Sunday, July 8, 2018

Observations on Honduras - post elections

It's been two weeks since I withdrew from Great Facebook Politics War and declared neutrality. I have to say, it's been more difficult to remain uninvolved than I had thought it would be. My main recourse has mostly been to just stay off Facebook altogether. When I have gone on, I immediately regret it, as the whirlwind posting of left and right wing propaganda seemingly has continued unabated. However, I have experienced some positive results these past two weeks. My blood pressure has been lower, and I'm much less argumentative in general.

As the battle continues to rage in the USA between the left and the right, I have been thinking about Honduras since the elections and the riots last November. I read today that last week the First Lady of Honduras went to the US border to inspect detention centers. (As first lady, the country's child welfare services falls under her oversight.) I personally, was very happy to see her go and review the situation firsthand. During her visit, she admonished her own people to "stay home for the safety of your children". She also said that President Orlando is committed to addressing the issues in Honduras that are encouraging Hondurans to leave their own country. I view Honduras accepting their responsibility in this problem as a huge step towards solving this issue of illegal immigration.

The absolute number 1 reason people make the dangerous and costly journey north through Guatemala and Mexico is economics. It isn't fleeing violence or gangs, although these do play a role in this story; it's in search of jobs.

I find it very interesting that, with the exception of two families, of all the many men and women that I have interviewed who have made the trip illegally, none have had any real desire to become American citizens and live in the USA forever. (The two families would actually like to become US citizens someday and went north in the hope of providing their children with a better future) Instead, what I have seen time and time again, is that as soon as the individual arrives in the USA and finds employment, they first begin sending money home to their families to help support them and second, begin sending money home to build themselves a house for when they return and third, they begin saving money in order to start a small Honduras. (Please read my post "Why I'm mad...and sad" )

What role has crime and violence played in illegal immigration? While the media has portrayed illegal immigrants as "refugees" fleeing a war zone, this is not at all accurate. I live here in Honduras. I know what I'm speaking of. With the exception of gang controlled barrios in the larger cities, most of Honduras is a reasonably safe place to live. Typically, if you mind your own business, don't get mixed up with trouble makers and leave other's wives and girlfriends alone, you'll be okay. If you live in one of the gang controlled areas. then it's true that staying safe is much harder. However, that leaves the rest of Honduras for people to move to in order to "escape" the violence. Ah, but there's one problem: those places don't have much in the way of jobs either, so when they finally do decide to leave the barrio they head to the US instead of a safe town in Honduras. This is why I say with confidence that the ultimate motivation to travel through two countries illegally and risk life and limb is economics, plain and simple.

People close to President Orlando have told me that since the November elections and riots and particularly the death of his sister in a helicopter crash during that same time, that these events have affected him dramatically. He is a more serious person and he is serious about bringing change to Honduras. He has chosen to work closely with the United States and the war on drugs, illegal immigration and organized crime, believing that this is best for his country. If this is true, I couldn't agree more with his decision. (Please read my post "When the righteous prosper the city rejoices")

What Honduras and Hondurans need are jobs, with foreign investment being at the top of the list on where those jobs come from. With Orlando's Plan 2020, he hopes to encourage foreign investors to see Honduras as a legitimate investment opportunity. His plan seems to be bearing fruit already; Green4U Technologies just announced their intention to invest 20 million USD in a new electric vehicle assembly plant in Honduras. This is incredible news for Honduras!

Today I spoke with a man I have known for years and who is one of the most honorable men I know. He's a coffee grower, barely eking out a living as coffee prices have plummeted over the past few years. I asked him if he thought it was right for Hondurans to go to the USA illegally. He said this, "I think it would be far better for people to stay here and find a way to support their families, but if you have nothing, you do what you have to do."

For those of you who know me personally, I'm sure you have heard me say over and over again,     "Stop complaining and start doing something to change the world around you." 

We are committed to investing in and providing jobs to Honduras. If you would like to partner with us in helping Hondurans stay home by providing jobs, please contact me for more information at We welcome you to come and experience firsthand what Honduras offers investors.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sailing Lago de Yajoa, Honduras

Is there anything more romantically adventurous than the thoughts this word brings to the imagination?  Gentle breezes filling the sails, the sound of the water passing under the hull, sun sparkling off blue waters, amazing sunsets, pristine lakes, south sea islands, the lure of adventure? It does for me anyway.

