Monthly news magazine for Roatan,
Utila & Guanaja
February, 2005 Vol.3 No. 2
Calendar Style
Bay Islands Voice Updates:
feature story / editorial / local news / business

When Colors Collide- Written by Jaime Johnston & Thomas Tomczyk, Photos by Thomas Tomczyk

The Bay Islands are gearing up for the first vote of the 2005 Honduran election. On February 20, the country's major parties will conduct internal elections to determine their respective candidates. Both the National and Liberal parties have their campaigns in full swing, as Islanders are called to the polls to voice their support.
Of the five political parties registered on the Bay Islands, only the National and Liberal parties take part in the internal elections. The National Party has three movements or tickets, and the Liberal party has four movements, all competing against each other. In the case of the Bay Islands, each movement carries six candidates: Presidential, Congress (Diputado), and Mayor (Alcalde) for each of the four municipalities. The three smaller parties - PINU, Christian Democrats and Honduras' newest party, Democratic Union - don't take part in the internal elections on the Bay Islands. "We don't participate in the internal elections because we are smaller parties and have one movement from the beginning," said Angel Gabriel Melendez, PINU candidate for Bay Islands Congressman. According to Alex Villela, Roatan lawyer, there are no 'non-party affiliated candidates' candidates in this federal election.
The voting rules for the internal elections vary from that of the general election which will take place in November. For the internal elections, a voter can only choose candidates from one party; however, they are free to select candidates from different movements within that party. This process was legislated by Congress before the 2001 federal election and gives more freedom to the voter in deciding on individual candidates. "It separates President from Deputy and Mayor. It's like a receiving a cold bucket of water for Congressman because many of them are unknown in their municipalities," said Villela. When it comes time for the general election, voters can select candidates from either party for each of the positions.
Representatives from each party typically observe voting at each station. Across the Bay Islands, these stations are usually classrooms in public schools. Voter registration in the four municipalities ranges significantly. According to the Tribunal Nacional de Elecciones in Tegucigalpa, Guanaja has 4,378 voters, Roatan Municipal has 14,370 registered and Jose Santos Guardiola has 5,130. Utila, the smallest municipality, has 1,674 registered voters, around 20% of its population. "In Utila, we have a lot of tourists and then people from the mainland who vote back there," said Mayor Alton Cooper, "We'll be lucky to get 1,000 to the polls." Mayor Cooper's office has led several campaigns to encourage more participation from island residents and improve voter registration.
Not everyone in the Bay Islands Department has seen campaigns on their doorstep. One of the communities forgotten by the political machine is Cayos Cochinos, home to 600-700 people, two resorts and a Smithsonian Research Station. Roatan Municipal has no regular presence on Cayos Cochinos. In September, 2004 Gov. Everett visited the community. "We lose tax revenue that the people there should be paying to Roatan," said Gov. Everett. He hopes that the one of the political parties will help with the registration of the Cayos Cochinos electorate in the general elections and provide transport on voting day in November.
The situation does not only result in disenfranchisement of the Cayos Cochinos population, but the eventually lead to the lose of the jurisdiction of the archipelago to the department of Atlantida. Most people living on Cayos Cochinos were born on the coast: in Colon and Atlantida, and that is where they cast their votes- around 300 or so. That is enough votes to have swayed the 2001 elections for Bay Islands Congress in favor of the Liberal Party candidate- who lost the election by only 278 votes. "95% of the people there vote Liberal," said Emilio Silvestri, Un Nuevo Tiempo campaign manager.
With, or without Cayos Cochinos, the Bay Islands Department is a mosaic of potential electors and interests. Several candidates are running for re-election; others are running for office decades after first holding a government position. A political freshman is trying to make the leap straight into Congress and dozens of other candidates are trying to convince Islanders that they have the right combination of smarts and savvy to lead them for the next four years.
Dorn Andy Ebanks, 36, has already been a governor [1999-2002] and a city manager. Young, energetic, articulated and certainly not a quitter. "I'm making history. I'm the first citizen of Roatan who has managed to run on three different occasions," said Ebanks. Running for mayor of Roatan alongside Rosa Danelia-Hendrix, he is a part of Liberal Party's Siglo 21 movement.
Ebanks is a founder and shareholder in Caribbean Flight School in La Ceiba. He makes his living as a commercial pilot with 2,200 flying hours to his credit. He flies a 19 passenger turbo-prop for Tortuga Air, 15 days on and 15 days off.
One of the main focuses of his campaign is improvement in island opportunities for education. "I want to establish a major, government funded university here," said Ebanks. "We have the opportunities. We have the access. I have the contacts."
Ebanks has many ideas, big ideas, and he is certainly not afraid to articulate them. "It's a shame that at this time still have to use a hospital with 30 beds. My projection is for 300 beds."
To make his ideas become reality Ebanks promises to resign from his piloting job if he gets elected mayor. "Many people are seeking the office, but they do not account for the time to be there. It's a full time job." Honduran law obliges a mayor to give at least three hours a day to perform his or her duties. "You cannot sit between two seats, or you will fall in-between them."
Ebanks doesn't see the willingness for many changes in the current political establishment. Still, with all his energy, Ebanks is not without a fault. "I think my weakness is being naive in believing everybody," said Ebanks. "I'm a sucker for believing a story."
From a seasoned campaigner to a first-time contender, the Bay Islands candidates come from various backgrounds and bring different perspectives to the table. "I think running for the first time has some advantages. We don't go in with the old ways of doing things. We have a fresh start and can be straight up front with the status of our goals," said Shawn Hyde, running for Bay Island Congressman for the Un Nuevo Tiempo movement in the National Party.


