story / editorial
/ local news
and Photos by Thomas Tomczyk
race for Mayor of Roatan, the biggest prize in the 2005 Bay
Islands elections, is heating up. It is the mayor of Roatan,
not the B.I. Congressman, or the department's Governor, who
is the most powerful person on the Bay Islands. As the municipal
stands at the crossroads of deciding it development priorities,
the 2005 elections are likely to be crucial to Roatan's future,
unlike in Jose Santos Guardiola, Guanaja, or even on Utila.
The Roatan Mayor will likely be again the powerbroker of one
of the fastest growing and income generating municipals in
the country. Bay Islands VOICE talked to the two main candidates
in the November elections.
and unafraid to speak his mind, he is called by many "Don"
Julio, in Honduras and on the Bay Islands in particular
a seldom used term of respect. Julio Galindo begun his
political life in 1970 as mayor of Roatan. He gave-up
his position four years later to his vice-mayor John J.
Woods and devoted himself entirely to business until 1990,
when for four years he served as Bay Islands' congressman.
In early 1990s he was instrumental
in conceptualizing and creating [Proyecto Manejo Ambiental
Islas de la Bahia] PMAIB. Throughout all his life he has
been involved in causes and programs for improvement of
social issues: healthcare, potable water, and drug dependency
Julio Galindo, 61, is the son of
Polo Galindo and Margarita Sosa de Galindo of Trujillo.
Julio has been married for 40 years to Cheryl Woods de
Galindo with whom he has three children: Julio Jr., Samir
and daughter, Haydee. He was born in Coxen Hole, attended
its Juan Brooks School and then Manuel Bonilla High School
in La Ceiba and Instituto Central in Tegucigalpa. He was
a merchant seaman in the US, after coming back to Bay
Islands he was elected Roatan's mayor, the youngest mayor
the country has seen.
Galindo has owned Anthony's Key
Resort (AKR) since 1979 and has made it into an efficient,
family run operation. Twenty six years later Julio lets
his children do most of the day to day managing of the
AKR has 56 rooms and each year the resort accommodates
5,500 week long visitors. Galindo also owns an aquarium
in Curaçao and another one in the Dominican Republic.
Institute of Marine Sciences, part of AKR is currently
expanding its dolphin program to Osgood Cay in Coxen Hole.
Julio has been a member of "Nine
Tops," Roatan's legendary baseball team and played
catcher and first base until his early 40s. In his latter
years Julio's passions for baseball and sport fishing
were replaced by gardening and growing orchards. In the
last nine years he has developed a garden of 160 species
of palm trees and exotic tropical fruit trees, many of
them threatened, but once native to Roatan.
Jackson, 38, was born in French Harbour. He spent nine
years attending French Harbour Seventh Day Adventist School
then a semester at a high school in Florida and graduated
after two years from Florida's Taylor County Technical
Institute, where he studied mechanical engineering. While
in school Dale pursued his other passion in life- music,
and toured all over the US in country gospel bands playing
guitar. In fact, Dale can play just about any musical
instrument, and over the years he assembled a collection
of over 20 guitars.
At 19, Dale came back to Roatan and worked as a shrimp
and lobster boat captain. "I made a bet with my father
[Henry Jackson] that if he gave me a $500,000 fishing
vessel I wouldn't come back till it was paid-off,"
Nineteen years later he still works
with his father with whom he owns Jackson Industries,
a French Harbour fishing company. Dale is also a manager-owner
of Diamond Jack, an equipment and construction company
he started in 1997 that now employs over 60 people.
Dale has been married to his wife Jill for 18 years, with
whom he has three daughters: Dalene, Dalenna and Devonne.
In his first campaign for office
Dale took as running mate, Delzie Jackson Rosales, veteran
city council member on whom he can count for experience
and support on the west end of the island.
