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The Militant, 21 September 1946

Guam – Wall Street Colonial Prize

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 38, 21 September 1946, p. 4
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


It’s something of a shock to most people to learn that the United States has become a colonial power. They remember the stirring rebellion of the original thirteen colonies in 1776 against the rule of a dictatorial foreign power. It doesn’t seem natural that America, so long boasted of as the land of the free, could now be oppressing other peoples.

But the State Department has made it official. In a report to the United Nations on U.S. “colonial possessions,” the State Department listed the Panama Zone (ruled by the War Department), Guam, Samoa and other Pacific islands (ruled by the Navy Department), and Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (all ruled by the Interior Department).

What do the colonies look like under American rule? Do conditions differ much from those of the colonies under the heel of the British, French, Dutch, Belgian or Portuguese despots?

Still “Aliens”

Let’s take Guam, that small speck in the vast Pacific where 23,000 people are ruled by the Navy Department. Guam was seized from Spain in 1898, but its inhabitants are still listed as aliens – not as citizens of the United States. So far as the Guamanians are concerned, America is a brutal foreign power that rules without their consent.

The Navy report to the United Nations claims the Guamanians enjoy ideal conditions under the foreign flag that waves over their land. A different story is told by Harold L. Ickes, certain Military Government officials, and John Collier, President of the Institute of Ethnic Affairs.

The facts they cite make Navy rule in Guam look like a Nazi regime in conquered territory.

Civil liberties do not exist in Guam. The word of the Navy Administration is absolute law. No appeal can be made. A Guamanian can be arrested and sentenced by a Navy rump court without jury trial.

Under the Jim Crow Admirals, the color line is sharply drawn in Guam. Because he is colored, a carpenter born on Guam may be paid only 45 cents an hour. A carpenter brought from the States gets $1.36 and up.

The Navy publicizes its “experimental farm” as one of the finest features on Guam. According to John Collier, this farm, operated at federal expense, is maintained “for the benefit of service personnel and their families and the American patrons of service messes.”

Owners Ousted

The farm consists of 400 acres of the best land “requisitioned from ‘native’ owners under the guise of military necessity.” Many of these owners, “ousted from their homes and their farmlands” live as squatters on the small farms of others or are existing in “disaster” housing.

Thousands of Guamanians have been ousted from their land to make room for Navy projects, including a “handsome golf course.” Very few have ever been compensated.

A local bus line belonging to Guamanians was seized by the Navy without compensation. Bus fares were then jumped 100 per cent “to 10 cents per zone of a little more than a modern city block – in order to discourage travel by ‘natives.’”

The Navy report refers with pride to the Guam Congress. This body is simply window-dressing to cover up the Navy dictatorship. It has “no legislative power whatsoever – no power to make, alter or repeal laws, no power to levy or expend revenues, no power at all. These powers are wielded solely by the naval Governor.”

Nothing Changed

Harold Ickes, after investigation, accused the Navy of “gross mismanagement and suppression of civil rights on Guam from 1900” right down to the Japanese Invasion.

Nothing is being done by the Truman Administration to change this shameful picture. “What the Navy wants,” says the Sept. 12 Christian Science Monitor, “is to govern throughout that area free from inspection and outside interference.”

The ugly Navy dictatorship in Guam shows once again how far the brutal postwar realities of colonial rule differ from the lying Atlantic Charter propaganda about fighting the Second World War fon “four freedoms.” The American capitalists are just as hypocritical, cynical and despotic as their British class brothers.

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