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The Dark Side of Lobster by Kate Zana Burton

Declining populations, falling profits, and a discarded workforce

Straight off the boat, a young Miskito diver displays his treasure that come to be known as 'red gold.' The industry has very strict guidelines about the size of lobster that can be exported out of Honduras and if the body doesn't measure at least five and a half inches from neck to tail, it won't be accepted by the processing plant. Often the boat captains allow the men to take home any lobsters that don't make the grade.

The lobster industry has taken a serious blow this past year. As demand from the United States has dropped, Honduran lobster prices have plummeted from 340 Lps. a pound to a meager 190 Lps. in the last six months alone. As the season finally comes to a close after eight months of trawling the banks off the north coast of La Mosquitia, Shawn Hyde, the managing director of Mariscos Hybur, one of Roatan's three processing plants, has time to reflect on one of the worst seasons in the past two decades. "There certainly was a crisis last year with the demand dropping right off in the States. I've only done thirty per cent of what I would normally do in a season."
For people living off lobster, falling prices are only part of the problem. Over the past decade the lobster population in Honduran waters has been steadily decreasing. Lobster boat owners have been struggling to even cover the costs of sending their boats out for the twelve day trips out to the lobster banks.
Duane McNab, a lobster dive boat owner from Oak Ridge decided to bring his boat in to dock even before the season ended on February 28. "I literally made $1,000 on the last trip after all the costs were covered. It's not worth it for me, so I didn't do any trips after October." McNab's boat has been sitting in dock for the past five months. Lobster fishing is Honduras is at a breakpoint. Neither boat owners, nor parking plants have been making money and the boat captains have been feeling growing pressure to bring in even more lobster to compensate for the fall in price.
The effects of this now vulnerable industry are not only limited to the Bay Islands. The lobster industry impact stretches right across the northern coast of Honduras and is especially important in La Mosquitia.
The Miskito lobster divers have taken the hardest hit, for they now make only 40 lempira a pound for the product they harvest, an almost a 50% drop.

Savallo is lowered into the water by his workmate, a doryman -- the canoe man who accompanies each diver on the lobster fishing banks. For patients who suffer bends, swimming therapy is encouraged to increase blood circulation and muscle use. On Roatan, a doctor can direct the therapy, but once he returns back to La Mosktia, Savallo will likely be without further medical care.

In the 2008-2009 season, 67 Honduran lobster boats used Miskito divers to bring up their catch. Some boat owners prefer lobster diving to trapping, even though trapping is the safer alternative. According to Hyde, ninety percent of Roatan dive boats have switched to lobster traps, and Hyde says "it is more profitable in the long run to be trapping lobsters." Outfitting the boats with traps is a significant investment.
Lobster diving in Honduras functions in the gray area on international fishing laws. The Honduran government and international organizations have been trying for years to phase out diving for lobster and offer employment alternatives to La Mosquitia divers.
The industry employs around 3,400 divers from the Honduran coast. Without the money brought in from diving, the families and communities have few alternatives for income. In La Mosquitia, unemployment is rife and for many of the residents of the isolated villages sparsely dotted along the coastal lagoons, living from the sea is just about all they know.
Commercial lobster diving is not the safe recreational diving Bay Islanders are used to seeing. Unlike recreational divers, who don't typically dive more often than three times a day to depths of perhaps 90 feet, the Miskito divers routinely dive up to 14 times a day to depths of anywhere between 90 and a 140 feet. The lobsters found in the safety of the shallows have long disappeared.
The impact of these repetitive dives is devastating. The diver's bodies become super saturated with nitrogen which turns into bubbles during their numerous ascents, causing decompression sickness, more commonly known as the bends. Left untreated, the bends can lead to injury, paralysis and, in severe cases, death.
According to AMBHLI (Association of Disabled Divers in La Mosquitia), since 1986, 360 men have lost their lives as a direct result of industrial lobster diving, and over 1600 have been left disabled or paralyzed. Unable to work, many lose their families and homes, and are left to fend for themselves, relying on sporadic volunteer donations from churches or neighbors.