He calls himself a "God fearing
man" and says that he has never had a drink in his
life. Dale doesn't like the glitz of expensive watches,
or jewelry, but he does have a fondness for big things
and is not hesitant to show them. Dale is likely to have
the island's biggest lawn, most prominent house, biggest
election poster and his F-350 SuperDuty truck is likely
one of the biggest on the island.
Dale insists that his main motivation is to make people
smile. Dale, the artist and entertainer' often appears
in his business and political life.
He can be charming and entertaining,
but at the same time he doesn't hesitate to openly criticize
his political opponents. He is conscious enough about
his image, that he asked, and had an opportunity to review
this interview before publication.
Islands VOICE: Why do you want to be a mayor again?
Julio Galindo: Roatan has changed drastically and Roatan
needs someone who has a lot of experience, someone who is open and
can think ahead. I know I can do something for Roatan and I am giving
the people a chance to elect someone to carry them through rough
) I give myself 90 days once I come into the municipality
and you are going to see some drastic changes on the island. My
first number one thing I want is law and order. We cannot live in
a community where people can do whatever they want without being
punished for it. The only medicine for crime is punishment.
B.I.V.: If elected, are you thinking of running for two terms?
J.G.: If I get elected, I want to do four good years. I want
to spend the necessary time in the municipality, so I could leave
the proper guidelines for whoever else comes in. In four years I
can put Roatan on the right track. Four years would be plenty. At
my age I'd be 65 and I need to have a little fun after that.
B.I.V.: What would you do as a mayor that Dale Jackson, wouldn't
be able to do?
J.G.: Dale doesn't have the experience that I have. Dale
isn't looking at the real picture of Roatan. Roatan needs someone
with a good insight. Dale might be a good guy, but there are big
health problems, security problems, educational problems, infrastructure
PHOTO: Julio in the lobby of his Anthony's Key Resort. ABOVE:
Julio Galindo talks to one of his constituents in recently flooded
barrio El Swampo of Coxen Hole. Julio and Shawn Hyde set-up
a schedule to see personally every part of the Roatan Municipal.
How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
J.G.: I can communicate with people, I can listen to people,
and I have managed an operation with a lot of departments. I have
hired people when I needed help and it has worked for us. If I hear
a better idea than mine I use it. (
) Jerry and I are good
friends. I like Jerry, but we all have weakness in our lives and
Jerry has one particular weakness that is not good from a management
point of view. I think a good manager hires help where he is weak.
I've begged Jerry: 'You need to get an advisory board. You are not
god. Sometimes you think you're an engineer, you're a pilot, you're
a captain, you're a doctor, you're a lawyer. And you are not. You
need to be advised and you're not. Roatan municipality needs a good
manager right now when we are managing Lps. 60 million and a big
community, 65,000 people who are counting on you.
B.I.V.: What is your biggest weakness?
J.G.: My biggest weakness that I tend to have is that I tend
to have a big heart and I tend to ease-up to people when sometime
B.I.V.: Are you thinking of getting rid of that weakness?
J.G.: I am thinking about getting somebody to handle these
situations for me. I have to run from those [situations].
B.I.V.: Jerry, Dale, you are all business owners. Do you
see a potential conflict of interest in yourself, or for Dale of
running a business that could be directly benefited from your, or
his position as a mayor?
J.G.: I don't see that at all in our case because our business
is strictly based on people coming from foreign countries. Dale
is in the road construction business and concrete business. It could
be very conflictive for him. (
) If you are in the municipality
you can't give yourself the jobs. You got to bid those out and get
not only the best price, but the best guy that can give you the
best work for your dollar.
B.I.V.: What are the best things that you saw happened in
the last four years?
J.G.: I think Jerry believes in building roads, but Jerry
has forgotten about the social problems in Roatan. We can't have
that. We are more fragile than any other place in the country. I
am not against big development. I like big development, but I think
we need some compensation from these big developments. We need to
get these big developers, the guys that are building the $1 million
condominiums, to be financing some of the low income homes for local
) They should be compensating the areas they are
building in. (
) I see people are coming in and building condos,
but it is not a long term investment. Do these people care what
is going to happen down the line? We have to stay here and we need
these investments to be solid and sustainable. People are coming
in to make a quick dollar. It's not their fault, it is the government's
fault because they are letting them get away with it. (
defend foreign investment and I am forever telling my people: 'you
can't like dollars and not like Americans.'
