Monthly news magazine for Roatan,
Utila & Guanaja
May, 2006 Vol.4 No. 5
Calendar Style
Bay Islands Voice Updates:
feature story / editorial / local news / business

by Jaime Johnston


As we know them today, the Bay Islands are a center of activity and development. Around half the island's population is supported in some way by the fishing industry and the tourism industry is catching up to these numbers.
Every month, tens of thousands of tourists from around the world visit our towns and beaches. Every week, shipping boats dock, unload their cargo, and leave port. Every day, thousands of children attend the many government, private, and bilingual schools on the three islands. Every Sunday, families get dressed in their best and attend church, in the one of many different denominations with houses of worship on the islands.

The healthcare of the people is looked after by the government funded Roatan Hospital and supported by a growing collection of smaller clinics though out the Bay Islands communities.
This generation on the Bay Islands differs dramatically from those that came before it. Before the Bay Islands became what they are today, there were native Islanders and people who settled here from afar who paved the way for progress by making strides in their particular fields in healthcare, industry, church organization, and education.

Over centuries, with different approaches, these Bay Islanders were pioneers of their industries. Some of their names may be familiar and some may not, but their contributions to the islands are forever a part of our history.
The success that the Bay Islands are enjoying today came from hard working and inspiring individuals that founded schools, churches and strengthened their communities. The following are just several examples of the many great contributors to the Bay Islands.

Ms. Elizabeth Gaterau

Daniel Solabarrieta Aramayo
Daniel Solabarrieta Aramayo was born in Ondarroa, Spain on November 1, 1918. In 1951, he came to Guanaja and opened a small business packing canned pineapples and goggle-eyes, a small herring-like fish. Employing 15-20 people, this initial venture failed over time, mainly due to lack of market.
Solabarrieta didn't give up and in 1953 convinced an American seafood packing plant to invest money in Guanaja. With his American partners, he opened Alimentos Marinos, Guanaja's first fish packing plant. Although the plant was a success, a year later the plant was moved to La Mosquitia.
In 1955, Solabarrieta brought two Florida companies, Solomon Seafood and Tringali Seafood, to Guanaja. These two companies operated approximately thirty boats, but never built a packing house or expanded local employment.
Eventually it was Solabarrieta himself who built a packing house called Industria Pesquera Hondureña, Guanaja's second packing plant. His boat, the San Ignacio de Loyola, was the first Honduran registered vessel to fish for the new company.
Industria Pesquera Hondureña thrived for many years and Solabarrieta brought many more boats to work for the company. In addition, he brought French and Spanish fishermen to teach Islanders the craft of making and using lobster traps.
In 1974, a local bank bought up all the bills from his creditors and foreclosed on the company for 400,000 Lps. At the time of the foreclosure, there was reportedly over 500,000 lempiras in product in the freezers of the plant and the same amount in replacement parts. Many Islanders credit Solabarrieta for developing local participation in the fishing industry for Guanaja, encouraging competition with foreign vessels exporting product out of Honduras.
Captain Myrl Hyde
Captain Myrl Hyde was born in French Harbour, Roatan on May 8th 1909. He began his career with a shipping business in l934. His small sailing vessel, the Adios, offered cargo and passenger service between Roatan and La Ceiba. In l942, he procured a larger boat, the M.A. Kern, providing freight and passenger service between Roatan, Guanaja and La Ceiba. M.A. Kern operated until 1960.
In 1959, Captain Hyde married Betty Reeves of Guanaja. That same year, Hyde built a larger vessel, Judy, which operated between the Bay Islands and Miami. Judy was the first island vessel to begin the international trade of Bay Islands coconuts. Before returning to Roatan, Hyde would procure factory 'seconds', such as appliances and household items which were sold from his warehouse in French Harbour.
Captain Myrl Hyde died in French Harbour on January 2, l981 at the age of 72. At the time of his passing, the business had grown to two container ships, Mr. B and Lady E.
Unwins Elwins
Uwins Elwin immigrated to Roatan (then Ruatan) in the early 1800s from Middlesex, England. He was elected the first president of the Bay Islands' Legislative Assembly when it was a British colony. In 1853, he was elected Justice of the Peace and Magistrate. As of 1859, Elwin held 884 acres of Roatan land and leased additional acreage from the Crown. His estimated worth was of his properties was $30,000.
In 1860, as England prepared to hand over the Bay Islands to Honduras, Elwin led a protest against the annexation. Elwin was one of the 145 Bay Islanders to write to HMG to express their desire to remain a British Colony.
When it was clear the cessation would proceed despite these petitions, Elwin attempted to form of a provisional government with members of the existing Legislative Assembly and encouraged Bay Islanders to cease paying their taxes. The British Government considered his acts to be treasonous and revoked their land grant offer to Elwin in another colony.

