Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Honduras a political hot potato
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA01300919/00124
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Title: Honduras a political hot potato
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: July 26, 1996
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Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00124
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
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The Daily News, July 26, 1996 18



Honduras a political hot potato


This week's look at Honduras
focuses on the history and political
struggle of a people becoming self-
ruled from colonization.
in 1502. Columbus' fourth and
final voyage found him near Trujil-
lo Bay. Having landed in the deep
water off the shore of the country,
Columbus named it Honduras,
which in Spanish means depth.
The coastal town of Trujillo in
1515 was the first Spanish colony
and capital of Honduras. However,
the Spanish were not satisfied with
Trujillo for long and found more
interests in the interior of Honduras.
Thus, the town of Comayagua in
1537 of Honduras replaced Trujillo
as the island's capital.
This new town became the polit-
ical and religious center of Hon-
duras until the capital was trans-
ferred to Tegucigalpa in 1880.
Before the Spanish dominated
Honduras, there were resistance
from the native people. In some
ways, the Indians almost succeeded
in driving out the Spanish from
their homeland.
In 1537, chief Lempira of the
Lenca tribe led 30,000 Indians
against the Spanish. They were
unsuccessful in running out the
Spanish. Sadly, chief Lempira was
murdered by the Spanish and the
resistance of the Indians was largely
crushed.
Around 1570, gold and silver
was discovered near the town of
Tegucigalpa which became a min-
ing center for the Spanish colonies.
Gold and silver from the Spanish
colony were shipped from Trujillo
Bay attracting Dutch, British and
other pirates to the port. The bay of
Trujillo had many fierce battles
among the pirates until the town
was sacked in 1643 by the Dutch
pirates.
While the Spanish focused in the
interior of Honduras, the British
settled the bay islands off the
Caribbean coast. From the 16th to


Olasee
Davis
Our
environment


the 18th centuries, the British had a
strong hold on the northern coast of
Honduras. The British were attract-
ed to Honduras and the Caribbean
because of mahogany and other
hardwoods trees that grow on the
country's Northern coast.
In fact, Honduras mahogany
trees arrived to St. Croix where the
Danes established the first Hon-
duras mahogany stand of trees in
Davis Bay in 1908. This stand of
trees are no longer there because
they were destroyed when the
Carambola hotel was built in the
late 1980s at Davis Bay.
Like the timber industry on St.
Croix in the 1700s, the British
brought black settlers from nearby
Caribbean islands to work the tim-
ber industry in Honduras.
The British controlled the whole
northern coast of Honduras extend-
ing into Nicaragua until 1869, when
they returned the land to the Hon-
durans. Today the British influence
is still evident, especially on the big
island where English is spoken
among black Hondurans.
After Honduras' independence
from Spain in 1821, Honduras was
briefly part of the Independent
Mexico and Central American Fed-
eration. This federation was short
lived and Honduras declared its
independence as a separate country
in 1838. As a new independent
country, political tumult was a fac-
tor in the country. Honduras experi-
enced hundreds of coups and other
manipulation of political power.
In 1860, William Walker, an
American, almost succeeded in tak-
ing over Central America at Trujil-


lo, where he was later executed by a
firing squad. The United States
nonetheless succeeded in bringing
free enterprise into Honduras.
By 1918, 75 percent of all lion-
duras bananas lands were held by
U.S. companies.
By the end of the 19th century, the
U.S. traders took particular interest
in bananas and by 1918, 75 per-
cent of all Honduras banana lands
were held by U.S. companies.
Today the Dole company has the
biggest banana business in Central
America here.
The bananas that we buy from
Pueblo supermarket from Dole
come from Honduras and other
Central American countries, where
children 10 and 12 years old in
some cases work the fields cutting
bananas.
The powerful banana companies
have a strong influence on Hon-
duran politics. The United Stales,
which has had a long history in
Honduras politics and taking from
its soil, also has a strong military
force in Honduras.
We all remember the Contra
War in Nicaragua in Central Ameri-
ca in the 1980s. The U.S. military
presence was increased during Pres-
ident Reagan's years to fight the
rebels who were trying to stop
democracy, the administration said.
Today, Honduras is a democratic
country with the three branches of
governmental powers.
The legislative branch is repre-
sented by the National Congress of
128 elected deputies; the executive
is made up of the president and the
13 members of his cabinet; and the
judicial consists of the Supreme
Court and nine judges chosen by
Congress and the President.
Olasee Davis, who holds a mas-
ter of science degree in range man-
agement and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist, activist and
writer.




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