Lobster divers step off the 'lancha' that has brought them to land from the mother boat. After twelve days at sea living in cramped bunks, these Miskito divers have returned without major injury. For every known case of decompression sickness, there are many other undocumented cases. Type I bends causes mainly pain that can be confused as muscular stress from lifting heavy tanks. Sometimes the divers don't want to admit to being injured as it could hinder their chances of being allowed to dive with the same boat again.
A disabled ex lobster diver looks on from his bed. He has spent almost 20 years lying on his stomach and has difficulty clearing his lungs.
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Missing Words by Thomas Tomczyk

How can we communicate across language lines if we don't have words that match our feelings?

That is sometime the problem in the Bay Islands. Here, we live in a society that is divided linguistically and culturally. One major gap between us is our inability to describe ourselves in universal terms that have the same meaning in English, Honduran-Spanish, and Garifuna.
One day, speaking in Spanish, I found myself trying to explain to a Honduran-islander what motivated the people to enrich themselves at the cost of damaging the environment, a collective patrimony of this society. I found myself looking for a word that best described this... and I could not find it. I was looking for the Spanish equivalent for "greed." (Greed: A selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, especially of money, wealth, food, or other possessions.) My Honduran friend didn't understand my attempt at describing the concept either. It was as if the concept of "greed" didn't exist for him.
Yet greed, fear and conformity are three elements of human psychology that dictate all human behavior. Fear- "miedo," and conformity- "conformidad" exists in the fairly common Spanish- Honduran vocabulary. The closest word sometime used by Honduran-Spanish to greed is "avaricia," better translated as avarice, or "jodeoso," better translated as stingy.
The fact that such an important concept doest exist in one word, but has to be described, is particularly disturbing as greed is all around us. The reason for the current world financial crisis can be described with two words: unchallenged greed. In Honduras, like in most societies, people are driven by greed and conformity. They desire material things: new cars, 600 dollar cell phones, super fast boats. They surround themselves with material things as a mark of their status and success. As long as these things were not stolen, the society justifies them.
Living on this island people use different vocabularies and words to describe their reality and challenges around them. Their failure to communicate comes from both a lack of words and lack of effort. On Roatan, there are English speakers who after decades living here don't know but a few words of Spanish. There are Spanish speakers who after 20 years on the islands don't speak a word of English.
These societies live parallel lives, unable to breach the boundaries of relating to each other beyond a superficial "need something" basis. Needs of water, medical attention, work, are often the limits of conversations between them. Without a common language, or a common vocabulary, different linguistic groups on Bay Islands are unable to at length discuss their aspirations.
A person unable to name his ailment is unable to correct it. A society that doesn't live in an understanding of basic mechanisms that drive it is not in tune with itself. That society cannot understand itself, nor make changes, corrections to its own condition.

In George Orwell's book '1984' the main character is employed in the 'Ministry of Truth.' He works for the state creating 'newspeak', editing words out and substituting them with simple terms, removing all shades of meaning from language.
Concepts that the State decided should no longer be used are erased from books and old newspapers. Words such as science, democracy, empathy are erased from conscious and immediate vocabulary. For citizens of the State these emotions still exist, but cannot be easily described and a growing number of emotions can only be described by a collection of words creating a language whose vocabulary becomes smaller every year.
The premise of this policy was that people that have no words to describe how they feel cannot aspire to rebel against their condition, they can't even describe what is missing from their lives. Concepts without specific words to describe them don't exist in the immediate psyche of a person.

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School Powers Up by Jay Chub

Solar Power Provides Tangible Benefits while Fostering Good-Will and Partnerships

The Electricians
In 2004, a group of local electricians invited representatives of NECA's Mexican chapter to Roatan to share their experience in meeting the demands of the rapidly growing market in Mexico. With backing and support from the Mexican group and guidance from NECA's international office, ACEH was founded and chartered as a NECA chapter in 2006. Since then, the group has committed to an ambitious agenda of activities including a formal training program, travel to international conferences, and local volunteer projects.
"We do projects like this one to educate ourselves, promote our skills to developers, and to benefit the community", says Connor. "Our first project involved a wiring upgrade for an orphanage in La Ceiba after an electrical fire killed a child." The group then re-wired the day care center in Coxen Hole, and the French Harbour public health clinic in addition to helping with Clinica Esperanza in Sandy Bay.
"Most of the electrical work that has been done on the island was done by unqualified people lacking knowledge and the right equipment", says Connor. "But through our relationship with NECA we're now being trained to work to internationally recognized standards. Connor says that developers often underestimate the skills of local contractors when planning projects. "We hope to show them what we're capable of," he says.