B.I.V.: How can the next mayor help to address the issue
of land disputes and property rights? What about linking catastro
and land registry?
) That needs to be corrected. We need to coordinate
these offices together. (
) We need to have people between
the offices working closely together.
B.I.V.: Are you thinking about any particular changes in
J.G.: I don't see any reason for raising taxes. I see it
important to collect the taxes that are here. I see a lot of people
that are not being fair with their tax share burden.
B.I.V.: In 1960 the island used to be one municipal. Can
joining JSG and Roatan municipal remedy some of the problems that
JSG is having?
J.G.: I think that we should have one municipality. People
talk about losing their identity, but that's not necessarily true.
We could have a mayor that could be from Oak Ridge. I see the municipal
corporation in Oak Ridge as being in a bankrupt situation. (
We need leadership. We need to get together with people in that
municipality and talk about it. It's completely up to the people
of the two municipalities to accept that.
B.I.V.: It looks like the Corozal garbage dump is almost
full. What are you, as mayor, prepared to do about the garbage disposal
J.G.: Originally I offered PMAIB to put a garbage dump in
a different area. I offered them some acres, but they didn't accept
it because they needed to build a road to the area. (
two years this [garbage dump] will be full. We need not only to
look at another place, but [at] expanding the lifespan of the current
by handling the garbage a lot better than we currently
How do you see the relationship between Roatan and the Central governmen.
We need much better communication between Roatan and the Central
government. We need to sit down and plan with our congressman: 'this
is what we want budgeted on Roatan from the Central government.'
We accomplished a lot of things when I was in office [as congressman]
that Roatan is living-off today. We approved a law allowing foreigners
to buy property here. I was the one who got the airport on Roatan
to become international.
B.I.V.: How would you address the drug addiction problem
on the island?
J.G.: When I was in congress, we had an organization called
"Parents against Drugs," and we run all the druggies off
the island. It is something we have to do again. We can't afford
for our kids to be wasting themselves. (
) People know from
which house people are selling drugs and no one is doing anything
about it. Who is going to solve the problems on Roatan are not people
from Tegucigalpa, from La Ceiba, but people that live here.
Islands VOICE: Why do you want to be the mayor of Roatan?
Dale Jackson: Roatan had seen in the past eight years drastical
change in approach from government. (
) It has been a whole
lot different than what we had before, and someone needs to stand
up and continue what has been started. If you support Dale and
our current mayor who is running for congress, you're supporting
what has happened in the past eight years. If you do not support
me, you're against Roatan, progress and prosperity. It's very
simple. Although I've nothing to do with any government at this
time, I've worked directly, hand in hand with the municipality,
with my good friend, our mayor, Jerry Hynds, I've seen what it
takes to make it happen. I have a huge, a huge amount of knowledge
[and] expertise on what it takes to see smiling faces on people.
B.I.V.: What would you do as mayor that Julio Galindo wouldn't
D.J.: Their entire group has been there before. Why should
they have the opportunity again? I, I would create a smiling face
on each and every inhabitant of this municipality.
) Equality, opportunity, democracy
and every single
person would have an opportunity to get what they deserve. Because
whether you pay tax or not, you're a human being and you deserve
to get peace of the pie.
B.I.V.: If elected this time would you consider running
for another term?
D.J.: I am going to cross this one day at a time. I am
going to let the public decide that. But if God permits me to
live, if He provides us with health, there will be a tremendous
change and continuation of what you've seen. Coxen Hole, Los Fuertes,
Flowers Bay will never look the same. People will see me work
with them for four years, and they'll decide. I promise you, they
will be happy.
B.I.V.: Would you be ready to work with Shawn Hyde as well
as with Jerry Hynds?
