story / editorial
by Thomas Tomczyk
the Status of Bay Islands as a Special Tourist Zone Likely to Change
Things? Time Will Tell
While many contemplate whether ZOLITUR (Free Tourist Zone
of Bay Islands) will attract a further boom in business coming
to the archipelago, the pressing question is whether Bay Island's
reefs, forests and water tables will survive the boom already
underway. While many business people and ZOLITUR officials
are focusing on the duty free aspect of the Tourist Zone,
the security and environmental aspects of this legislature
may actually prove to be the most crucial determinant to the
Bay Island's future.
The tax-free status of Bay Islands was hailed by local politicians
as the way to attract investment, bring in more tourists and
improve security. The ZOLITUR law was signed on December 13,
2005 and officially began functioning a year later.
ZOLITUR, conceived by congressman Jerry Hynds at the time
when he was still a Mayor of Roatan (1998-2006), is a compromise
between Bay Islands politicians and mainland congressmen who
required that the tax-free benefits be given only to Bay Island
businesses instead of to the islanders. The idea of making
Bay Islands into an entity that would control its own taxes
and security needed a compromise of both the Liberal and National
parties. Compromise was reached and both parties supported
a common vision of developing a system of laws that would
allow for a more autonomous, self-regulating Bay Islands.
According to Nicole Brady, a ZOLITUR sub-director, the idea
was conceived four-five years ago. Initially the concept was
to simply pass tax benefits to all Bay Islands residents;
yet with the mainland congressmen not looking to lose out,
a compromise was reached: tax benefits for Bay Islands registered
companies. "We need to insure that the tourist will keep
on coming here and investors will keep investing," said
Brady. "This is the closest to independence we are going
ZOLITUR offices are located in a nondescript building in French
Harbour, next to a furniture store. Just from the number of
Toyota Prados, Hummers and Escalades parked in front, you
know it's an important place, arguably the most important
office in the Bay Islands.
For many, ZOLITUR has become a bureaucratic machine worthy
of a Kafka novel. Behind a dozen doors a dozen bureaucrats
sift through piles of papers, staple Xerox copies and answer
calls. An open, empty hall with patiently awaiting petitioners.
"All bureaucratic structures' primary goal is justification
of itself," goes a saying. It is ironic that with all
the documentation and preoccupation with law and legal detail,
ZOLITUR rents a space in a building which never received a
building permit. It shouldn't even be there.
ZOLITUR applicants have been struggling with a seemingly endless
list of prerequisites and unprepared customs officials. "ZOLITUR
has a public relations problem," said Dan Laylands, an
American business owner on Roatan.
ZOLITUR officials see obstacles in different places. "The
most difficult part of this project has been money, but we
are getting over the hump now," says Glen Solomon. According
to Solomon, a loan from Congressman Jerry Hynds and eventually
a loan from the Central Government funded the upstart of the
ZOLITUR offices. "We're still paying them back,"
Until mid May ZOLITUR collected Lps. 5 million in fees and
payments. It took until July for the first quarter installment
to arrive from the central government, a four month delay.
"There was a glitch in the code," explained Cynthia
about the delay. Solomon says that the bulk of the money has
come from the capital gains fees, but over time more will
be generated from the visitor environmental tariff of $1 from
domestic visitors, $2 from cruise ship visitors and $6 from
international flight arrivals.
"Galaxy and Utila [Princess] have been cooperating. We
haven't received cooperation from the airport, but we will
see about that," said Congressman Hynds in April about
the $1 and $6 impact fees charged to all visitors arriving
via water and air in the archipelago. In August InterAirports
was still not collecting the fees. Since February InterAirports
could have collected $180,000 from international passengers
arriving in the Bay Islands and a further $50,000 from domestic
passengers. That's $230,000 that didn't make it into ZOLITUR
With 240,000 yearly cruise ship passengers in 2007, 60,000
international flight passengers and 300,000 domestic air and
maritime passengers ZOLITUR should expect an annual income
of $780,000 a year.
Currently the biggest ZOLITUR collections come from the 4%
capital gains taxes that must be paid within three days of
closing on all property sold since December 13, 2006. But
since the sale is counted from the date of filing with registry
of property and many new owners don't file the sale promptly,
developers are ending up paying capital gains taxes for properties
they sold years ago. "For an importer it [ZOLITUR] is
excellent. For a developer it is not so much," says Hyde,
who is also developing an affordable housing development Coxen
ZOLITUR office in Coxen Hole and Bay Islanders registering for
where will the money go? While in the last decade different
Bay Islands municipalities have relied on the skill of their
Mayors to raise funds for public works projects, ZOLITUR is
expected to fund municipalities more evenly. "Now, unlike
before, Santos Guardiola will get funds from the cruise ship
visitors," said Julio Galindo, president of the Chamber
of Tourism and ZOLITUR board member.
