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Title: The Compact of Free Association (COFA): A History of Failures 
Author: Diaz, Keola K.
Date: 2012
Abstract: This project has been significant because it presents a positive focus on Micronesian agency and activism and it also enables us to hear and see Micronesian experiences. When researching for my undergraduate senior thesis for the School of Communications at U.H. Manoa in the Spring 2008 semester, I discovered that during this time negative media attention began to rise more noticeably about Micronesians in the community, particularly in the schools. My BA portfolio project provided a different perspective about this Pacific community. I documented stories in the newspaper that addressed crime, health and education concerns regarding “Micronesians” for my research, and produced a short film that featured a few aspects of Micronesians in Hawai`i that I hoped would counter some of the over-represented, negative media about them. That film was entitled Micronesians in Hawai`i. Shortly after I finished that documentary, the media focus turned to Micronesian use of state funded medical and health services. In the face of fiscal recession, the cost of providing health coverage to COFA citizens had become the highlighted topic of the media. Implementation of the new BHH plan, class-action litigation, and public concern once again put Micronesian communities in the spotlight. In response I studied how people were being directly affected by the plan and produced a second documentary that addressed these concerns, including perspectives from people who play a role in influencing Micronesians’ experiences (i.e. political leaders, organization leaders, and social service administrators). In addition to the BHH issue itself, the film also addressed the military service that COFA citizens had been allowed to make under the Compact. One of the noticeable avenues to what many COFA citizens considered as an option for upward mobility was to join the U.S. military. COFA youths joining the military and losing their lives in the recent wars of Iraq and Afghanistan was an important reason that COFA citizens felt that they deserved at the very least, health care coverage provided by the federal government. The significant loss of lives from the Micronesian region in these wars showed that these were not people who were looking for free social services, but rather a people who were looking for opportunities to change their situation. I hoped to reverse the negative trend through the documentary and establish a connection that allowed for a more human approach in helping to understand the contemporary concerns of Micronesian peoples in need of help. I wanted to show that it was not Micronesians causing the financial strain in Hawai`i, but rather the federal government’s failure to fulfill its obligations. This failure was not the first and I am confident that it will not be the last. This paper complements the documentary by providing a historical context of U.S.-Micronesian compromises that demonstrated failures on the part of the United States many times over before this latest failure with health services. My BA portfolio project provided a different perspective about this Pacific community. I documented stories in the newspaper that addressed crime, health and education concerns regarding “Micronesians” for my research, and produced a short film that featured a few aspects of Micronesians in Hawai`i that I hoped would counter some of the over-represented, negative media about them. That film was entitled Micronesians in Hawai`i. Shortly after I finished that documentary, the media focus turned to Micronesian use of state funded medical and health services. In the face of fiscal recession, the cost of providing health coverage to COFA citizens had become the highlighted topic of the media. Implementation of the new BHH plan, class-action litigation, and public concern once again put Micronesian communities in the spotlight. In response I studied how people were being directly affected by the plan and produced a second documentary that addressed these concerns, including perspectives from people who play a role in influencing Micronesians’ experiences (i.e. political leaders, organization leaders, and social service administrators). In addition to the BHH issue itself, the film also addressed the military service that COFA citizens had been allowed to make under the Compact. One of the noticeable avenues to what many COFA citizens considered as an option for upward mobility was to join the U.S. military. COFA youths joining the military and losing their lives in the recent wars of Iraq and Afghanistan was an important reason that COFA citizens felt that they deserved at the very least, health care coverage provided by the federal government. The significant loss of lives from the Micronesian region in these wars showed that these were not people who were looking for free social services, but rather a people who were looking for opportunities to change their situation. 10 I hoped to reverse the negative trend through the documentary and establish a connection that allowed for a more human approach in helping to understand the contemporary concerns of Micronesian peoples in need of help. I wanted to show that it was not Micronesians causing the financial strain in Hawai`i, but rather the federal government’s failure to fulfill its obligations. This failure was not the first and I am confident that it will not be the last. This paper complements the documentary by providing a historical context of U.S.-Micronesian compromises that demonstrated failures on the part of the United States many times over before this latest failure with health services.
Description: plan B Pacific Islands Studies
Pages/Duration: 51 leaves
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/24265
Keywords: micronesia-hawaii
LC Subject Headings: Micronesians--Healthcare.
Basic Health Hawaii.
Compact of Free Association.

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