British Ambassador Listens
Voices Longing for BI Independence and Autonomy Heard at the Meeting

July 1st, 2011
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An islander woman shows British Ambassador her old document

An islander woman shows British Ambassador her old document

While Bay Islanders are more likely to drive on the left side of the road than play cricket, rugby or drink five o’clock tea, … they were keen to explore their British roots and possible claims to violation of the Honduras-British treaty the two countries signed in 1859 giving the Bay Islands to Honduras.

A June 20 meeting at the French Harbour Pentecostal church brought together Julie Chappell, 33, British Ambassador to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and around 200 islanders and half a dozen local government representatives. The meeting took place with the presence of Shawn Hyde, Bay Islands Governor, Municipal representatives and Mathew Harper HM’s Honorary Consul to the Bay Islands.

A Roatanian woman raised an issue of Bay Islanders wanting independence. “In terms of independence. It is difficult for me to comment. Best thing is to put it formally down,” said Chappell, who suggested Honduras could apply to become a member of Commonwealth based on Bay Islands’ ties with Britain. The Commonwealth is an intergovernmental organization of 54 independent member states and two of them: Mozambique and Rwanda, don’t have historical ties to Great Britain as well as two applicant states of Algeria and Madagascar. Belize and Cayman islands are part of Commonwealth.

After serving for British Foreign Service in Iraq and Ethiopia, Ms. Chappell was posted in her first posting as an ambassador in Guatemala in 2009. “Its [the ambassador’s visit] an opportunity to reestablish communications with the British government directly,” said Governor Hyde.

Ambassador Chappell mentioned the British government potential interest in helping the Bay Islands in three fields: possible British involvement in development of green energy on the Bay Islands, maritime expert education at Universities in Edinborough, and investment in tourism projects. “In 1918 half of foreign trade of Latin America was with Great Britain. Today that number is less that one percent and current British Government wants to expand that,” said Chappell. [/private]

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