I have to admit that I find a lot of Dengre's statements outlandish at first. For example, I took issue with his claim that the CNMI is a center for gun smuggling. I called shenanigans.
Many types of firearms are illegal here, so I assumed it would be difficult to get the guns here, making gun smuggling difficult, if not impossible. Then he sent me a link that discussed gun smuggling in the CNMI:
"In addition, he [Lt. Gov. Villagomez] said the CNMI government has worked with federal agencies in numerous investigations and criminal prosecutions dealing with matters such as alien smuggling, international firearms trafficking, and human trafficking."Damn it!
Say what you want to say about what Dengre has to say, but he's pretty thorough. For example, he found a 2002 Security Report released by the US Attorney for Guam that names the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino as a potential "international center for money laundering":
"Unfettered access into the C.N.M.I and the presence of an unregulated international gambling casino on Tinian, allow for the perfect venue to launder illegal funds, regardless of their source. This situation is further compounded by the lack of any civil or criminal revenue enforcement by the territorial government or sufficient Federal assets to continually scrutinize banking and money handling businesses. (snip)I'm sorry, you just don't find stuff like that in your daily newspaper (although we should). It takes some research. A lot of research.
The P.R.C. has built and currently operates a 600-room hotel and international gambling resort on the island of Tinian in the C.N.M.I. This facility has been in operation for approximately three years. Federal officials indicate that it has-never enjoyed more than a 20 percent occupancy rate and is believed to be a "marker" for mainland China with involvements in international money laundering operations."
Although I can't be sure of all the things that go on in the CNMI Halls of Power, I wouldn't be surprised if most of Dengre's accusations turn out to be true. He paints with a donkey-tailed brush, but if you can stomach the accusatory tone of his writing, you might start to see that, holy shit, this guy knows what he's talking about.
For the most part...
I see two major problems with Dengre's diaries. First, he lacks local knowledge and, second, he relies on the online versions of the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety for local news.
He quotes both papers as if they were the New York Times. That's not a good idea.
Dengre, do you know that frequent letter to the editor writer, Holani Smith, does not exist? And do you know which local reporters are notorious for getting most of their facts totally screwed up? Of course not. You don't live here.
Also, there are things that go on here that don't get reported in the newspapers. The example that comes to mind is what most locals (Chamorros and Carolinians) think really caused the recent tragedy at Forbidden Island. Stuff like that will never make it's way into print.
Still, I admire what you do. Many people are afraid to speak up about some of the injustices that go on here. This is, after all, an island where saying the wrong thing to the wrong person can get your extended family members fired.
...and thanks for taking the time to write about some of the good things going on in the CNMI.