story / editorial
by Thomas Tomczyk
and Mistrust of a Local Electric Company Spill onto Streets
spontaneously erect barricades in French Harbor on
June 12 to protest high electricity bills.
June protests against escalating energy prices have been
years in the making. Almost from its day of founding in
1992 Roatan Electric Company (RECO) has acquired a poor
reputation for its service, management and communications.
The mistrust of RECO has been rising especially during the
last three years as the company created a poor image starting
with the working poor and ending with the wealthy foreign
business owners. Even the well-to-do islanders have RECO
nightmare stories to tell where their meters were misread,
TV blew up and food spoiled in their broken refrigerators.
RECO has found
itself in a precarious position of providing a strategic resource
to a booming island, on which energy demands doubles every five
years. Stable, affordable energy is indispensable to Roatan's prosperity
and growth, even survival. Many islanders felt that they are not
only paying too much for their electricity, but that the company,
despite assurances from Clint Bodden, its general manager, is coming
dangerously close to shutting down. The failure, even for several
days, of RECO to provide continuing energy to Roatan would translate
in loss of confidence in Roatan as a safe, comfortable tourist destination.
At the same time the motives of the leaders of the protesters remained
cloudy. Rosa Danelia Hendrix, the charismatic and confrontational
president of the Bay Islands patronatos (FEPAIB) and leader of the
protests, had means of executing the voice of her supporters through
legal means, but didn't. The lowering of RECO rates, while a small
relief to the general public, could be a nail in a coffin of the
struggling energy company. RECO is a private utilities company and
changes to its policies, like any shareholder company, are done
through its board of directors. Patronatos and Hendrix opted out
from doing changes and supervising company's policies in that manner.
Instead Hendrix coordinated blockade of RECO facility and escalated
it into the taking over of the island roads.
the first days of June, many RECO customers found themselves holding
May electric bill that was sometimes two times the amount of the
previous months. Even with the fuel adjustment from .88 cents to
Lps. 1.28, customers found it difficult to plausibly explain the
dramatic increase in billing and no one could provide a rational
explanation why this happened.
Speculations of RECO abuse circulated widely: illegal fuel imports,
overcharging of customers, price gauging and mismanagement. Still
no one provided evidence to prove the accusations.
On Thursday, June 1 an ultimatum letter with three demands was given
to RECO's general manager, Clint Bodden. The patronato members demanded
releasing the results of the February audit conducted by ENEE, revealing
the company's financial statement and financial report of fuel purchases
for 2004. Patronatos gave RECO 24 hours to produce these documents
Bodden explained to Bay Islands VOICE that RECO could not accommodate
any of the demands: it never had a copy of the ENEE report, and
the financial and customer reports are internal company documents.
The timing of the protest were complicated by the presence of Warsilla
Company representatives visiting the island in an effort to finalize
the sale of two generators to RECO with a 2.2 Megawatt generator
coming online in August.
blockade Mayor Jackson's mansion in Brick Bay.
contacted the RECO board on Friday and made a decision to meet with
the Patronato representatives on Wednesday, June 7. Bodden, nor
any of the RECO board members, didn't contact patronatos to let
them know of the date of the meeting. The patronatos played that
hand and the failure in communications proved disastrous.
By Friday RECO plant entrance was cut off by protesters that remained
there until Monday, when in the early hours they took to the streets
and erected a barricade in Los Fuertes, Brick Bay and French Harbour.
The protesters took over the control of the roads and prevented
road traffic from circulating on the island's only east-west thoroughfare.
The number of barricades grew through the day to include French
Cay, Coxen Hole and by the afternoon reached "el triangulo"
and the "big bridge in Coxen Hole," and Sandy Bay.
It soon became impossible to take taxis between the barricades and
people began walking to and from work, or even just to buy groceries.
While hundreds of people tried to go about their business others
were erecting barricades out of rocks, tree stumps and car chassis.
Honduran flags were waved and strapped over car chassis.
