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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, April 13, 2002

Rota islanders make the right decision

Our hats are off to the government officials of tiny Rota island in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Rota, 47 miles north of Guam, is one of the municipalities of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the most well-known of which is Saipan. There is not, frankly, a lot going for the 33-square-mile island at the moment.

But it at least has a leadership that has the courage of its convictions.

A group called the Global Country for World Peace, associated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (think transcendental meditation), asked Rota if they could set up world headquarters on that tiny island. They would build gardens, a peace university and pump in as much as a billion dollars worth of investment.

It was an appealing offer from a group that certainly has the best of intentions. But it came with a hook:

To make the deal work, Rota had to secede from the rest of the Northern Marianas and become, in effect, an independent country.

Nope, the island said. We're part of the commonwealth and we want to stay that way, closely affiliated with the United States.

It must have been a tough decision. But it was the right one.