholly distinct, both politically respecting the Covenant, and practically. Similarly, you seem to fail to compare/contrast the CNMI's relative success in relation to the FSM, Marshalls, Palau, etc., and the underlying reasons for this success-the Covenant and U.S. relationship.

Perhaps most telling in this regard were the legions in the CNMI who angrily viewed prospective federalization of CNMI minimum wage/immigration control as somehow violative of the Covenant when, in fact, the Covenant expressly confers this right to federalize upon the U.S.

Or the many folks claiming that federalization should not be invoked without "prior consultation" when in fact there's been nothing less than exhaustive "consultation" over the past 20 years...with the CNMI Legislature time and time and time again, promising reform, passing laws, and then either repealing or not enforcing those laws.

Or perhaps even more telling-as demonstrated at the recent American Memorial Park gathering-the throngs of CNMI folks showing up to "protest" prospective U.S. legislation about which only 1 person---! PERSON OF THE 200 PRESENT---having even bothered to read the U.S. legislation.

People espousing viewpoints as to CNMI dealings should, at the very least, educate themselves-and urge others to do likewise-e.g. by taking the 15 minutes necessary to read the Covenant, before publishing views as to those opposed to uninformed, uneducated, and/or misguided kneejerk/emotional reactions.

The CNMI is and has been treated by the U.S. as anything BUT a colony. As a British colony, nobody in Britain offered the U.S. a choice of independence or free association, or commonwealth. Nobody in Britain offered to fund the U.S. with more per capita spending of British tax funds than anyone in Britain reeived. Nobody in Britain offered to let the U.S. keep for itself all tax revenues derived from taxes paid in the U.S. Yet the CNMI was provided each and every one of these advantages.

In addition to U.S. citizenship-not by earning it but, rather, by a swipe of a Presidential pen.

Maybe there's something to be said for having more appreciation for things you earn-like U.S. citizenship-as opposed to those simply given to you.


KAP said...

But what's really on your mind?

That would all be interesting, with all the personal stuff controlled. In another place.

trench said...

Rest in Peace. Been reading up on this in the Guam PDN.