In front of the Los Fuertes RECO plant, at the protesters center,
country music played from speakers connected directly to RECO electric
cable. "I didn't sleep for three days. My people tell me they
wanted to lynch me if I don't deliver Mr. Clint's resignation,"
said Esperanza Mejia, a Los Fuertes patronato leader.The only concrete
thing the protesters could agree on was the resignation of Clint
Bodden from the general management position. "They offended
us. They were drinking and laughing at us," said about Bodden
patronato member Neptali Panilla. Bodden became a scapegoat of people's
discontent with the raising energy costs. "People thought that
the 'AC adjustment' in their bills stands for Adjustment for Clint,
not adjustment for Combustible [gasoline]," said Evans McNab,
member of RECO board.
The day was chaotic and as the day progressed tensions rose even
higher. "They wanted to get the Clint out and if they didn't
get it there would be bloodshed," said Mayor Jackson. There
was no organization amongst the protesters and police officers were
hard to find. Few protesters knew who was in charge and even fewer
what were their demands. What everybody knew is that they had a
problem with RECO.
Mayor Jackson found himself in a delicate position of an intermediary
between the RECO board, with many of whom he is friends, or even
family, and the protesters that contributed to his political victory
last October. "Don't forget you are here because of us,"
told Dale Leonel Amalia, a Los Fuertes teacher wearing a Che Guevara
t-shirt. Fairly soon Mayor Jackson realized that the problem will
have to be solved on the island. "I called the department of
energy in Tegucigalpa and they said: 'this is one of many multiple
problems we have,'" said Mayor Jackson.
Meantime many French Harbour businesses didn't even open, others
were doing great business selling snacks and sodas to the protesters
and stranded commuters. Rottiseria Aleman was having a great day
of sales until 3pm when several tires were burned in front of the
Palmetto road entrance. Black smoke engulfed the nearby restaurant
forcing dozens of guests to flee. Asthere was no police present
Kurt Neudecker, owner of the restaurant, put-out the fire with a
powder extinguisher. S everal
protesters pushed and shoved Neudecker grabbing the fire extinguisher
from his hands.
There were several incidents involving American realtors trying
to go about their business that found themselves in confrontation
with the protesters unwilling to let them pass their barricades.
Michael Cox, an Amerrican realtor, got in an altercation as he tried
crossing a road block erected in Coxen Hole. While Cox's SUV windshield
was smashed others were forced to change their travel plans. Doug
Thorkulson, another American realtor and businessman who managed
to talk his way to French Harbour in the morning, was unable to
pass through a barricade in the afternoon and spent the night at
his French Harbour office.
Police was present only at the Brick Bay roadblock and much of the
day there were no police officers in French Harbour or Los Fuertes
until the afternoon. While the lack of police presence was OK while
things stayed calm, they were dearly missed when
protestor displays a Honduran flag.
escalated to personal confrontations and burning of tires. Around
3:30pm, after reports of tires being burned in front of RECO traveled
across the island, the Municipal Roatan Police came down from
Coxen Hole to Los Fuertes.
Hendrix in vain tried to prevent burning of tires in front of
the RECO plant. With no police to help her, Hendrix received little
help from other patronato members or local protester. At that
point it became evident that the protest's organizers lost control
of the escalating situation. They had no way of communicating
with each other, controlling the erection of new barricades, burning
of tires, etc.
While the list of patronato demands grew, nothing was put down
in writing, a strategy combined with a threat for violence seemed
to work perfectly. The government's inability to take decisive
action against the taking of public property was another key to
the success of the protests. Still, unlike the RECO board, the
patronato representatives did bring a legal council to the RECO
meetings that begun on Monday afternoon at French Harbour's Gio's
After several hours of discussion RECO in writing agreed to five
points: 1-lowering fuel adjustment rates from Lps. 1.26 to .Lps.
0.88, 2- forming a commission to discuss consumer issues, 3-discuss
any future tariff adjustments with municipal and patronatos, 4-
elect a person among patronatos to represent then in RECO board
as Mathew Harper and Charles George resigned from the board, 5-willingness
of RECO to cooperate with an independent audit commission.
"They never gave to the people," said Danelia about
Charles George and Mathew Harper the only two foreign board members
who were gave their resignation to appease the protestors. "They
didn't represent the people and foreigner or not, if they didn't
act according to right and justice they are unnecessary."