The University
"We're amped up about this!" says professor David Riley of Pennsylvania State University. Riley brought his group of engineering students to Roatan for the week to participate in the preparation and installation of the solar system equipment. He agrees with Connor about the professionalism of these local contractors. "I'm impressed; this is no hodge-podge installation," he says.
According to Riley, adequate preparation and locally available support for the installation is the key to its success. "Most projects don't prepare well. They rush in, build things and leave. With ACEH providing on going support, the project can stay local". Thorough knowledge of local conditions emerges as a key theme in Riley's view. "For example, Vegas Electric's experience working on Roatan convinced us that we needed marine grade mountings. Without that kind of knowledge the installation just wouldn't hold up."
Professor Riley says the project is great for his students. "As teachers we spend so much time trying to get students excited. Coming to Roatan excited them, it was so popular that we had to turn people away". The students each paid over $2,000 for travel and expenses and were treated to daily tours of the island with ACEH members. "It's a great project for students to learn from, it helps them connect to sustainable industries of the future" says Riley.

The Conference
Over 30 local and international electrical contractors gathered at Infinity Bay in early March for the annual "Cross-Border Meeting" sponsored by NECA's ELECTRI-International foundation. Three full days of meetings and field trips were scheduled to share information, discuss future activities, and glean experience from the Sandy Bay Solar project. Charles George of Vegas Electric and ACEH says the conference is a powerful tool for developing the local industry. "Twelve local contractors attended the activities and they had a chance to exchange ideas with some of the most successful electrical contractors in the US. The relationships that we develop here will provide us guidance, mentoring, and a vision for improving our skills and the services we offer our customers."
Orvil Anthony of San Antonio, Texas manages a division of Fisk Electric, one of the top ten US electrical contracting firms. He first attended a cross border conference five years ago and since then has made exchange with Central American countries part of his company's business model. "We take the best from what we see and apply it to our business; then we help address any shortfalls we find in local businesses. Our company now exchanges project managers between Guadalajara and our home offices. There's friendship, learning, we even refer customers across borders".
If Anthony is any barometer, Roatan can expect more projects benefiting the community in the future. "This is an exciting time. It's our largest cross border meeting so far, and the school is the first tangible project to come out of them. We're hoping for 4 or 5 projects like this every year".

Students install solar panels on Sandy Bay Alternative School's roof.
Local residents recently witnessed a bee hive of activity as a 2.5 kW grid-tied solar system, likely to be first in Honduras, was installed and commissioned at the Sandy Bay Alternative School. This project, a collaborative effort between the Association of Honduran Electrical Contractors (ACEH), engineering students from Penn State University (PSU), and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), demonstrates the potential for a motivated private sector to play a leadership roll in community development.

The Project
The seed for this project was planted during the 2008 El Salvador meeting of NECA's ELECTRI-International members. A brief conversation between PSU's Dr. David Riley and ACEH president Charles George led to further discussions and the ultimate fruition of the project. "Last October, some of us attended the NECA convention in Chicago and that's where members of the Penn State student chapter presented their project proposal", explains ACEH member Wally Connor. Completion of this project and commissioning of the system was timed to coincide with NECA's annual "Cross Border" conference held at Infinity Bay.
Fifteen thousand dollars for materials was granted to the student chapter by the US based NECA, and over 500 hours of labor and $2,000 of materials was donated by the Roatan based ACEH members to upgrade wiring in the school building. Eddy Zelaya, field supervisor for Vegas Electric, coordinated the activities of the Penn State students and ACEH members involved in the project. According to George, a US certified solar system installer who provided the design and equipment specifications, Vegas Electric has been involved in renewable energy projects on Roatan since 1993.
The school expects to offset as much as 75% of their yearly energy costs. "With power costs so high in Roatan, we've been spending money on electricity bills that will now be going to more teachers and books," says Miriam Hanson, school director. Hanson says the project will be used to teach the practical value of solar power in addition to saving dollars for the school. "The Penn State students also came into the school and did some sessions about fossil fuels. With all the kids knowing that our lights are now powered by the sun, this really teaches our kids to recognize and care for the resources we have."
"Now we're alternative not only in our education philosophy but in energy too. We always try to promote alternative solutions to global problems and this project teaches kids about building international partnerships and inspires a spirit of inquiry."

