Whose Water Really Is It?

November 1st, 2007
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v5-11-Our IslandsThe ninth of October will go down in our history as a day of mourning. This day will be remembered as the day that the central government of Honduras gave away a huge swat of priceless maritime territory in the Caribbean Sea to the Ortega government of Nicaragua. While the politicians involved in this treacherous act celebrate their accomplishments, the rest of us who understand the extent of the damage done by this deed can only sit back and watch. Our lives are changed by a few over-ambitious politicians.

It is hard to get over the shock and anger at our impotence. Our government should have just taken a look back at the history of other claims by the Nicaraguans. In the 1950s we went to war because the Somoza government of Nicaragua claimed and was about to annex a large piece of Honduran territory. At that time they claimed to own the slice of land from the Cruta River to the Segovia River. Then, like now, it was all about petroleum that could “possibly” exist in the area. The geographical borders of Honduras were established hundreds of years ago, and the maritime limits are no exception.

Nicaraguans are famous for violating the border lines. On occasion their patrol boats have purposefully entered deep into Honduran waters to carry off vessels and crews with complete impunity. With the new border arrangements these incursions into our national territory will be more frequent and more bold because we have again proven that we are a weak people governed by weak-minded politicians.

In a previous attempt to safeguard our national territory the government of Honduras granted unsolicited citizenship to a group of Jamaican fishermen on the condition that they inhabit the cays in that area. The argument was that maybe the Mucos would respect the Jamaican natives and in that way we would be able to hold on to what was ours. The Jamaicans are still there on Savana Cay and the La Prensa has erroneously called them Miskito Indians.

The politicians, the military and even Mr. Arevalo of the television news show Abriendo Brecha seem to think that giving up a mere twenty percent of the territory previously own by this country is a good thing. All these people must be too young to remember our war with Nicaragua and the cry on the lips of the people at that time: “Cruta es Nuestra.” Maybe they can remember our war with El Salvador when we screamed, “Ni una Pulgada.”

Politicians should listen to the people, and this time we are yelling, “Paralelo Quince.” The 15th parallel is the only dividing line, and there are many reasons why this should not be altered. The primary reason being that from colonial times all the territory north of that parallel belonged to Honduras. That should be reason enough, but there are others. Another is that modern navigational equipment places all the cays inside Honduran waters. Another reason is that GPSs can be set to notify the captain of a vessel that he is approaching the 15th parallel maritime limits. With the new border and its diagonal and sometimes meandering course it will be impossible to always know when you are still in Honduran waters.

To give some kind of reassurance to the fishermen, the government will have to place marker buoys all along the new border, or come up with a scale that will consider all the possible positions that can be derived from a cross reference of your westerly position as it relates to the northern limits of the new border line. The political hullabaloo was all about the fact that we became the owners of the cays in that area. Everybody that knows the area is well aware that Honduras has always owned the cays with the only possible point of argument being the tip of South Cay- its southerly extension comes close to, or touches the 15th parallel. This and this alone should have been the subject of negotiations.

President Zelaya and his “citizen’s power” government should have taken into consideration the patrimony and the welfare of the citizens of La Mosquitia, the Bay Islands, Colon and the growing fishing interest in the department of Atlantida. When two persons go to a poker table the two parties should carry something of value to the table. Nicaragua had nothing to lose and Honduras lost 21 percent of its previously owned territory. Now President Zelaya and his Liberal Party claim a victory. [/private]

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