Letters

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I only hope that the government will at least help the Gulf veterans.
Michael Cauldwell
Via e-mail

Dispatches from Saipan
I was amazed and gratified to read "Our man in Saipan" [February 19]. I am an elementary school teacher here on Saipan and represent a small but crucial recruited force on the island: stateside American professionals, including teachers, lawyers, and medical professionals like Peggy Japko.

I became active in Peggy's church right before she left for Texas last year. I believe that most of us "haolies" in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, as well as the small but growing number of concerned locals, truly had no idea why the Clinton administration hadn't made good on its promises to us. We knew nothing about these all-expenses-paid trips funded by our income taxes to brainwash these corrupt, bigoted congressmen. No wonder the CNMI government has been crying "poor" lately! No wonder they're telling us they don't have the money for our tax returns! (Isn't that illegal?) No wonder the government claims they don't have the money to build new classrooms, even though half of the island's schools are forced into multitracks and don't have enough books and supplies to go around, let alone classroom space.

Do those inhumane congressmen know that it takes two years for a school to get a single new piece of equipment--or even a textbook--because the locals working in the government offices don't show up to work often enough to sign the requisition forms? Their laid-back work ethic grew out of the realization that hard work is for those who can't afford to do otherwise: namely, the guest workers. Of course, not all locals are that lazy--there's a growing number of responsible and concerned local citizens with personal integrity who are aware of the inefficiency and incompetence problems in the work force, and go against the norm to create proper customer service.

Their cause would be hugely aided by getting rid of the guest workers! With all our money being spent on wooing congressmen, no wonder the local government refuses to provide funds for the island school district to pay for janitors and maintenance staff! I sweep, mop, dust, and scrub my own classroom with a little help from my students, most of whom are raised by Filipina maids at home.

Many island children here have little contact with their own parents, in fact. Those Filipina maids, with their loving, gentle ways, make excellent babysitters for those parents (and there are many) who spend literally hours every day or night at the island's legal gambling establishments. There are many addicted to Pachinko, slot machines, and Budweiser, leaving children at home to be raised by their maids and teachers. It's difficult to teach them in school to clean up their own messes and to respect hard work--they've been conditioned against it by their parents. It's not even uncommon for schoolchildren (not my students, of course!) to go outside during recess and yell racist insults to the Bangladeshi workers hired to mend holes in the tin classroom roofs, forgetting that they had just complained of rain leaking in these same holes during the last heavy rainstorm. They shout words learned from their parents. It's an uphill battle for concerned teachers. Because of the status quo, these islands of beautiful beaches are producing a generation of self-centered, spoiled, bigoted children. These kids are the future of the Marianas. Is that the kind of American citizen [Dick] Armey and [Tom] DeLay are proud of? Is that how he raises his own daughter? There is hope for these people, if Armey and DeLay will stop obstructing justice. (Isn't that illegal?) We're begging for Clinton to intervene.

Dallas Observer, please continue to inform the public of the wrongdoings of our own congress.

Kimberly Jackson
Saipan

I too was an American contract worker at the Commonwealth Health Center on Saipan and returned to the states in 1996 after a three-year stay. I saw firsthand many of the tragedies written of in your article. Saipan has one "fresh water" pond on the island, Lake Susupe. A cholera outbreak was traced to garment workers from a nearby "barracks" who had been found to be eating fish from the filthy murk. You never saw an overweight factory worker. You have written one of the best and most accurate articles on Saipan I've read to date.

Suzie McLain
Via e-mail

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