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National Party Prevails in 2009 Elections Written by Jennifer Mathews Photos by Benjamin Roberts
As World Watches, Transparency and Strict Procedures a High Priority

Honduras' new president elect, Pepe Lobo, campaigns in Coxen Hole at a November 15 National Party rally.
Photo by Angela Agnew

Though tensions were high in anticipation of the November 29 elections, the actual day was remarkably quiet. Even on the mainland, only small scale protests were recorded. On the Bay Islands, overwhelming sentiment was that the election process operated like a well-oiled machine.
Although international sentiment was mixed, the United States decided earlier in November to accept the results as democratically sound. Many countries stated they would not accept the results offered by any winning party, regardless of political attribution. According to journalistic reports the day after the elections, Peru, Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica voiced support. Other nations including Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil refused to recognize the vote on grounds that it was held under an illegitimate government.
Issues on the table during the political race focused on security, tourism, unemployment, education, health, and women's programs. Campaigning involved plenty of walking through neighborhoods rallying for support from common citizens. Presidential candidate Proforio "Pepe" Lobo visited the island for the National Party rally on November 15, drumming up support.
Despite rampant accusations last election of candidates buying votes from locals, this year's election appeared practically spotless. Commenting before the election, Roatan business owner Shawn Hyde said, "It's a clean election up until now. There's no slander, no mud being thrown. I'm holding my breath that this keeps up, but right now it looks like a model campaign and I'm honored to be a part of it."
The 2009 elections were drastically different from those in 2005, in which were reported mudslinging, buying votes, registration discrepancies, and missing ballot boxes. In 2005, rumors circulated about voters being brought from the mainland into the Bay Islands to vote, but no proof had been legitimized regarding those claims at the time of writing. On the national level, Zelaya told several reporters that he would contest the results. He told news outlet Al Jazeera,"We took a sample at the polls and the rate of abstentions was over 60 percent in most cases. This means the election had low turnout, which means it did not enjoy the support of the majority of the Honduran people."
According to reported figures from the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE), the Bay Islands Voice calculated voter turnout in the Bay Islands at 43.5%.
This year's coup in late June seems to have inspired officials to enforce an electoral methodology with a strong emphasis on providing transparency and legitimizing the political process.

Polls were kept open an hour after scheduled closing via orders from Tegucigalpa. Here, residents vote in Los Fuertes.
A large component of the 2009 elections was the increased presence of international observers. Last elections in 2005, saw 123 international observers. This time around there were 398, more than a 300% increase. Aside from Calabash Bight, where the main road was washed out from torrential rains, 57 observers were working on the Bay Islands in every polling station on Roatan, Saint Helene, and Utila; Guanaja had only Honduran national observers. The election also utilized 3500 national observers, also a significant increase than in 2005.
The TSE took extra measures this year to anticipate some of the problems of the past and create contingencies in order to prevent much of the disorder and accusatory outcry experienced in Honduras' last election. Each voting station received individual boxes containing all needed materials, such as registration lists, tutorial flyers, ink, gloves, rules and regulations, even flashlights and batteries were dispensed in case of a power outage.
Citizens arrived to their designated voting locations and were admitted one by one to the voting tables. While the number of voting stations remained the same, tables increased from 89 to 97 in order to help the flow of voter traffic. Security was tight. The only possible means of voting was to display one's Roatan identification card, and the ID had to match the color rendition on the precinct registration list. If not, the voter was turned away.
Another step toward transparency and electoral confidence was new steps in redundancy within the voting process itself. The secretary and president of each respective station signed off on every single ballot before it was cast. After voters filled their ballots in a private area, they are returned and officially stamped. The voter then signed the register book and placed their vote in the designated boxes labeled for each seat. Their fingers were then inked to prove that they voted. All station officials were educated on previous years' ploys to repel ink, as a measure to ensure that citizens could not vote more than once.

