Shamefully Dishonest Portrayal of Honduras by British Media

By Ben Anson

Avenida Centroamericana en Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  Foto AFP laprensa.hn

HAVANA TIMES – I awoke one morning as of recent, rolling around as usual upon the mattress, ventilator spinning ferociously in its pitiful attempt to combat the heat – and reached for my phone. I have a habit of leaving it somewhere within the immediate periphery of my bed, so that in the morning I can simply turn it on and see the time.

I did so as usual and noticed the typical sudden barrage of messages and notifications. One, that stood out, was from a young Englishwoman. A Facebook message, it was. I saw her in the profile photo which always accompanies such a message. I thought, what could she want? We had only met a handful of times here in Honduras, as I occasionally come into contact with international volunteers deployed by NGO groups.

On opening the chat, I rubbed my eyes and scanned what she had sent me.

She spoke of a young English girl, who found herself ‘stuck’ in Honduras, with a worried family back home. The girl in question was the daughter of her aunt’s best friends – if I recall correctly. That being, the aunt of the girl who’d sent me the messages.

I am frequently contacted by fellow Brits whom I’ve been acquainted with as they perhaps see me as some sort of ‘go to person’ on anything Honduras related. I’ve lived here for a few years now and have no plans of residing anywhere else. My journalism and writing exploits have, over the years, awarded me a small status as an authority on the nation and its issues, which is something I seek to build upon.

Anyhow, the young lady asked me if she could pass my contact information on to the girl mentioned, in case she wished to speak to someone English who could offer assistance. I agreed, as one is always willing to assist a fellow countryman. I myself, shall always try and help another human being – be them from England, Azerbaijan or the center of the earth.

I was thanked (on agreeing to the proposal) and told that the girl would be in touch – if she wished to do so.

Well… she never got in touch. I forgot the whole occasion.

That being until I found myself in a terrible fit of boredom (a result of this infernal Coronavirus lockdown) and began swiping around my phone whilst laying beached upon on a sofa. A news story from the BBC no less – appeared on the news section of my phone screen. If I swipe left from the main screen, I enter a section with international news features.

“Coronavirus. Family fears for daughter stranded in Honduras.”

So reads the headline. Immediately, something told me that it had to be the very same girl. I went and read over it, which left my blood boiling on account of what I consider unacceptable falsehoods and spurious slander. I then shared the article on Facebook and tagged the young lady who had first messaged me about this ‘stranded girl’. I asked: “is this the one you told me about?”

Incredulous, the young lady got back to me and responded that it was indeed the same girl. Freya Madeley. I then undertook some investigation and found that the same article appeared in the Daily Mail and other British media outlets from the Mirror to the Union Journal. The BBC, Daily Mail and the Mirror being leading titles in Great Britain. I shall go through certain excerpts from the article, which were the most ridiculous and utterly slanderous.

The family of a “scared” 20-year-old British woman stranded in Central America, is calling on the government to bring her home from a local airport.

Freya Madeley is attempting to return from a rural area of Honduras, where she has been volunteering.

Her family say the five-hour trip to the capital city for a flight is “too dangerous” and want her to travel from an airport 19 miles (30 km) away.

“She’s basically completely stuck,” said Ms. Madeley’s mother Maria.

Right. For starters why on earth is it ‘too dangerous’ to travel to the airport? That is a complete and utter lie; I can assure all readers that there has never been anything remotely ‘dangerous’ about travelling to the capital city or its airport. I myself, have travelled to Tegucigalpa (Honduras capital) on countless occasions. You get in a car, a bus, a bike – or a donkey’s back – and off you go. End of. Not an issue.

Even in this current situation, a decent explanation to authorities along the way (perhaps at roadblocks) would grant one a safe passage. Being a young white girl – an obvious foreigner, nobody would dream of making her life difficult. Anyone who has spent two minutes in Honduras, knows full well that foreigners here get special treatment.

Moving along:

“Food is getting scarce. There is a complete lockdown with gangs and police trying to control it. False. What gangs? Food is getting scarce? As I write this a lady who lives down my street is offering me steak or fried chicken for lunch. Corner shops are open across the nation – there is one on every street. Again, gangs? Ridiculous. What is there to control if nothing is happening? The whole country is on lockdown.

“She hasn’t got much local currency. She’s scared, she’s nervous,” said Maria Madeley. So, somehow Hondurans are to blame because she hasn’t much local currency. Guess what – nor do they! I thought the girl came here as an NGO volunteer…

“She has been warned by locals that the police have the authority to shoot anyone who runs away from them, and she has witnessed incidents of police brutality,” she said. FANTASY. Sci-fi even. Fiction. I myself went to a cash machine yesterday and had an amiable chat with Military Policemen who were also using the facility. They can’t just shoot people down for God’s sake. Police brutality would never affect a young white foreigner, you would have to open fire on them first or something truly extraordinary.

Holly said there were roadblocks, with armed men demanding payments to pass through, making it unsafe for her sister to travel to Tegucigalpa. How has she seen that though? I thought she had no money and was unable to move. Again, bullshit at its finest.

The Daily Mail, went even further, making the most outrageously false, sensationalist claims about the state of the nation of Honduras. Please see below:

“Violent gangs are vying for control in the Central American country amid lockdown.” That, is akin to saying that Donald Trump is half-human-half-kangaroo. Fantasy. I know gang members. Latin Kings, MS-13, 18th Street. They are as locked down as anyone else. Why would they start a gang war based on a virus from China? Do these journalists even read what they write? What stupid statements.