Each municipality has to present projects for funding and
the ZOLITUR commission votes on the approval of projects for
funding. According to Solomon, so far only Guanaja Municipality
has presented an infrastructure project for ZOLITUR funding
and at least 30% and possibly 40%-45% of the first quarter
Lps. 5 million budget will go towards infrastructure projects.
The projects arriving from ZOLITUR will take place over time
and some are getting frustrated at the slow tempo of change.
"I paid a lot of money and we don't see any changes,"
said Michel Rodgers, owner of Roatan Realty.
The amount of time spent by companies trying to get all the
paperwork together is a general concern. "We had two
people on this full time for three weeks," says Al Johnson,
Parrot Tree Plantation sales manager, about the ZOLITUR application
procedure. Both Parrot Tree Plantation and its sister company
Century 21-BI have received ZOLITUR licenses. "It doesn't
seem like a feasible idea for smaller businesses though,"
Items to be imported must be placed on import lists one year
in advance. Customs have introduced late penalties for not
taking an item through customs within 20 working days. In
one example, an American who imported a $1,700 bed found himself
paying Lps. 8,000 ($420) in import duties and Lps. 13,700
($720) in customs penalties. "It is just not feasible.
This is a secondary effect of ZOLITUR," says Elmer Cruz,
owner of the Del Caribe, an import agency in Cozen Hole.
"They make you jump through hoops like you wouldn't believe,"
said Johnson. ZOLITUR has made the company look for original
receipts from 12 years ago when construction on the Parrot
Tree Plantation began. "They don't accept internet banking.
Where's the modern world?" says Johnson.
"The first licenses we originally issued were a legal
nightmare," said Brady. "It has been a journey.
Let me just put it this way: if anything can save us it is
that [ZOLITUR]." By August 20, 106 business have received
their ZOLITUR license: 30% sole proprietor and 70% corporations.
"The requirements haven't changed. We made it quite clear,"
says Solomon. While application requirements might be clear
to ZOLITUR officials, the application process was both confusing
and costly to many applicants.
One of the small businesses that applied for ZOLITUR was American
Dian Lynn's furniture import business, "Dian's Garden
of Eat'n." Lynn says that initially she was required
to join CANATUR-BI and pay $2,000 in membership fees. "They
even set up a desk in the ZOLITUR office," said Lynn,
who refused to pay. Finally Lynn received her ZOLITUR license
(no. 12) in February, but didn't even try to clear her container
through. "I'm not a paperwork type of a girl, more of
a do it girl," says Lynn, who presumed it would be a
chaotic ordeal. She was right.
"For the first three weeks it was a disaster," says
Boyd Svoboda, an American owner of GS Industries, a concrete
and construction business on Roatan, remembering the early
part of 2008. "The one guy in the country who could put
the codes into the customs system went on vacation."
Now Svoboda imports concrete materials tax free and without
Lynn however still has issues with ZOLITUR importation. In
August, on her first shipment of furniture Lynn had to pay
a $940 customs fine because in the long list of authorized
import items, "wood furniture" was mentioned, but
not "wooden chairs." Since Lynn can no longer deduct
her sales tax from the $3,200 annual duties her business typically
paid each year, "I still don't know if I'll be winning
or losing, but it will be close," says Lynn. Many small
businesses are in a situation where ZOLITUR is unlikely to
improve their bottom line.
Even for ZOLITUR-licensed companies not everything is easy
to import. ZOLITUR companies wishing to import cars, motorcycles,
boats, planes and helicopters still have to go through Ministry
of Finances and can expect to pay the 46% duties on the cost
of items, shipping and insurance.
ZOLITUR isn't prospective good news for everyone. Honduran
building materials manufacturers producing tiles, doors, windows
and roofing are likely to suffer, as cheaper, more competitive
products will arrive tax free from China. In addition, ZOLITUR
is likely to discourage Honduran and Central American craftspeople
from producing souvenir items for Bay Islands. Businesses
that before relied on local and Honduran-made crafts will
likely focus on imports of cheap Chinese goods.