"Rosa doesn't know what we have done behind the scenes at
board meetings," said Mathew Harper, since 2000 an 'A shareholder
director' on RECO board. Harper along with George had set-up engineering
school scholarships and free-of-charge energy audits for high
consumption claims. "She didn't care about trying to improve
things peacefully and wanted the confrontation from the beginning,"
said about Hendrix Harper. Harper who has a bachelors degree in
electrical engineering represents the interests of type-A shareholders,
and he is valued at the board for his technical expertise.
RECO board has had several people representing type-A shareholders
before: Winston Smith, Rudolph Brooks and Fernando Fernandes,
but several RECO board members felt their presence was only in
name. "They just didn't come to the meetings, or participate,"
said about them Bodden.
Hendrix made no qualms about her strategy in the protests. "I
didn't want to negotiate. Part of our culture is that we need
to do this," said Hendrix about the demonstrators taking
over the streets. In September 2005, Danelia lost a campaign for
the Liberal Party nomination to congress and recently she was
unsuccessful in lobbying for an appointment as Bay Islands governor.
Patronatos never formally accepted the five point RECO proposal
and in another set of talks at 5pm formed verbally two demands:
resignation of Bodden as RECO manager and forming of government
audit commission within 48 hours.
Conspicuously absent from second round of 'negotiations' was Hendrix.
"She made a mistake of representing the situation differently
than other patronato leaders thought," said Senen Mejia,
Municipal liaison to the patronatos. While the absence of Hendrix
made the talks less confrontational it became evident that local
leaders had no experience in debating, stipulating demands and
At 6pm, after a brief conference with RECO board Bodden resigned
as company's general manager, but kept his position as RECO board
president. "Due to the demand of the consumers I will resign.(
I hope that the personal sacrifice I give will improve the company
and you will respect it," said Bodden.
Bodden admits that the timing of the rise of fuel adjustment during
the transition to hotter months and higher demand for energy was
a mistake. "The adjustment came at a wrong time. We should
have done it earlier, but we wanted to eat the cost for consumers."
With world fuel prices at $60 a barrel 75% of RECO's operating
expenses go towards purchasing fuel. This makes the running of
the company extremely volatile and forced in October of 2004 the
introduction of the fuel surcharge that is not dependent on the
time consuming government approval process.
While Bodden received $4,000 a month salary, rumors of his $10,000
a month salary circulated widely during the protests. "They
are actually paying me less than the previous manager," says
Bodden. "I lack appreciation sometimes," said in frustration
Bodden who also plans on resigning from the position as RECO board
president during the September shareholders meeting. Bodden will
remain in managing RECO until his replacement is found.
"I've been waiting for four years to do this," said
with a horse voice Hendrix, who admitted of only sleeping one
hour in the last three days. "We've been suffering since
1992." The strategy, or its lack, worked to the protesters
advantage. The protesters got all they requested, but they were
holding out for more: resignation of Bodden.
In a meeting at the Roatan Municipal on June 6, Paula Bonilla,
Vice minister of tourism, headed a commission that met with both
sides of the protest. After several hours of talks a five point
agreement was signed by RECO board members: lowering of the April,
May and June rates to the February levels, naming an qualified
islander as interim general manager, RECO will in writing accept
the audit of its financial statements to a commission, not cutting-off
energy to customers in financial problems through July, and removal
claims official Lastenia Bodden from her post. Lastenia Bodden,
was accused by the patronanato reps of "rudeness in dealing
Weeks after the agreement was signed, many Roatanians remain skeptical
about the results of their protests. "This is only paper.
Some people are talking of taking over the streets because their
electric bill is still high," Maritza Bustillo, 37, homemaker
from Brick Bay.
This is not the first time violent protests have hit RECO. In
1995 stacks of tires were burned in front of the entrance to the
company when Cuban born Armando Augillar was the general manager.
"Three percent of our budget, Lps. 1 million in income taxes
has been lost," said Mayor Jackson. The affect of the protest
went far beyond the loss of tax revenue: the impact of civil unrest
and discontent reverberated an echo deep into the business community
of the island.