In the past we've owned a couple of different bow riders and enjoyed them on Puget Sound and the beautiful lakes surrounding Seattle. After moving to Maine, we boated in many of  Maine's equally beautiful lakes and made several trips down the Kennebec River, through Merrymeeting Bay until the river empties into the Atlantic at Fort Popham. We usually did this trip with friends, Brian and Alice, in October when the falls colors were at their peak. Amazing memories.

Now that we spend so much time at our villa on the Caribbean, the boys and I have been talking about buying a sailboat with the goal of sailing to Utila, one of the Bay Islands 15 miles off the coast of Honduras and a true, undiscovered gem. Other places on the list to sail to are; Roatan, one of the worlds best diving spots and Cayos Cochinos, All of these islands are part of the Mesoamerican reef system, the second largest coral reef in the world..

Never having sailed before, it was recommended that we not buy a large sailboat, which of course is what I wanted to do. After all, it's a big, big ocean. However, after a lot of research I did listen to CW and decided on a West Wight Potter P19. It has a decent size cabin which sleeps four, is very forgiving to beginners and has actually circumnavigated the globe....although it's hard for me to imagine doing that in a 19 foot boat.

Somewhere in route
In January, I located one in Wisconsin, reached an agreement with the owner to store it until spring, and rather impatiently waited for May. Mark and I flew to Maine to see friends and family and to pick up the car I had purchased to tow the boat back to Honduras. Leaving Maine, we crossed through Canada re-entering the USA in Michigan. We had a smooth, 5000 mile trip home with no problems, other than a flat tire on a mountain pass in Mexico.

Now began the challenge of learning the ropes,literally...and the lingo; sheets, halyards, clew, tack, cleat, vang, jib, jibe, starboard, leeward, close hauled, long reach, and on and on. Our very first sail was in the safety of the driveway.

The big day finally came for our maiden voyage. We chose to play it safe and begin the sailing learning curve in Lago de Yajoa, a lake about 45 minutes from us. Locating one of the few boat ramps on the lake at Honduyate, (a very nice place featuring cabins, a marina, hotel, restaurant and a place to store and launch boats), we began our first sail.

It was a beautiful day! Yes, there were a few tense moments, like when we lost the lanyard to the outboard and it wouldn't start, or trying to take down the sail in gusty winds, but overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing day. I do think it will be a bit before we get out on the BIG water though. Special thanks to the previous owner who has spent countless hours emailing information and suggestions to me, and to Barbe's Uncle Vigo who with Aunt Paula taught themselves to sail after purchasing a boat in New Zealand and then spent two years on the high seas in the "Marijke". BTW: The boys are already talking a bigger boat and sailing the Caribbean islands!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Problem with Facebook and Politics

I admit it. Yesterday I gave in and involved myself in the Great Facebook Politics War. About once a year I slip and break my personal vow to abstain from the over-the-top, left vs right, mud slinging fest that Facebook has become a platform for.

On the other hand, I have also vowed to be more vocal in my own personal, conservative beliefs and convictions, whether it be politics, religion, the economy, personal responsibility etc. In the past, not wanting to offend, or in order to avoid an argument, I mostly chose to refrain from expressing my own views when around people who were polar opposites in order to avoid conflict - at times a very difficult thing to do. Nowadays. I tend to respond more frequently, because I believe it's the right thing to do. (Facebook is not the right place because it's just too easy to throw out an offensive comment or make snap, in the heat of the moment, illogical, responses.)

According to some of my friends in the USA, the bashing of each other's political views, and particularly President Trump personally, has reached near epidemic proportions. My little foray yesterday into this vicious world on Facebook seemed to confirm that, apparently, this is true. It's all out nuclear warfare. There seems to be another driving force behind this problem, besides the Facebook platform. According to my sources, millions of Americans are now actually addicted to the 24/7 news/talk show drug that has taken America by storm.