With all this importing one clear winner will be the shipping
companies. After Jackson Shipping suspends its US to Roatan
cargo transport, the island will be left with three international
maritime transport companies: Island Shipping, Caribbean Shipping
and Hyde Shipping. "It will take three years to see the
full benefits of ZOLITUR. It has kinks to work out,"
says GM Shawn Hyde, whose Hyde Shipping company is likely
to grow in leaps and bounds as imports to the Bay Islands
increase. Hyde Shipping is already building a new warehouse
and office facility to prepare for the expansion in business.
According to Dennis Amaya, one of six customs officials stationed
in the Bay Islands, around 80% of the cargo arriving in the
Bay Islands is cleared to ZOLITUR-licensed companies. CAFTA,
the Central American Free Trade Agreement that since 2005
includes Honduras, has few beneficiaries on Bay Islands. "[In
the Bay Islands] it's mostly 'used clothes merchants' that
bring in items tax free," says Amaya about CAFTA.
Ordinary Bay Islanders should benefit from lower prices in
stores. Eldon's and Plaza Mar stores are already ZOLITUR members
and have been able to save around 15% on import duties. With
rising food prices, the price changes have not been visible.
Vegas Electric, importing electrical materials under ZOLITUR
license, has been able to pass the savings on to its customers.
The preoccupation with ZOLITUR fees and customs regulation
has sidelined the most important aspects for why ZOLITUR was
designed in the first place. After the regulation of Customs
and Security, regulations concerning Education, Health, Culture
and History will be implemented. "Most people thought
that they could do their shopping duty free. That is not the
idea. ZOLITUR is here to stimulate the economy and attract
investment," said Solomon. "The concept is to make
Bay Islands a better place, to make social growth equal to
Until now the issues of security that ZOLITUR was meant to
improve haven't changed at all, and part of the security issues
are related to a neglected government health system on the
island. "ZOLITUR has done nothing for Roatan Hospital,"
says Dr. Lastenia Cruz, director of the Roatan Hospital. Dr.
Cruz is aware of the needs and hopes that ZOLITUR will eventually
step up to the plate and help.
Solomon executive director of ZOLITUR.
story / editorial
/ local new s
______________back to top
Republic, not a Democracy
by Thomas Tomczyk
voters shouldn't get used to this electoral abnormality.
This November 6 elections will be a throw-back to 1789.
Since then, Americans have been living not in a flawed democracy,
but in a republic ruled by two parties' status quo. The
US electoral system-a winner-takes-all system--is a de-facto
dictatorship of two political parties which are unwilling
to, and will likely never, cede their power.
America has a dysfunctional election system which no small
measures can change. A jolt, however, a situation in which
75-80% of eligible voters refuse to vote, could do just
that. The "your vote counts" call, however, serves
to ensure that the public continues to participate and support
an election process that they know instinctively doesn't
American voters are afraid to vote their conscience, calculating
that during a close November election voting for candidates
from Green Party, Libertarian, Socialist, Natural Law, etc.
would be a "vote thrown away." Sizable numbers
of US electorates don't vote with their conscience either,
but rather out of fear of consequence where their conscience
could take them.
The 2000 presidential election was the fourth time, after
1824, 1876 and 1888, that a candidate with fewer popular
votes won the national elections. In 1992 Ross Perot and
his billions of dollars managed to get 18.9% of popular
vote didn't pick up a single electoral college vote. Thanks
to the winner-takes-all system Bill Clinton won that year
with only 43% of the popular vote. If 57% of people who
voted for someone other than Clinton had had a chance to
vote in run-off elections, it is likely that there would
have been another result. The winner-takes-all election
process is an undemocratic and dangerous system to have.
One glimmer of hope is given by two states: Maine and Nebraska.
You will not see presidential candidates campaigning there
for one reason: these two states allocate their electoral
college votes proportionally, based on the popular vote
winner of each of the state's individual congressional districts.
In addition the statewide popular vote winner receives two
additional electoral votes. Complicated, but fair.
the time of the first United States elections in 1789, only
white, male property owners over the age of 24--roughly 10%-16%
of the population--could vote. Since then a trickle of changes
and enfranchisements have followed. First, in 1820, a religious
prerequisite for voters was dropped. In 1850 the land-ownership
requirement was waived. Then in 1870 the XV amendment extended
voting rights to black men. Half a century later, in 1920,
the XIX amendment granted women the right to vote in national
elections. Last to be given suffrage in national elections
were the Native Americans in 1924.
Today, and since 1870, it is the women who are the most underrepresented
group in US congress. While the 13% (42 of 435 congressmen)
strong African American population has 9.5% of seats in congress
only 13 women, or less then 3% of the total, are in congress.