While patronatos showed endurance and determination, RECO shown
its ability to compromise. Police shown restraint and local authorities
shown patience and impartiality. In a third world country like
Honduras patience sometime has to substitute the rule of law.
After the RECO concessions were made public, demonstrators became
conscious that their strategy was successful and expressed interest
in pursuing other goals. "We were here for days and nothing
got done. We took over the highway and we accomplished everything
in one day. We will do the same about, Hondutel cable and the
ferry," said a protester over a loudspeaker.
story / editorial
/ local news
ShrimpFest becomes the largest two-day cultural event in Honduras
since the visit of the Pope
2006 Roatan International Shrimp Festival was what the 2005 CaribFest
should have, but never was: a two day international event promoting
the Bay Islands and Honduran music and culture to thousands of
visitors. All that for an entry price Roatanians could actually
Suyapa Edwards, the organizer of the event, has almost single-handedly
accomplished what the entire Honduras ministry of tourism failed
to do: fill Roatan's hotel rooms in the low season. The artists
and visitors to the festival could feel proud to be a part of
an archipelago rich in culture, that may be sidelined, but key
in its boom as a tourist and retirement destination.
While San Pedro might have the crowds and Tegucigalpa might have
the government attention it is Roatan that has the organizational
capability and the support of its diverse international, business
community and is fast becoming a dependable venue for setting
up mass cultural events. ShrimpFest, outside of Honduras' several
city carnivals and Gracias' Lempira Day celebrations, has become
one of the country's biggest culture events.
workers finish construction of the main stage a girl looks
on at a beauty contest.
the two years Parrot Tree and Coral Cay have been tested to prove
themselves capable of hosting large national and international events.
Anthony's Key, Palmetto Bay, Mayan Princess, Las Palmas and now
Turquoise Bay Resort have a capability to organize smaller events.
people bought tickets to walk through the festival entrance way
built to size and resemblance of a shrimp boat. Even though not
everything went as planned: there were no schedule of events available
to the public, but the people found a way to enjoy themselves.
During the day businesses opened their booths to the public and
displayed their products and networked while TTI offered free internet
and international phone calls.
As the afternoon turned into evening, three stages begun filling
with bands offering something for everyone: reggaeton bands, classic
rock, Punta dancers, even glistening blue and fake diamond stud
covered Elvis impersonator.
Some vendors found it difficult to pay the Lps. 17,000 booth fee
and three of the last year restaurants failed to show up. Several
restaurants found themselves working on Saturday to pay the rent,
and on the next day working on making a profit.
There were just as many chicken, pizza, burger and hotdog vendors
as there were restaurants selling shrimp plates. One of the vendors
was Pizza Inn who worked until
2am on Saturday to sell 78 pizzas, still well below its 150 pizzas
sold during the 2005 one day ShrimpFest.
thing that reminded people that they are at a shrimp event was the
competitive eating contest in which five participants, raced to
devour four pounds of fried shrimp. The winner: Ansel Velasquez.
Roatan public received its always awaited new beauty queen. While
Andrea Casco, was named the carnivals prettiest adult queen, 10-year-old
Cherish Parker secured her crown in the children's beauty queen
competition by answering the question "how to protect the island's
resources." "Don't throw things in the water," suggested
the French Key contestant.
municipal brings in outside auditors to look into 18 months
of real estate transactions
a two hour meeting around 50 real estate professionals from the
24 Roatan licensed and number of unlicensed real-estate companies
gathered at the municipal to discuss the audit of all real estate
transactions done from January 1, 2005. Mayor Dale Jackson and
second council member Julio Galindo spoke in unison as they raised
their concerns that many real estate transactions sale prices
are being reported low, or avoid paying municipal 1% 'fee' altogether.
"There is a lot of money that didn't get to the municipality,"
said about the $350,000 2005 real estate tax revenue Mayor Jackson.
"The municipality is being laughed at," said Galindo.
"I can barely pave one kilometer of road with that. We expect
more from you," added Mayor Jackson.