I write this article, with nothing against the girl or her family (who probably exaggerated as a means to obtain a free flight back home financed on British taxpayer’s money) yet I do have a bone to pick with the British media.

How dare you? Honduras, is not just gangs and gangs and gangs and gangs and gangs – for God’s sake. I suppose that the British media prefers to forget the despicable amount of organized crime activity all over the UK.

Honduras is not just violence. Neither is it solely corruption, poverty, misery and bedlam. This is a resplendent nation of extraordinarily beautiful landscapes, warm, noble people, intriguing cultures, great cuisine etc. I myself, opened a web site recently, whose purpose is to combat this terribly unjust, over-exaggerated negative image of Honduras. For those wishing to see the real picture – please visit: https://lempiratimes.com/

As soon as the British shake off their antiquated ‘empire mentality’ viewing nations like Honduras as being filled with savage, exotic natives – the bloody better!        


Ben Anson

“The moment that I disembark (from a plane), I notice that everything in my body and in my mind readjusts itself for me", so remarked Gabriel Garcia Marquez - when speaking of his relationship with the Caribbean. He felt the strongest physical and mental connection with this part of the world and deemed it as far as ‘grave’ and immensely ‘dangerous’ for him to leave its zone. Only here, did ‘Gabo’ feel ‘right’ in himself. Honduras, does for me - precisely what the Caribbean did for Marquez. A resplendent yet troubled nation, that I have been decidedly unable to part with ever since 2014. I thus seek to capture its essence through the written word.

31 thoughts on “Shamefully Dishonest Portrayal of Honduras by British Media

  • Nick and Carlyle, it would indeed be very nice to enjoy your combined company with some ‘big boys beverages’ at our dispense. I wish you both the very best and I too, hope very much that Cuba reaches a better state some way or somehow…

  • Nick, remember that I am a Scot! One consequence is that if impossible to obtain draught and perforce having to resort to bottles or cans, I prefer the latter as although sold at the same price, the cans hold more – 355 ml compared with 335 ml.
    For me, the Island malts are too peaty, so my preference is for Highland and within that, Speyside and its tributaries. Guess where I met my original and sadly, long deceased first wife? Craigellachie, and I was working close to Aberlour! Within 8 miles of my late wife’s home, there was Dufftown (five malts) Keith (three malts), Rothes (three malts) Craigellachie (Macallan) and Aberlour (1 malt). When no one was around, I used to strip off and take a swim in the dam for Glentauchers distillery (Mulben) which at that time was used for the blend Black and White.
    I just checked my drinks cupboard, and due largely to the generosity of friends, I currently have a 15 year old and a 12 year old Macallan, an Auchentoschen, 12 year old Cragganmore, 12 year old Glen Garioch – and a 15 year old Bowmore from Islay (unopened). Take a while to consume that lot!
    Back (way back) when I was a student at Aberdeen, malts were largely consumed by Scots as the English preferred the milder flavoured blends. But over the years, palates world wide, became more educated and malt sales boomed. That has resulted in distilleries being expanded – with Mawith callan building an underground one at Elchies House. I recall Glenfarclas in particular back in 1956, increasing production and building additional “in-bond” warehousing across the road in Dufftown. They had confidence in the future, but to get the whisky across the road, they put a pipeline under it (raw whisky cost about 10 Bob (shillings) a gallon to produce. About fifteen years later, a road repair was necessary and the pipe uncovered. Attached to it was a small pipe leading to a ditch fifty yards away with a tap on the end.
    Ben speaks of Bacardi – who now produce their rum in I think Barbados – but also (don’t tell anyone) in Canada! It was they who made Cuban rum popular and it was of course they who built that wonderful building in downtown Havana, with the Art Nouveau figures.
    I raise my glass to you Nick and to Ben, each sitting in isolation, but only wish it was together in Cuba!

  • Mr Mac D,
    Congratulations on your eldest daughter’s birthday.
    From what you mention I glean that you must be of a somewhat venerable age yourself…..
    They say that with age, comes wisdom. You are wise to suggest that there are certain moderate differences between our political viewpoints. I would concur.
    You also display your wisdom when you suggest that we both ‘love the place’. Cuba is a home from home for me despite all it’s faults. I hope Cuba can get out of the rut it is in and look to a brighter future. We would likely agree on that objective but possibly differ on the road to best take……
    Hey, maybe after this Coronavirus situation Ben, Mr MacD and myself could all meet up one day for a beer and a shot. Sounds good !
    Just for the record. My preferences are:
    Cuban Beer: Mayabe (bottle rather than can) – ice cold.
    Cuban Rum: Have to go for the humble Planchao from the carton with my buddies before, during and after a baseball game.
    Scotch: I like Macallan but that’s a Speyside. Nothing wrong with a Speyside Malt but gotta say that I prefer an Islay Malt or even a Campbeltown Malt (somewhat rarer these days but worth seeking out).
    Ultimate preference – Ardbeg 10 just shades it.
    Cheers…..

  • That does sound rather excellent indeed! Good for you, one must celebtrate at any give opportunity – congragulations to your daughter. How cheap is that rum though!? In Honduras, it is incredibly low priced as well, yet the only Cuban brand on offer is Barcadi as far as I know. Dominican, Nicaraguan and Panamanian rum being more accessible. I had forgotten that Presidente was Dominicana, Bucanero is indeed Cuban – is it not? I do hope that I am able to spend more time in Cuba; I can see that apart from rum we share the same taste in women. There is something quite enchanting about Cubanas, particularly las mulatas – for me personally. I wish you and your wife well.

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