Island Decisions and Island Opinions are made Under the Pala Pala
All your letters, emails, and testimony have paid off. Guam Representative Madeleine Bordallo has bowed to political pressure and has decided to co-sponsor Representative Gregorio Camacho “Kilili” Sablan’s H.R. 3511. That is something to celebrate!
Unfortunately, Bordallo is still sponsoring H.R. 4493, which would negate H.R. 3511 and transfer the social, educational, and economic benefits of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument to Guam.
That means there is still work to be done. Representative Bordallo is a reasonable person and I believe she will pull her bill when she realizes that it violates the promises made by the United States Government and is unfair to the people of the CNMI who asked that the monument be created.
In a perfect world, all Bordallo would have to understand is that the United States Government gave their word to the people of the CNMI that the monument would result in the construction of a Mariana Trench Visitors Center and Headquarters in the CNMI. H.R. 4493 places the visitors center and headquarters on Guam, violating that promise. That alone should be reason to pull H.R. 4493.
It is frustrating that Bordallo would attempt to place a federally funded visitors center on Guam when the island already has a privately funded marine visitors center along their main tourist drag called UnderWater World and a Guam National Wildlife Refuge Nature Center. If the Mariana Trench Visitors Center ends up on Guam, Guam would have a nature center and two competing marine visitors centers, while the CNMI had none.
It is also frustrating that Bordallo is trying to give Guam a seat at the table in managing the CNMI’s marine resources, which I do not think is right or fair. H.R. 4493 was introduced under the premise that Guam was left out of the management of the marine resources inside the monument close to Guam, when in fact there are no marine resources protected by the monument near Guam. The Trench Unit and the Volcanic Unit, which extend into the submerged federal lands near Guam, are not marine protected areas. They do not protect a single fish or a single coral polyp; nor do they affect a single fisherman, scuba diver, marine sports operator, boat captain, or resident of Guam.
This is not to say that Guam should stop looking for federal dollars to educate their public on marine protections. They have every right to ask the US Fish & Wildlife Service to expand their existing Guam National Wildlife Refuge Nature Center, but it is an underhanded ruse to associate something that is not a marine protected area with a plan to tout Guam’s marine environment.
The Empress has no clothes and I’m calling her on it.
There is still time to add your voice to the chorus that is calling for a Mariana Trench Visitors Center and Headquarters to be built in the CNMI. Please take a few minutes to write a letter to Bordallo asking her to pull H.R. 4493 because it violates the promises made by the United States Government to the people of the CNMI.
Your letter should be addressed to Bordallo because she is the Subcommittee Chair. You can snail mail it the address below or email it to her at email@example.com. IMPORTANT: Make sure you send a copy of your letter to Representative Sablan’s Office at Paula.Bermudes-Castro@mail.house.gov. You can also drop off a copy at his district office in Susupe.
Here is a draft to help you write your letter:
Representative Madeleine Z BordalloIf you need any help with your letter, I am available. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife
427 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Bordallo,
My name is [insert your name] and I live in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. [Please give some information about your role in the creation of the monument. Did you sign a petition? Write a letter to the President? A letter to the editor?]
I am writing to you today to ask you to pull H.R. 4493, the“Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Management Enhancement Act of 2010,” as it would violate the promises made by the United States Government when the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was designated on January, 6, 2009. The United States Government promised a Monument Visitors Center and Headquarters would be built in CNMI and H.R. 4493 would transfer those educational, social, and economic benefits to Guam, with no benefit to CNMI.
Please help the people of the CNMI realize the promises made to them by the United States Government and support the construction of a Mariana Trench Visitors Center and Headquarters in the CNMI.
[You could include something about your hopes for the monument here]
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter,
cc: Representative Gregorio Camacho “Kilili” Sablan
Honorable Governor Felix Camacho
Honorable Governor Ben Fitial
More information on this issue can be found on The Saipan Blog at www.AngeloVillagomez.com. You can also read the Testimony of the Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument and Under the Pala Pala X for a fuller explanation of what is going on.
Under the Pala Pala is the regular commentary of environmentalist and erstwhile politician Angelo O’Connor Villagomez. Pala pala is the Chamorro word for an outdoor shelter traditionally made of wood and thatch used for staying out of the sun, cooking, eating, drinking, singing, and talking. Sign up to subscribe via email at www.AngeloVillagomez.com.