“The Chuuk Solution?”

Thanks for joining me today.  In this blog post, “The Chuuk Solution” I would like to share a further $0.02 to the ongoing secession movement in the Federated States of Micronesia. This is not the first post I’ve written on this subject.  So this will bring the grand total to $0.04 on this subject.

Stumblebum

The break down of this situation goes like this:

Chuuk state, the most populated and arguably the state with most of the “issues”, wants to secede from the Federated States of Micronesia and determine their own destiny.

Their situation has been a sore spot for the Federation for many years.  Consider this view from Francis X. Hezel:

 Chuuk has gained the reputation of being the stumblebum of FSM, the poor step-sister of the other states in the federation. The recent spate of criminal indictments for misuse of public funds, nearly all against Chuukese, has given credence to the suspicion that political and fiscal mismanagement in the state is endemic.

This is from a 2004 article titled The Chuuk Problem: At the Foot of the Political Pyramid.  What is interesting to note about this article is the options that were listed on what Chuuk should do. The first option was to:

 let an outside authority assume final responsibility for governing its people. If its political legacy is an insuperable obstacle to genuine self-government, then Chuuk State must be prepared to step aside and accept the fact that FSM National Government will be the arbiter of the use of funds and the enforcer of policy.

Which really has been the case for all of Chuuk’s life in the Federation, maybe even for the rest of the Federation? Here is the second option:

The second option is for Chuuk to summon the political will to overcome all cultural obstacles and see itself, perhaps for the first time, as a real political entity so that it can act accordingly. This vision and mindset may need to be cultivated, but they are the essential preconditions for developing the controls that Chuuk needs to advance. This will be a long and painful process, but modernization usually is. There is no reason why Chuuk, which is able to run churches and businesses second to none, can not do the same with its government

Too true Fr Hezel.  I think Chuuk has finally summoned her “political will” to do that with this secession movement.  I don’t think Chuuk can see herself as a “real political entity” as part of the Federation.  Just my $0.02.

A new/old player

Just recently, the US Ambassador to the FSM weighed in on this issue.  In a 15 minute long video, HE Robert Riley III cautioned Chuuk to be “realistic” and confirmed that no separate compact will be negotiated outside of the current one.

Some of what he said, that I thought was encouraging were the following changes if Chuuk seceded:

  • Visas would be required to travel to the U.S. – Great… that would slow or even halt the migration out
  • Probably no longer able to enlist in the U.S. Armed forces … No more Micronesians fighting and dying  in foreign lands? Remember there is no provision for Veterans services in the current compact
  • A separate agreement would have to be negotiated (not another compact) – I think that would be great to negotiate new terms after 30 years under the compact?  Imagine the lessons learned….

There were also some not so encouraging changes:

  • No access to the Compact Trust Fund, how about the FSM Trust fund?
  • No disaster response or search and rescue assistance
  • Security and defense including the ongoing civic /construction assistance provided by the U.S. military

There were some grey areas that he couldn’t confirm though, like pell grants, CDC grants, Health and Human services grants.  He said they were less likely to remain and possibly go away.

He ended on what I believe is a very positive note.  He said the U.S. Government wants Chuuk to succeed or was it secede?  He confirmed that Chuuk has every right to make their own decisions, and probably will.  Ambassador Riley ended by telling Chuuk to understand how their decisions will affect their relationship with the U.S. Government.

Conclusion

I think this is all very exciting.  Watching this process has been very educational for me.  I’d like to think that this had to happen considering Chuuk’s history as a “stumblebum”.  Even if they do not succeed to secede, all of this has been one great exercise in democracy and is in keeping with spirit of the UN Charter:

by virtue of the principle of equal rights
and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the
United Nations, all peoples have the right, freely and without
external interference, to determine their political status and to
pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and that every
State has the duty to respect that right in accordance with the
provisions of the Charter; Read it here.

Is that realistic?

See you on my next blog or at the Micronesian Podcast.