D.J.: There will be no problem. Shawn Hyde sand I grew
up together so I know Shawn real well.
B.I.V.: Do you think it's a good for Roatan to have two
municipals: one despairingly wealthy, other one poor? Would you
be interested in making an effort to join the two municipals?
D.J.: Dale intents to be mayor elected by the people for
the people and to serve the people. (
) I'll let the people
of the municipality decide. I am sure there's some paper work
to be done on it. Some research to be done.
B.I.V.: What is your plan for providing a new garbage dump
for Roatan in the coming future?
D.J.: I am not the smartest person on earth, but in the
case of mayor [-al candidates] I have the most knowledge of infrastructure.
I built the garbage dump in Mud Hole. I know how to build it and
I built it under government terms. If I had to do it as mayor,
I'll do it for a whole lot cheaper. (
) We have to see whether
we are prepared at this time to do [an] incinerator plant. If
compacted right, it [the dump] should be around for another decade.
I know about it. I built it.
B.I.V.: Do you think the current maintenance of the dump
is done correctly?
D.J.: They're doing their best with it. It's a costly operation
and I am sure they're doing all what's within their reach to do
it right. Remember it's [the dump] prepared to go 40 meters high
and I don't think it's gone two [meters] yet.
B.I.V.: Can you describe yourself in three adjectives?
D.J.: Happy, caring and sharing.
B.I.V.: What is your biggest fault as a person?
D.J.: My biggest fault is not finding a day that has forty
eight hours, or not [being] able to find the day that has forty
eight hours in order to do more for my community.
B.I.V.: Does this mean you have difficulty delegating some
of the responsibilities?
D.J.: I have no problem with it. I've always had great
luck in surrounding myself with smart people. (
) Dale understands
that he cannot do it all so he is willing to delegate. But there
is so much to do. There are so much people out there starving,
so much people living in misery. So someone has to do something
and I find joy in bringing happiness to them.
Do you feel that your relative inexperience in public service
is hurting you?
D.J.: I will not say that. (
) I worked side by side
with our current mayor in five elections. I know what it takes
to win. (
) I have the experience to do it, but most of all
I know about bringing happiness and bringing people together.
You 'ought to remember that the Christian world, the church world
is behind Dale a 100 percent.
B.I.V.: Are you going to do any tax structure changes if
) No, Sir. No tax changes, I am satisfied
with what I see. What we need is someone in congress to pull some
money back from the government to our beautiful island. (
It's not the amount of tax money we pay; it's what the politicians
do with it. Whether it goes to their pockets, or whether it goes
to the town.
B.I.V.: What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge
in the next four years? What do you think the three top issues
on your agenda are going to be?
D.J.: Infrastructure, university, health expansion. We
should not invest any longer in the small hospital- we need to
get outside. And that's where Dale comes in. Dale [is on top]
of infrastructure as a candidate... (
) I promise to go to
all the small communities and build colleges and schools, to keep
them from having to leave there home towns. (
) With Dale
Jackson employment will not be an issue anymore.
B.I.V.: Do you see you running a construction business
and being a mayor at the same time as creating a conflict of interests?
D.J.: I am not envious and I am not selfish. Dale Jackson
is into the construction business. Dale Jackson had sold equipment:
backhoes and trucks to people who then immediately go out into
town and compete against me. I do not take that as been envious,
or selfish. (
) How many hotels has my opponent started off
with his employees and told them: 'here is the opportunity to
take six dolphins, build a pen and make money off of it.' (
We have to give opportunity to others and Dale will. He'll be
the same person in office as he is now.
PHOTO: Dale in front of his Brick Bay home- the islands
second largest and the most photographed. ABOVE: Dale keeps
two guitars at his Diamond Jack office and plays them for
enjoyment and to entertain guests.
So you're saying: 'your morality, who you are as a person, will
keep you honest.'
D.J.: I've done a lot of work for the municipality. What
I've done had to be done only once. (
) I've done it with
pride and I've done it the best that I can. I have no intentions
of touching what is not mine, or trying to push municipal work
to my company.