Hyde, a businessman from French Harbour, uses his personal experiences to guide his political plans. "I was in the Roatan Hospital the other day and I was shocked to see the conditions. They are doing miracles with what they have, but their population is beyond what the infrastructure can support," said Hyde, whose role at family business Mariscos Hybur has led him to seek change in the fishing industry. "I don't see the same future in the fishing industry for my son that my father saw for me. (…) We need to expand our market; we have depended too long on the market that we built in the United States," said Hyde.
The political rookie is not shy to question current projects on the islands. "I don't know where the PMAIB money was spent. Maybe it's my naïveté, but if there was money for contracts, why wasn't it spent here? People on the island should have had the right to be offered these jobs first, especially government jobs," said Hyde.
For his campaign, Hyde has canvassed door to door, meeting and greeting voters with a broad smile and a charged eagerness. Despite a hectic schedule, Hyde maintains a sense of humor and a team spirit. "We are all Islanders. When the election is over, whatever the people decide, the partisan stuff will come to an end."
However, as long as the campaign clocks are ticking, the lines are clearly drawn. "Everybody for themselves," Paula Bonilla, 40, described the Liberal Party's primary election effort. According to the Jaimista mayoral candidate, there is no coordination of issues or strategies among the four Liberal Party movements represented on the Bay Islands.
Bonilla hopes to follow in the footsteps of Lolita Brown, the last woman elected as Mayor of Roatan. "I don't have any weaknesses… the community deserves the best and I am the best candidate," said Bonilla. Confident, comfortable and elegant, she sees herself as someone from "the barrio next door." She went to school at the Juan Brooks School, before getting her law degree at Tegucigalpa's UNAH.
Bonilla would like to help small businesses in getting a larger share of the tourist and cruise ship business. Another idea Bonilla brings to the table is the development of sports on the island. "Municipality should construct ball fields on the island." Four years ago, Bonilla lost a close congressional race to Evans McNab. This time she is trying to gain the Liberal party's place in the mayoral race. "If I lose now, this could be the last time I am campaigning," said Bonilla. "Still, in politics you just never know."
It is the unpredictability of public office that keeps it interesting. No one could have predicted that 35 years after his first term as mayor, Julio Galindo is ready to do it again. "I feel morally obligated to do something for the island. If I didn't do something, I would feel guilty," said Galindo.
Energetic, articulate, endearing, Galindo connects with whomever he addresses. He is confident enough to buy an automatic-dialing telephone machine and leave political message with a phrase "I love you" in it addressed to all Roatanians.
Running on the National Party Pepe Lobo ticket, Galindo is a proponent of a Department wide census. "How do we solve problems unless we really know what we have?" said Galindo, owner of Anthony's Key Resort in Sandy Bay. He acknowledged that the first year serving as Alcalde would be difficult because he would be working with the past administration's Lps. 60 million budget.

