2006 in Review
Its been a busy year for the Bay Islands. The pace of events, development, migtration and everything else seemed to have sped up.

January 1st, 2007
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Arsenal

Arsenal- Roatan’s Team

It took a long time for Roatanians to accept Arsenal as ‘their team.’ 2006 was a breakthrough season in this transition. The Arsenal tee shirts and taunts at bad calls by referees have become almost standard. In December 2006 Arsenal stood at wining one of the season’s two classifying tournaments “La Apertura.” The team came a heartbeat away from winning the trophy against the other much more experienced finalists- Deportes Savio. Arsenal almost won, almost. Well, there is still the tournament of the ‘La Clausura’ in the summer. (PHOTO: Channel Forbes celebrates his winning goal against Lenka)

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Baseball

BI Baseball Championship- Almost

Still an unfulfilled dream, Bay Islands- considered one of four Honduran baseball divisions, never hosted a national championship and never won it- not in 12 years since it joined FEHBA (Federacion Hondureña de Baseball Afficionado). As island baseballers complained about bad referees at mainland tournaments, things almost looked like 2006 could be different. For a while it seemed that in September entire Honduras baseball community would finally come to Roatan for a championship tournament. Unfortunately in the months preceding the deal, it fell through-due to a money matter. Like many times before, Roatan’s champions, this time the Kool and the Gang , disintegrated on a field in Tegucigalpa. (PHOTO: During play-offs a Sandy Bay’s Giant’s catcher leaves his pads at home plate)

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Trafficker

Traffickers Without Borders

Utila and Guanaja have their usual middle of the night dark landings and few people even bother to wake up to witness the event. On Roatan things are a bit different. When a tourist police took a stroll around his Coxen Hole tourist police station, he was buzzed by a plane landing on an unlit runway. With a fellow officer, he rode on a motorcycle to investigate and asked airport security if a plane had landed. The security said ‘No,’ and the police looked anyway and the rest is history. Two tons of cocaine in a stripped down and filled to the brim plane became national news overnight. (PHOTO: Burning the 2,000 kilos of cocaine at the Roatan garbage dump)

2006 Month by Month
January: Three new Bay Island mayors and a new congressman start their terms. Utilans re-elect their mayor
March: After years of resisting a family of 13 is evicted from a land Dixon Cove land.
April: Royal Caribbean and President Zelaya sign a 30 year lease of a Coxen Hole cruise ship dock.
May: US destroyer USS Stout comes to Roatan port on a publicity mission.
June: Roatan roads and business are shut down as Protestors confront RECO 12,000 people attend Roatan Internationa Shrimp Festival.
July: 16 Cuban refugees land on a Roatan Beach.
August:
Utila throws a Carnival September: Years biggest fire destroys 15 houses in La Loma district of French Harbour.
November: First Congress Session takes place on Roatan.
December: President Mael Zelaya signs Freeport Law.

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Freeports

Freeport Calling

Ambitions for creating a Freeport out of the Bay Islands have been here for a while. It was 2006 that all the stars aligned and all the political powerhouses agreed and the plan was pushed full force from proposal to committees, congress and the president. After many back and forth changes, the document was voted in by congress and in December signed by the President. Fast track to change. (PHOTO: President Zelaya receives a commemorative conch carved lamp during the ZOLITUR signing ceremony)

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Displacement

Historic Displacement

Land invasions and land conflicts run deep in Bay Island history. 2006 provided a historical case where, after several court rulings, a family accused of illegally occupying a 27 acre Dixon Cove property was forced to leave. After a legal and entrenched battle of attrition, police moved in the early hours of the morning and after four hours dismantled structures where the family lived for 16 years. (PHOTO: Aceituno hides her tears as the remains of her home lie by the side of the road)

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Cubans

Cubans are Landing

Anything can happen in Palmetto Bay and usually does: from visits of Hollywood stars like Richard Gere, to reality shows like Temptation Island, to Columbians vs. Americans boat chases. 2006, again, brought a bit of everything to this usually laid back location. With the news of Honduras looking the other way, as 350 Cubans made a landfall to pursue their journey to US, more and more ‘balseros’ braved the voyage south. 40 days into the hurricane season a welded metal boat, a blue tarp for a sail, an eight horse power engine and a Russian surplus compass drifted into Palmetto Bay. After a week on the island and much immigration shuffles, the 16 refugees- 12 men, 3 women, a 16-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, continued on their way to Guatemala, Mexico and US. (PHOTO: Two Cuban refugees take down some personal belongings from their boat)

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Power

People Power

Roatan looked a bit like Woodstock as thousands of islanders took to the streets to protest their high energy costs. There was even country music, courtesy of the patronatos, blasted from rigged-up speakers in front of the RECO gate. The merry atmosphere took a turn for the worse when protesters began burning tires and confronting American realtors trying to go about their business. Protesters got their way and fuel surcharge was reduced. (PHOTO: Protester’s barricade in Brick Bay)

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Development

Make Way, Development Ahead

Building of condos and houses on Roatan and parts of Utila has moved into full speed. As a result, within the next two years Roatan will be getting 500 condos priced between $130,000 and $900,000. Take your pick. Alongside housing, a whole array of businesses are being developed: mid income housing, malls, storage places, movie theaters, stores, you name it. (PHOTO: Clearing of land for construction in Sandy Bay)

v5-1-Feature-2006 in Review-Political

Political Transitions

It was musical chair night as Blue party politicians took over Municipal offices in Santos Guardiola and Guanaja. Utilans reelected their Mayor and Roatanians voted red to give a congress seat to a liberal party candidate. The Bay Island Congress seat, like for the last eight years, matched the color of the presidency. (After eight years in office, congressman Hynds steps down from his Mayoral office) [/private]

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