Canadian Retiree Shot in Corozal
A prominent Saskatoon architect is likely to be a quadriplegic

Retired architect Roger Walls, 71, from Saskatoon, Canada, was shot on his nine-acre Corozal property on February 27. A worker clearing Walls' land found him unresponsive in the driver's seat of his red Mitsubishi Montero.
The worker contacted Corozal resident Elmer Bustillo, who drove Walls to the Coxen Hole public hospital. Bustillo says that Walls was still conscious but unable to speak due to a gunshot wound in the neck. Reports state that legal and personal documents were stolen from Walls, but Bustillo says that Walls was found with around 18-19 thousand Lempiras in his possession.
Walls was flown to San Pedro Sula where a .45-calibre bullet was removed from his spine. On March 7 Walls was transported via air ambulance to Florida and then Saskatoon where he remains in stable condition at an intensive care unit. Walls lost two vertebra in his spine and is likely to be a quadriplegic. According to Vic Walls, Roger's brother, he is improving on daily basis.
Walls lived on his sail boat "Wandering Spirit" in French Harbour since 2003. He was constructing a home on his property in Tres Flores and had purchased several other properties on the island. According to Julio Benitez, Bay Islands Chief of Police, no arrests have been made.
As reported by Canadian press and according to Vic Walls, Roger's brother, the main suspect in the shooting is a woman who is reportedly one of three people who owes Walls money. Over the last six years, Walls has purchased several distressed properties on Roatan and has lent large quantities of money to several people. Vic Walls has offered to pay for any willing Honduran official's expenses of flying to Canada in order to take depositions that would help in solving the case.

Fundraising and Groundbreaking
A New Nonprofit Gets Going

Around 25 KMI board members, guests, donors and their spouses flew in to Roatan on a private jet on to attend a March 6 invitation-only dinner and auction at Infinity Bay. The participants bid on items ranging from $8,000 Diamonds International jewelry pieces to $250,000 Lawson Rock condominiums, with part of the profits going to KMI.
On March 7, KMI organized a community day at Gumbalimba Park, with tickets sold to businesses then given away to local families and children. Over 60 volunteers managed ticketing, cooking and serving food. "I found out about KMI at the Flowers Bay kids' party and I feel good helping", said Lisa, one of the local volunteers. Around 200 attendees were treated to a helicopter rides and country and western music by a Willie Nelson tribute artist.
A week later KMI introduced the master plans for its project to a small group of visitors, including US ambassador Hugo Lorens. The girl's home site is next to Springfield Condominiums, whose owner Kerwin Woods has donated a 25 year lease on land to house the project.
It isn't always easy for KMI to work on the island. Since Child Sponsorship International, a Sandy Bay orphanage nonprofit, disintegrated in 2007 and is under investigation for abuse of children and mis-use of funds, some Roatanians are skeptical and a bit suspicious of any new nonprofits coming to the island. "We've had to let people know that we're serious and can be trusted", said Lenox. "We'll be posting all of our accounts online for everyone to see as soon as we find the time."
KMI's CEO Joe King, a Washington lobbyist now living in Texas, says the group has paid all its expenses out of member's personal funds, or money raised in the US. "Every dollar raised here (on Roatan) will stay here," King said, and Lenox confirmed that the group won't be recouping its setup costs from funds raised on Roatan.
Willy Nelson tribute artist and fans.
Kids Matter International (KMI), a faith-based US non-profit beginning work in Roatan held three March events to raise funds and awareness of their planned Lighthouse Home for Girls. This shelter for girls at risk of violence and abuse is planned to be constructed on donated land near the Springfield Condominium development in Los Fuertes. KMI directors promise to work closely with local community groups, churches and Honduran law-enforcement agencies.
Collin Fullilove, project director, and fellow project coordinator Courtney Lenox, wrote the proposal for the home six months ago. Since then the group has partnered with a range of Roatan businesses and leaders, secured a land donation in Los Fuertes and, according to Fullilove, has raised around $30,000 in donations.
Ambassador Lorenz Meets Constituents

On March 12, US ambassador Hugo Lorenz met with US citizens at a town hall at Coral Cay. "If we [US] can't effect change in Mexico and Central America, we have real problems," told Lorenz about 30 Americans that came to meet him and ask questions. US embassy estimates that 70,000 US citizens live in Honduras, and 3,000 of them in the Bay Islands.
Ambassador discussed the US aid program to Honduras that began in the 1940s and, according to Ambassador Lorenz, in 2008 amounts to $50 million spent on development projects. One of the chief projects US is funding is the widening of the CA5 highway from San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa, and the direct highway from San Pedro Sula to Tela.
"We don't really care if the government is left, right or center as long as they are democratic," told the group Ambassador Lorenz. "You have the most independent supreme court in the country's history."