"I see tons of advantages in joining the two [Roatan] municipalities," said Galindo, "The Municipal has to be thinking like a business. Roatan is developing, but not in an organized way." Galindo was elected and served as Bay Islands Congressman from 1990 to 1994. He believes the next Alcalde should serve full-time, as opposed to sharing time between the municipality and another day job. "I have more experience, I have a better vision, and now, I have the time."
Galindo is not the only former mayor seeking to re-enter the Alcalde office. Guanaja's Rafael Zapata hopes to re-emerge into his Municipality after a 19-year absence from politics. "I saw needs increasing and I didn't see anything happening," said Zapata, "If you refuse to help, you are letting people down."
Zapata, 56, owns two shrimp boats and operates Zapata y Hijos, a family-run general store and gas station. Running for the Esperanza movement under the Liberal party, he is concerned about Guanaja's social problems. "Here, 50% or more of the people are unemployed. Fuel prices are crippling the fishing industry and we need our law and order system cleaned-up," said Zapata, who served as Mayor of Guanaja from 1982-1986. During his time in office, the electric company BELCO was constituted, water systems to the cay were improved and the municipality invested in a ballfield on the cay.
Zapata believes that tourism is key for Guanaja's development. "We're living in a different age now. I think the new road will open the island up for tourism," said Zapata. First, Zapata believes that community clean-ups should be organized and educational programs be established. "We need a trades school on this island. A lot of boys are coming out of school after grade six and there is nothing for them. I want them to be able to learn mechanics or carpentry here on the island."
Educational programs have also been a focus of Congressman Evans McNab's first term. "For the first time in the Bay Islands, we have food programs in the public schools and we are beginning to implement bilingual education into the public schools as well," said Congressman McNab. Since he decided to run for re-election, Congressman McNab has campaigned door to door and outlined the accomplishments of the current administration to voters.
On any given day, he has a room full of people waiting to see him at his office or waiting outside of meetings. They are there to voice community needs, ask for support or just five minutes of his time. He deals with each person with a direct but attentive manner; questions are answered frankly with a firm handshake before parting. "It's time-consuming to campaign while you still hold office, but it also gives you a chance re-introduce yourself to people and, through talking with them, it reinforces the issues that we are facing," said Congressman McNab. images/ad-palmetto-1.jpg
In 2001, Congressman McNab ran under the National Party, facing Paul Bonilla for the one Bay Islands' seat in Congress. It was his first time holding political office. Now campaigning on the Work & Security ticket under Presidential candidate Pepe Lobo, Congressman McNab wants to increase the judges assigned to the islands and also investigate government-subsidized fuel programs for fishermen. "I've learned so much since I took office; knowing how and who to lobby with is a learning experience," said Congressman McNab, "I am determined to come back in and complete the jobs I began. Who knows the community better?"
Like the Bay Islands Congressman, Utila Mayor Alton Cooper is learning the demands of running for re-election firsthand. "It's not fun, but I am somehow able to juggle it all." The decision to pursue another term was a difficult one, even for the confident Utila Mayor. "At one point, I had backed out of running again. My business had suffered, I have a family. There's a lot of responsibility and it can be overwhelming," said Mayor Cooper. It was then that some community members began stopping by his home and the office to voice their support for his re-election. "In Utila as far as politics go, gaining someone's support is as important as actually gaining a vote," explained Mayor Cooper.
Mayor Cooper is a member of the Liberal Party, under the Esperanza movement. In operating the smallest Municipality in the Bay Islands, Mayor Cooper stresses the importance of communication. "We have a large tourist population and a lot of people from the mainland and you have to find a way to integrate those populations together," said Mayor Cooper, "I think our size allows us to distribute money more evenly and fairly than perhaps on Roatan." With a deliberate and self-assured tone in his voice, Mayor Cooper says he will focus on improving Utila's water systems and develop infrastructure to open the island up.
