Ralph Nader of Roatan
controversial local activist changes rules of the game

July 1st, 2006
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] Rosa Danelia Hendrix is a person that people either love, hate, or a bit of both. Tall, with long black hair, she is charismatic, stylish and dressed in latest Miami fashion. At public meetings, Rosa is often the uncomfortable voice of public conscience amongst elected and appointed officials in the Bay Islands. Her emotional, confrontational and uncompromising style had made her a person that few officials would want to work with in a position of responsibility and government. In short, she is Ralph Nader of Roatan politics.

v4-7-Interview-Rosa Danelia-HendrixNever married, Rosa is conscious of preserving her image as a single, independent woman and a responsible mother of two sons. A daughter of a Guanaja boat captain and a San Pedro homemaker Rosa, 39, was born and raised in Cortes. After receiving her teaching certificate, for four years she was a teacher and school director in a mountain village of La Libertad. In 1992 she moved with her two sons Oscar and Patrick to Roatan. She was one of the founding members of on organization that in 2002 became the Bay Islands Federation of Patronatos (FEPAIB), of which she is now president. FEPAIB has 35 members on Roatan, 13 on Santos Guardiola, six on Utila and eight on Guanaja.

In the 1997, Rosa worked on the Jerry Hynds mayoral campaign and received a post as the Roatan Municipal head of health and hygiene department. She resigned a year-and-a-half later to try her luck in business opening “Exclusive,” a Coxen Hole souvenir store. In 2005 she ran on a Jaime Rosenthal ticket in the primary elections for Bay Islands congress seat.

In 2005 she received her teaching degree from Catholic University in La Ceiba and is currently working towards a law degree. Rosa heads her own foundation: ‘Health and Education Without Discrimination.’

Bay Islands VOICE: What was your role in deciding to take over the streets and build barricades in the June 5 demonstrations?
Rosa Danelia-Hendrix: We [patronatos] made the decision together. I tried to stop the people for four years. People told me: ‘to many negotiations.’ So I said: ‘Ok. We will do what we need to do.’ We can’t have the development of the island if the public services are so expensive. As president of FEPAIB I have a mission of taking care of everyone who lives on the island[s]. I went to chief lawyer in Tegus, the Supreme Court, but we couldn’t fix it that way. We tried to have a meeting, a year ago, between the mayor, governor and congressman and ourselves. Since February we’ve been waiting for the report from ENEE and government. If RECO board members really love this island they would help us to have a better life and they never did. We finally came to the conclusion that we are alone.
B.I.V.: It sounds like you, patronatos, can’t trust anybody: RECO, ENEE, the good-will islander people, or even your own government. So who can you trust?
R. D-H: We trust God. Something has to happen and somebody got to hear us. We have many foreigners and if they leave, we have nothing.
B.I.V.: Were you surprised that the June 5 demonstrations got out of hand and were you prepared to bear the circumstances?
R. D-H: When you work in a group everybody is responsible, not just Rosa Danelia. Some people took advantage of the situation. I always expect the best, but prepare for the worst.
B.I.V.: Did you accomplish what you wanted?
R. D-H: We got something. One thing that the board director understood is that they don’t live alone and can’t do anything that they want. They can’t abuse the power that they have. People never can tolerate injustice, or tyranny, they have to act.
B.I.V.: Your patronato members accused RECO of illegally importing fuel, tampering with meters, overcharging bills. All these charges would require a collusion of many people. Do you have any proof, or witness of these charges?
R. D-H: Those accusations can be true, or they can be lies. As a RECO customer you can believe in anything. We wanted an audit and proof. The audit done will be public soon. Bay Islands electricity is the most expensive electricity in the world.
B.I.V.: With the success of the demonstrations will there be more confrontations?
R. D-H: They, taxi drivers, etc, have already been asking me that. I will go to other groups here to negotiate. But now they understand that with these types of negotiations everybody lost.
The people who rule us don’t understand the social phenomenon of society demonstrating. Its like a revolution and sometime there is no alternative.
B.I.V.: On Utila and Guanaja, where energy is more expansive then on Roatan, are protests coming there?
R. D-H: On Utila the salaries are better, but they are starting to complain. Guanaja is dead. They are suffering more than us. On Guanaja people are more peaceful, but there will be a moment when they will not tolerate that and explode.
B.I.V.: Patronatos are dominated by Spanish speaking and mainland born people. Do you feel that you represent a group that is often ad odds with islander values and interests.
R. D-H: I disagree. We have many [12 out of 35 on Roatan] patronato presidents that are islanders. For me there is only one race. We are Honduran, doesn’t mater the color or where you were born. That kind of classifications are only dividing the society.
B.I.V.: You’ve proven yourself to be a thorn in a side of any government: an accusatory activist that is emotional, confrontational and uncompromising. Can you be an effective member of any government, or are you primarily a guerrilla activist?
R. D-H: As humans we are emotional. I am a woman of peace and I don’t always fight. I love justice and if that is emotional I accept that. I will never support injustice and say no to tyranny and things that are not right. I was [Bay Islands] teachers director for two years and I think I’ve shown I am a valuable member to work with the government.
B.I.V.: You lobbied unsuccessful to by appointed governor for the Bay Islands. Why do you think you were not appointed?
R. D-H: As any citizen I am ready be a part in any governing position. Women with capabilities need more participation [in the government]. I could not only to be a governor, I have other aspirations in my life. But if this is not my time. I don’t have a grudge. I am still young and I am preparing. I never asked or expected anybody to appoint me to be a governor. I never worked with the intention to be elected in a public office. [/private]

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