GUAM - The irregularities in Guam's recent election are really nothing new. The corruption is widespread. There is a condescending belief in Washington D.C. that we, on Guam, are chattels of the President of the United States.
In the November 3, General Election here, Washington permitted 571 non citizens to register and vote. Those votes made the difference in the outcome of the election. It is another sordid example of clear and blatant disregard of our Constitutional rights and compromises our sense of what good government should be.
History is seldom what we would like it to be. But, we always hope to change the present for the better. On the island of Guam, however, 54 years after its "liberation" from Japan in World War II, the land upon which we stand, is still not our own.
Worse yet, after 100 years under the U.S. flag, the citizens of Guam still are not permitted to have the deciding voice in its local Government. In this island economy, the President of the United States makes certain that public assistance is only given if the recipient compromises personal integrity, in the process.
Standing up for the integrity of private property rights on Guam has been a very lonely experience. Today, as president Clinton stood in the island sun and made jokes about how he could personally take over the local Governor's post, it was a dark day for those who live on Guam.
We have lived under such threats for many generations. For example, after World War II, Washington arrived without invitation and proceeded to take two-thirds of Guam's precious landmass. They put up a no-trespassing sign extending from the northern tip of the island to within four miles of the southern shore. That taking was excessive and created great inconvenience and hardship for those who were suddenly land-locked and were forced to abandon their land for which compensation still has not been paid.
Washington's repressive land policy operated as a stern economic embargo that eroded Guam's independence and undercut its future. No wonder the government of Guam is seen as a welfare colony with a corrupt election process.
Guam has suffered from a long series of U.S. appointed governors. Today, as president Clinton made jokes about becoming the next governor of Guam, the island is nothing more than a very profitable government owned McDonald's fast food franchise built on private property, for which its former owners have yet to receive just compensation.
Today, we on Guam learned the new meaning of the word disenfranchisement.
And today, we had to endure the insulting attitude and comments of president Clinton, the island's colonial master, as he made jokes about the colonial relationship with Washington D.C.
No wonder, after Mr. Clinton's Air Force One lifted off our shores in an earth shaking roar, we on Guam, stood in silence and awe as we watched his swift departure. No one could blame us for bowing our heads and praying this prayer - "Our father who art in D.C., Federal be thy name. Thy money says, ‘IN GOD WE TRUST,' so deliver it to us, in abundance, and forgive us for the loss of our integrity! Amen."
[Mr. Artero is a resident of the Territory of Guam, a retired U.S. Navy veteran submariner.]