The Fire this Time: Essays on Life Under US Occupation
his book is compilation of a number of essays by the Chamorro writer, Julian Aguon, the author of Just Left of the Setting Sun. These essays are written to inform the world of the plight of the Chamorro people on the US Territory of Guam. Guam is considered "the place where America's Day begins" because of its location in the Western Pacific. It endures the status of an unincorporated territory, a netherzone in which the Organic Act instead the US Constitution applies, and where a non-voting Congressperson represents the island's interests in principle, but in actuality the island is administered by the Office of Insular Affairs in the US Department of Interior. The island has endured 500 years of colonization first by the Spanish; then by the Americans, followed by the Japanese; and after its "liberation" after WWII, now back under US control. Presently the island is gripped by the forces of globalization threatening to further take advantage of its status as a US free port; a campaign by the local Chamber of Commerce (consisting primarily of US Statesiders) to privatize every one of Guam's public resources, i.e. the island's only water provider, only power provider; only local telephone provider; public schools; and its only port, on an island that imports 85-90% of its food and where private monopolies of public goods would truly make the island captive to the "forces of the market"; a massive build-up of US Marines to complement the impressive Air Force and Navy show of force on 1/3 of the island that now threatens to make Guam a first-strike target in any altercation with China and/or with North Korea; and the exploitation of the island's deep patriotism and loyalty to the US tothe point of cultural genocide and economic ruin. These essays provide the reader with a picture of how, even in America's own backyard, globalization, privatization, the application of non-representative democracy, the militarization of society, and the spread of a culture of conspicuous consumption threaten to both destroy the viability of communities, as well as the sustainable values and cultures that bind them together.
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