A contrast to the vocal Mayor Cooper, Jose Santos Guardiola's Clint Bodden is a quiet, soft-spoken mayoral candidate. Since August 2004, Bodden has been the general manager of RECO. In 1984, he lost the race for the mayoral seat in Oak Ridge. Now, he is running again with the Work & Security movement under the National Party. Bodden's goals for his mayoral term would include a range of social infrastructure. "Increasing municipal's revenue from tourism, improving health, education and the road system," are the focus of Bodden's attention as a mayoral candidate. He is still able to be self critical: "I have to get out more with the crowd," admits Bodden.
Bodden may be in the minority when it comes to joining up with campaign crowds. Communities around the island have been bombarded with rallies, walk-around's and politically-hosted social events. At the National's Work and Security movement headquarters, weekly strategy meetings are conducted at Las Palmas. "You have to have a plan. You have to get out and meet the voters. You invite everyone, from all different backgrounds and you give them your plan," said Larry McLaughlin, President of the National Party's Bay Islands' chapter for the last six years. In addition to events, billboards have been erected and bumper stickers are affixed to anything they can stick to. Trucks with loud speakers have become a mainstay on Roatan's highway. Not quite coherently audible, the trucks are decorated in party colors and patrol the road in daily loops, booming out campaign messages over loudspeakers.
Party advertising seemed to have peaked with the visit of several presidential candidates to the Bay Islands. "We had [Liberal Presidential candidate] Mel Zelaya here in Guanaja and had about 300-400 people turn out to hear what he had to say," said Guanaja mayoral candidate Rafael Zapata. When Zelaya came to Roatan, he was met at the airport by supporters with signs and flags. He was followed from stop to stop by a convoy of taxis plastered with campaign posters for Zelaya's running mates, Dale Jackson and Jerry Hynds. Currently serving as Alcalde of Roatan Municipal, the popular Mayor Jerry Hynds is running for Congressman. However, not everyone has followed Mayor Hynds into his transition as a candidate for Congress. Ms. Myrthys Hyde, 43, a housecleaner from Coxen Hole, has voted in the past two elections for Mayor Hynds, but this year she sees no clear candidate for Congress. "We don't need him [Mayor Hynds] there. We want him here working as Alcalde for us," said Hyde.
Representing the department in Congress is especially important, as Bay Islands, alongside Gracias a Dios, has only one Congress seat. Typically, Honduran Congressmen remain in office for several terms, allowing them to pursue long term goals, lobby and rise through the party rank.
This sentiment is shared by Wellington Hynds, 38, of Hottest Sparrow, near Crawfish Rock. "I think it would be good to re-elect our Congressman [National Party candidate Evans McNab]. Nobody knew him in the last election and now people see what he did and can appreciate him," said Wellington Hynds who voted Liberal in the last federal election. On January 21, Wellington Hynds attended a campaign event for National Party Presidential candidate with the Work and Security movement, Pepe Lobo. At a rally in Mt. Pleasant, nine school buses and dozens of taxis transported supporters to the rally. The group was met by a presentation of Garifuna dancers and a truckload of free soft drinks. When the rally ended, hundreds of supporters followed on to the next stop, leaving behind a mess of crumpled posters and empty drink bottles. A group of kids collected the litter in the rain, disposing of the mark left by the yet another political machine to visit the island.
As the internal election date approaches, radio and television ads increase. There are more posters, more stickers, more promises. Campaign coordinators are busy scheduling last-minute strategy meetings. The candidates push ahead, canvassing every last barrio. As the sounds of the loud-speaker trucks dull, stickers wear away and the free fresco supply dwindles, voters are left to draw their own conclusions. On February 20, they will judge for themselves: who is the best candidate?



