More than the vast expanse of sea, an artificial wall is increasingly separating the ten million people scattered across Oceania's islands. Vested interests of colonial nature have created this Pacific wall, isolating the islanders from each other, as well as from the rest of the world.
The wall is invisible, but works as an "electronic fence with watchtowers". The U.S., Australia, and New Zealand have almost unlimited control over who is on the move. On top of high prices and scarcity of flights, travelling around the islands is increasingly difficult. For instance, "If Samoan or Tongan citizens wish to visit Papua New Guinea (PNG), they have to fly to Australia and then to Port Moresby from Brisbane or Cairns. [...] In order to do that, they must obtain an Australian transit visa [...] To visit any of the countries in Micronesia requires a U.S. transit visa to change planes in Hawaii or Guam [...]".
Very often, American, Australians and New Zealand immigration and customs officers deny transit visas.
Pacific Islanders are pawns in the geopolitical arena. They are deemed good for war and political purposes. Young men from the FSM, Palau, and the Marshall Islands are recruited, to fight in the US army, and Fiji exports its soldiers to conflicts all over the world, from UN-sponsored operations to mercenary adventure under private security firms.
The corrupted elites obediently vote at the UN as the masters dictate (both Nauru and Kiribati, for instance, voted against the Kyoto Protocol).
The ravages of the Second World War and of nuclear testing, the Cold War and foreign interests have created a situation of confusion and dependency.
"Oceania was once free. It governed itself and fed its people without asking for outside help. Its people sailed thousands of miles from their own shores, discovering new islands, waging battles and wars, forging peace. Life was once firmly in control of those who were born and lived here.
Now, however, the majority of local people have become strangers on their own islands. Oceania is being ruled by laws and principles imported from abroad. Religion, political structure, food, and even many cultural elements are imported now, from far away." (p. 219-220)
Unemployment, increasing levels of emigration, social tensions, a worsening crime situation, low-quality food with canned products (often well beyond the printed expiration date), ill health, obesity and related high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, educational decline, poverty and insufficient social services, weak democratic institutions, local corruption, foreign interference, urbanization, deforestation, and general environmental degradation do characterize most of the Pacific islands.
For six years André Vltchek has traveled "by plane, boat and ferry, canoe, by bicycle's islands and kayak, on foot and by car, truck and bus, all around Oceania" (p. 223). He convincingly describes the present situation of an area of the world that can be seen as "a microcosm of the problems and issues found everywhere" and insofar matters to us all.
"Oceania is bleeding, but it is alive. And it is an obligation of those of us who know and love it to speak up, to write about the pain and injustice it is experiencing".
Please, read this book!