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Nine Years of Empire by Thomas Tomczyk

148 Years after returning to Honduras - What are the Bay Islanders Really Celebrating?

The nine-year period (26 March, 1852 - 22 April, 1861) in which the Bay Islands were officially a British colony has created a never ending longing in some islanders for the Englishness they left behind. While every April 22 some Bay Islanders celebrate the 'Return to Honduras' day, other islanders don't celebrate at all and don't hesitate to tell about their displeasure of the 'return.' "The celebrations are a fraction of what they used to be," said Joe Solomon, chief of Roatan Municipal police. "Some people don't know whether to celebrate, or to mourn."
While some Bay Islands feel they were sold out by the British Crown, others feel nostalgic for the British path the Bay Islands didn't take. "Queen Victoria's name was cursed for many years after this. We stopped only after her death [1901] as we don't speak badly about dead people," said George Crimmins, a West End resident.
Few islanders actually blame US pressure on the Great Britain to relinquish the islands, and even fewer understand the context of how the islands became an English Colony, and what took place afterwards.

In the early 19th century the Bay Islands were practically uninhabited, a backwater for both the Central American Republics and Britain. In a report by Orlando Roberts, an English trader doing business in the Bay of Honduras, in the early 1820s the islands had just a few people living there permanently. There was a Garifuna settlement in Punta Gorda and "five or six Spaniards" posted by the government in Port Royal on an intermittent basis.
Until 1831, it is estimated that fewer then 100 people lived in the Bay Islands. But the young Honduran Republic, created less then ten years prior, didn't abandon the archipelago and kept a four-five man army post in Port Royal flying the Honduran flag. Several Spanish installed themselves on Roatan and Guanaja and used the islands as a fishing base. By the 1830s, the Bay Islands had become an administrative pain in the neck for a young Honduran republic that had no navy and much bigger problems on the mainland.
Following the Spanish American revolution and the creation of Honduras in 1821, Honduras had acquired the rights to the Bay Islands though 'Uti Possidetis,' and Great Britain had recognized Honduran sovereignty to the islands, with the acknowledgment that they had some English settlers there and a strategic position in the Bay of Honduras.
The situation was all about to change with the expected abolition of slavery in the British Empire. In the Cayman Islands of the early 1830s, the White population was outnumbered by five to one, and with abolition of slavery on the horizon, many White Cayman Islanders looked at places to migrate to. Caymanian turtle hunters often visited the Bay Islands and some Englishmen who had been expelled from the Mosquito Coast by the Spanish in 1790s and settled in Caymans had knowledge of the Bay Islands from that period.
The migration from the Caymans to Belize and Bay Islands had begun by 1831 and by1855 approximately 700 Cayman Islanders had settled in the Bay Islands. At first they were all White, but soon Black Cayman Islanders followed and settled close by. An estimated 24 White Cayman families arrived in the Bay Islands between 1831 and 1843.
When on August 1, 1834 slavery officially ended in the Cayman Islands,
ex-slaves took advantage of the one-acre land allotment from the British Crown and moved to Roatan. White settlers were eligible for a three acre land grant.
Accounts tell of over 200 ex-slave families arriving on Roatan: "the slaves who obtained their freedom, but could not procure labor in a small island, like the Grand Cayman, hearing of the success of their former masters, followed in their footsteps [to Roatan]."
Soon the Bay Islanders began an effort to clarify their legal status and gain official British protection. Several colonists skillfully played the British government authorities in Belize, the closest British outpost, getting attention and sympathy. They wrote letters, signed petitions, and reported on abuses by the Spanish.
In 1838 several Bay Islanders sent a letter to Belize claiming that the Spanish commander in Trujillo made threats against the Caymanians who settled on Roatan. British authorities in Belize sent Colonel McDonald to Roatan's Port Royal. Colonel McDonald removed Spanish soldiers present there and hoisted the Union Jack.
While the British eventually backtracked on their actions to the Honduran government, the gesture instilled hope for Great Britain's plans for the archipelago in the English speaking settlers. For a while, in recognition of these actions, Coxen Hole, the island's capital, was renamed Port McDonald.
Through the 1840s the Bay Islands' economy grew, their contacts with Belize improved, and with land grants being issued the islanders found themselves settling Utila, Guanaja, Barbarat, Helene, and eastern Roatan. In 1850 around 120 White settlers left Coxen Hole and settled the Utila Suc-suc Cay and Guanaja's Sheen and Hog Cays.
By the late 1850s the Bay Islands had become economically self sufficient, an exception in the post-slavery period in the British Caribbean. But the Bay Islands was a new colony, created without the vestiges of the British colonial system, slavery and servitude. It was the promised land for both fleeing White ex-slave owners and ex-slaves. It was a place for entrepreneurs from other countries. An 1858 British census of 1739 residents of the Bay Islands showed 600 Cayman Islanders, 488 Bay Islanders,139 people from the Mosquito shore, 61 Belizeans, 28 Jamaicans, 14 English, 14 Africans, 8 US citizens, 6 Scotts, one German and one Arab, amongst others. Interestingly, Spanish, estimated at about 15% of the total population and Garifuna, also around 15% or so, were not accounted for in the document. Between 1855 and 1858 around 300 people, more than 20% of the English speaking population, left Roatan for Belize and Jamaica in anticipation of the return of the islands to Honduras.
t is curious that the Garifuna community that was based almost continually on Roatan since 1797, never dispersed and claimed land in other parts of the island or on other Bay islands. Garifuna were on Roatan for 35 years before Cayman Islanders showed up and distrust between two groups quickly begun. Garifuna, like the Spanish, were Catholic, and many spoke Spanish and associated the English with the traumatic Black Carib expulsion from Saint Vincent, during which hundreds of Garifuna died.

