Latte of Freedom

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An American monument and symbol of Chamorro strength

On March 10, 1976, Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo announced his plan to build an American monument that embodied the Chamorro culture to be called The Latte of Freedom. A scaled down version of the original plan was completed in March 31, 2010, thirty-four years later and twenty years since Gov. Bordallo’s death in 1990.

Bordallo wanted the Latte of Freedom to be for the West what the statue of Liberty is to the East of the United States. The Statue of Liberty was completed in 1876 to commemorate America’s centennial and placed in New York City, on America’s east coast, to welcome visitors from Europe. Similarly, the Latte of Freedom, whose plans were drafted in 1976 to commemorate America’s bicentennial, was to be on Guam, America’s westernmost coast, to welcome visitors to the United States from Asia. In addition to being the newest American monument, the Latte of Freedom also symbolizes the unique heritage of Guam in both structure and purpose.

The latte, a stone structure unique to the Marianas, consists of a pillar and capstone. Latte was first built in ancient Guam between 1200 BP to 300 BP (before present) and was in use up until around the time that the Spanish colonized the Marianas in 1668.

Latte was used to form the foundation of buildings of significance in Chamorro society, such as the guma’ uritao (men’s house) and the homes of high-ranking families. Latte structures are believed to have absorbed the shock of earthquakes, common in the region, and did not decay along with the wooden and thatched Chamorro structures, thus representing strength and endurance in the Mariana Islands.