Dealing with Uncle Sam Leaves Few Options

More than two decades ago, the US signed the Compact Impact agreement with other islands in the Pacific like Saipan, Chuck, Yap, Marshalls, etc. It stipulates that the inhabitants of these islands could migrate and live in more developed islands like Guam and US mainland in return for the US’ use of their islands primarily for military purposes. Whatever Guam spends for accommodating theses islanders, US will pay Guam.

Since then, Guam had already spent more than $150M and still increasing. But the US paid only a fraction of the amount so far.

Here’s an animated dialogue between Uncle Sam and his Chamorro nephew, Juan.

In our community, my Uncle Sam in known as the richest and most influential. One day he approached me saying, “Juan, since you have a bigger house and live close to my Pacific friends, I’ve offered your services for their boarding and lodging as part of my contract with them. Whatever you spend, just bill me.”

Juan: “Uncle, why are they coming to live here? What happened to their homes?”

Sam: “I’m using some of their homes as target practice to test my high-tech weaponry. You know, I can’t do this at my homeland because it’s too dangerous ‘for the statesiders’.”

“If you say so Uncle, I’m always your obedient nephew.”

After almost two decades, Uncle has not given me enough for his guests. Each year, he only gives me a few thousand dollars but it has cost me about $25,000 yearly for his friends. He now owes me $150,000. I’ve been generous and patient long enough; it’s time to ask Uncle to pay up.

“Juan, I’m really broke nowadays. I’m spending too much giving my Arab clients and Israeli friends financial support. Also, I play as a year-long philanthropic Santa Claus to the rest of the world. I am spending by the billions of dollars. You know that.”

“Uncle, since we owe each other almost the same amount, why don’t we declare it a quitclaim?”

“My dear nephew, no one could demand me to pay, but I can obligate you to pay me back!”

“Well then, we’ll just bill your friends or their well-off relatives, who are my boarders.”

“You can’t do that because it was not what my friends and I agreed on.”

“Can we now change the agreement to include it?”

“Why do you keep saying ‘we’ when you’re not even a signatory to that contract?”

“Hafa nai? Why was I excluded when you offered my services and you signed the contract?”

“Nephew, I don’t need your permission for anything!”

“Don’t I allow you, too, to come and enjoy comforts in my big house? (referring to the mainland). Your brothers and sisters enjoy staying there! It’s a symbiotic relationship, isn’t it?”

Laña Uncle, my siblings work hard and pay for their stay there in your big house. And please, don’t force me to sue you!”

“You can’t sue me, because you don’t have legal status to do so. And what court would hear your case? Who got the nerve and stupid enough to challenge me!”

With a wide grin, Uncle left.

Devastated, I cried before my children: “I’m sorry. I can’t provide a better home for you because we have to fulfil Uncle’s commitment to his friends.”

The children rose: “Tata, we could do these:

“Boarders will work and pay for their boarding and lodging just like the others. Period.

“We’ll strongly protest at Uncle’s house and before the world.

“If Uncle pays the $150,000 we’ll purchase his friends one-way airline tickets to stay at his house instead. Oh, they’ll be a lot happier there than here. And if our house continues to deteriorate because Uncle doesn’t pay, we’ll also follow suit and stay too at his big house, his compliments. Many of our tribes are already there and more are leaving. It’s cool and modern over there!”

“What will finally happen to our house, our ancestral home?” I asked in a worried tone.

“Well, Uncle will ultimately have it anyway and use it for his military,” and my kids added: “Subsequently, the Chinese, Russians, and perhaps the North Koreans shall be happy using it.”

Since tourism business is my sideline, I became alive, wide-eyed, and then optimistically interrupted: “As a tourist vacation spot?”

“No, Tata, for their target practice!”


First published in 2002 (Pat on the Back) – Ed