A Santos Guardiola bilingual poster about the return of Bay Islands to Honduras

In 1850s Garifuna conducted raids on islander property and the British government decided to issue muskets to British subjects in Bonacca and Coxen Hole. A group of Garifuna were imprisoned, but managed to escape.
Despite an economic boom, Bay Islands wasn't always a happy place. A minor riot followed a "perjury" trial and imprisonment of Black schoolteacher in Coxen Hole. That documented event set islander against islander.
As the Bay Islands colony grew economically self sufficient, its entrepreneurial citizens embarked upon the business of farming, trading plantains, coconuts and bananas. The exports were valued at 14,000 British Pounds and produced a surplus. Bay Islands produce was shipped to Belize and the US with the US export market rising from 41% to 90% by 1859, but barely 1% of exports went to the Honduras mainland and only 2% of its imports came from there.
The desire to hold sea frontage land led to rapid growth of communities of West End, Flowers Bay, and Jobs Bight. Around 90% of 1,600-1,700 people living on Roatan in 1850 lived in or around Coxen Hole. There is even one account of Coxen Hole serving as a slave holding station for slaves destined for US and Cuba.
Still the English weren't the only people attracted to the archipelago's unclaimed land. Also some US citizens (Samuel Warren and Joshua) settled on the Utila Cays. Some French families settled around Roatan's Port Royal and the Spanish Ruis family settled on Barbarat.
In 1849 William Fitzgibbon, a US citizen, was elected Chief Magistrate of Bay Islands and the US was quick to respond. In an 1850 letter, John Clayton, US secretary of State, declared "under no circumstances would the Government of United States permit the Government of Great Brittan to interfere with the affairs of the settlers at Roatan."
In the 1850s several US Senate discussions claimed that the British presence in the Bay Islands was a violation of the Monroe Doctrine and the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. With the potential strategic importance of the archipelago if a Nicaraguan trans-isthmus canal was built, the US was not happy to see Britain expand its interests. On July 4, 1850 the US Congress ratified the Clayton-Butler treaty with Great Britain in which colonization, occupation, and fortification in Central America were forbidden.
Despite some backtracking to the US congress, the British government did eventually claim the Bay Islands as its colony. A Letters Patent was issued in March 1852 creating the Colony of the Bay Islands, a higher status British possession than Belize had at the time, which was a settlement. On July 11, 1852, the Superintendent of Belize declared the Bay Islands a colony of Great Britain. "Her Britannic Majesty has deigned to constitute as a colony Roatan, Bonnacco, Utila, Barbareta, Elena and Morat, designated by the name 'Colony of the Bay Islands,'" stated Superintendent Wodehouse.
By the 1850s the majority of Bay Islands residents were born outside of the archipelago, mostly in Cayman Islands. The case of Texan secession from Mexico in 1835 could inspire the Cayman Islanders in hopes of bringing a similar coup in the Bay Islands.
The Wyke-Cruz treaty between Queen Victoria and Honduras was signed at Comayagua on November 28, 1859 that clarified the status of Bay Islands and guaranteed their return to Honduras.
American buccaneer and adventurer William Walker had landed on Roatan on June 15, 1860. Some 40 British troops from Belize were already there, sent there to quell any potential trouble from any of the population unwilling to submit to the Honduran takeover.
For over a month Walker distributed leaflets trying to gain support from the islanders. He got only three Roatanians to join his expedition party that in August sailed to Honduran mainland and took Trujillo by force.