Municipal members and real estate brokers disagreed on which transactions
the 'fee' should be applied to and the means of collecting and
verifying the payment. "Why should we pay tax [on corporation
transfers] to the Municipal if we don't pay it to the central
government [1.5%]," asked Alejandro Tugliani, a local lawyer,
arguing that when an administrator of a corporation changes, the
sale is considered a "merchant transfer" and no municipal
fees has to be paid. Several realtors raised the issue of the
lack of coordination between the municipal where the 'fee' is
paid, and land
Alejandro Tugliani addresses the Roatan Municipal Court.
office where a "good for sale" stamp is acquired, but
sometime issued without verification of payment.
the 1% 'fee' came into effect on January 1, 2005, only this March
Santos Guardiola introduced the land transactions 1% 'fee'.
In another meeting at the Roatan Municipal Corporation members met
with West Bay citizens to discuss a possible moratorium on issuing
West Bay building permits while a coherent strategy to development
of the area is planned and discussed. A private rental area to accommodate
traveling beach vendors was also discussed.
Town's government health center has deteriorated to a point where
it had to be demolished and a new 2,300 square foot building is being
erected in its place. Using an interlocking concrete block system
Cohnsa Payhsa, the 32 volunteers from the Florida Hospital Waterman
volunteered a week of their time to construct the foundation and walls
of the clinic. The 204 bed Florida Hospital (FH) is part of a chain
of 170 Seventh-Day Adventist Hospitals worldwide and donated $30,000
in building materials for the Pandy Town project. After Hurricane
Mitch the hospital has assisted in building a house in Punta Gorda
in 1999. Little Friends Foundation organized the effort, here on Roatan
and contributed to cost of materials for the clinic. During current
construction, a one year old daughter of one of the Pandy Town volunteers
was run over and killed by a vehicle. The Florida volunteers plan
to put a commemorative plaque in Brinnisha Buckley's name at the clinic.
In the lower right corner of the group shot, Bucky Weeks, Director
of International Mission Services at FH guided the group to choose
Nader of Roatan
Local Activist Changes Rules of the Game
Danelia Hendrix is a person that people either love, hate,
or a bit of both. Tall, with long black hair, she is charismatic,
stylish and dressed in latest Miami fashion. At public meetings,
Rosa is often the uncomfortable voice of public conscience
amongst elected and appointed officials in the Bay Islands.
Her emotional, confrontational and uncompromising style had
made her a person that few officials would want to work with
in a position of responsibility and government. In short,
she is Ralph Nader of Roatan politics.
married, Rosa is conscious of preserving her image as a single,
independent woman and a responsible mother of two sons. A daughter
of a Guanaja boat captain and a San Pedro homemaker Rosa, 39,
was born and raised in Cortes. After receiving her teaching
certificate, for four years she was a teacher and school director
in a mountain village of La Libertad. In 1992 she moved with
her two sons Oscar and Patrick to Roatan. She was one of the
founding members of on organization that in 2002 became the
Bay Islands Federation of Patronatos (FEPAIB), of which she
is now president. FEPAIB has 35 members on Roatan, 13 on Santos
Guardiola, six on Utila and eight on Guanaja.
In the 1997, Rosa worked on the Jerry Hynds mayoral campaign
and received a post as the Roatan Municipal head of health and
hygiene department. She resigned a year-and-a-half later to
try her luck in business opening "Exclusive," a Coxen
Hole souvenir store. In 2005 she ran on a Jaime Rosenthal ticket
in the primary elections for Bay Islands congress seat.
In 2005 she received her teaching degree from Catholic University
in La Ceiba and is currently working towards a law degree. Rosa
heads her own foundation: 'Health and Education Without Discrimination.'
Islands VOICE: What was your role in deciding to take over
the streets and build barricades in the June 5 demonstrations?
Rosa Danelia-Hendrix: We [patronatos] made the decision
together. I tried to stop the people for four years. People
told me: 'to many negotiations.' So I said: 'Ok. We will do
what we need to do.' We can't have the development of the
island if the public services are so expensive. As president
of FEPAIB I have a mission of taking care of everyone who
lives on the island[s]. I went to chief lawyer in Tegus, the
Supreme Court, but we couldn't fix it that way. We tried to
have a meeting, a year ago, between the mayor, governor and
congressman and ourselves. Since February we've been waiting
for the report from ENEE and government. If RECO board members
really love this island they would help us to have a better
life and they never did. We finally came to the conclusion
that we are alone.
