While it is easy to blame circumstances for one’s suffering, no one but oneself is to blame for failing to take advantage of an opportunity given.
While 2009 was a difficult, even disastrous for some, year in Honduras, 2010 looks to be different. Compared to 2009, with its floods, 7.4 earthquake, a coup, political crisis and international sanctions, 2010 looks like a gift from the heavens.
Honduras industries are up, almost all of them. Coffee prices hit a 12-year-high, shrimp prices are up 25%, and the Gulf oil disaster has provided opportunities to cash-in on Florida-beach-deprived tourists. The question remains whether Hondurans and Bay Islanders can take advantage of opportunities presented to them.
As far as opportunities and gifts go, nature endowed the islands with abundant reefs, beautiful rolling hills, plentiful freshwater aquifers, unique flora and fauna. Sadly, in recent past, Bay Islanders are showing a poor record of taking advantage of opportunities handed down to them.
The World Bank’s “gift to Roatan” of garbage dumps have been misused, if used at all. The Roatan dump has been an environmental disaster for years – due to mismanagement by municipal government. The Santos Guardiola dump, after a well attended and nationally publicized ribbon cutting ceremony in April 2008, has never been opened and several expensive machines are rusting away. Easy come, easy go.
At a nearby temporary Diamond Rock dump, untreated garbage burns and harmful pollutants sip into unprotected soil, endangering the islands aquifers. This is when a perfectly ready dump sits two miles away, at the end of a paved, but unused road, behind a rusting fence.
The wasted opportunities also cost lives. Roatan’s roads are notoriously dangerous and deadly and the island’s taxi drivers have become infamous for their inconsiderate, dangerous driving habits and arrogance. Not long ago there was an opportunity to change that reality and save lives. In 2006 the Jared Hynds Community Center opened up with ample space reserved for a driver education center. While the Roatan Municipality has the power, and some would argue responsibility, to require all taxi drivers to take a yearly, paid “driver education” course before it issues them municipal operating licenses, it has never done so. The taxi’s owners don’t even have to take a yearly paid-by-owner road worthiness test.
Every year in the Bay Islands, around 10 to 20 people needlessly die in avoidable traffic accidents, in circumstances that are baffling to a driver who has taken a driving course (likely outside of Honduras.) It is a wasted opportunity paid by human tragedy and trauma.
Another recent opportunity lost for Hondurans, was the closure and abandonment of beaches from Louisiana to Florida. The Honduran Institute of Tourism has not advertised, nor promoted Honduras as an affordable, nearby destination in US tourist markets linked to the Gulf coast. This is a missed opportunity that might not present itself again.
Instead, the Roatan businesses were forced to focus their marketing efforts on “staying alive” or the “dos por uno” campaigns. While several resorts that embraced “dos por uno” could pay their bills and keep their employees, other resorts, which did not drastically lower their prices, found themselves struggling and unable to compete.
There are several opportunities not yet lost. The seafood breeding grounds in Gulf of Mexico, affected by the oil spill, will likely be negatively impacted for several years. As a result the lobster and shrimp fishermen and the packing plants in the Bay Islands are looking at a bright couple of years, probably. That is if Bay Islanders don’t sell all their boats to Ceibeños and manage to get all their boats equipped and out to fishing grounds.
One country’s failure is other’s opportunity, so let’s take advantage of them before someone else does. [/private]