Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 22 Aug 2019 12am

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    Wednesday, August 21, 2019-2:21:41P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Norman Tenorio receives first Pagan homestead

LAST week, Norman Tenorio of Joeten Enterprises received the first agricultural homestead on Pagan.

“We are going to go out there and we are going to start growing, because that’s what the lot is for,” said Keli Tenorio, Norman’s wife.

Keli Tenorio is captain of the Super Emerald, a 62-foot passenger boat that she has sailed to the Northern Islands repeatedly over the past decade. Mrs. Tenorio was instrumental in setting up the camps on Pagan, Alamagan and Agrigan during her time working for the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office, though she has since stepped away from her position as project coordinator.

She sees settling Pagan as a way of protecting it from being converted into a training range for the U.S. military.

“I think that the military looks at our islands out there and sees that — especially on Pagan because of the airstrip and the beaches — it’s an ideal island, and I think they see there’s no interest,” she told Variety. “They think that nobody really cares about that island. Not enough to be there.”

But Mrs. Tenorio believes this isn’t true.

“People want to go back. But they need there to be things in place that can make them able to thrive out there, meaning transportation, the airport, and the seaport…they need these things to live.”

The Navy first made its interest in Pagan known in 2013, when it released a Notice of Intent leading up to the CNMI Joint Military Training or CJMT plan, which would create highly destructive live-fire training ranges on Tinian and Pagan. On Pagan, U.S. troops and allies would practice shelling from ships, firing mortars, staging amphibious landings, and dropping bombs weighing up to one thousand pounds.

While the CJMT was temporarily “taken off the table” after the uproar it triggered in the Marianas community, the revised draft of the plan was due to come out in late 2018 or early 2019 according to the CJMT website (cnmijointmilitarytrainingeis.com). The Navy also included a $66 million “Pagan Lease” in its Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Estimates, though according to local attorney Kimberlyn King-Hinds, that same $66 million was also present in budget estimates dating back to 2014.

So it remains unclear exactly what the military’s next steps will be in regards to the Northern Islands. No plans have been released, but to this day, hobbyists can’t fly drones over the Northern side of Pagan without receiving a warning that they have entered a military “no-fly zone.”

Keli Tenorio’s intentions, on the other hand, are crystal clear.

“If you look at history, it always takes someone to have to die for it,” she said of resistance movements. “I am one that is willing to die for it. And I’m not afraid. So I will keep on doing what I can do as long as I can, physically. and I hope that others will follow me… I want to look back and see others behind me. Because it’s not about me. It’s about everybody. You know? Let’s just do this together.”