A Failed State?: If the Shoe Fits

April 25th, 2013
by Alfonso Ebanks

graphic-4-our islands-honduran flag-webThe idea of seceding or seeking autonomy from this country has never looked more necessary. Honduras is all but a failed state, and when it fails it will drag the Bay islands down with it.

There is no consensus definition of a failed state. But check the following criteria and see whether any or all apply to Honduras: a central government so weak and ineffective that is has little practical control over much of its territory and is unable to provide public services; widespread corruption; rampant criminality; and sharp economic decline.

Sound familiar? It should. It describes the state of affairs in Honduras.

Some in government are trying to exclude the Bay Islands from the chaos in this nation as presented in the international media, and that is good. However, it is hard to convince the international community that we are unaffected by what is happening in the rest of the country because we are separated by 30 miles of ocean.

A few years ago a dastardly event occurred in the Vivarios Cays. A sailboat with a couple on board was boarded. The man was killed and thrown overboard. The woman was raped and also thrown overboard. The lady survived and told the story. It reached the international press, and the word “Honduras” became mud.

Sailboats used to stop in the Bay Islands on their way to Rio Dulce. After that incident, they steered clear of us as if we had the plague. Old sailors knew that our islands were safe, and they said so. But it made no difference. Only a few boats that knew the difference would visit us. The others did not venture near, even after being told that it was ok to come to anchorage.

This is what is going to happen to us as soon as Honduras is declared a failed state.

We will have a country in which all rule of law will collapse, and when that happens no one and nothing will be safe.  We will be back to basics, where foodstuffs will have more value than money, and people will eventually begin stealing food and, as the supply dwindles, they will begin killing for it. The Bay Islands acquire 90 percent or more of their provisions from the mainland. It is not hard to imagine what kind of mess we will be in if this supply is cut off.

What can we do to protect ourselves? We could start by asking the Central Government to allow us to control immigration so that we could keep undesirables from coming here and deport those we already have. This is not going to be easy, as the Honduran Constitution guarantees citizens the right to circulate within the national territory. But in recent years it was done in San Andres, Colombia. In an attempt to preserve the culture and language of the Department of San Andres and Providencia, the Colombian government passed a law to limit the migration of people there from the mainland. The law requires Colombian nationals from the mainland to obtain a special permit to move there. Of course this did not apply to tourists.

After we have wrangled this out of the Honduran government, we can request greater autonomy in other areas. When we have rid ourselves of the extra baggage we are carrying, we will have to learn to grow our own food, as we did in the not too distant past. We could try to renew our ties with the British Commonwealth nations that are near to our shores and that at one time were our trading partners and our compatriots.

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