July 13, 2008

Sound bites, July 13, 2008

Tegucigalpa's Toncontín Airport is open for business again.
All Photos: La Prensa, Honduras

The following were some of the more interesting news articles from the past week. I've included a link to the newspaper article (in Spanish) but sometimes my summary is based on more than one article. (Too bad. It's just too much work to find and include all of the links.) A link to a Google translation to English is also included − but you know those computer translations are sometimes goofy.

7/13 Construction of the 5-star luxury Los Micos Golf and Beach Resort in Tela is moving at a good pace. President Zelaya visited with investors to discuss the project. --Well, if you say so. The photo looks like scorched earth to me.

Article translated to English

7/12 Canadian police are in Puerto Cortés investigating a fraud committed by a Canadian businessman. He exported 5 shipping containers of tobacco, some 800 boxes, to Honduras, however, the boxes held only 20 pounds of tobacco in plastics bags at the top. The rest of the box was filled with sand, aluminum scraps, and bottles of lemon juice. Officials speculate that the tobacco was going to be used in black market products. --You can't trust anyone. Even the cheaters cheat the cheaters.

Article translated to English

7/12 Fuel prices increased 2 lempiras (10 US cents) to Super L.91.00 (US $4.81), regular L.77.74 (US $4.11), diesel 89.07 (US $4.71). --Tegucigalpa prices. Prices vary throughout the country. Can we stop celebrating, Steve?

Prices in other cities - click the image to enlarge it.

7/10 High school teachers have declared an indefinite strike because more than 3,000 teachers have not be paid since February. The leader said that, in Honduras, this is the only way to solve problems (with the government). Almost half a million students have gone without classes since Monday, July 7. --How about paying the teachers, government employees, and electric bills first, and then if there is anything leftover, pay the congressmen?

Article translated to English

7/10 During a farewell ceremony, US Ambassador Charles Ford lamented the declining levels of transparency in Honduras. "Reversing the situation will be a challenge for the Honduran people." --No kidding. The government transparency committee instead has been turned into the "Department of Non-Transparency." They have been so busy declaring virtually every government document secret for 10 years that I doubt that they have any time left to attend to requests for information. The newspaper has been loaded with articles about that. What a joke.

Article translated to English

7/10 A 70-year-old Ecuadorian businessman, who has lived in Honduras since 1965, was murdered after being kidnapped. A note was left on his body saying that "This happened because you didn't pay." The Fiscalía said that the kidnapping was not reported. --Kidnappings of wealthy and not so wealthy businessmen or their family members seem to be becoming more common (or more reported) but killing the victim is more unusual.

Article translated to English

7/9 A woman was arrested for defrauding over 200 people. She was supposedly recruiting workers to go to the US for a charge of US $2,000 each. She claimed to be working on behalf of the Ministerio de Trabajo (Labor Department) and the US Embassy. --How nice. To be cheating your fellow countrymen who are desperate for work. I hope she rots in a horrible Honduran prison.

Article translated to English

7/9 Foreign investment in Honduras is around US $900 million, an increase of 100% from last year, according to the Honduran Central Bank. --Wowser! That sounds excellent. I hope the math is correct. It often isn't. This was just a little blurb in the paper which apparently didn't make it to the online version, so no link is available.

7/9 Some 300 Honduran ex-diplomats and ex-functionaries living in the US and other countries have refused to turn in their diplomatic passports, though they no longer qualify for the benefits alloted to diplomats. The Cancillería de la Republica has been trying to get the passports back for a year. The diplomatic passports have no expiration date. --Ah, you can't arrest me; I'm a diplomat!

Article translated to English

7/9 The Director of Migration resigned, officially for poor health, but unofficial reasons were that he and his family's lives have been threatened and that organized crime has infiltrated the workings of this organization. The Director had been separated from his post on May 2 so as not to interfere with an investigation of several Cubans who arrived in Honduras and later appeared in the US (with Honduran documents?). --We read reports like this about high-level government officials all the time. It's hard to figure out who is the bad guy. Is this someone trying to fight corruption and caught up in the mess or is he one of the corruptos? President Zelaya's cabinet has been like a revolving door. I'm pointing my finger at the Director this time. Side note: Another article reported that 16 Migration employees have not been paid for 4 1/2 months.

Article translated to English

7/9 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) again detected salmonella in Honduran melons, this time from the company Suragro. The article states that the FDA has still not provided the results of laboratory tests and field research done months ago so they have been ignoring the FDA warnings. --That's odd because the FDA has said that they did. I think it is the water.

Article translated to English

7/8 Wal-mart buys 91% of the crops produced in Honduras. --I don't believe this for a minute. I think the article was edited down and they left out the fact that the 91% was referring to one producer or one crop. No way does Wal-mart buy 91% of all the produce of Honduras. Do you see what I have to deal with in trying to be accurate? This was another of those little news blurbs that aren't included in the online version, so no link.

7/8 Parents locked the public school doors to prevent entry of the Director, who they say has been stealing the donated Merienda Escolar (student snacks, sometimes the only meal that the kids get). They want the director fired and say that they have video evidence of Marta Maldonado loading the donated food into her car. --How low can you go?

Article translated to English

7/7 Honduras may lose its first place rank as the main exporter of tilapia to the US. While country has the potential to export 2.3 million pounds of tilapia per month, actual exports have been reduced to 1.9 million, 17% less. --What caused the large reduction in exports? Disease? Bad weather? Employee strikes? Reduced demand? No. The answer is theft! Four hundred thousand pounds of live fish were stolen!

I know this happens because, coincidentally, my neighbor, who has a small tilapia operation on his ranch, once told me that one Monday his security guard sorrowfully told him that he was drunk on Saturday night, and somehow, he doesn't have a clue, but somehow someone stole all his tilapia while he was passed out and therefore not responsible. He didn't hear a thing.

By the way, the tilapia waste is used for biodiesel. That's a good thing.

Article Translated to English

Wow! I hope there isn't that much interesting news every week. Now you see why the newspaper depresses me so much. I doubt that I can continue to include the translation links. It just takes too much time. But for those of you interested in reading the translated versions of the articles, download the free Google toolbar and you can easily translate a web page to any language yourself with one click. Be sure to select Firefox or Internet Explorer version.

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