Women, however, are the voting majority at 51%.
In 2004 elections, 10% of the voting age public couldn't vote
if they tried. Aliens, disenfranchised felons and persons
who are considered "mentally incompetent" are not
eligible to vote in US federal elections. The first Tuesday
in November tradition disenfranchises millions of voters who
work long hours, two jobs, and can't make it in time to pooling
This 2008 election cycle the Democratic party primary was
exhilarating and exhausting. Voters in long-forgotten states
and states ceded to other party states (Wyoming, Puerto Rico,
North Dakota, for example) had a chance to meet Democratic
challengers first hand. Few Americans realize why this actually
happened. For the first time in its history, the Democratic
party followed a proportional allocation of electoral college
votes in states' primary elections. A candidate winning 50%
plus one vote in Florida didn't carry the state's 25 electoral
college votes, but only 13 to the challengers 12. Fair, isn't
story / editorial
/ local news
Fish Under Threat
for Shark Fins around Bay Islands Intensifies
of the most well-informed people as to the condition of sharks around
Roatan is Maurilio Mirabella, owner of Roatan's Waihuka Adventure.
Waihuka is a dive operation specializing in shark dives on the Cordelia
Bank, three miles south of Coxen Hole.
In 2006, while diving with a group of tourists, Mirabella noticed
his first shark with a cut fin. In 2007 another shark appeared that
survived an encounter with fishermen trying to cut his fin and throwing
him overboard once they cut his fin. In March Mirabella received
a phone call about a shark that washed up in Coxen Hole. "Only
his head was there. He was completely gutted," says Mirabella.
"If you kill one shark, you kill four groupers, 12 snappers,
it affects the entire ecosystem."
Mirabella sometimes ends up paying local fishermen to cut lines
with a shark they've just caught. Sometimes he waits around in his
dive boat until a fishing boat leaves the area where sharks are
present. It's a game of cat and mouse, and Mirabella says that the
threat to Roatan's sharks is intensifying. Part of the shark-fishing
problem, Mirabella believes, is generated by locals who kill the
fish for shark oil, a liquid considered a cure-all. Additionally,
shark fins sometimes "surface" in La Ceiba, likely in
the town's three Chinese restaurants which serve shark fin a-la-carte
as a delicacy and an aphrodisiac.
sold for a dollar and shark fin (top right) sold for three dollars
at a roatan resort. (Photo James Foley)
despite descending from an ancient lineage of vertebrates dating
back some 400 million years, are at their lowest point of all
time. These apex predators rely on an entire food chain being
healthy in order to support them which makes them especially vulnerable
to a changing habitat. Bay Islands' fragile reef has supported
hundreds of sharks. But their fishing falls in a gray legal area,
which many fishermen and shark parts vendors are taking advantage.
Amongst Roatan's dozens of tourist souvenir shops, shark fins
are sold for just a couple dollars. Fishermen on Saint Helene
have been seen with shark fins, where sometimes sharks are caught
and butchered in plain site. In February, while on a research
trip to Utila's Pigeon Cay, a Utila fisherman caught a 7' hammerhead
which he butchered on a dock. James Foley, director of research
and development at Roatan Marine Park, saw the entire incident.
"In the end fishing for shark is a gray area," says
Foley. "Shark's longevity and low rates of reproduction make
them especially vulnerable to overexploitation."
30 Day Itch By Tracy Carris
Term Foreigner Residents in BI are trying to Make Sense of
the Confusing Immigration Laws and Fines
Islands Voice investigative reporting resulted in change of
Bay Islands immigration procedures and promise of issuing of
receipts for every fine paid. With an immigration official's
starting salary of Lps. 6,000, the temptation of pocketing 27%
of a monthly salary for every fine was substantial. From now,
tens of thousands of dollars owed to central government should
be accounted for. Honduras, in Transparency International ranking,
places 121 for corruption, 1 being the best (Finland) and 163
(Haiti) the worst.
Prior to the policy change Roatan immigration officials said
that they were doing foreign visitors a favor by letting them
leave the country without the inconvenience, or virtual impossibility,
of visiting a bank to pay the fine. Pacheco stated that new
procedure for paying fines, using a page off government fees
form deposit slip, was in place as of mid August.