Permanent Emergency
Medical Care Comes Second as Nurses Strike by Jay Chub

Dr Cruz says that many patients who would otherwise be treated as outpatients come to the emergency ward during a strike. "I'm obligated by oath to attend to anyone who comes, whether there's blood or not. I'm seeing patients with colds and coughs mixed in with potentially fatal wounds and conditions."
Carla Gusman, 29, works as an auxiliary nurse, trained for maternity and emergency care. Ms Gusman is one of the nurses working in the emergency ward during the strike. "We keep working, because the others don't have the training and knowledge", she says. Ms Gusman sees big rises in the maternity and emergency sections during strikes. "Our patient load goes up something like 70%". But Gusman supports the cause of her fellow workers. "We have the rights to do this, but we need to reclaim them. I work harder to support striking nurses. I don't mind. I'm used to it". Instead Ms Gusman's greatest fear of strikes is that she may end up in one. "Gracias Dios I'm working instead of waiting, and I'm never bored".
Argentina Alvarado spends her days waiting at the hospital during the strike. Ms Alvarado works as a receptionist at the hospital and agrees about the boredom. "It's boring to be here, but it's a just cause because without these new conditions we can't survive". Her friend Orchid Connor is an auxiliary nurse who trained two and a half years for her profession. "I would rather work and use my skills, but we need to strike. I even come here on days off to support the strike".
When Trochez began work at the Roatan Hospital 15 years ago when he says his salary was just 425 Lps. a month. He now leads the fight to raise salaries of Roatan Hospital staff to 15,000 Lps. For three years Trochez has served as president of Chapter 49 of Sitramedys, the national Honduran medical workers union. Trochez is a man clearly in charge. He takes in the width of the room in a few large and easy strides, crossing to chat with one or another striking worker. The real negotiation happens in Tegucigalpa, where meetings with the President's office and union executives resolve each strike - eventually.
So the scene at Roatan hospital is one of inaction. Trochez sums up the day's plans: "We have meetings, sit down and do nothing until we get what we want." When asked whether it's fair that striking workers are paid full wages and meal benefits, Trochez's answer is clear: "Yes. It's the only way. It's not our problem, it's the state's problem."
In a country struggling to meet basic medical needs, a culture of negotiation through confrontation is the standard. Pressure has taken priority over planning as striking gets results for more than just workers' salaries. "If we're waiting on an order of medicine to arrive we might strike to get it here faster. If a doctor is moved away without a replacement we'll strike. Unfortunately strikes are the only thing the government takes seriously", says Trochez.
Trochez confirmed that although the strike runs for 24 hours a day on the mainland, in Roatan the strike has a 'working hours' focus. "We don't like to be on strike, we know that it's the poorest people who suffer most because they can't afford private medical care," said Trochez.
In eight Honduran departments 68 hospitals were on strike in March. While the government may reach a compromise a chance of the protests taking place again is likely. Trochez says that the strikes are all for the same reason: to pressure the government to follow through on commitments made during previous negotiations."

