story / editorial
Hallelujah, the Fish will Live
Celebrates Honduras' 189 Years of Independence with a New Tradition:
Setting their Marlin Free
mother wipes perspiration from the forehead of her daughter
in a September 15 parade.
annual Roatan Municipal Fishing Tournament became the island's
first catch-and-release tournament. After many years of
trying and just as many years of excuses, the catch-and-release
tournament replaced the catch-and-kill tradition on Roatan.
In the three days of fishing, 14 blue marlin were caught
and released, but surprisingly not a single white marlin,
sailfish, or spearfish.
signs of dwindling billfish populations are all around.
Omoa's deep sea fishing tournament in March ended with not
a single marlin caught. "We need to conserve our resources
before it's too late," said Roatan's Mayor Julio Galindo.
Still, not everyone was happy with the tournament becoming
catch-and-release. According to Mayor Julio Galindo a couple
boats based in Puerto Cortez decided not to attend the tournament
specifically because it was catch-and-release.
opinion was in a definite minority and some travelled very
far to attend the event. One of them was Robin King, a sports
fishermen from San Antonio, Texas. King studied the map
of the Caribbean and considered their options for a once-a-year
deep sea fishing tournament: Dominican Republic, Costa Rica,
Panama and Guatemala. He finally chose Roatan and made three
trips to the island checking out its security, facilities
and establishing personal contacts. He and 11 of his friends
are now looking to bring their three boats and keep them
sports fisherman like King are likely to discover Roatan,
which is well placed to take advantage of the flight of
tourists from Mexico, increasingly mired by drug related
violence. King has been sport fishing and tournament fishing
in Isla Mujeres, Mexico for 25 years. When two years ago
his captain was kidnapped by the Zeta cartel, King raised
$10,000 for the ransom. This was a tipping point for King
and many of his American fishing friends who decided that
the security concerns were a bit too much and decided to
look for another place to fish and holiday.
on dry land in West End after a day of fishing, hundreds
of West End visitors watched videos of the boat crews hooking
the blue marlin, then spending hours reeling them in, unhooking
them and making sure they were alert enough to be released.
The videos proved captivating for the island audience that
lined up in front of the main West End festival stage and
its screen projector. "People love to see fish hanging
from the posts, so we need to do a better job showing videos
of the fish on a larger screen," said Mayor Galindo.
place winners receive their prize. Reel Doctor out of Lawson
Rock. Mayor Julio Galindo, Giacomo Pascuale, Robin King, Bubba
Jensen, Gary McLaughlin, Greg Baldwin, Shaun King.
fishing tournament is quite different from most fishing tournaments
in the Caribbean. While after 10 years, the tournament originators
have finally embraced the Catch and Release model, its fees and
prizes are some of the lowest and barely stand up to the Caribbean
average. It costs $300 to register a boat for the tournament.
"Because of the hard economic times, the committee decided
that it was a fair price," explained Ana Svoboda, one of
the tournament organizers. It barely registers on the scales of
the tournaments that attract hundreds of boats and charge thousands
for the privilege of participation.
to King, many of the Caribbean fishing tournaments charge as much
as $10,000 for boat registration. That doesn't include the 50%
prize claim that is auctioned off to the highest bidder and entitles
them to earn 50% of that boat's winners. The funds raised in the
auction are usually given for charity.
Roatan tournament's biggest prize was blue marlin and brought
in the most points--300. White marlin and spearfish brought
in 200 points, and catching a sailfish got you 150 points.
The tournament organizers awarded 50 bonus points for "clean
hook removal" supported by video evidence. Green, orange
and red banners with numbers indicating the day of the tournament
had to be visible in videos submitted as proof of catching
Unlike the catch and tag system, the catch and release system
doesn't assure that some billfish are not caught twice by
the same or competing vessels during the tournament.
a tournament boat caught a marlin that was bigger than the
record marlin of 708 lb, the marlin could be killed and brought
in for weigh-in. If the marlin was smaller than the record,
according to the rule book, that boat would be automatically
disqualified from the tournament. In 2008, a record 708 lb
blue marlin was caught during the Roatan Fishing tournament.
boats registered for the tournament, one coming from Cayman
Islands. After three days of fishing, on September 19, the
tournament winner was announced: Treasure Chest, a 52-foot
boat stationed in Puerto Cortez, captained by Arturo Estrada.
Captain Estrada amassed 1,000 points from three blue marlin.