Pacheco said that the automatic 90 day visa applies strictly
to tourists. Business visas leave more discretion to the immigration
official who determine if the business is legal, taxes are being
paid and ties to the Honduran business community exist. To be
considered for a 90 day business visa Pacheco suggested to provide
immigration officials the following: a letter from your attorney
if you are applying for residency, a copy of your corporation
documents, or a bank book in the company name. A 30 day visa
extension is typically available for $25.
According to Marlene Aquiriano, an airport immigration official,
even people who enter the country as tourist can be determined
to be here on business. If the officer determines you trip is
business as well as tourism, there is a strong chance you will
be issued 30 days.
Dr. Patrick Connell, a volunteer doctor at Sandy Bay's Clinica
Esperanza, stated that over the past several years he had problems
getting a 90 day visa, but this year, with a letter in hand
from the clinic was granted 90 days for the first time.
According to Aquiriano, the fine for overstaying initial visa
is Lps. 1,624 Lempira for the first month and for every extra
month the visa is overstayed the fine goes up Lps. 325.
Pacheco was recently rotated off the Bay Islands and replaced
by Ramon Paz. For further information on Honduran Immigration
the following numbers and web site may help: Roatan Immigration:
445-1326, Tegucigalpa Immigration: 235-7038 and www.gobernacion.gob.hn.
Airport Immigration Counter.
Until mid August many foreigners departing the Bay Islands were
fined, most often without a receipt, for overstaying the allotted
time on their visa. The typical fine applied was Lps. 1,624.
Now, after involvement of the Tegucigalpa Immigration, anyone
fined for overstaying their allotted time should receive a receipt.
"Don't pay the fine, if they don't give you a receipt,"
stated Rigoberto Alvarado, a Chief of Foreign Matters at Immigration
Department in Tegucigalpa. Alvarado went onto say the law requires
that North Americans and Europeans entering Honduras for tourist
purposes should be issued 90 days visas automatically.
There are hundreds of foreigners frustrated and confused about
the ever changing immigration laws and rudimentary application
of 90 day visa, or visa renewals. Many of them are retirees,
live on fixed budgets and many also own homes on the Bay Islands.
Still, every 90 days they have to leave Honduras and travel
as far as Mexico, or Costa Rica, stay there three days, to be
allowed back into the Honduras.
"It's money, money, money and I've never had anything accomplished
with a lawyer," says Larry Wood, a Canadian retiree on
Roatan since 1994 who has given up trying to get his residency.
Woods lives on a fixed budget and every three months leaves
Honduras to be able to enjoy his Jonesville Point residence.
Wood estimates that that over the years he has spent around
$1,500 on visa renewals. "Never in 14 years they have given
me a receipt," says Wood.
Mario Pacheco, former chief of Bay Islands Immigration, argued
that no proper receipts can be issued outside of the banks.
A few days later, after Bay Islands Voice contacted Tegucigalpa
Immigration about the receipt issue, Pacheco found a way to
account for fines collected from foreigners that should end
up in governments coffers.
Boom in Utila Municipality
is Booming: Public Buildings and Projects are Going Up Everywhere
Islands smallest Municipality has the most to show for itself.
Over the last four to five years Utila has become the Cinderella
story of the Archipelago.
In 2005, the 15 Fondo Prosperidad projects that never arrived
on Roatan have pumped money and energy into the local Utila
economy with over $200,000 spent on construction and attracting
A new public school building, named after current mayor Alton
Cooper, opened doors in 2007. A desalination plant for potable
water paid for by the Spanish government opened doors in July.
A new bridge was constructed at the Utila Cays. And on land
just north of the police station, donated by the Morgan family,
a football field is under construction.
A few projects are on the horizon, and their arrival still unscheduled.
The Utila garbage dump still needs investment, and the road
between East Harbour and the Cays remains just a sketch. A new
lighthouse at the entry to East Harbour is planned and a plastic
bottle compacting machine is expected to arrive soon. Piping
for a black water treatment plant and piping for East Harbour,
paid for by PMAIB, is laid through the town.
water construction on Cola de Mico Road.
story / editorial
Lethal Yellowing Danger Winds Down a More Dangerous Whitefly Infestation
Endangers All Palms in the Bay Islands
owner of a Roatan plant nursery, first noticed Whitefly infestations
in February. In her 22 years of working in Honduras, Murphy has
seen Whitefly before, but never so bad.
Controlling Whitefly is a difficult, almost unending struggle. Weekly
chemical sprayings underneath leaves, on coconuts and palm trunks
have to be repeated for three weeks. Then pyrethrin insecticide
has to be switched as Whitefly mutates and becomes resistant to
the original chemical.