"This time is very different from the last election," said Maritza Bustillo. "Last time you could come and go without anyone watching. You could vote for whomever, however. This time there was more security, more organization."
Counting procedures were also amongst change regarding transparency during this year's elections. All counting began at individual voting stations. All station presidents were given cell phones on which to call Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa, after the polling locations conferred on a conclusive vote count. Only then were the ballot boxes allowed outside of the polling centers. All boxes were transported by municipal and national guards to the central counting location in Coxen Hole, where more officials then recounted the ballots in order to prepare the final reports to Tegucigalpa.
The new procedures were received favorably. Mitch Cummins, leader of the observers group under Friends of Honduras, an organization created months ago in Washington, DC, said, "One of the most common comments from the observers was that this electoral process was extremely transparent. It would be very difficult to cheat in the polling place." The collective was the largest single group at about 20% of the total number of international observers.
According to observer Pam Casey, "If we had one third of the checks and balances in the States that I have seen here today, we wouldn't have half the problems we do…The rest of the world could take a lesson from Honduras."
West End islander and National Party volunteer Jimmy said, "This is the year of Honduras. We saved our country and now we get to show the world democracy."
Of the five established parties and two independents, Bay Islanders voted for president, deputy to represent the Bay Islands to the central government, and four mayors to the departments of Roatan, Utila, Guanaja and Santos Guardiola. The National Party swept in Roatan, Santos Guardiola, and Guanaja, leaving Utila in Liberal Party hands. National's Romeo Silvestri was elected deputy for the Bay Islands.
Perry Bodden was re-elected as mayor of Jose Santos Guardiola. On future plans, he remarked, "There are many undone projects that I wanted to finish." On the docket for the east end of Roatan are a new city hall, police station, wells, and road infrastructure. Since the shrimp market prices have fallen drastically the past few years, Bodden plans to focus on tourism as a source of supplemental income. Such programs would involve a technical school of tourism, sustainable development of the area's natural attractions such as caves, waterfalls, and national forest, as well as a possible proposal of another cruise ship dock in Santos Guardiola. "I don't want to make the same mistake as in West End. I want to build and not destroy (the environment)."
Alton Cooper, elected for his third term as mayor of Utila, is the only Liberal Party candidate elected in the Bay Islands. Cooper has experience working with both parties, and considers himself a "representative of the people, whether they be Liberal or National," he said after the elections.' 'There was a lot of National Party support here (Utila) and we are honored to have Pepe." Cooper has been working on several projects for Utila which he plans to finish over his next term. Including opening the new stadium, completing a new day care center and kindergarten, and following through with getting university classes on the island through Universidad Metropolitana. Furthermore, Cooper proposes a program integrating sports and education, initiating work on the main dock, and introducing wind generators as an alternative power source.
Richmond Hurlston, also re-elected for a second term as mayor on Guanaja, said this election was the "cleanest and most transparent elections Honduras has seen. This time we could really see people not electing candidates just because of their party. They were really considering the person. This shows that democracy in our country is changing." Hurlston also plans to work on infrastructure such as transportation, environment, and sanitation to attract tourism and investors in order to create job. Two projects Hurlston also plans to finish during his upcoming term will be the airport terminal and the highway from the east end of Guanaja to its airport. Hurlston will also place importance on making the public schools bilingual, improving health clinics, adding 24-hour emergency service, and building recreational parks so kids can focus on sports rather than being tempted by drugs.
Julio Galindo has been serving on the city council having lost the last mayoral election to Dale Jackson in 2005. He served as mayor years before. He stated in an interview with the Bay Islands Voice that "Our Island's biggest problem right now is social issues." With 65-70% unemployment, security, education, and health are top priorities. In addition, he is working on a master development plan, which he describes as "very sustainable," in order to create the right environment for foreign investment. "The government will not provide the jobs, foreign investment will," stated Galindo. To create this environment Galindo must emphasize infrastructure, expanding roads to prepare for higher traffic, building a road from Oak Ridge to Camp Bay, improving sewer systems, educating workers, and promoting Roatan as a destination. Security measures are a considerable question as well. After his victory, Bay Islands Voice asked Galindo what was the first order of business. Julio replied, "Order!"

Supporters for Honduras' National and Liberal Parties flooded the main road in Coxen Hole in front of the polls on Sunday, November 29.
 

Liberal Candidates
Movement El Cambio para vivir Mejor
!

President: Elvin Ernesto Santos
Mayor of Roatan: Dale Henry Jackson
Vice Mayor of Roatan: Emily Julie Lucas
Mayor of Guanaja: Jose Garcia
Mayor of Utila: Alton Cooper
Mayor of Santos Guardiola: Carson Dilbert
Deputy of Bay Islands: Ernesto Wesley

 

National Candidates
Movement Cambio Ya!

