Guam rejects US military build up

Friday April 07, 2017 Written by Published in Regional

GUAM – The Governor of Guam, Eddie Calvo, has withdrawn his support for the build-up of United States military forces in the US territory.

 

The number of military personnel on Guam is set to surge from 6000 to 11,000 as troops are relocated from Okinawa, Japan.

Guam is strategically important to the United States, housing both an Air Force and Navy base.

Calvo said the federal government’s ongoing denial of temporary worker visas – known as H2B visas – for the territory is having a devastating impact on the territory’s economy.

In a video posted by Pacific Daily News, Calvo said he was reversing his staunch support of the build-up.

“Because of this federally induced labour shortage I have no choice,” he said. “We will not support further progress on the military realignment on Guam. That’s so long as the federal government continues to choke our economy.”

Calvo said Guam had agreed to a “mutually beneficial
build-up,” but the federal government had not kept its part of the bargain.

He said the worker shortage was causing delays in many different projects either individual home projects or companies with stalled investments.

The governor had also instructed Guam’s Attorney General to join the H2B visa lawsuit filed last October by the Guam Contractors Association against the US government.

The association claims the US immigration service is now only approving five percent of H2B temporary worker visa applications as opposed to the previous 95 per cent.

As a result,  Calvo said Guam’s 1000-strong temporary workforce had been reduced to just 178 foreign labourers.

He said this number is “woefully inadequate” to fill the need for nearly 4000 labourers to construct facilities for the Department of Defence.

The governor said he planned to dispatch letters to President Donald Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, informing them that the military build-up is happening at the expense of the people of Guam and cannot be allowed.

                - RNZI

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