TOP LEFT: Liberal Party taxi convoy driving to Presidential candidate Mel Zelaya's rally in Punta Gorda. TOP RIGHT: Young Pepe Lobo supporter after a National Party rally in Mt. Pleasant on January 21. BOTTOM ABOVE: A lifetime supporter of the National Party, Carmelida Rosa Mejia, 62, of Los Fuertes, attends rally in Mt. Pleasant.

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My Friend Scooby- by Thomas Tomczyk, Managing Editor

Can you embarrass a dog? Well, yes. I've done it before. And if dogs have shame, they also likely have its close cousin: guilt.
Example? For months, I was explaining to my dog that eating garbage is wrong. He spent part of his life on the streets so un-learning a habit of snacking at garbage dumps is all but impossible. Still, I tried and failed many times.
One day, I called him upstairs with no knowledge of what he was up to in the garden. He came up slowly, tail between his legs, head down and a look of disgust with himself on his snout. Why? I think it is because he felt guilty, ashamed of doing something that he knew was wrong. I didn't have to scold him. He just knew that something that he'd done, even without my knowledge, was wrong. Yes, I think dogs have shame - however temporary and fleeing a feeling. Nevertheless, it is there.
Everyone knows Scooby steals the bread from a nearby bakery. For all intents and purposes, it's not even stealing, just kidnapping bags of stale bread that the bakers leave scattered around the building. There are certain habits from his past that I have to accept, others I just cannot. Stealing: maybe. Begging: definitely not.
That is why the real test comes at parties where there are people and food and everyone is in a generous mood. Opportunities abound and Scooby finds the guest with the biggest plate of food. Then, he hypnotizes him/her with a long, guilty stare-down. That is just shameless in my book.
"I eat, therefore I am" is Scooby's day-to-day motto to live by. He will never refuse food. The one exception is if he's sick. Once, he got a stomach ache and skipped breakfast in order to eat grass. For 20 minutes, he would walk around the garden looking for a particular green straw. An hour later, he was eating his breakfast.
Scooby, the security dog? Maybe in the past. Now Scooby has re-classified himself to a companion dog. He likes to spend more and more time on a carpet in front of the door. Perhaps it's a sign of middle age you say? Well, according to my calculations, Scooby is barely in his late 20s (dog years: 4 x 7 = 28). I'm just wondering what he'll be like in his dog 40s.

My ex-girlfriends seem always interested in Scooby. He is a perfect non-controversial subject matter. Many conversations start "And how is Scooby?" Sadly, the ex's never ask how I feel.
Scooby ignores 98% of all dogs which seems to infuriate them completely. On the other hand, 1% of dogs he hates with all his dog soul. Some dogs he just hates and loses his cool immediately. I don't know what makes him turn that way, he just does. The other 1% are the female dogs. Not every female dog is worthy of Scooby's attention, mind you. The one female dog Scooby did find attractive was a three legged, scrappy looking mutt with one pup. The female dog had a number of skin diseases and was hopping around on three legs, as a rear-left leg was broken and unusable. Perhaps Scooby doesn't go for all these appearances and saw something attractive beneath the surface. I hope I never find out.
The final myth: dogs are faithful. Not true in Scooby's case. I was considering renaming him to the more appropriate name "traitor," when after barely 48 hours away from me, he completely entrusted himself to a temporary master. Upon my return, behold, he was barking at my car. Scooby has learned that life is unpredictable and cruel, owners change, and in order to stay on top, a dog has to learn to adapt quickly. Faithfulness is only skin deep.

University Delayed

BIU Postpones Classes for Another Semeste

Classes at Bay Islands University have been postponed for an additional semester. Originally scheduled to resume operation in January, BIU faces further delays in their accreditation process. Officials from the University of Honduras need to inspect the university for a final time to verify that BIU has met accreditation standards. According to BIU Director Dr. Perry Elwin, the inspection was scheduled for December, but was postponed due to finance problems at the University of Honduras. "We have met all the requirements for accreditation, but we need the inspectors to come. We were told that the University of Honduras lacked the funds to support the inspection in their 2004 budget," said Dr. Elwin, "The inspection is now scheduled for February." Since the last inspection, BIU has implemented changes to the classrooms and to their internal rules and regulations.
BIU opened on May 5, 2003, but ceased operation in August 2004 to await accreditation. Dr. Elwin estimates that 60-80 students were enrolled for the 2005 winter semester.
One of them, Raul Foreman, 25, completed three semesters in the Engineering and Computers program at BIU. He is anxious to resume studies. "I am waiting because I have no other choice. Some people travel to the mainland to finish, but I can't do that," said Foreman, a full-time RECO employee. According to Foreman, no one from BIU has contacted him to advise him of the semester's status.
"I do have students calling me for information and I am sorry, but it's out of our hands. The delay is not due to lack of action on our part," said Dr. Elwin. The university office will re-open in February. Dr. Elwin indicated that the university now plans to start courses in the spring semester in May 2005. "I will keep on waiting and I will be back in class whenever they open," said Foreman.
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Giving Back by Jaime Johnston
Bay Islands Businesses Help Fund Social Programs