President: Porfirio Lobo Sosa
Mayor of Roatan: Julio Cesar Galindo
Vice Mayor of Roatan: Elsa Maria Gomez
Mayor of Guanaja: Richmond Hurlston
Mayor of Utila: Mayon Rivera
Mayor of Santos Guardiola: Perry Bodden
Deputy of Bay Islands: Romeo Silvestri

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If You Had One More Day With a loved One. by George Crimmin

Recently I read an article about this very subject. What I came away with was that when it comes to those we miss, the ordinary is most precious. We may fantasize about a perfect day, something incredible or distant, but the routine is what we actually treasure most. We seem to prefer one more familiar meal, one more enchanted sunset, even one more familiar argument with that departed loved. Perhaps we would ask questions that we longed to have answered. But I believe most of us would just take the opportunity to express the love we feel and the longing that has haunted us for so long.
My grandpa was a visionary; most of what he did was for posterity. That stands in stark contrast to today's ideology. We used to do things for posterity and now it seems we do things for ourselves and leave the bill to posterity. I have always tried to emulate him in this regard. He was a great role model.
As we celebrate the most joyous of seasons this year, let's be especially grateful for the loved ones still in our midst. You never know when, or how soon they will be taken from us.
And finally, may you all have the spirit of Christmas, which is peace. The gladness of Christmas, which is hope. And the heart of Christmas, which is love. Have a blessed Christmas everyone, and a Joyous and Prosperous New Year.

Someone I know recently received a telephone call. "Your brother is dead," the voice on the other end of the line said. Dead? How could this be? She had just seen him a few hours earlier, even kissed him goodnight as he headed out the door. He had died in an automobile accident. No goodbyes, no final hug, just a simple devastating phone call, and he was gone.
Have you ever lost a loved one and wanted one more conversation? One more hour or one more day to tell them how much you loved them? I have pondered this for a long time, and finally decided to put my thoughts on paper and share them. I bet many of you have wondered about the same thing.
If I could, I would like to spend one more day with my grandfather. It has been over five decades since our last day together. My grandfather dreamed of me becoming a Steamship Captain. If I were able to see him again I would start off with a very long hug. We'd go for a walk along the beach, where I would apologize for not becoming a Steamship Captain. But, I would tell him that I became a different kind of captain; an educator who tried to help young people identify their educational goals and pursue their dreams. I would tell him that my grandmother, his wife, lived a long, long life (she survived him by more than two decades) and was comfortable at the end. My grandfather was my pal. I would tell him that I missed him very much and that I never knew how much, until after he was gone. I would introduce him to my wife, his great grandchildren, and his great, great grandchildren - of which I am the proudest. You know, I believe he would be very proud of me too. But above all, I would tell him how much I loved him and how much he meant to me. When my grandfather was alive we planted trees together on our homestead in West End. He literally spent most of his final days watching me grow and learn and I never had the privilege to tell him how much I appreciated all the time he spent with me. Now I am a grandfather, and spending time with my own grandchildren means more to me than words can describe. As I watch them grow and learn I always remember the days spent with grandpa, as I called him. Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock and relive just one more day, even just one more hour with that dear old man. What an incredibly blessed time that would be.

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Opening Day at Mahogany Bay Delayed

Seabourn Legend is First Arrival

Vendors scrambled to complete their retail spaces in anticipation of the upcoming ship schedule. The first vessel to arrive was the Seabourn Legend. Despite heavy rains on that day, the ship arrived at 7a.m. on Saturday, November 28. The 62 x 438 ft. Norwegian ship was small enough to safely cruise through the channel. Specs were completed to receive the first large ship, the Crown Princess, which arrived the following Tuesday on December 1. Mahogany Bay will hold an official Grand Opening at a later date.
Anticipating about 500,000 visitors a year, Mahogany Bay representatives state that around 1,500 jobs, directly or indirectly, will be created as a product of its completion. However, controversy has resulted from the facility's tour guide policies, which restrict independent tour operators. Visitors are encouraged to book shore excursions directly through their specific cruise ship or through the only independent tour agent in the facility, Lena Russell. Tourists are free to book any independent tours they choose online, but are obliged to walk about a half-mile outside the complex to be picked up.