In an ironic twist, the British lent the Honduran government a helpful hand and quelled Walker's plans. A British schooner Icarus, under Captain Salmon, went in pursuit of the American filibuster all the way up to Black River in La Mosquitia. Salmon captured Walker and 73 of his followers, accomplishing what the Honduran troops could not do. Walker was executed in Trujillo and the three islanders sent back home.
In a sense, this is what Honduras really wanted: for the Bay Islands to be given back and Honduras to be able to count on British naval protection in the Bay of Honduras.
When a copy of the "Honduran Gazette" with the text of the Wyke Treaty arrived at Coxen Hole in December 1860, some islanders refused to believe it. Barely two days later, 150 islanders signed a petition to Queen Victoria asking to "enjoy our own laws and institutions under the Protectorate of Your Most Gracious Majesty's Government."
The Wyke Treaty not only didn't give islanders British protection, it did not guarantee trail by jury, or exemption from taxes or military service. The treaty did guarantee islander's property rights and freedom of religious worship and belief. There is a speculation that granting religious worship rights to the islanders was the chief cause of president Santos Guardiola being excommunicated in December 1860. In fact, the rift between the Catholic Church and the state of Honduras followed into late 1860s.
An attempt to have the Wyke Treaty sent back for revision by the Honduran Senate failed by one vote in March 1861.
On April 22, 1861, Honduran authorities took physical possession of the Bay Islands. A one page poster, signed by president Santos Guardiola, and announcing the return of Bay Islands to Honduras is dated April 24, 1861. La Gazeta, Honduras' official newspaper, printed the ratified treaty in its issue 36 on October 30, 1861.
While the Wake Treaty guaranteed an annual 5,000 British Pounds payment to be paid by the Honduran Government to the Mosquito Indians, not even the very first payment was made. This brings up the issue of whether the treaty should be considered as valid. Upon rejoining Honduras, the Bay Islands actually paid into the Honduran coffers. The 168 British Pounds that was found in the Bay Islands treasury was handed over to the Honduran authorities on June 1, 1861.
If the Bay Islands had any chance at becoming reintegrated into the British Colonial empire, the chance came in the several years after ceding the islands to Honduras when the US was distracted by its civil war and Honduras was strapped for cash.
After the assassination of Santos Guardiola, the new Honduran president, Victoriano Castellanos offered in 1862 to revert the treaty and give the archipelago back to Great Britain for 40,000 BP in bank holders' claims. By that time however the British Government wasn't interested.
In the late 1860s, the US was increasingly distracted by the growing polarization between the North and South. The period leading to the US civil war left few in Washington preoccupied with Central America or the Caribbean. In general in the 19th century, British interests were usually more focused on Belize, Black River and the Mosquito Coast, than they were on the Bay Islands. Whatever interest Queen Victoria had in the archipelago, it dwindled fast. While the US had a consul on the Bay Islands, Great Britain did not and soon even withdrew their consul from Trujillo.
Two decades went by and the Honduran government finally embraced the idea of keeping the Bay Islands. On May 14, 1872, the department of the Bay Islands was created and its citizens brought under full Honduran law and legislature. For decades following the handover, Bay Islanders that didn't leave to claim British land offered in Jamaica or Belize refused to serve in the Honduran armed forces and resisted paying any kind of taxes.