B.I.V.: What are your ideas, or plans of how to tackle
the drug problems among the Roatan population?
D.J.: A gentleman by the name of Darrell Upshaw is one
of the leaders of D.A.R.E. in Florida and we've already been in
touch with him. (
) He is willing to come down whenever I
B.I.V.: How would you approach and develop tourism if elected?
D.J.: My tourism plan has three parts: one- bombard the
world with info and publicity on Roatan. Two- create a better
image for tourist that visits us in order to get a better return.
Three- compart [share] our funds and income received from tourism
with all our island folks. (
) Dale's tourism plan [is to]
bring tourism to every single corner of this island. [I want to
give an] opportunity for taxi drivers to get piece of the pie,
opportunity for bus drivers, (
) opportunity for everybody
to get a piece not one particular person.
B.I.V.: How, as mayor, would you ensure the protection
of the environment on Roatan?
D.J.: People are trying to protect the wrong environment.
I am not saying that the environment where the iguanas live and
the fish live does not have to be protected. [But,] first and
foremost I am going to protect, uplift and upgrade the environment
where the human race lives. There are starving people, people
dying from sicknesses each day in our communities. Those are the
environmental areas that Dale is going to touch first.
story / editorial
/ local news
______________back to top
Catch and/or/not Release by
have an annual fishing tournament that attracts people from
far and wide is great. To catch dozens of billfish, kill them
just for photos is not.
In this year's West End Fishing Tournament over a dozen marlins,
swordfish and sailfish were caught, killed and than dumped
as garbage. As their only purpose is to serve as backdrop
for trophy pictures and their meat is not considered well
enough for typical culinary purposes, their carcasses are
dumped into the sea.
A fishing tournament, especially organized under the patronage
of local government, should ensure that it has followed the
safest, and most environment protecting procedures. To be
associated with a catch-and-release tournament doesn't only
sound better, it is better.
The reality is that it is not difficult to organize an event
that would be catch-and- release rather than catch-and-kill.
Needed for such tournament are three things: judges, measuring
tape and charts.
The judges, one per boat, have to be sworn-in and trained
in tournament and measuring techniques. The fish shouldn't
be lifted out of the water, and all measuring would be done
by the side of the boat limiting the trauma to the fish.
measuring its length, girth and bill, a chart would be used
to determine the weight of the fish, and the catch would be
reported via radio to the tournament headquarters.
Only billfish would be released back into the water, and some
could die of heart failure after a long struggle, that is
inevitable. Tuna, snappers, groupers, etc. would be kept for
weigh-in, dockside photos and consumption.
As the Roatan Fishing Tournament could be finally promoted
as catch-and- release to Cayman Islands, Belize, Guatemala,
etc., and its profile would improve greatly. Today, tournaments
across the Caribbean are almost exclusively catch-and-release
already and we would only be joining the mainstream.
The average size of marlin caught in the Bay Islands tournaments
is getting smaller in part because of the catch-and-kill fishing
that is the current norm here.
When the Roatan Fishing Tournament would become catch-and-release
the population and size of billfish found in waters around
the Bay Islands should increase. As local boat captains learn
about the techniques of catch-and-release, they would be more
likely to follow it while doing their own charter fishing
trips. The consciousness and awareness of the protection on
fish species among the local population would likely increase.
We as a community would get a much better understanding of
our resources, migrations and fish behavior.
The controversy of accurate, impartial measuring the tournament
fish should not be any greater than it is now. Currently people
are concerned with some contestants overnight adding extra
weight to caught billfish that weigh one thing on the first
day and another the second.
We live surrounded by sea that doesn't belong to us. We are
only caretakers, not masters of resources and wildlife that
passes in front of us. The animals that swim in waters around
the Bay Islands often were born in another country and will
move on to yet another country. They are just passing through
and we should ensure them a safe passage, not an end to their
roads get a 35 kilometer long yellow stripe. More to come
Roatan roads have become a little bit safer with the painting
of a divider line on Roatan's main road. Only the oldest people
on Roatan remember a main road dividing line back in the early
1990's. Since then, are only "archeological remains"
of once existing horizontal road markings remained.