The first marlin was caught on the first day of the tournament,
around three miles north of Barbareta. On the second day,
the crew caught two more marlin. "We hooked another six
marlin, but they got away," said Julio Molina, one of
the boat's crew.
tournament's Sportsmanship award was awarded to the boat that
came to the rescue of Erik McKenzie's "Tequila Sunrise"
boat that ran into engine problems and needed towing, but
the prize has not yet been claimed. The Grand Slam award,
rewarding the catching of three different billfish species,
went unclaimed. The Best Fish Story award went to Robin King,
who's boat Reel Doctor: captained by Greg Baldwin took in
second prize in billfish.
Utila's first catch-and-release event occurred in July 2009,
Roatan has tried the catch-and-release for the first time
this year. The coveted Roatan tradition of taking pictures
with dead fish hanging by their tails was replaced with taking
videos of catching the fish. Guanaja, with its October 21-24
deep sea fishing tournament, is also scheduled to also be
a catch and release event.
school band in front of Juan Brooks School.
on September 15
15th of September is celebrated as Independence Day all over Central
America. On that day in 1821, Spain granted independence to Central
American provinces. In 1822 the United Central American Provinces
decided to join the Federal Republic of Central America.
transition to statehood was difficult as the five provinces--Guatemala,
El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica--had conflicting
interests and were often at odds with the central government in
Guatemala City. Political chaos ensued and an almost permanent civil
war between liberals and conservatives existed.
Honduran General Francisco Morazán was the president of the
republic from 1830 and attempted to introduce reforms. His attempts
failed, however, as by 1838 the federation was in such chaos that
it disintegrated into five independent nations. Still, it is September
15 that is celebrated in Honduras as its day of independence. On
September 14 and 15 parades of schoolchildren accompanied by school
military-style bands mark the anniversary.
several months prior to the parades children in schools from across
the country practice playing their instruments, marching and singing.
While Coxen Hole sees the biggest school parades, they are by no
means the only parades on Roatan. First to mark the occasion this
year were the schools in Sandy Bay, in the rain on the morning of
September 14. The parades in French Harbour began before 7am on
September 15. There were parades in Oak Ridge as well.
hundred of spectators watched, mothers kept their parading children
hydrated with bottles of water and used towels to wipe away sweat
during the increasing heat of the day. Around 10am a few of the
young girls in fine dresses barely avoided fainting and had to take
a break to sit down.
story / editorial
/ local news
______________back to top
Our Political Leaders Tell me Thinking Otherwise Would be
willingness to assimilate the Muslim religion into their
culture has only improved Islam's ability to become a more
dominant force, and to grow in converts. Islam is a religion
of strength and simplicity and is growing increasingly attractive
to many Westerners confused by the constantly questioned,
eroding and esoteric values of their parents.
the last 15 years, I have been invited and coerced to convert
to Islam several times: in Albania, Somaliland and Iran,
to mention a few places. In March, a couple of these attempts
took place during my three week stay in Khartoum, Sudan.
"On Friday, we'll take you to a mosque and make you
a Muslim," said Ali, the president of the Blue Nile
Sailing Club where I was staying. Fortunately, I have spent
enough time in Muslim countries to know how to respond without
escalating this into a confrontation.
wasn't the only person who was invited to convert "to
the religion of peace." While many may have missed
it, every American has officially been asked to convert.
In a September 2007 video Osama Bin Laden addressed American
people: "I invite you to embrace Islam" in order
to achieve your "desire to stop the war in Iraq and
show 'warmongering' major corporations that you have lost
confidence in your democratic system."
and Sheikh Osama follow in the footsteps of their prophet
who in 628 wrote an invitation to rulers of Byzantine, Persia,
Abyssinia, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain. "I invite you
to Islam and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and
Allah will double your reward," read his letter. Today
only one, Abyssinia- Ethopia, of these countries is still
not majority Muslim.
political leaders assure us that any fear of Islam is unreasenable,
unfounded, that more then Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity,
"Islam is a religion of peace" and that "we
have a lot to learn from Islam." I could also tell
you that calendar dates and invitations to convert are just
coincidences and unrelated facts. I however believe that
history is meant to educate us about the context of our
reality and help us avoid repeating mistakes.
forces come to the rescue of Vienna
I was born in Poland, and I'd like to think that on September
11, Polish forces saved one of the greatest cities of Western
civilization. In a great battle 18,000 Polish mounted hussars
came to the rescue of Vienna, surrounded by 250,000 Muslim
forces and ready to fall. The year was 1683 and the moment
marked the high-water of Turkish and Muslim expansion in
Europe. 318 years later to the day, two planes flew into
the World Trade Center towers, marking a new chapter in
a war that most people in the West never knew existed.
seem more engrossed in a campaign to assimilate Islam into
Western society than into understanding the context and
strategies of the militant Islam determined to expand into
the heart of Western civilizations. While the construction
of the Ground Zero Cordoba Mosque is raising so much controversy,
the largest mosque in Europe is planned to be erected right
next to and tower over the London's 2012 Olympic Stadium.
