This one is in the CNMI:
I particularly like her editorial at the bottom of this post about the dire state of affairs in Saipan, and who is to blame. While I do agree in part with the commentator (and it would be nice to know who this person is), that Saipan's current mess is in part their own doing, I also believe that the islands still have a lot going for them. And I believe that while their leadership may have succumbed to individual greed and/or malfeasance, the problem is much bigger and deeper rooted -- and until people understand these underlying issues, the same problems are likely to persist.
Good leadership, under the best of circumstances, is hard to come by. When you've been someone else's colonial subject for generations, when you come from a culture that thinks about power and wealth and reciprocity in a radically different way than the culture of the colonizing countries, and when you've got the world's biggest military power breathing down your neck... well, let's just say true leadership isn't likely to flourish. Not impossible, but not likely. Ghandi's are few and far between.
But I also believe that the islands have everything they need to turn things around for themselves. I've been impressed with the new generation of local activists rising in response to the military buildup on Guam. And the northern Marianas holds a wealth of cultural knowledge that they can share with their cousins on Guam - a wealth of knowledge to help restore faith in themselves as a unique and important people. The Mariana Islands and their people are resilient - they just need to believe in their own power. And -- and this is probably the hardest part -- they need to come together and put aside petty differences and old hurts. Progress will come when the people recognize that they need to be the ones to help their islands, because no one else is ever going to do it for them.