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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Letter to Editor

By James Foley, Executive Director of Roatán Marine Park

Dear Thomas,
I was very interested to read the feature story "The Dark side of Lobster" in the last Voice issue. It is a subject that is close to my heart as I used to live and work on Big Corn Island, Nicaragua and saw first-hand some of the very real and tragic impacts of the lobster diving industry there. The Corn Islands were a British Protectorate from 1655 until 1894, and as such, share a similar history and culture to that of the Bay Islands.
Over the last two decades however, the two island groups have begun to go different ways, both culturally and economically. While Roatán has seen the arrival of mass tourism over the last two decades, the Corn Islands have, until very recently, had little more than a fledgling tourism industry; the mainstay of the economy having been coconut production, and more recently, lobster diving.
I went to Big Corn in 2006 to work as a diving instructor for Nautilus Divers with the intention of teaching visiting tourists to dive. However, it soon became apparent that the trickle of one or two tourists per week to the island was leaving me at a loose end for much of the time.
I routinely witnessed many of the local young men diving for lobsters using nothing more than ancient SCUBA tanks held under one arm, taking breaths directly from the tank valve as they dove to depths exceeding 50 metres, up to 12 times per day. I befriended several divers who worked for private lobster boats which would travel three-four days out to sea in search of lobster on the offshore banks.
These boats would often be at sea for 10-12 days at a time before returning to the island with their catch. All of these boats were providing lobster for Red Lobster, the large US-based seafood restaurant chain. Many of these divers would come back to the island with decompression sickness, the bends, leaving them partially paralysed. Two people that I knew personally even died as a result.
hose that came back unharmed would often report that co-workers of theirs had suffered such serious cases of the bends while out at sea, that it was decided to throw them overboard rather than put them through the agony of a four day trip back to the island. They said it was "kinder" that way. The nearest recompression chamber to the Corn Islands is Anthony's Key Resort in Roatán, a five day boat ride away. Usually, boat captains are unwilling to spare the expense of taking victims to this treatment facility. Divers are unable to ask to do less diving because there are always new people willing to take their place.

In response, I decided to dedicate my free time towards offering the PADI Open Water Course to any lobster divers who may be interested, free of charge. It was a very challenging yet highly rewarding experience to teach these people, many of whom were illiterate. I had to read them the entire PADI Open Water manual, as well as the exams, and had to be extra inventive when teaching decompression theory to people who had never had the benefit of a basic education. This meant that the courses would last 11-12 days instead of the usual three or four. However, seeing these people grasp the concepts of safe diving and pass the course was more than worth the effort. The immense pride they felt in themselves for having made this achievement would make them recommend the course to other lobster divers. I remember they would often say, "I can't believe I did all that diving without knowing this! I can't believe we have all been putting ourselves at such high risk without having any idea of safe diving practices."
The sad part of this however, was that after completing the course, many of the divers would say that if they were to follow the No Decompression Limits set out by PADI, then diving for lobster would be no longer economically viable for them. The economic margins of this industry simply do not allow for safe diving. Until either foreign consumers are prepared to pay more for lobster, or alternative livelihood options are made available to those living on the Mosquito Coast, this industry will continue to claim lives and devastate coastal communities.