Director Lastenia Cruz in front of an empty hospital hallway.
Roatan residents seeking medical treatment during the nurses' strike at Roatan's public hospital were turned away by a simple yellow and green union flag hanging on the hospital's entrance. After the fourth strike in just six months, everybody knows what the flag means: yet again, the nurses are on strike.
The national strike began on February 27, and at Roatan Hospital involved over 140 staff: 43 auxiliary nurses, and cooks, guards, statisticians, receptionists, pharmacists and laundry workers. To at least offer emergency services, the Roatan Hospital director Lastenia Cruz ran a skeleton staff of 14 licensed nurses supporting the hospital's 12 doctors, who did not join the strike.
"We are canceling about 10 planned surgeries daily", said Cruz. "We do two or three urgent surgeries daily. There are no outpatient consultations, and people who were treated before the strike can't return for their checkups."
The aim of the strike was to secure better work conditions, more medicines, and better pay. "It's their [hospital worker's] right to strike. They have the right to be paid and even fed while they strike. If they blocked me from entering the Hospital I would have to respect that," said Cruz who has become accustomed to running the hospital under strike conditions. "We operate in almost a permanent state of strike." According to Cruz, Roatan hospital came to a halt in September, October and November of 2008. "We're on an island, so people are affected heavily when the hospital is hit by a strike", says Director Cruz. "It's not like the mainland where people have lots of clinics."
Dr Oscar Avila Cruz of Roatan Hospital stands in a deserted corridor with eyes blackened by obvious fatigue. The corridor joins the emergency and maternity wards and "is normally packed with patients", says Dr Cruz. "Some days you can barely pass by." But today just two patients sit on long, well-worn benches that could easily hold 20 or more.
As Dr Cruz leaves the hospital after a long shift to pick up his daughter from school, two patients call from behind curtains and he stops to treat them. He doesn't know much about the strike, and seems too busy or exhausted to care. "I'm not that interested, I don't know what they're fighting for. I just hope it's resolved soon", he says.
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Flying to the Bargain Island

Soon, direct regular flights should connect Roatan to Belize, Cayman Islands, Madrid, Toronto as well as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa

Delta continues to offer two weekend flights between Atlanta and Roatan. Continental also helps to fill the gap left by TACA with its five flights to Houston and one to Newark, operating once on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and three times on Saturday. According to Roatan Airport manager Shawna Ebanks, Spirit Airways, currently operating between Ft. Lauderdale and San Pedro Sula, is not likely to expand its operations with a Fort Lauderdale to Roatan route.
Sky Service Airline has permanently settled on its direct Toronto to Roatan route on Fridays. West Jet also operates a charter flight between Toronto and La Ceiba once a week.
Flying from Roatan directly to Europe is becoming more of an option. Blue Panorama charter continues to shuttle Italian holidaymakers between Milan in Italy and Roatan. Another flight from Italy's capital Rome is being contemplated for later this year. In May, Libero Jet, a Spanish charter airline, is scheduled to begin direct flights between Roatan and Madrid on Tuesdays.
Regionally, Cayman Airways is in the process of acquiring a license for a direct flight between Cayman Islands and either Roatan or La Ceiba. Mayan Air should begin a connection between Placencia, Belize and Roatan on Mondays and Fridays in April. The Belize hub should offer Roatanians connections with Miami and even Europe and diversify the tourist connections across the region.
Improvements are even happening with national connections between Roatan and mainland Honduras. Direct flights between Roatan and San Pedro Sula as well as Tegucigalpa are in the works.
Rollins Air, which flew in the Bay Islands in the 1990s, has been resurrected and is flying a Russian Yak plane between La Ceiba and Tegucigalpa. Rollins Air has flown a couple of charter flights to Roatan already. Central American Airways (CAA) already has a lucrative monopoly on the business route from San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa and is looking to purchase another plane that will allow it to service the Bay Islands.
According to Ms Ebanks an obstacle for airlines in accurately assessing the potential of the Roatan market is that the absence of accurate numbers of hotel rooms available on the island. According to Jorge Marinakis, president of the National Chamber of Commerce, American Airlines awaits construction of a 100-bed hospital on Roatan before they will consider coming to Roatan.

A Roatan Airport worker helps to bring a luggage cart from a plane to the terminal.
While the end of last year showed a slump in flights coming to Roatan, this spring looks quite different. Airlines are falling over each other to connect booming Roatan with other regional and US destinations. In a worldwide recession, when money is scarce, Honduras is seen as a bargain tourist destination and airline companies are taking notice.
In December 2008, Atlantic Airlines in Honduras went bankrupt and TACA suspended their Roatan connections with Miami. Things didn't look good for passengers trying to fly to the Bay Islands. One hundred Cayman Islanders were stranded in La Ceiba when Atlantic discontinued its La Ceiba to Grand Cayman flights. The bankrupt airline left dozens of employees unpaid and passengers holding worthless ticket vouchers.
Since then things have improved quite a bit. Connections from Roatan to the US are varied and frequent, with the notable exception being Miami. TACA flew its last international flights between Roatan, Miami and El Salvador in December 2008. For the first time in seven years Roatan is without a direct connection to Miami, a major hub for Central America.

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