Just like most New Yorkers, majority of Londoners aren't
too happy about that either, but my leaders tell me that
the location is just a coincidence and that thinking otherwise
would be insensitive. The London mega-mosque is meant to
accommodate 12,000 people, and its image will appear in
every aerial shot of the London's Olympic venues.
story / george
/ local news
By Thomas Tomczyk
and Dance Rock Punta Gorda
the last five years, the Punta Gorda town has become less
and less exclusively Garifuna. The ladino community has
grown steadily in size and recently opened its evangelical
church. Instead of the Garifuna language, Spanish is being
heard more and more.
east of Roatan is booming. There are new bed and breakfasts,
bars and plenty of new homes and fixed up old ones. Punta
Gorda town has received a paved, concrete road, for at least
a portion of the community. Still, instead of the Central
Government's promise to pave the entire Punta Gorda road,
only around 25% has been paved so far. About 600 meters
of the road has been paved from the main east end road entrance
to about 100 meters past the Cinco Hermanos Hotel.
the "Halangante Garinagu" festival, five bands
played music on a beach stage, contests for children and
grownups were held, and a Garifuna landing on Roatan was
re-enacted. Karla Leiva, coordinator of the carnival, said
that the biggest help came from sponsors such as Galaxy,
Gallo Mas Gallo, Bojangles and Sun Supermarket. According
to Leiva, four other events will take place before the end
of the year.
dancers in front of the Church
The first festival of "Halangante Garinagu" took
place on September 12 in Punta Gorda with the idea of protecting
and strengthening Garifuna culture. Local Garifuna leaders
feel that their culture needs more protection as its identity
and purity is being increasingly under threat. While Punta
Gorda hosts an annual April 12 Garifuna Landing celebration,
the "Halangante Garinagu" is the first festival
of its kind.
Forgotten Yellow Building
By Thomas Tomczyk
Harbour Community Center Moves Library, Expected to Host other
the Roatan Municipality continued to pay the electrical
bill for the facility and the salary for its one librarian/cleaning
person. The majority of the much underutilized, forgotten
resource remained vacant with the roughly 36-meter square
room designed for drivers education never once opened.
some Roatanians however, the local library is a place where
young people can spend time in a quiet, structured environment.
"It's a place of refuge. Somewhere where kids come
eager to be helped," says Joann Dixon, the librarian.
a couple of months the center is expected to house offices
for French Harbour Water Board, APESCA offices, Government
liaison office of Evans McNab, and ZOLITUR offices. According
to Mayor Galindo, the relocation of ZOLITUR offices to down
town French Harbour will help in generating foot traffic
to the town and help struggling local businesses.
move is not all that good for the library and its resources.
The library now operates out of a new space that is three-quarters
smaller than the original space. Many quality, handcrafted,
donated bookshelves and hundreds of books could not be fit
into the space. Some books were sold for a dollar a piece;
others placed in boxes and shipped out.
crowded new space of the library in French Harbour.
The library at French Harbour's Jared Hynds Community Center
opened its doors in January 2006 with 200 people in attendance
and much fanfare. It was the last accomplishment in the
Mayor Jerry Hynds' administration and opened days before
he handed off power to Mayor Dale Jackson.
not just a building. It's a purpose," said Catherine
McCabe on the day of the opening. McCabe, an American retiree,
was instrumental in creating the center and donated 3,000
of her own books to the library. The purpose of the building
is changing. The 6,500 square foot building was intended
as a place where you could rent a book, grab a coffee and
surf the net. A drivers-ed center and even a post office
were envisioned to eventually open there. None of these
ever opened and the building fell away from mind to the
point that Roatan Municipal council members didn't even
realized it was there.
story / editorial
By Thomas Tomczyk
New Roatan Hospital can still Happen, 20 Acres of Municipal Property
in Dixon Cove are at Risk
[Jackson] started construction using his equipment two days after
closing [June 2007] on the property," said Gary Evans, a property
owner of Bay Islands Environmental Equipment Rental in Dixon Cove.
