Eddie L.G. Benavente
Eddie Leon Guerrero Benavente was a Chamorro activist leader since the early 1980s. He fought for the Chamorro right for self-determination. In the 1990s, he became a member of Nasion Chamoru or Chamorro Nation with founder Angel Leon Guerrero Santos. Nasion Chamoru is a grassroots organization focused on the protection of Chamorro rights, land, culture and history.
From 1995-2003 Benavente was Maga’låhi of Nasion Chamoru. During his tenure leading the organization, the Chamorro Land Trust Act, enacted in 1975, finally was implemented and the Ancestral Land Commission was established. Then, with strong lobbying efforts by Nasion Chamoru, the Commission on Decolonization was established. In 2002, Benavente was awarded the Alston/Bannerman Sabbatical Fellowship. The award is a paid sabbatical given to activists and organizers devoted to social and political change.
In 2003, Governor Felix P. Camacho asked Benavente to be Executive Director of the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission (GALC) and the Commission on Decolonization. The GALC, created by the Guam Legislature in 1999, facilitates the title transfers from “excess” federal lands to the Government of Guam and, ultimately, to the original landowners. Under his management the GALC deeded hundreds of acres back to their original landowners. Benavente resigned in 2010.
Benavente served as Executive Director for the Commission on Decolonization from 2003 to 2006. While with the commission he conducted meetings, spoke at events and attended seminars and workshops organized by the United Nations.
Benavente was also a Chamorro teacher at John F. Kennedy High School. His first assignment was at JFK from 1992 to 2003. In 2011, he rejoined the JFK faculty to teach Chamorro language. In addition, Benavente is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Guam (UOG) and the Guam Community College (GCC), where he was an instructor for History of Guam courses.
He passed away on July 6, 2016.
Guampedia Entry by Eddie Benavente
Interpretive Essay: Chamoru Self-Determination