GOVERNOR CARL T.C. GUTIERREZ
CHAIRMAN, GUAM COMMISSION ON SELF-DETERMINATION
STATEMENT ON H.R. 856
March 19, 1997
The Guam Commission on Self- Determination strongly supports H.R. 856 and urges its swift passage. Guam and Puerto Rico have a strong historical bond: both territories were acquired by the United States as a result of the Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish-American War in 1898. Now, almost 100 years later, both territories eagerly await a new relationship with the United States appropriate for the twenty-first century.
However, while each territory desires and deserves a new relationship with the United States, those relationships will by definition be different. H.R. 856 embodies the choices available to Puerto Rico regarding its future status, and the people of Guam are fully supportive of the people of Puerto Rico having a relationship with the United States that reflects the will of their people.
Unlike Puerto Rico, statehood is not an option for Guam in the foreseeable future. Because statehood is not an option for Guam, any comparisons between Guam's status efforts and Puerto Rico's efforts are not helpful. Those who would link the two efforts do a disservice to both territories. The only similarity is that we have both waited a very long time to resolve our status issues, and we are both mutually supportive of the efforts of our peoples to achieve political dignity. We have our own answer to the question of a new relationship between our people and the United States, an answer that is appropriate for Guam and is consistent with the choices that we have at this time. We endorse a process that calls for consideration of Guam's status as a separate question for this Committee and for the Congress - we would prefer that attention then be given to what is unique about Guam and Guam's quest.
We sincerely commend Chairman Young, Ranking Member Miller and the bipartisan cosponsors of H.R. 856 for your commitment to a process of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico. We also want to thank the Chairman for his commitment to hold hearings on Guam's status after the Committee has concluded its consideration of Puerto Rico.
From the Pacific to the Caribbean, we join together as two peoples linked by a common history and a common journey, the quest for our inalienable rights to self-determination. The Congress' commitment to this process marks a defining moment in this 98-year journey. We look forward to working with the Committee on Resources to realize this historic opportunity and we fully support the Chairman's efforts in redefining Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States. Across two seas, from the east and from the west, a question echoes in Chamorro, Spanish and English. "Is there a place for us in this community?"