Richard H. Rose
Richard H. Rose (locally known as RH) was born in 1849 and died in 1932. He was born on the island of Barbados and later on in his life went to Providence, Rhode Island, to further pursue his education.
Family records state Richard was both a hardworking and determined man. His first job was as a cabin boy on a ship. His many accomplishments included being a minister in the Methodist church, a captain where he owned three small ships, and a publisher in which he owned a printing press and published a bilingual weekly newspaper.
Rose taught himself to speak Spanish fluently. He was the author of "Utila Past and Present" published in 1904. He later married Adela Bodden and had five children: Clarence Rose, Jimmy Rose, Edward Rose, Walter Rose and Leonore Rose. He later remarried to Clara Howell.
Today, the primary school at the Utila Cays of Utila is named after Richard H. Rose to honor and commemorate the man who accomplished so much. He will live on forever in his book and in the hearts of the people who knew him and the stories that are now told about him.
Elizabeth Gaterau nee Elwin was born in Roatan on February 3, 1840. The eldest of 12 children, Gaterau was married twice. Her first marriage, in 1860, was to Charles Moses Willats, a British sea captain. They had three children: Alice, Uwins and Charlie. The youngest, Charlie, died in infancy about the same time that Charles Willats died, or was lost, at sea, around 1864.
In 1865, she married Frank Gauterau, a French citizen. They soon moved to New York City and together had at least three more children. In the early 1870s, they moved to San Francisco where Elizabeth Gaterau became actively involved in the Seventh Day Adventist religious movement. The couple decided to make a trip to Roatan to see her family and begin a SDA mission.
On December 9, 1885, Gaterau traveled by train from San Francisco to New Orleans, where she boarded a steamer to Belize. On August 6, 1886, Gaterau arrived on Roatan by ship.
Gaterau's associate, Frank Hutchins built a 50-foot schooner for use of the SDA mission. The Herald sailed though to Guanaja, Utila and throughout the Bay of Honduras to spread the word of their mission. The SDA mission began building schools throughout the islands. Gaterau returned to the United States and remained involved with the Seventh Day Adventist Church until her death in San Francisco in 1894.
Today, the Seventh Day Adventists have more schools in the Bay Islands than any other religious movement. SDA enrolls almost half of the students of the Bay Islands.

