story / george
Party Prevails in 2009 Elections
by Jennifer Mathews Photos by Benjamin Roberts
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
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
were kept open an hour after scheduled closing via orders
from Tegucigalpa. Here, residents vote in Los Fuertes.
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
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.
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
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!"
for Honduras' National and Liberal Parties flooded the main
road in Coxen Hole in front of the polls on Sunday, November
Movement El Cambio para vivir Mejor!
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
Movement Cambio Ya!
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
story / george
/ local news
______________back to top
You Had One More Day With a loved One.
by George Crimmin
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
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
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.
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.
story / george
/ local news
Day at Mahogany Bay Delayed
Legend is First Arrival
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.
Seaborn Legend is the first arrival into Mahogany Bay.
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.
Construction Underway on East End
Last, Jonesville Road to be Paved
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.
begin construction on Jonesville Road.
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.
story / george
Hospital Hosts Gala Party Fundraiser
Committee Formed to Help Funds Appropriation
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.
stands guard in front of Roatan Hospital.
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."