According to Mayor Jackson, SERNA issued an environmental license
for the project on February 6, 2009. However, for almost two years
prior, the site work proceeded without national SERNA permits, with
dozens of large trees cut, roughly 75,000-100,000 cubic yards of
soil removed from the site and the entire Dixon gully rerouted.
"It was all about the Dale Jackson stadium for Arsenal [football
club]; the hospital was just a secondary thing," said Evans.
erosion from the site has allowed silt to be carried directly into
Dixon's Cove. "As usual, there was no independent authority
to oversee the project. The Municipal authorities were able to issue
their own permit, contract the work to be performed, and then wash
their hands of responsibility for the consequences. It's like having
a fox watching the henhouse." said Charles George, who for
over 17 years has been operating Vegas Electric on a neighboring
audit of the Roatan Municipality by Honduras' Tribunal de Cuentas
took place in January and February, and while its findings have
not yet been released, several Roatan Municipal city council members
that signed the Dixon Cove purchase agreement feel they are now
in "hot water."
the eight acre land site was eventually secured for the hospital,
the road access to it was not. Evans is considering legal action
to regain ownership and control over 20 foot by 320 foot land piece
that is the only way to access the Municipal and hospital land.
Evans also claims ownership of two of the 20 acres Roatan Municipality
attempted to purchased from Sarah James. These two acres happen
to overlap the road access constructed to the hospital piece.
a last chance for Roatan municipality, according to Mayor Julio
Galindo, Sarah Jarvis James agreed in writing to give Roatan Municipality
extra time, until December 2010, to pay the remaining balance of
the transaction. If that does not happen, the Municipal land will
default back to James and the Lps. 13 million already spent on the
purchase as well as additional moneys spent on the grading will
funds for constructing the hospital are there. Over the last several
years funding for the hospital has changed from the South Korean
government to Banco Interamericano de Integration Economica. Currently,
Mayor Galindo says that the President Lobo administration has set
aside $28 million for the construction of the Roatan Hospital. The
funds came from a forgiven loan repayment by the Spanish government.
For now, if all goes well, groundbreaking is scheduled for March
Jackson's construction company begins work on the site in June 2007.
(Photo courtesy of Gary Evans)
ongoing drama of Roatan finally getting a new hospital has hit another
low note. While the Roatan Municipality paid off the eight acre
hospital site on a hilltop in Dixon Cove, the remaining 20 acres
are at risk. Originally, the site was envisioned for a municipal
stadium for 7,000 people, but Roatan Municipality is at risk of
defaulting on the property without having even secured right-of-way
access to the hospital site.
28-acre Dixon Cove purchase was the single biggest land purchase
in the history of Roatan Municipality. In June 2007 then-mayor Dale
Jackson agreed to pay Lps. 19 million ($1 million), or $36,000 an
acre, in 36 monthly payments. However the Jackson administration
did not pay off the land as scheduled and with Lps. 6 million still
owed to property owner Sarah Jarvis James, the 20-acre property
is in default and could be reclaimed by its owner.
purchased the land as a "domino plano" from the Roatan
Municipality in 1992 and, according to lawyer Melvin Rosales, "paid
only 10% of the 80,000 Lempiras for it." Four years later she
was offered Lps. 19 million for it. Rosales, in 2008 has placed
a denuncia against Mayor Jackson, and Sarah James as accessory.
"They [Municipality] could have found much better land, closer
to the main road and flatter. We didn't need to pay excessive price
for it," said Rosales. Indeed, much of the land in Dixon Cove
is on a 30% slope, difficult to get to, to built on, and expensive
hastily done purchase has not only placed municipal dollars at risk,
it has also delayed and greatly complicated the future of a new
120 bed Roatan hospital. International airlines demand the hospital,
expat retirees want it, and 65,000 islanders count on it to ensure
the island's future growth and prosperity. Fulfillment of this need
has been delayed and placed in jeopardy.
anything in the purchase was done correctly. The Roatan Municipality
didn't advertise that it was looking for a suitable piece of land
to give other landowners the opportunity to offer better land and
better prices. Road access to the land chosen was never secured
Jackson said that he purchased the property as an "emergency
purchase" allowing him to circumvent the public bid process
and approval of the entire Roatan municipal corporation. Public
bid is required when items considered for purchase are over Lps.
1.7 million. While Mayor Jackson acted with the advice of the Municipal
lawyer, it looks like that advice was misguided.