Fantasy Island hosted American community annual meeting with their Ambassador Hugo Llorens, a veteran of the Honduran 2009 political crisis. On July 16, Ambassador Llorens faced some tough, angry questions and was several times interrupted by Americans that still felt angry about US handling of the June 28 coup.
“Do you still want Zelaya reinstated?” with a shaking voice asked Ambassador Llorens of one Roatan resident. “We always considered what happened on June 28th a coup, but Zelaya was a big part of the problem,” said Ambassador Llorens.
While the two US embassy representatives at the meeting were not spared criticism, they remained upbeat and professional about their reception. “You’ve been in my face, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said US Consul General Douglass Benning during the meeting, who was about to end his three year Honduras posting.
Discussion also touched on the ongoing frustrations that Roatan’s foreign residents experience with the Honduran police and judicial systems. “There is zero accountability in the judicial system,” said Mitch Cummins, a Roatan business owner. “Judges, fiscals and police can play hot potato like nobody’s business.”
Ambassador Llorens had some news about the planned Guanaja navy facility. The US has donated four “go fast” vessels, capable of going 60 miles an hour and outrunning the fastest drug-running boats. Two of the “go fast” boats are based in the Honduran Caratasca navy base in La Mosquitia, other two are based in Puerto Castilla. According to Ambassador Llorens, the Guanaja navy facility will open in the summer of 2011 and will be a base for the two go-fast boats that are currently in Puerto Castilla.
One of the American residents of Punta Blanca described the intense, violent confrontation of drug traffickers on the east end of Roatan that took place in March. “There were tracer bullets flying above my house. There were people shot left and right, houses burned,” said the long term retiree from Punta Blanca. Several island sources estimated that over 20 people were killed in the drug violence that erupted and took months to wind down. Most people killed were islanders, but also two Italian nationals disappeared, and are feared dead. The violence has received almost no coverage from Honduran press, and US embassy officials seemed surprised to hear the scale of violence.
The next US town meeting on Roatan is planned for October. [/private]