John Brooks

A native of Coxen Hole, John Brooks was born May 4, 1887. The second son of Peter and Judy Brooks, Brooks traveled to Tegucigalpa in 1910 with Professor Thomas B. McField of Roatan. Under Professor McField's guidance, Brooks earned a degree in Public Education and returned to Roatan. In 1913, he married Ella Magnolia Nelson and they had six children. Soon after, Brooks began teaching at the Minerva Public School in Coxen Hole. Now known as the Juan Brooks School, Minerva was the first government school in Coxen Hole.
In addition to teaching, Brooks was the interpreter for the government's judicial offices and was the first person to serve as secretary to both the Commandant and the Governor's offices.
Brooks lived and taught in Bonacca, French Harbour, and Coxen Hole, serving as director to each of the community's state schools. On September 16, 1928, Brooks died suddenly at the age of 41. In 1939, Roatan Mayor Robert Earl Gordon named Coxen Hole's government school in honor of John Brooks for his significant contribution to public education on the Bay Islands.
Dr. Policarpo Galindo Ebanks
Dr. Policarpo Galindo Ebanks was born in West End, Roatan on December 25, 1910. When he was 18 years old, Galindo was hired by a hospital in Castilla as a general assistant. For the next 13 years, Galindo worked through all the Honduras' departments in the hospitals, learning about surgery, dentistry and obstetrics.
In 1941, Galindo married Doña Margarita Sosa and they moved back to Roatan. Many Islanders knew of Galindo's medical experience and came to visit him and ask for advice. In the next several years, Galindo opened a clinic and drug store in Coxen Hole and was treating a high volume of patients for various ailments.
Even thou he never attended medical school and lacked any formal education, Polo Galindo became known to Islanders as Dr. Galindo. Dr. Galindo traveled by horseback and dory to make house calls at all hours of the day, delivering many children across the island.
In the late 1950s, several people attempted to stop Dr. Galindo from practicing medicine due to his informal education. Islanders demonstrated against this action, protesting on the streets of Coxen Hole with signs showing support for Dr. Galindo.
His hobby was cattle ranching and he found great joy in spending time with his wife and their five children. After 51 years of operating his clinic, in 1993, Dr. Galindo treated his last patient. On February 20, 1995, Dr. Galindo died from prostate Cancer at the age of 85. After his death, a medical clinic in Punta Gorda was named in his honor.




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Justifying Circumstances by Thomas Tomczyk

A day after the West End community fundraiser event raised $3,000 for a West End police station, Jimmy Miller, 67, retired seamen whom in the 1980s owned one of West End's first backpacker hotels, was shot dead in a confrontation with five tourist officers in front of his home.
After the incident, on three different occasions islanders asked me: "How long do I have before I am killed?" I didn't and still don't have an answer to this question. In the past 10 months, there were three homicides by police officers: Jimmy Miller and Gary Fuertado in West End and Osman Madrid in French Harbour.
While these three Bay Islanders died, no burglar, or drug dealer have been killed in confrontation with the police. There is a view that some or all of these violent deaths were justifiable. The question for some still remains: "Could these deaths have been avoided?"
Many islanders find themselves living in a constantly changing reality. The development and growth of their communities and the influx of outsiders have left them perplexed and many have difficulty adjusting to this new reality. Add to that a mixture of prevalent mental health issues, depression, alcohol and drugs, and availability of guns making any small problem potentially lethal. Keep in mind that it is the police and local law enforcement's responsibility to handle these situations case by case and not shoot at just anyone who runs a road block, refuses to have his yard cleaned, or won't leave a bar.
For decades, the Honduras' central government has failed its obligation to attract and recruit a national police from throughout the entire country. Even though Bay Islanders form one percent of the total Honduran population, not a single Bay Islander is a part of the country's 10,000 strong national police force. Proportionally, there should be 120 police officers that are Bay Islanders, which is 90% of the national police already here.
Roatan introduced tourist police as an opportunity to improve the crime problem and the Bay Islands do need reliable police. When the arrival of tourist police to Roatan was hailed, I thought they would be wearing Bermuda pants, be armed with pepper spray, and be explaining to tourists why they can't find a public toilet in West End. Roatanians have received more than they bargained for: 9mm wielding, non-English speaking, tuk-tuk riding 20-somethings.
The lower ranked police officers don't speak English and they don't even take English classes. They don't understand and have no respect for local customs, traditions and ways. At the same time, Bay Islanders often feel contempt for the mainland youth placed here in positions of authority. On Roatan and Utila, there is an escalating tension between the local population, foreigners, and police.
A vast majority of these junior police officers are young, underpaid, have to live in crowded, primitive conditions, and can be transferred at any moment. Many police officers don't understand the island culture, and many feel at odds, even threatened, by different customs, language and skin color that they encounter here. Too often unfortunately the police itself are instigators of the tensions in the community. You can't teach multiculturalism and sensibility to someone with six years of school who has spent their entire life in another part of Honduras. This is a process that, if set in motion, will take decades even generations to complete. Education, salary reform, hiring goals and construction of facilities for the national police are all long term goals.
There are some basic steps that can be taken to alleviate the tension and distance the reality of another unnecessary tragedy. What is needed now is a fast solution that would save lives. Instead of the Roatan municipal police focusing all its attention in one place, being Coxen Hole, there should be one police officer dispatched for two shifts a day in West End, another one in French Harbour, and one in Los Fuertes. Municipal police should do routine foot patrols, carry radios, and with their knowledge of the community, act as liaisons and mediators in conflicts whenever national police have to intervene. No law abiding Bay Islander should die from a police bullet.