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Teenies Scream for Beenie by Thomas Tomczyk

Popular Dancehall Artist Plays Coxen Hole

If the logistics of the concert weren't enough of a challenge, the day before Beenie Man came to Roatan, Nadinia found herself in head-on-collision traffic accident. Her driver suffered severely broken legs and Dye was shaken up.
"I wanted to do this in Coxen Hole [stadium] because it is such a great location," said Dye. The dilapidated football stadium hasn't been maintained since it opened in 2005. Dye paid for 250 meters of new metal and plastic fencing to surround the site. She brought in portable toilets, a stage, and generators. Even Beenie Man himself helped out on a day of the concert and organized a crew of around 30 volunteers to nail down barriers dividing space into VIP and press sections.
At 7pm, as the concert was about to start, Coxen Hole and much of the island was plunged into darkness. Tourists and concert goers had to go through the dark streets of Coxen Hole to find the stadium lit up by generator lights. "Who would want to leave home if there were no lights?" said Dye.
The dance hall rhythms of Beenie Man, while related to Spanish crowd-pleasing Reggaeton, failed to attract crowds of Spanish speaking audiences. Despite a 25% discount being offered to ticket buyers coming from the mainland, the vast majority of the concert attendees were locals.
Dye admits that the Lps. 750 general admission tickets were too expensive for many people, but she says that the prices were set by the gold sponsor of the event, La Diaria lottery. Dye is currently in litigation with the sponsor for the approximately 2,000 tickets that La Diaria received and sold.
"People said it's amazing to organize this without doing it before. But if you learn, you learn from the best," said Dye who plans to have the Riddims 'n Roatan concert become a permanent addition to the island's event calendar.

Audience at the Coxen Hole concert.
One of today's most popular Jamaican musicians, Beenie Man, played a three hour concert in Coxen Hole on April 4. While crowds cheered "Beenie, Beenie…" the Jamaican "King of Dance Hall Music," began converting Roatanians to Dance Hall music. Well, at least the 1,500 or so fans that were there.
While some were disappointed that the crowd didn't approach the goal of 7,000 fans, few were disappointed with Beenie Man's performance. The mere fact of placing Roatan on the concert path of a Billboard Top 40 artist was an achievement in itself.
The promoter that brought Beenie Man to Roatan is Nadinia Dye, an American Spa owner in Sandy Bay. Dye worked in Jamaican radio for several years and came to know many Jamaican musicians, including Andrew Thomas, a DJ working with Beenie Man. When Beenie was asked if he wanted to do the concert in Honduras, on an English speaking island, he jumped at the idea. "It was my dream for 14 years to do this," said Dye.
Semana Santa ‘Shakedown’
The Year's Biggest Tourist Week Ends on a Mixed Note

Other businesses showed more patience, but felt vulnerable to receiving fines for employing illegal foreign workers. "We have at least one legal employee working at the counter," said a West End business owner. When Immigration came, the foreign staff would go home and business would run with a Hondurans skeleton crew. Other business just shut down for days in an effort to avoid the raids. This is a common situation in West End and West Bay where many businesses rely on foreign service staff, dive staff, and entertainers who don't have a legal working status in Honduras.
Less lucky was Brion James whose musical performance at Blue Channel, a West End bar and restaurant, was interrupted. James was asked to produce his residency papers. When the band members said they only play for food and drinks each band member was fined Lps. 9,000.As the owner of the Blue Channel explained that the band was playing for food and drinks, he was fined Lps. 9,000 as well. "I am reconsidering switching to another career," said James.
Alex Manzato, owner of Blue Channel, was also upset by the crackdown and is considering selling a business he has run for seven years. "The municipality is not helping West End in being a growing tourist destination," says Manzato who says Blue Channel paid Lps. 12,000 in fines to immigration and Municipality in the last six month alone.
"The real winners were the Cerveceria," said Aaron Etches, manager of Sundowners, a popular West End bar. Cerveceria Hondureña, Honduras' dominant beer distributor, asked all West End bars to reduce their beer price for Semana Santa to one dollar. Participating bars would receive 10 free cases of beer, but with beers sold at a dollar, the profit margin for the bars was only 25 US cents.

