Julian Aguon at the Guam Forum on Decolonization

October 26, 2011

I am continually impressed by Julian Aguon. He has a razor-sharp mind and a lightning tongue and a strong heart that beats for justice. In his recent presentation at the University of Guam, he discussed how US Constitutional Law and International Law apply to the question of Guam’s political status. Perhaps not surprisingly, he is now being attacked in the local Marianas press, as an advocate for armed violent struggle. Knowing Julian personally, I found this hard to believe – so I watched his entire presentation just to see for myself. As always, watching Julian was a real pleasure. A few of my favorite quotes (with links to video):

“The right of self-determination legally enjoys the same exalted status as the rule prohibiting genocide. As the rule prohibiting torture. To international lawyers, this is a crime. Colonialism is a crime.” [see the video]

“The whole world has spoken on some of these issues. Why not lift our heads out of the sand, and realize that perhaps, just perhaps, one country’s interpretation of international law isn’t the only game in town?[See the video]

Aguon ended by asserting that, according to international law, ‘colonialism is a crime, and you’re allowed to fight back.’ Not being an international lawyer myself, I have no means for judging the veracity of this statement; but I did note that he then took great pains to honor the peaceful, non-violent contributions of Hope Cristobal, and her many trips to the United Nations on behalf of Guam. “She illustrates a belief, a conviction, on the part of the colonized population on Guam, that words are the better way.”

An advocate for armed struggle? I don’t think so. A brilliant young indigenous lawyer who’s justifiably pissed-off? Absolutely. More power to him.