Sign outside of Jimmy Miller’s house

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Delayed At Dock by Thomas Tomczyk

Honduran Cruise Ship Workers’ Lawyers detain Costa Cruises cruise ship in Litigation

On April 19, a 3,400 passenger ship "Costa Magica" owned by Italian Costa Cruises was detained at the Roatan dock based on a letter of a Puerto Cortez judge Ernesto Uvero Gutierres acting on a lawsuit by 16 companies' Honduran ex workers.
In the early morning hours lawyer Jorge Fiallos, representing Puerto Cortez's based Law Firm of Gernan Ayala, presented a letter to Ramon Garcia, Roatan's Port captain ordering to retain the "Costa Magica" "until further instructions." According to Ayala the Judge Gutierrez presented a similar letter to a judge in Roatan.
Acting on the judge's order, Garcia refused to sign the ship's ZARPE form, allowing the ship to leave Roatan for its destination in Fort Lauderdale. "He [Garcia] should have contacted the legal department of the merchant marine before" said Elmer Cruz, owner of Agencia Naviera del Caribe, who represents the Costa Cruises.
The law firm of Gernan Ayala represents 16 Honduran plaintiffs suing Costa Cruises and a company, Catering Cruise Line Services, responsible for hiring its employees, for compensation due to on the job injuries and inadequate compensation. According to lawyer Gernan Ayala, the Hondurans taking action against Costa Cruises and Catering Cruise Line Services have suffered on the job injuries and some of them "can't even move."
"Costa Magica" passengers took part in the shore excursions and boarded the "Costa Magica," before the boats scheduled noon departure. Its captain Capt. Giusepper Russo remained on shore working out a solution to the crisis. Vera Sophia Rubi, Director of Honduran National Marine, lawyers representing the Italian Embassy, Minister of Tourism and Congressman Jerry Hynds all took part in the conversations.

At 3:30pm and three-and-a-half hours late, "Costa Magica" left Roatan for Florida. Ayala said that pending a lawsuit, both Catering Cruise Line Services and Costa Cruises agreed in writing to pay a $700,000 guarantee deposit to the Puerto Cortez judge. "Costa Cruises" had no comment on the incident due to pending litigation procedures.
This is a second Costa Cruises cruise ship that has come to Roatan in the last several months. The Costa Allegre harbored in Roatan several months before. "They didn't retain that ship, because it came in on a Sunday," said Garcia.
Ayala said that before attempting to embargo the "Costa Magica" he tried contacting the two sued companies in the US, but received no response. "I've embargoed ships from all over the world: American, Italian, and German. Honduran law allows this," said Ayala who has 25 years experience in representing maritime lawsuit cases.
In February 2005 "El Opera" cruise ship of the Mediterranean Cruises was served by a similar lawsuit by Gernan Ayala while docking on Roatan and the Italian company paid $48,000 in settlement for a Honduran employee grievance. "We have action in the US against other companies in the cruise ship industry, including Carnival," said Ayala.
Some believe that if a cruise ship was embargoed on Roatan and its passengers were prevented from continuing to their scheduled destination, the incident could damage Roatan's reputation as a cruise ship destination. Still, cruise ship companies with pending lawsuits against them are always at risk of having their boat embargoed.
Costa Magica is scheduled for another visit to Roatan on December 20.

