Posts tagged ‘Spanish Colonialism’

04/07/2012

Guam and Marianas: Go Independent

The Southern Marianas, whose population of 173,450 is mostly on the island of Guam; and the Northern Marianas, whose 88,662 mainly live on the island of Saipan, are two Pacific U.S. Territories, roughly 6,175 miles from San Diego, that should be consolidated and granted independence.

The Spaniards first sent explorers to the Marianas in 1521. Following the Spanish-American War (1898), Spain surrendered the Southern Marianas (Guam) to the U.S., under the Sixth Treaty of Paris (1898), and sold the Northern Marianas to Germany.

After Germany surrendered in WWI, the Northern Marianas were transferred to Japan, under a League of Nations Mandate (1920). The Japanese then used the Northern islands in WWII as a base in 1941 to invade and occupy the U.S. Southern Marianas (Guam). In 1944, Americans defeated Japanese troops in a bloody battle at Saipan, as they seized the Northern Marians, and retook Guam.

The Americans subsequently governed the Northern Marianas under a UN Trust, through 1978, when a U.S. Commonwealth was created. Meanwhile, Guam received a limited form of U.S. Citizenship in 1950, which denied them a vote for U.S. President, but gave them a Congressional Representative (since 1972), who can participates in committee, but not on the House floor.

The idea of independence should not be alarming as it would not change their military relationship with the U.S., since Guam will most certainly want to lease land for U.S. Air Force and Navy bases, as their economy heavily depends on it. Guam’s population is slated to increase through 2015, when 8,000 U.S. Marines and 10,000 dependents, currently at Okinawa, are scheduled to arrive.

It is time to end our quasi-colonial arrangement, and for the Marianas to stand up on their own. Since they are never going to become a U.S. State, they should now be granted independence.

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04/05/2012

UK Falklands Violate Monroe Doctrine

The Falkland Islands, a British territory in the South Atlantic, is a cold, windy, and rainy place (more than half the year), as temperatures range between 30 F and 55 F. They neighbor Argentina, 300 miles to the west, the uninhabited Sandwich Islands, to the southeast, and Antarctica, 700 miles to the south. There is virtually no work here, except fishing and shepherding.

The Falklands War broke out in 1982, some 30 years ago, when roughly 3,140 English citizens on the islands witnessed an invasion by thousands of Argentine troops. After ignoring a UN Resolution calling for a withdrawal, a British submarine sank the Gen. Belgrano, an Argentine ship, causing 362 sailors to die at sea, and soon thereafter, Argentina’s military junta surrendered. 13 years later, a different government agreed not to invade again, as weekly flights between the islands and Argentina resumed.

Today, Argentina continues to assert that they own the Falklands. They point out Spain was the first European power to claim them, when Magellan sailed past in 1502. Although Englishmen erected a settlement in 1766, they argue Spanish forces evicted them in 1779, just four years later. While a 1771 treaty gave Britain a right to return, they note the English voluntarily gave up the place again in 1776. Argentina asserts Spain subsequently governed the islands, until Argentine independence was declared in 1811. Argentina alleges an unbroken chain of title flowing through Spain, their predecessor-in-interest, all the way back to Magellan.

Britain, on the other hand, has a claim traced back to Capt. Davies who visited in 1592. After Viscount Falkland, a Royal Navy treasurer, went ashore in 1690, the islands were named after him. Although a newly independent Argentina opened a penal colony on the islands in 1828, it was closed down when British citizens started arriving in 1833. The UK argues English descendants have continuously occupied the Falklands since 1833, and the islanders have voted to remain a territory of the United Kingdom.

At the time of the 1982 Falklands War, President Reagan, a light-weight in international affairs, sided with Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, and her Conservative government, because he simply did not know any better. He could have reminded Britain that when the people of Latin America rose up against Spanish colonialism, in the early 19th Century, and won their various wars of independence, the U.S. through President Monroe, issued the Monroe Doctrine in which the Americans sided with Argentina, and the other newly independent Latin American republics.

President Monroe declared in 1823, ten years before the British started colonizing the Falklands: “The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”

When the British started colonizing the Falklands in 1833, they were in direct violation of U.S. Foreign Policy, under the Monroe Doctrine. At that time, Monroe would have sided with the Argentines and against the British, and if he were alive in 1982 or today, he would take the same anti-colonial stand.

While giving the islands to Argentina now would go against 179 years of ongoing British rule, and the self-determination rights of the islanders, the Falkland Islands will have a more stable future, if they established permanent relations with Argentina, their only real neighbor. The era of colonialism is over, and it is time for Britain, Argentina, and the people of the Falklands to work out a new arrangement.

05/09/2011

Morocco: Sultans, Sahara & Insurgents

The news reported a bomb blast at a café in Marrakech, Morocco that killed 14, and wounded 23. Although the perpetrators are not known, the bombing could be in protest of the monarchy, linked to the Western Sahara, or part of the Insurgency in the Maghreb.

A monarchy has ruled Morocco since independence (1956). Sultan Mohammed V held the throne (1957), followed by his son, King Hassan (1961). After he survived two assassination attempts (1971-72), his son, Mohammed VI, took over (1999-now).

During the recent Arab Spring (2011), Mohammed VI pledged reform, but refused to step down, or install a republic. Whether or not the recent bombing was specifically directed at the king, he should now abdicate in favor of a republican form of government.

The recent bombing could also be related to Western Sahara, a territory south of Morocco, previously governed by colonial Spain. After the UN called upon Spain to allow a vote on self-determination (1966), the Spanish instead set the area free (1975). After both Morocco and Mauritania seized Western Sahara, Mauritania gave it up, and Morocco gained sole control (1979).

The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion as to Western Sahara (1975), saying the people there favored independence, and though there was a historic legal tie to Morocco, they had an overriding right to self-determination.

Guerillas in Western Sahara, formed a Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which has since been recognized by 81 UN states, and the African Union. SADR fought Morocco, in the Western Sahara War (1975-91), until a ceasefire was monitored by a UN Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (1991).

Although the vote as to whether Western Sahara would become independent, or be integrated with Morocco, was set for 1992, Morocco never permitted it. Morocco should now finally allow a vote and eliminate this possible cause for domestic violence.

The third source of the recent bombing could be the Islamist Insurgency in the Maghreb (northwest Africa), which started in 2002. It includes a Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. Since the insurgency started, there were a series of suicide bombings in Casablanca (2003), a second set of Casablanca bombings (2007), and now a deadly bombing in Marrakech (2011).

Morocco needs to work on all three issues. First, it should deal with the things it can control, and then tackle the more difficult issues. Morocco should: 1) eliminate the monarchy and replace it with a republic; 2) solve the lingering issues regarding Western Sahara, by allowing a self-determination vote; and 3) deal with Islamic groups who have been barred from the political process.