Fortunately, living in Honduras I'm not particularly exposed to this narcotic on a regular basis or it's unbalancing effect on my intelligence, but I did experience it's hallucinogenic high on a recent road trip from Maine to Honduras. The car I purchased is equipped with a SiriusXM satellite radio whose subscription is current. Amazingly, we were able to listen to great music all the way to Siguatepeque, where reception finally began to get a bit spotty. Listening to XM for nearly 5000 miles, I was blown away with the number of 24 hour news stations and talk radio programs that exist. All day and all night long they emit a non-stop, audial drip-feed of addiction in whatever brand your particular form of bias comes in. Is it any wonder Americans are obsessed with political/social debate and that every little issue is turned into something of monumental proportion worth dying for? (I actually blame my lapse into insanity on this trip)

The reality is that this politically dissident time we are living in is an actual battlefield. Our weapons are words, phrases, slogans, satire. and cutting, but humourous gifs.      Fact: Whenever one chooses to engage in battle, there will be casualties. Words have the power to wound and to kill. For those who have strong opinions and express them, it shouldn't come as a shock when others express equally strong and opposite opinions which one may find hurtful and offensive. Battles typically are never one sided events where missiles are only hurled in one direction. If one is foolhardy enough to launch a barrage of super-charged opinions on one's favorite pet peeve of the day, be forewarned, someone is going to fire back.

Warning: War is a dangerous business should you chose to engage in it. Remaining neutral may be your only hope of escaping unscathed, and history shows that even that may not protect you.

As stated above, although I regret giving into the impulse to engage in this ridiculous war of left vs right, liberal vs conservative, Democrat vs Republican, my purpose and original point was that the bashing of the President has reached an all-time high, even surpassing the angst that surrounded President G.W. Bush...and that was horrific. In my opinion, it is approaching a level that is becoming destructive to the very fabric of our country. As citizens of the United States of America we are given the constitutional right to disagree with our government and our elected officials. I do not believe that right should be abused to the extent that it has been since President Trump was elected. The beauty of our republic is that we have available to us the means to rectify our choice in elected officials every four years. It is at the voting booth where our voices and political expression should be most vocal. The rest of the time, we should be working constructively, not destructively, together for the good of our country.

I do not believe that disrespecting the office of the president is how an American citizen should act. I disagreed with much of what President Obama did during his eight years in office, but I never disrespected him. I have called to task a number of conservatives who I heard crossing that line of free speech and disrespect when Obama was president. If that is you today, when you talk about your president, I would ask you to consider your words. You don't have to like or even respect the man, but are you disrespecting the office and your country with your rhetoric? 

I have no desire to wound or inflict damage on anyone. If my post or some of the private messages that followed caused that, I am truly sorry. Although my personal opinions remain firmly in place, it doesn't mean that I don't love you. We just have radically different views on life, that's all. My invitation to all, to come and visit and see what we are accomplishing here, remains open.

Today I announce that I'm officially withdrawing from the Great Facebook Politics War. I'm going to try for permanent neutrality from this day forward. I sincerely hope I can keep my pledge this time. Please don't attempt to engage me, because I will return fire. Neutrality must be respected by both sides in order to function. I prefer peace with all men whenever possible. 

I want to leave with this thought, because since yesterday it has been on my mind and the implications it holds for each of us who hold citizenship in the United States of America.

Recently, I had opportunity to speak with a person who is applying to become a US citizen about what it means to become a citizen of our country. I had never actually researched the oath that an immigrant swears to on the day they become a naturalized citizen. I did not realize it was so profound an oath. It is truly a solemn event, or at least it should be. As I read the oath, I thought about those of us that are born US citizens. If this oath applies to a naturalized person, how much more should it apply to those born into citizenship. 

 Take a few minutes to read and consider.

Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
Note: In certain circumstances there can be a modification or waiver of the Oath of Allegiance. Read Chapter 5 of A Guide to Naturalization for more information.
The principles embodied in the Oath are codified in Section 337(a) in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which provides that all applicants shall take an oath that incorporates the substance of the following:
  1. Support the Constitution;
  2. Renounce and abjure absolutely and entirely all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which the applicant was before a subject or citizen;
  3. Support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
  4. Bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and
  5. A. Bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; or
    B. Perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; or
    C. Perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.
The language of the current Oath is found in the Code of Federal Regulations Section 337.1 and is closely based upon the statutory elements in Section 337(a) of the INA.

                                               God Bless America