A machine sprayed a coat of orange traffic paint from West End
to past Parrot Tree Plantation entrance- up to the municipal border
with Jose Santos Guardiola.
Even though it is the Central Government Fondo Vial that is responsible
for inter city road maintenance, Roatan Municipal has took that
responsibility upon themselves. "Even though the [intercity]
road maintenance isn't our responsibility we need to look out
for our people and tourists," said Nicole Brady, Roatan mayor's
Until now the Municipal has spent around Lps. 319,000 for the
painting project. Roatan Realtors Association volunteered to cover
a part of this cost by contributing $1,000 for each one of the
13 member offices and individual agent contributions.
contacted the government about painting the road, but they haven't
responded," said Manuel Martinez, chief Roatan municipal
administrator. According to Martinez, central government has not
given any money for road improvements to the Roatan roads at least
is the Municipal that pays the salaries and equipment of four grass
cutters who on rotating basis trim the perimeter of grass adjacent
to the municipal roads. According to Brady, the monthly expense
that Municipal incurs is around Lps. 20-30 thousand. This maintenance
work is supposed to be done by the central government's Fondo Vial
Denis Vigil, a topographer with Eterna, a construction company from
San Pedro Sula headed the work. Rain has slowed down the progress
and the six person crew scrambled, working 12 days for 12 hours
a day, to get things finished before their September 5 deadline.
The crew had to measure the road, mark it, clean it and finally
The paint carries a four year warranty, "unless the road falls
apart before that," said Vigil who described the West-End to
Coxen Hole road as being the best quality, Coxen Hole to Los Fuertes
being not as good and Los Fuertes to Parrot Tree road construction
being the worst. "They just didn't put thick 'asphalt top'
there," said Vigil.
Eterna has painted dividing lines on roads and airport landing strips
all over Honduras and according to Brady is expected to come back
to continue the work by early November. The Roatan municipal is
planning on marking with horizontal and vertical signage the entire
municipal road system.
Catching- Roatan Style
tournament judges made sure all went according to the rules:
Larry McLaughlin, Gilbert Anderson, Kirby Warren, Clint Bodden,
Bobby Gough (D.V. Woods- not in photo)
if there were any cheap shots taken such as the age old trick of
participants inserting lead weights in the fish to make them weigh
more, McLaughlin assured us everyone here plays fair and square.
He also said that everyone is out to help all the other players
by loaning them tools and tackle and sometimes even fuel and occasionally
beer. Mechanics jump from one boat to another in times of engine
trouble, and it all works out in the end.
On September 17, at 3 p.m. the final weighing in took place. With
small and large boats vying for position at the main dock in West
End, people were passing fish from one boat to another trying to
get to the scales before they closed. Moving up in line a few yards
at a time was very difficult for the larger boats such as the "DOUBLE
R" whose mighty outline looked like the Queen Mary next to
some of the smaller fishing boats.
The scheduled West End parade never really happened but traces of
floats were seen in and out. Many on lookers began arriving, music
came from the awards bandstand and people began dancing in the street.
September 16 and 17, Roatan once again played host to the popular
VI Annual West End Fishing Tournament sponsored by Roatan Municipality.
At 6 am the competition begun with a record breaking 43 participants.
Every captain has his special deep trough areas and depending
on the time, the tides, the season and the weather, they thought
they knew where to initiate their particular secret trolling process.
Some were already dragging fishing lines as they left the Half
Moon Bay, just on the chance that a rouge blue Marlin might have
wondered in out of curiosity to read the banners and signs telling
about the tournament.
The boat that came from the farthest was the "Nautwakin"
out of the Cayman Islands with Captain Bryce Merren at the helm.