B.I.V.: It sounds like you, patronatos, can't trust anybody:
RECO, ENEE, the good-will islander people, or even your own
government. So who can you trust?
R. D-H: We trust God. Something has to happen and somebody
got to hear us. We have many foreigners and if they leave,
we have nothing.
B.I.V.: Were you surprised that the June 5 demonstrations
got out of hand and were you prepared to bear the circumstances?
R. D-H: When you work in a group everybody is responsible,
not just Rosa Danelia. Some people took advantage of the situation.
I always expect the best, but prepare for the worst.
B.I.V.: Did you accomplish what you wanted?
D-H: We got something. One thing that the board director
understood is that they don't live alone and can't do anything
that they want. They can't abuse the power that they have.
People never can tolerate injustice, or tyranny, they have
B.I.V.: Your patronato members accused RECO of illegally
importing fuel, tampering with meters, overcharging bills.
All these charges would require a collusion of many people.
Do you have any proof, or witness of these charges?
R. D-H: Those accusations can be true, or they can be lies.
As a RECO customer you can believe in anything. We wanted
an audit and proof. The audit done will be public soon. Bay
Islands electricity is the most expensive electricity in the
With the success of the demonstrations will there be more confrontations?
R. D-H: They, taxi drivers, etc, have already been asking me
that. I will go to other groups here to negotiate. But now they
understand that with these types of negotiations everybody lost.
The people who rule us don't understand the social phenomenon
of society demonstrating. Its like a revolution and sometime
there is no alternative.B.I.V.: On Utila and Guanaja, where
energy is more expansive then on Roatan, are protests coming
R. D-H: On Utila the salaries are better, but they are starting
to complain. Guanaja is dead. They are suffering more than us.
On Guanaja people are more peaceful, but there will be a moment
when they will not tolerate that and explode.B.I.V.: Patronatos
are dominated by Spanish speaking and mainland born people.
Do you feel that you represent a group that is often ad odds
with islander values and interests?
R. D-H: I disagree. We have many [12 out of 35 on Roatan]
patronato presidents that are islanders. For me there is only
one race. We are Honduran, doesn't mater the color or where
you were born. That kind of classifications are only dividing
B.I.V.: You've proven yourself to be a thorn in a side of
any government: an accusatory activist that is emotional, confrontational
and uncompromising. Can you be an effective member of any government,
or are you primarily a guerrilla activist?
R. D-H: As humans we are emotional. I am a woman of peace
and I don't always fight. I love justice and if that is emotional
I accept that. I will never support injustice and say no to
tyranny and things that are not right. I was [Bay Islands] teachers
director for two years and I think I've shown I am a valuable
member to work with the government.
B.I.V.: You lobbied unsuccessful to by appointed governor
for the Bay Islands. Why do you think you were not appointed?
R. D-H: As any citizen I am ready be a part in any governing
position. Women with capabilities need more participation [in
the government]. I could not only to be a governor, I have other
aspirations in my life. But if this is not my time. I don't
have a grudge. I am still young and I am preparing. I never
asked or expected anybody to appoint me to be a governor. I
never worked with the intention to be elected in a public office.
story / editorial
/ local news
Ways for Wireless by
three years, two Honduran Internet and telecommuncations companies
have competed for the Bay Islands market. Tropico Telephone &
Internet and GlobalNet are now both working on upgrading their services
and filling in gaps in telecommunications service.
