Monthly news magazine for Roatan,
Utila & Guanaja
July 2006 Vol.4 No.7
 
Calendar Style
Bay Islands Voice Updates:
feature story / editorial / local news / business

by Thomas Tomczyk

LIGHTS OUT ROATAN!
Anger and Mistrust of a Local Electric Company Spill onto Streets of Roatan
Protesters spontaneously erect barricades in French Harbor on June 12 to protest high electricity bills.
The 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
.
I
n 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 or else.
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.

Protestors blockade Mayor Jackson's mansion in Brick Bay.

Bodden 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

A protestor displays a Honduran flag.

things 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.
E
ven 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 restaurant.
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 compromising.
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 with customers."
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.

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Editorial Cartoon by Thomas Tomczyk

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Celebrating Shrimp by Thomas Tomczyk

2006 ShrimpFest becomes the largest two-day cultural event in Honduras since the visit of the Pope

The 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 afford.
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.

As workers finish construction of the main stage a girl looks on at a beauty contest.

Over 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.
1
2,000 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.
O
ne 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.

Looking for money

Roatan municipal brings in outside auditors to look into 18 months of real estate transactions

In 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

Lawyer Alejandro Tugliani addresses the Roatan Municipal Court.

registry office where a "good for sale" stamp is acquired, but sometime issued without verification of payment.
W
hile 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.

 

Pandy Town Help

Pandy 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 the project.
Ralph Nader of Roatan
Controversial Local Activist Changes Rules of the Game

Rosa 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.

Never 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.'

Bay 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?
R
. 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 to act.
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 world.

B.I.V.: 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 there?
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 the society.
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.
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New Ways for Wireless by Thomas Tomczyk
For 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.

TTI 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 6-7.
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 Velasquez.
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.

"We 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 telecommunications carriers.
O
n 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.
T
he 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," said Velasquez.

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