The Vice Mayor of Cayman later announced he felt so welcome on
Roatan they just might change the name of the boat to, "Not
Leavin." This mighty hunter comes every year for the event
and hoped to take the trophy home in 2005. Next farthest voyagers
might be the San Pedro flotilla, which included the "Double
R" crew with Captain Janni Rosenthal doing the steering.
After day number one, the "Double R" was holding the
lead with a whopping 180 pound Blue Marlin. La Ceiba sent it's
finest on the "Pal" with Captain Richard Swasey.
tournament's five judges were: Larry McLaughlin, Clint Bodden,
Kirby Warren, D.V. Woods and Bobby Gough. The judges insisted
that no one keep a fish under the minimum weight designated for
story / editorial
/ local news
by the Foots' by
see them selling car accessories, DVDs, underwear and plastic
brooms. They do it with an ant like determination, carrying
their goods not in a store, but on their backs. They move
from place to place, approaching their customers directly
at gas stations, sidewalks, anywhere. Being this footsoldier
of trade, or "ambulante" isn't an easy feat, and
inevitably you either sink, or float, fast.
looks like a walking store. He walks the Coxen Hole and Los Fuertes
sidewalks with four boxes of men's briefs attached to his belt,
a dozen embroidered belts across his arm, holding 10 undershirts
on hangers in his hand. The logistics of moving around pounds
of clothes isn't easy. You have to keep them away from dust, rain,
and away from car exhaust fumes.
Victor Clemente, 25, has been a street vendor for five years.
Born and based in Guatemala, Clemente has tried his luck as a
traveling salesman from El Salvador to Costa Rica. He buys his
inventory at a store in Guatemala City, travels with it for 400
miles and still manages to pass on savings to his clients, typically
around 20-30%. He brings in packets of 20-30 embroidered belts,
35 socks, two dozen undershirts, underwear, etc. "I'm still
learning the market," said Clemente.
works for 2-3 weeks and then heads back home to Guatemala City for
a break with his wife and two children. He travels by bus, moving
his inventory as luggage keeping its weight under the 100 lbs. allowed
two years ago a friend mentioned Roatan to him as a potential market
and within the last three months Clemente has made three trips to
the island. He is a Guatemalan, and has to tread a bit more carefully
than his Honduran equivalents.
Still, the street vendors typically don't get harassed by the Roatan
police, or authorities who typically turn a blind eye to their endeavors.
"In San Pedro they bother me a little bit, but not here,"
He sometimes works on the main street in Coxen Hole, sometimes in
French Harbour. Through some customers he met, he now rents a room
in a house in Los Fuertes for Lps. 1,400. "I have to pay for
it wether I am here or not," said Clemente. Always smiling
and up-beat, he can read a "buy situation," or spot a
potential client from half a block away. He isn't alone.
Pedro Morellana, 30, has been leading an "ambulante's"
lifestyle for half his life. Morellana likes to travel, and he travels
a lot. Every month the salesman goes from his family home in San
Pedro to Roatan. The hardest thing for him is not always having
the money to support the three people in his family.
He sells his DVDs for Lps. 130 and VHS cassettes for Lps. 150, but
is always ready to negotiate. According to Morellana, almost no
one complains if the DVD they've purchased is defective, but the
businessman said that he is always ready to exchange the product
if it is found deficient.
The more popular are the new releases and what makes-up almost half
of his content: adult movies. He sells between 80 and 180 movies
every week. Not everyone is happy to see the "ambulantes"
do so well. "We pay a lot of taxes and they don't and they
don't pay anything," said Maureen Ramos, owner of the Videopicks
store that sometimes competes with the street sellers for the same
customers. And the market is growing. Currently Morellana competes
against seven other pavement movie sellers and isn't resentful about
the marketplace becoming crowded. "Every one can try their
to buy from them [the street vendors] just to help them out,"
said sidewalk customer Thelma Dixon, from Oak Ridge. Dixon bought
several pairs of socks from, Victor Clemente, a traveling street
vendor in Coxen Hole.