has become the first internet and telecommunications provider
to provide a backbone, independent of Hondutels' infrastructure,
to Honduran subscribers in La Ceiba and Bay Islands. The company's
internet traffic passes through international fiber optic connection
points, Mayan-1 and Arcos-1 before it is picked up by long distance
microwave and fiber optics communications link connecting La Ceiba
and Bay Islands with the rest of the world. Now the internet signal
arrives in the Bay Islands after three 'hops' instead of the previous
Globalnet is not far behind, but has decided on a different approach
connecting Puerto Cortez and with La Ceiba not with a set of wireless
stations, but by a fiber optic cable. This is a greater investment
of $1.4 million versus the $500,000 the company expected to pay
for a similar wireless backbone. Globalnet's 240 kilometer long
project is 50 percent complete in laying down its 240 kilometer
long fiber optic cable, has just passed Tela and is expected to
be ready in August. "We want to replicate the experience
of internet that mainland subscribers already enjoy," said
TTI has also made inroads in alleviating Honduras' telephone communications
problems. Until recently Hondutel had a monopoly as the country's
sole telephone provider. A year ago 18 licenses were granted to
companies to provide telephone service through the country. TTI
has become a sub operator of Hondutel issuing 470 extension phone
numbers throughout its region of operations: from Tela to La Ceiba
and in the Bay Islands.
Globalnet also provides telephone numbers, but mostly to large
corporate clients on mainland Honduras. In August on Roatan the
company will offer an alternative, or a back-up credit card service,
to around 200 businesses accepting credit cards where until now
Hondutel had a monopoly.
The La Ceiba based TTI has currently around 500 customers: 200
on Roatan, 150 on Utila and 8 on Cayos Cochinos. With 900 Utila
Power Company (UPCO) costumers, Utila has the highest market 17%
market density. TTI expects continued growth in subscribers of
50% to 60% a year.
Under the leadership Jeremy Crane, a 30-year-old CEO, in August
2004 Tropico, restructured itself into TTI (Tropico Telephone
and Internet) with Lps. 20 million capitalization. "Everyone
has suffered through poor reliability and limited bandwidth for
years. The timing of this connection is critical to the booming
tourism and manufacturing industries in this area," said
Charles Powers, president of TTI with 25 years IBM managerial
experience, who recently took over as the company's head man.
Globalnet is a bigger San Pedro Sula based national internet company
that focuses on larger, mostly corporate clients with several
offices throughout the country. Globalnet has currently 2,000
subscribers with 130 of them on Roatan.
respect our competition and we think it helps us to bring a better
service," said Mario Velasquez, administrative director of
Globalnet, a 1996 formed company and one of Honduras' original
Roatan, a geographically remote market with many foreign businesses,
Globalnet has partnered with locally known and well established
Paradise Computers. The partnership has allowed the company to
steadily grow its customer base and, especially in the first two
years, rely on Paradise Computer's staff for technical assistance.
time when affordable internet will be available to wide Bay Islands
public is fast approaching. It is most likely that the local cable
companies, with already existing cable networks and customers
will offer the cheapest, most economical way for small customers
to find affordable and fast internet connection.
TTI is seeing a continuing large growth in its Utila and especially
Roatan markets. To ease connections and lessen cost to consumers
a fiber optic line was laid by the company in Utila and La Ceiba.
A DSL local link is already operational in Coxen Hole, French
Harbour, West End and West Bay. Globalnet on the other hand is
working with China based UT Starcam, to set-up a copper cable
network first in Jonesville, then in West End in July.
TTI is also looking at expanding its services to include Trujillo
and Tela, but on Guanaja things have been more complicated. While
Globalnet has established a base of 20 subscribers on the island,
TTI found Guanaja, with small size of the internet market and
lack of regular transport to the island, a difficult place to
provide wireless service.
Ten months ago on Roatan an alternative to TTI and Globalnet networks
came on the market. In more remote locations customers can now
choose from two direct satellite connections: VSat and DirecWay,
installed by Paradise Computers. This dish technology that connects
customers directly to the satellite has already attracted two
dozen subscribers. While 20 chose the more expensive VSat option
that allows for stable Voice/IP connection at an initial cost
of around $3,500, a handful of others opted for the more economical,
$1,600 DirecWay package. This internet option is typically considered
an alternative for individual customers, not large business requiring
wide bandwidth and short delays in signal.
Both companies stay conscious of its public image and try to give
back to the community they work in. TTI has sponsored a La Ceiba
bike race "Conquesta de Cangrejal" and provided free
internet services at the 2005 Roatan Shrimp Festival, while Globalnet
is providing a free internet service at Nurse Peggy's Clinica
Esperanza and is looking for another two-three non-profit and
community oriented projects to sponsor. "We are not just
about making profit. We are a socially conscious company,"