Bay Islanders bemoan ‘forced’ British breakup

The bittersweet legacy of British post colonialism
The bittersweet legacy of British post colonialism
REPORT FROM THE CARIBBEAN - Sandy Bay in Roatan is a small community of English-speaking Afro-Caribbeans

PART ONE: By Mark Viales

The majority of Bay Islanders from English speaking backgrounds would prefer the territories to return to British hands, despite spending 160 years under Honduran administration.

A treaty between the UK and The United States forced Britain to give up the islands in 1861, but the islanders lived under relative autonomy from the Hispanic mainland until recently.

Today there is a campaign for a return to British rule in order to prevent their cultural heritage, English language and improved education system from vanishing.

“I think this island would be much better if it were British,” said Samona Palmer, 55, from the Afro-Carib Sandy Bay community on Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands. “We are much larger than the Cayman Islands and we all agree that we would prosper under that (UK) protection and administration.”

The small 82-square-kilometre island is surrounded by lush jungle and abundant marine life, where the population previously lived sustainably off the bounty from land and sea.

But the floodgates opened when the cruise ship tourist industry took-off on the islands, promising jobs and salvation from widespread poverty festering on the mainland.


In terms of Gibraltar, if one day she were to be draped with the Spanish flag, she would likely keep her offshore status and remain lucrative to our neighbours.

Even with a border, the Rock already has over 12,000 cross-frontier workers, but were Spanish nationals to have easy access to Gibraltar’s benefits, numbers would certainly multiply.

The surrounding Gibraltar Campo area is one of the most impoverished in the whole of Spain, and although quality of life and security is better than mainland Honduras, comparisons can be easily drawn.