Royal Caribbean in Royal Roatan

John Tercek is Royal Caribbean's Vice president of Commercial development. He is responsible for improving the infrastructure of Royal Caribbean's ports of call that would support the companies' strategic growth and itinerary objectives. John graduated from Wharton School of Finance at University of Pennsylvania and Fordham University Law School. He lives with his wife, Linda, and child in Coconut Grove, Florida.
Tercek is the president of the newly created "Puerto de Cruceros de Marina de Las Islas de La Bahia," the entity taking over the legal operation and the concession of existing Coxen Hole's dock's capital assets. Municipal and IHT has under one percent ownership of this corporation.
In venture with Puerto Rico's government, Royal Caribbean (RC) and Celebrity Cruises have developed four docks in San Juan. RC also developed docks in Bayonne, New Jersey and Port of Miami. Roatan is the first time RC ventures to do a project outside the US Caribbean.
Roatan's cruise ship dock is a long term strategic investment for the American cruise company. Royal Caribbean was the only bidder in a year long bidding process that secured the company a 30 year lease of Coxen Hole dock.

Bay Islands Voice: Outside Puerto Rico this is your only other Caribbean destination you choose to develop. Why did you choose to come to Roatan?
John Tercek: If you look at the map and the traffic of the cruise ships today, especially in the high seasons, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Belize City are virtually full on key mid week days. Cruise ships typically leave the US on the weekends and get there mid week. This was one of the few places that offered the potential for expansion. It's an interesting way of visiting another country like Honduras. You can build five docks in Mexico, but passengers are only willing to make one or two stops in Mexico. dock.

They want to visit other countries. We thought in the long term, 30 year concession, that Roatan would continue to become an important destination, if nothing else just because of the sheer growth of the cruise business. Roatan is also a pretty nice place to visit. It offers a combination of location, exotic image, and delivers pretty well once you get beyond the dock.
Bay Islands Voice: If Roatan is such a great place for any major cruise ship company to consider, why were you the only bidder for the dock here?
John Tercek: I cannot comment on that.
Bay Islands Voice: What do you think about the whole, year-long bidding process? How transparent was it? Honduras never dealt with this sort of thing.
John Tercek: This was part of it. They went overboard in trying to make it above board and transparent and they made it extremely complex for the bidder. When we saw the documents, we suggested to the government, "You are not going to get very many bidders." What they were requiring was quite extraordinary. They made it a very formalistic bid process and the cruise ship business is a very hard to understand. Unless you are in the
cruise business, you don't really know what the factors that make ships come are. It is difficult for a private party completely unrelated to the cruise business bid on a port, because they really don't know how to predict the future. They had a very long list of qualifications [for a bidder] and the emphasis was on the qualifications. For these reasons, it didn't surprise me that there weren't too many bids. We were the only bidder and we had a negotiations period on the financial side of it.
Bay Islands Voice: What is your goal for Roatan's cruise ship dock?
John Tercek: Our goal is to make the port of Roatan become a better functioning facility to accommodate more and larger vessels and to improve an esthetic experience the guest encounters. The appeal of the port will go up for vacationers and they will want to take the cruise to Roatan. Up to now we made sporadic calls here. It has been a more exotic destination on a longer itinerary or when we wanted to get a ship into another port and we couldn't get it onto a dock.