Easter weekend tourists and locals enjoy the Beach on Guanaja's South side. The most visited beaches were: Michael Rock, Kay Graham, and soldier beach and islander's favorite - Dina Beach. (photo by Luis Feldman)
Many business owners noticed a decline in tourists in West End during the 2009 Semana Santa as compared to last year. The mood of West End businesses was already down in the run up to the busiest tourist week of the year. From March 22 thru April 3 Immigration, Revenue Department and Municipal Police officials performed joint patrols and raided West Bay and West End businesses.
After the second group of tax inspectors in one week came to do the inspection at West End's Georphi's Hideaway cabañas and restaurant, its owners had had enough. "My cool, collected wife lost it," says George Crimmins, owner of Georphi's Hideaway.
US’s Man in Honduras
Ambassador Hugo Lorenz began his posting in Honduras in 2008. Ambassador Lorenz paid his first official visit to Bay Islands in March and Bay Islands VOICE spoke to him in West Bay.

B.I.V.: Signing of ALBA has surprised and worried many US investors. Do you believe that signing of ALBA will be reversed by the next Honduran administration, or is it likely that Honduras will leave CAFTA to stay in ALBA?
Ambassador H.L.: No, not at all. ALBA is strictly economic and doesn't talk about any political alignment. The Honduran government recognizes that its principal political ally is the United States, in terms of being its largest investment and military partner. None of that has changed. We know that there is a commitment on part of this government as well as on the part of the two political candidates in upcoming elections to CAFTA.
B.I.V.: So you are saying that for Honduras and Nicaragua, who are both part of CAFTA and ALBA, the best place to be is to trade with the north as well as with ALBA partners?
Ambassador H.L.: I am not suggesting there is any best place to be. I am saying that countries are free to choose who they choose to have economic relations with. We support democracy and we don't care if a country is on the left or right side of the ideological spectrum. What we care about is that the countries are committed to democratic values. [If they] believe in freedom of expression, media rights, free and fair elections - those are the values that we share with Latin America.
B.I.V.: Guanaja, Utila, Roatan airports have been used, in an increasing trend, as landing strips for plane-to-boat cocaine smuggling operations. Has the US Navy or Coast Guard put any extra effort in assuring that Bay Islands won't become a cocaine smuggling relay point rather that a retirement haven?
Ambassador H.L.: One of my principal security objectives is combating the problem of international crime and narcotics smuggling. We are working closely with the Honduran government in a holistic way to raise our capability to minimizethe problem of drug trafficking. Clearly what we have seen in the recent years is the increasing bans on drug trafficking in Central America. This is a regional problem and we have to combine our capabilities to be effective. We are focusing the ability to project our presence in the key [drug smuggling] corridors. In La Mosquitia the La Tasca base is being built. We recently donated four fast boats to the Honduran Navy. We are creating a possibility for more detection and interdiction in the Bay Islands. We are not leaving the Bay Islands alone. The Bay Islands needs to be a place free of international crime, a peaceful place. I see Bay Islands as a unique place that brings Honduras into the global economy. The last thing you want is a pristine place like this to be ruined by drug traffickers.
B.I.V.: In Honduras in places like Tocoa, Olanchito, even La Ceiba one can see the narco money being used in construction of malls and homes creating a mini boom. Do you see this as potentially the thing that will allow Honduras to make it through tough economic times?
Ambassador H.L.: Narco money is poison to the economy. Drug traffickers only try to launder their money so what they do is compete against legitimate businesses which are the heart and soul of the Honduran economy. The real profits and real wages are the measure of productivity. The drug traffickers may generate some wealth that appears on the surface, while they drive legitimate business out of business. At the end of the day the real economy is damaged by what is bad money. The key people that will ultimately develop Honduras are driven out like a cancer by the drug trafficking money. Drug money is ultimately no good for the long term development of Honduras.