Norwegian Seaborn Legend is the first arrival into Mahogany Bay.

Weather and environmental conditions delayed completion of dredging specifications on the channel leading to Carnival's new cruise ship dock, Mahogany Bay, postponing the first arrival by little over a week. The complex is one of the largest tourism investments of its kind in the Caribbean, and the largest in Honduran history. Construction has taken about one year to erect the more than $60 million dollar facility. .
Final touches on the facility concerned safety, the largest monetary allocation going to the dock, which is required to sustain category-5 hurricane winds and withstand earthquake tremors. Other safety specifications for the complex included 62 closed-circuit security cameras in addition to an emergency vehicle trail, required to remain clear to assist 90-second highway to dock ambulance service.

Road Construction Underway on East End
At Last, Jonesville Road to be Paved

Increasing estimates for paving from about Lps. 11mil. to Lps. 17.5mil., an upgrade from the planned double treatment asphalt to more durable concrete was endorsed by Minister Rosario Bonano, President of Secretaria de Estado en el Despacho de Obras Publicas, Transporte y Vivienda (SOPTRAVI). Paving of the Jonesville Road is contracted to be complete in six months.
After waiting for the completion of these roads since 2000, Perry Bodden, Mayor Santos Guardiola, believes the roads will serve tourism as well as increase real estate values.

Workers begin construction on Jonesville Road.

Construction began in October on the 2km road that leads from the main highway access to the residential section of Jonesville. The project is a joint venture of the Bay Island Development & Construction Corp. (BIDCC) and Professionals in Construction (Pro de Con). Similar to the Punta Gorda road project, this project was an addendum to an existing contract held between these two companies and the central government for road maintenance in Roatan. According to Lynn de Isnardi, Assistant Director BIDCC, the companies are proceeding on their own funds with the promise of contract signatures from the central government. "When the contracts [for Punta Gorda and Jonesville Roads] are signed, we can get paid," said Isnardi.
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Roatan Hospital Hosts Gala Party Fundraiser

New Committee Formed to Help Funds Appropriation

To address these issues and promote the hospital, administration created the Comite de Ayuda Externa (Committee for External Help) for Roatan Hospital. The Gala was the first project of the Committee, who will also handle all collected funds from the event. The Committee is comprised of the following members: Manuel Martinez, Robert Hin, Elias Lizardo, Cesar Gonzales, Kandy Hyde, Raymond Scherrington, and Paul Gale. "What we are trying to do is to create a better administration of the resources," said Sanchez, who helped to set up the Committee.
The event was held to raise money to help alleviate pressing infrastructure problems such as a lack of running water, antibiotics, pain killers, antihypertensive medications, IV fluids, blood bank, as well as eroding equipment and short staff. According to the Committee, until October 2009 the ER had received 25,599 patients (30% from construction companies and hotels), 10,778 outpatient (most who couldn't afford the medications which the hospital had to ask them to provide privately), 752 delivered babies (including 113 C-sections), 458 elective surgeries and 891 emergency surgeries.
More than 400 solicitations and invites were sent out to island businesses, politicians, and off-island businesses for the event. Minimum contributions were $50 per person for the affair which included presentations, a raffle, dinner, and entertainment. Supporting the event were Half Moon Bay Resort, Coconut Tree Divers, Mariposa Lodge, Pepsi, Cerveceria, Industria Itsmania, Mayan Princess Resort, TACA, Municipality of Roatan, Karaoke Dance, chef Dino Silvestri, musician 'Camilo Corea and Altamar', Los Fulanos, and Henry Morgan Resort.

Security stands guard in front of Roatan Hospital.

A gala fundraiser party attracted 144 people to the Henry Morgan Hotel Theatre on the evening of November 5, raising $10,218 for the Hospital de Roatan, the public hospital in Coxen Hole that has been helping the Roatan population since 1991.
According to Jacquie Woods, Roatan Hospital director, demand for services typically increases by 30% per year, though this year's demand exceeded the norm and the hospital's government funds were prematurely exhausted in 2009. "We're working on figuring out exactly what happened," said Dr. Indira Sanchez, coordinator of the hospital's internal consultative committee and a surgeon at the hospital. "This could be because the people who used to pay for medical attention do not have much money, or it could be problems with administration."

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