Thousands of coconut trees are at risk, and the effects of Whitefly
will likely be even more complex. Close to the sea pesticide spraying
against Whitefly could adversely affect the condition of the already
fragile Roatan reef. Also the disappearing of coconuts close to
shore could facilitate erosion of soils that are kept together by
the plant's roots.
Murphy believes that palm trees away from water sources and in weak
soils are particularly susceptible to Whitefly. Once a palm becomes
infected the best strategy is to rip down infected, yellowed palm
leaves and burn them immediately. The uninfected leaves will hopefully
be enough to keep the palm from dying. "The worse thing about
Whitefly is that it is adaptable. They are nasty little buggers,"
says Murphy about the two-millimeter large insect.
At this point Whitefly infections have been spotted in Los Fuertes,
Dixon Cove and Palmetto. Parrot Tree Plantation, Palmetto Bay Plantation
and Marbella Beach resort are protecting their palms and spaying
for Whitefly. In Honduras private property owners have to count
only on themselves. No local or central government can be expected
to lend a hand in a country-wide disease which threatens the growth
and stability of Honduras' tourism economy.
"We can report, but it is responsibility of the central government
to control a plague like this," said Lidia Medina, head of
Roatan Municipal's Environmental Unit, who said she noticed Whitefly
in Santos Guardiola around January. Some Roatan Municipality members
are worried more than others. "While the grass is growing,
the horse is starving," says Glen Solomon, a city council member
from Gravels Bay.
While Roatan Municipality has spent tax money on green areas, the
maintenance of public greenery is largely symbolic and unplanned.
In October 2004 PMAIB, CANATURH-BI and Roatan Municipality combined
forces to plant a hundred palms and trees in front of the garbage
dump. By August 2008 only seven plants survive, the rest have died
or have been stolen.
In 2006 the sidewalk promenade in Gravels Bay was lined with one-
and two-year-old palms. According to Solomon, counsel member Julio
Galindo donated 500 palms while 200 more were purchased with Municipal
funds. "A majority of them are lost," says Solomon, who
admits that no watering or plant maintenance program followed the
Murphy inspects a Whitefly infected coconut palm in Dixon Cove.
palms have become synonymous with the image of Caribbean beaches.
"You can't count on developing a [hotel] project without
having coconut palms," says Helen Murphy. While the image
of a Caribbean without palms is unthinkable, one infection has
wiped out thousands of palm trees in the Bay Islands already and
another disease-Whitefly-is likely to be even more lethal.
On Honduras' mainland since the early 1990s, Lethal Yellowing
(LY) killed hundreds of thousands of palm trees, while thousands
of palm trees died all over the Bay Islands. "When the disease
got done with us, all you saw was coconut stumps," says Oliver
Dilber, a builder from Los Fuertes. The cost of losing the palm
trees goes far beyond their monetary value of $15 to $200.
Lethal Yellowing is a disease transmitted by plant hopper Myndus
Crudus disease which attacks many coconut and date palms. Palms
usually die within three to six months. The only effective control
of the LY is prevention and planting of disease resistant coconut
"Hybrids of plants from Costa Rica have been imported,"
says Gary Chamer, owner of Palmetto Bay. Chamer has sponsored
a program of prevention and LY control on Palmetto Bay Plantation
by injecting an antibiotic Tetracycline into the trunks of the
Chamer suggests injecting four times a year for mature, especially
valuable palms, while for others once a year is enough. At $10-15
an injection, maintaining LY-free palms can be costly, and Chamer
estimates that out of the 500 palm trees in Palmetto Bay Plantation,
1% is still lost every year to disease or insects.
Another one of these attackers is Red Palm Weevil beetle. The
medium-size beetle, originating from tropical Asia, plants its
larval in trunks of palm trees. Its burrowing can and often does
kill the host plant.
The most recent and likely most lethal threat to Bay Islands'
palms is a white winged, two-millimeter long insect with a ravenous
appetite for chloroform. Whitefly insects typically imbed themselves
on the underside of plant leaves and feed by tapping into the
phloem of the plants, leaving toxic saliva and quickly overwhelming
susceptible plants. They suck the host plant's chloroform dry
and plant hundreds of white colored eggs in a never ending reproduction
and destruction cycle. The attacked palm's leaves yellow, its
coconuts fall, and finally its leaves turn brown and the palm
dies. A grown palm tree can die within a few months, after which
the insects move on to other palms, plants or vegetables. Even
hybrid palm trees, immune to Lethal Yellowing, are susceptible.