Ambassador Hugo Lorenz began his posting in Honduras in 2008. Ambassador Lorenz paid his first official visit to Bay Islands in March and Bay Islands VOICE spoke to him in West Bay.
Bay Islands VOICE: In Bay Islands there are perhaps 1,200 - 1,500 full time foreign residents, yet for a group that is around 2% of the total population, the crime rate far surpasses that of the general population. Other than damage control and preoccupation with impact on tourist industry, what do you see the local authorities actually do to reduce and solve crime against foreigners?
Ambassador Hugo Lorenz: To put things in perspective, Bay Islands has some of the lowest crime rates of any other Honduran department. But we know that crime has gone up. We estimate that there are 3,000 US citizens living in the Bay Islands and this community is growing rapidly. No one will want to move here if it is not safe. It's in the interest of the leadership of the islands that they control crime. One of the ideas is to strengthen tourist police and have them work for the mayor directly.
B.I.V.: How many murders of US citizens remain unsolved and is this list growing?
Ambassador H.L.: I don't know the exact number, but in the last 10 years we had serious crimes against Americans. We were able to have Ministry of Security create a special investigative unit to investigate crimes against foreigners. We are very proud that working with ministry of security we were able to solve a number of these cases. We always follow up on how these investigations are going. We want to ensure that if US citizens are harmed that there is a serious investigation and that guilty people are brought to jail.
B.I.V.: There were some contentions to the conduct of the internal elections in the Bay Islands, especially on Roatan and Utila. Do you have plans to include Bay Islands as far as elections monitoring in the future?
Ambassador H.L.: I don't have an answer to that, but what I would say is that Honduras is only one of two countries in Latin America that holds nationwide primaries. It shows that you [Hondurans] are pretty advanced in this. Other countries usually conduct conventions or party leaders choose who the candidates are, making up their own 'listas.' OAS decided to send international observers, but for the national elections there will be a lot more interest. EU plans to have observers for that and hopefully that will include the Bay Islands.
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22 aisles of goodies

Archipelago’s Biggest Supermarket Opens in French Harbour

Roatanians are likely to change their diet in the coming weeks and months. On April 17, the biggest food supermarket store on Roatan to date has opened in French Harbour. The 1,200 square meter facility is replacing the original Sun Supermarket next door that originally opened its doors, under the name Eldon's, in December 1988.
Chinyet Associates, with experience in Cayman Islands and Bermuda, has designed and equipped the new store. A second Sun Supermarket, of roughly the same size and design, is due to open in September-October in Coxen Hole behind Petrosun gasoline station.
To fill the large space with food items, Sun Supermarkets has added another supplier - South-East. South-East has joined Supervalue supplier and is now the major supplier for the store and runs the deli and provides daily baked goods. "The first thing I bought was a chocolate covered doughnut," said Liz Riggs, an American living on the island. There is organic milk and avocados from US, papayas from Belize. Prices of some US imported food products are competitive with many Honduran produce products spelling good times for shoppers and bad times for Honduran, even some local producers.
The layout, size, signing and thousands of food items are reminiscent of a US supermarket. "I kind of miss the old store. It makes me feel like I am back in the States," says Heather Donnelly, a Palmetto resident. "But this is just great."
According to Eldon Hyde, owner of Sun Supermarkets, the future use of the old supermarket building has not been decided yet.

Aisles of food in the Sun Supermarket French Harbour store.
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