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Guam's political status discussed

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Today in the Legislative Public Hearing Room roundtable discussions got underway on three bills concerning the voting rights and political status of Guam residents. Bill 151 would provide for a non-binding straw poll to determine the preferred status of all Guam voters. It seeks to amend provisions relating to the registration, education and voting process for the plebiscite on political status on Guam.

The subject of self-determination and political status brought out impassioned testimony from a cross-section of the local population who came before the committee on federal affairs. Former director of the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission Ed Benavente said, "Stop saying 'Chamorro-only vote'! That's a pejorative term that was created by the media who was against Chamorro self-determination in the first place. If you use that and if you use that and look at the word, it leaves the presumption that everybody has a right and only Chamorros are going to vote and therefore why should they vote?"

Bill 168 was also discussed, which would provide legislative consideration by local voters to determine whether residents support a reunification effort with residents of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

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