Roatan Municipal donated a lot of land in Coxen Hole for a new day care center to be constructed. According to Tugliani, the land must be used before the current Alcalde is still in office, leaving only a year to begin and complete the project. "Our priority is to start the project. Day care is very important. We need water and proper bathing facilities, the kids need a place to run and play," said Tugliani who manages Tri-R Resort in Sandy Bay. The Tugliani family donates money to cover gaps between the expenses and donations to the center. Other Roatan businesses have become involved. Teri Anderson of Coxen Hole's Yaba Ding Ding donates Lps. 1,000 monthly to the center; Larry McLaughlin of the Aduanas office covers the utility expenses and Truly Nolan donated extermination services. "We would like to meet with different business owners because we need the cooperation of everyone to make this work," said Olga Flores, Supervisor of Softly's Angels and Coordinator of the First Lady's Office in Coxen Hole.
Softly's Angels is one of the many projects aided by the First Lady's Office. The Coxen Hole branch was established by Sra. Aguas Ocaña de Maduro on January 16, 2004. The Roatan office serves the entire Bay Islands and is one of four offices in Honduras. Other offices are located in San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Choluteca; they are set up to focus on the social needs of the people of Honduras. On January 22, the First Lady's office donated equipment worth $53,000 to the Roatan hospital. According to Hospital Director Dr. Roberto Gonzales, the most important of the gifts is an electrocardiograph that will become a welcome addition to the one serving at the hospital for the last five years. "She [Aguas Ocaña] always has something to give for everyone: to the children, to the firemen, now to us," said Dr. Gonzales. Flores, who attended the donation ceremony on behalf of the First Lady, noted that this is one of over a dozen projects supported by the First Lady's Office. "I think there are a lot of forgotten people on the island," said Flores who has supervised the office since itsinception.

  ABOVE: Accepting the First Lady's office donations for the Roatan Hospitla: Hospital Director: Dr. Jose Roberto Gonzales, Olga Flores, Father Faro, Gov. Clinton Everett, Alejandro Pacheco.

On the Bay Islands, there are international, national and local organizations working to improve social situations of those living here. Often, we hear of the work of non-profit groups and non-government agencies, but there is a quiet presence behind the some of these projects. Business communities are finding ways to contribute to social work on the Bay Islands.
Just before Christmas, 161 Roatan children were invited to a special holiday party. The event was hosted by Palmetto Bay Plantation, on behalf of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCC) and the Bay Islands Chamber of Tourism (CANATURH-BI). This was a program started nine years ago and is spearheaded by Terri Cannici, FCCC Manager, Programs and Events. The organization now distributes to nearly 5000 underprivileged children at 25 cruise destinations. Norwegian Sea was chosen as the Christmas ambassador to Roatan; Sea staff member Carlos Abella recruited 28 volunteers for the day.
The invitees included 38 children from Gravel Bay Orphanage, 19 from Sandy Bay Orphanage, five children from a Lions Club sponsorship program and 99 Coxen Hole youngsters. Coordinated through CANATURH-BI's Ana Svoboda, Palmetto Bay Plantation Manager Cecilia Chamer organized the 4-hour event where kids played games on the beach, attended a barbeque and enjoyed a visit from "Santa Claus". Each child received a personal gift. Svoboda arranged for a donated flat bed truck from Anthony's Key Resort to carry the presents; two school busses were donated by Marco Galindo's Tabyana Beach Resort to transport the children and CANTURH-BI coordinated two small buses to pick up the Norwegian Sea volunteers.
Two days later, Softly's Angels Day Care Center in Coxen Hole received donated gifts for 23 needy children, donated by the members of the Bay Islands Chamber of Tourism. Softly's Angels was established in 2004 by Eloise Vincent and Vivian Tugliani in coordination with American organization Softly International. The center has since changed its name and become solely dependent on local donations. "We have two employees to care for the children and their salaries are paid by donations from Henry Morgan's Resort," said Softly's Angels Director, Vivian Tugliani. The center provides free day care for 17 children of single mothers; children range in age from six months to ten years.

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