It's actually been a very insignificant port for us historically. This port has been used by Norwegian and Carnival Cruise lines and we expect that they will continue to come. Once we start implementing the improvements, we expect to send ships to Roatan on a more regular basis. (…) We do the cruise planning a couple years in advance so the real growth of Royal Caribbean will not be next year, but several years in the future.
Bay Islands Voice: What will be the first things that you plan to do?
John Tercek: We're hoping during the next year to come up with a master plan for the development of the port. (…) Our first component of the project will be to expand the staging area so that there is a better, cleaner, safer logistical operation of moving the passengers into the port. As you can observe on a cruise ship day, they can't even get all the busses into that little piece of dirt there today. The second phase will be adding a thematic village of some sort, a high quality waterfront project, with a mix of retail, restaurant, food, beverage and entertainment appealing to cruise ship passengers and growing landside visitors as well as to people who live here.
Bay Islands Voice: Will the dock resemble the drawings you submitted with the bid.
John Tercek: That's the idea, but the drawings that you've seen are the artist's renderings. It had nothing to do with true engineering components. We don't yet know the permitting process or how long it will take to do the engineering studies. We know that the water depths are very challenging. Itis extremely shallow and it’s extremely deep. Some of the depths, just 30 feet from the current dock are extraordinary… too deep to build. The government did not make it clear enough, or they didn't even know, of the engineering challenges. They had only very sketchy drawings. This is a particularly tricky geographical location for a dock. The current dock was not master planned at all. It was just thrown in there. It's a very simple dock and it works. The compatibility of that dock and the new dock appears to be an engineering challenge.

Another Death in West End

On April 3, after a confrontation with five tourist police officers, a West End elderly man was shot dead in front of his house.
A Roatan municipal cleaning crew designated to clean West End beaches and roads in anticipation of Semana Santa got in an argument with Jimmy Miller, 67, over access to his beachfront property. Around 10:30am, five police officers were called to the scene and the situation escalated further.
At one point Miller pulled out his gun, but it is not clear who fired first. According to Roatan DGIC, all five tourist police at the scene fired their weapons.

Miller was shot four times and police officer Samuel Palma, 22, was shot in the leg.
According to neighbors and family, Miller was occasionally acting erratically and had difficulty seeing. Miller's body was transported for an autopsy to San Pedro Sula.
Miller is a third Roatanian, and second West End resident killed in a confrontation with police in the past 10 months.

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Boat to Guanaja by Thomas Tomczyk
Stranded islanders get an alternative for
traveling to the mainland.
It has been 1999 since the last time Guanajans had a regular passenger boat service to the mainland. Since March, a 250 passenger boat "Island Tours" has been running between Guanaja Cay and Trujillo. During three weeks in April, the boats route was changed to connect Guanaja with Roatan and La Ceiba.
"Island Tours" was built in Russia in 1993 and at one point was outfitted as a casino boat serving Cancun, Mexico. On Roatan, the "Island Tours boat," with 160 sitting and 90 passenger standing capacity, docked at the Outreach Ministries Church in Coxen Hole. According to Elton Woods, Island Tours representative on Roatan, in mid April there were anywhere between 10 and 50 passengers purchasing tickets for a trip to Guanaja.
The past three months have been a learning experience for both the crew and passengers. On one occasion, Island Tours lost power in one engine to arrive on Guanaja after an 11 hour journey. Another time it changed route and went directly between La Ceiba and Guanaja, without notifying the Roatan office and awaiting passengers.

At the end of April, "Island Tours" changed its itinerary again, and is currently running three times a week between Trujillo and Guanaja Cay.
Donaldo Thompson, the boat's owner, sees the need for connecting Guanaja thru a stop in Roatan. "This is an important way to help the islanders.
the islanders. Guanaja needs a boat service," said Thompson, a businessman from El Progreso with family heritage connecting him with Roatan and Guanaja. For the future, the company plans a regular service connecting La Ceiba, Roatan, Guanaja and Trujillo. "Island Tours" employs seven people, two of them from Guanaja.


No. 4
May 8

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