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July 17, 2016 @ 4:13 am

Ep. 248 “Decolonizing Oceania and the Festival of the Pacific Arts”

Ep. 248  “Decolonizing Oceania and the Festival of the Pacific Arts” (hosted by Dr. Tiara Naputi and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) airs 7/15/16. 

This episode is dedicated to the late  Eddie “Uncle Ed” Leon Guerrero Benavente, a Chamoru rights activist and longtime supporter for the decolonization of Guåhan, who passed away on July 6, 2016.

This episode features commentary from Chamorus who discuss the issue of decolonization at the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts, hosted by Guåhan from May 22-June 4, 2016. The festival’s theme, "Håfa Iyo-ta, Håfa Guinahå-ta, Håfa Ta Påtte, Dinanña' Sunidu Siha Giya Pasifiku" or "What We Own, What We Have, What We Share, United Voices of the Pacific" provided an opportunity to consider the shared histories and contemporary realities throughout Oceania. 

Commentary is provided by six of the twelve Guåhan delegates who staged a strategic action during the Festival’s closing ceremony on Saturday, June 4th  calling for unity across Oceania. Standing in solidarity with the decolonization struggle of other indigenous communities throughout Oceania (especially the Kanak, Kanaka Maoli, West Papuans, and Rapa Nui), these delegates unfurled their wraps as banners that carried the message “Decolonize Oceania” and “Free Guåhan.”  They share their stories, describe their roles in this political action, and discuss how decolonization was woven throughout FestPac in various ways: 

Desiree Taimanglo Ventura

Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero

Kisha Borja-Quichocho-Calvo

Kenneth Gofigan Kuper

Monaeka Flores

Joseph Certeza

This episode also includes an interview with Monica Guzman, the Programming Chair for the 2016 Festival of the Pacific Arts,  who shares her response to this strategic action at the closing ceremony, and broader political issues addressed at the festival.

For related commentary published in the Pacific Daily News written by Kisha Borja-Quichocho- Calvo, “Political Statement at FestPac Necessary” (June 9, 2016) and by Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero and Michael Lujan Bevacqua, “We Deserve to be Free” (June 19, 2016),  go to: https://www.facebook.com/beyondthefencekprg/ . 

Additionally, a short film is being produced by the Independence for Guam Task Force to share the story behind the strategic action that took place at the closing ceremony.  To view some information about this film (anticipated for release in September 2016),  go to: https://www.facebook.com/1768523633376324/videos/1798543663707654/

Guest host Tiara Naputi (Ph.D. The University of Texas-Austin) is a member of the Chamoru   diaspora whose interdisciplinary work focuses on indigenous studies, rhetoric and cultural studies. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder

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July 17, 2016 @ 4:08 am

Ep. 247 “The PROMESA and the Colonial Crisis in Puerto Rico”

Ep. 247 “The PROMESA and the Colonial Crisis in Puerto Rico” (hosted by Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman) was recorded 6/2/16 in Managua, Nicaragua and airs 7/1/16. 

 

This episode features an in-person interview with Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo,  an internationally recognized human rights activist and attorney practicing employment, civil rights, and family law in Puerto Rico.  

In recent weeks the news of an economic crisis in Puerto Rico has been widely reported in the media. The local government is more than $70 billion in debt and the island is suffering with an unemployment rate of 11.4% and a poverty rate of 45%.  Basic public services in health care and education have been dramatically affected and the island is experiencing a rapid brain drain as those who have the means to leave, are doing so.

 

What is rarely reported by mainstream media is that much of Puerto Rico’s current dire financial state is due to its long-standing history as a U.S. colony, and past and existing laws that have kept it, as some scholars suggest, as a “laboratory of neoliberalism.” This implies that certain predatory or Malthusian social and economic policies that are currently being imposed on developing countries around the world, were first piloted in Puerto Rico. Current U.S. and Puerto Rico law restrict this commonwealth’s ability to respond to its financial crisis, for example by requiring that it pay its debtors each month before it takes care of its basic services; also, by preventing it from declaring bankruptcy in order to restructure its debt.

 

On June 29, the U.S. Senate passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA, which translates to promise), on a bipartisan 68-30 vote, three weeks after  the House overwhelmingly backed the measure.  This vote came just two days before Puerto Rico is due to make a $2 billion payment to creditors. Puerto Rico is scheduled for its next round of debt payments and is unable to meet them.  This supposed “rescue” legislation affords an opportunity for Puerto Rico to restructure its debt by placing it under the control of a seven-member federal fiscal board whose authority supersedes any local law or elected official.  

Attorney Reverón-Collazo discusses the colonial origins of the current debt crisis and how, in her opinion, the PROMESA only promises to create more problems. 

 

This interview was conducted by Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua on June 2, 2016 at the United Nations Committee of 24 (Special Committee on Decolonization) Regional Seminar held in Managua, Nicaragua.    

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