The U.S. Navy's right to harbor facilities in the strategically located Pacific island of Guam are being challenged as part of "a new feeling of nationalism," Carter administration officials said yesterday.
Gov. Paul M. Calvo of Gaum recently cabled President Carter that the "populace is unhappy with Washington. . . . It is now imperative that high-level talks be held between Guam and Washington to chart the future direction of this island and its people."
Even the suggestion that the U.S. military may have to reduce its presence in Guam, long a Pacific bastion, sends shudders through top commanders already worried about the shortage of bases in that part of the world.
Calvo, in his cable to Carter, noted that Guam voters voted 5 to 1 Aug. 4 against a proposed constitution for Guam. The governor said the draft constitution failed to meet the demands unleashed by "a new feeling of nationalism."
In a briefing paper given to Carter administration officials who visited the island in May, Guam officials complained that the Pentagon continues to control more than one-third of the island territory, land which the island must develop to decrease its economic dependence on the United States.
Specifically, Guam is demanding that the Navy release some of the land it holds around the island's main port of Apra. Guam wants to turn Apra into a major Pacific port for civillian commerce.
The Guam government also contends the Navy should make good on its long-standing promise to move its ammunition wharf from Apra to a more remote port. Otherwise, the port cannot realize its commercial potential.
"Some of the island's finest beaches are located on military land and are solely for military recreational use," complained the Guamanian government in demanding that the Carter administration turn over that choice land to the territory to accelerate economic development.
To help assure that Guam's voice is heard in Washington, the island wants to be administered from the White House rather than the Interior Department.
Although Interior's Office of Territorial Affairs has been "well-intentioned and sincere" in helping Guam, the briefing paper states, the office's own status within the Interior Department is so uncertain that "immediate transfer to the White House is in order."
Calvo's cable and the earlier complaints expressed in the briefing paper have triggered a high-level review within the Carter administration of its policies toward Guam. The interagency task force conducting the review includes the White House, the Pentagon and the Interior and State departments.
One Navy official, when told Guam is challenging military policies on the island, said the Pacific territory dwarfs the island of Culebra in military significance.
Culebra officials succeeded, after years of lobbying, in forcing the Navy to stop using the Caribbean island as a gunnery range.