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

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  • Hilarious.
    Trying to get a British taxpayer funded flight back to U.K. sounds like the driver behind this story. The British Government is spending millions on flying ‘stranded’ British tourists from all parts of the world. This shows that the matter is being taken seriously as some people appear to be genuinely ‘stranded’.
    But in some of the cases the tourists left the U.K. well after the virus was already spreading !!!
    Ben is correct to mention crime levels in the U.K.
    In the British city where I am currently staying the roads are quiet but you can clearly see the local hoodlums cruising around brazenly patrolling their turf.
    The cops leave them to it.
    They don’t want the extra added grief of interfering with the local drugs economy at the present time.

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  • Hi Ben and the rest of the world.

    My wife and I have been hanging out in Honduras for 15 years or so, and have never experienced one of the news stories. You are correct, gringos do have special privileges. We currently spend every winter on the north coast near La Ceiba.

    Yes, people on average are poorer than Americans and Europeans. There are gangs in the big cities just the same as any big city in the US or Europe. Both of the two biggest cities in Honduras have 2,000,000 plus people. This easily qualifies for the same living situation as every other city of its size in the world.

    There are MANY flights out of Honduras to the US and probably EU. They are not every day but there are several a week. I know United airline is flying a few flights a week to Houston. All of these flights are flying partially full at a huge loss to the airlines. But they are still there for you.

    I do not know of 1, not 1, foreigner that that lives in Honduras that want to leave because they are afraid. The country is on a very efficient lock down. The infection rate is only ~40 per million. The US on April 9th is 1,149 per million.

    I returned to the US last week only because my wife’s mother is dying. As soon as I walked into a grocery here in Ohio I started to panic and only grabbed Beer before I checked out and drove home to strip in my garage and head for the shower.

    Every grocery and bank in Honduras started taking temperatures, making you sanitize your hands and cleaning handles on shopping carts in between uses ON THE FIRST DAY.

    Ben, I am not as nice as you. I do blame this girl and the media. If she is so paranoid that she has to make up all these lies she should have never traveled to any other country.

    Best regards,
    Steve

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  • Honduras might be beautiful but it has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.
    60 to 88 per 100,000 is very high.
    If I was a 20 year old female 5 hours away from the capital city by taxi I am not sure I would take that path.
    But then she put herself in that situation.

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  • THE TRUTH ALWAYS HURTS !! .. !!

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  • Thank you your comment Nick, I am glad that you enjoyed the article and that you found it humorous. A certain case of someone wanting a taxpayer-funded flight home! Without any doubt. Sad, that Honduras must have its name dragged through the mud in the process – for no good reason. I can fully imagine those streets in certain parts of Britain; plenty of hoodlums out there and no shortage of drugs, knives or firearms.

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  • Steve, thank you very much. A wonderful authoritative comment you left, which can most certainly not be debated with. I myself, was interested in the info you provided concerning airlines. There you go! Flights still operating then, I had no idea. It pleases me that you and your wife have spent so much time in and enjoyed Honduras so much. Plenty of fine places to be found along the north coast. Tela being my favourite! Your final remark was spot on, to be honest, most British people should not be allowed anywhere beyond their home town. Un saludo, Ben.

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  • Hilarious too that the article ends on the BBC News website with the claim: Why you can trust the BBC News

    I note the young lady is/was desperate to get back to her family back in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. It being little more than a half hour drive down to the gang infested ‘no go areas of Bristol’:

    https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/no-go-areas-bristol-being-3343297

    Strike that plan to celebrate her homecoming c/o UK tax payers with a Diliveroo take out then…

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  • Ben,
    There is an underlying theme which relates to the British psyche. Historically speaking ‘abroad’ was somewhere that the British conquered and planted the flag. Other nations were to be fought against. A glorious victory or an unfortunate defeat involving some gallant rearguard action and dignified retreat. Thus the Great British Empire was forged.
    More recently ‘abroad’ is somewhere where most British go on holiday, usually within the confines of a ‘package’ or with the surety of a return flight.
    Obviously many British people (a sizeable minority) think differently and are are bit more ‘intrepid’ such as yourself. I have had the good fortune to live in various different countries over the years so perhaps I have a different viewpoint to the majority.
    I do find it weird that a lot of British people will fork out their ‘hard earned’ for a two week break in foreign climes, keeping everyone back home up to date on social media. But then when something goes wrong and their stay is unexpectedly extended, they suddenly feel ‘stranded’ somewhere foreign and ‘scarey’.
    I think it has something to do with a mixture of an innate distrust of foreigners (particularly those who don’t speak English) and a kind of British Exceptionalism.
    This would go some way toward explaining the whole Brexit phenomenon, but hey, let’s not re-open that can of worms huh ?

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  • Cuthbert,
    I’m glad to say that I’m very familiar with both Bristol and Nailsworth.
    Both splendid places in their own different ways.
    Yes, Bristol most definitely does have it’s share of dangerous neighbourhoods.
    And there certainly ain’t no mean streets in Nailsworth !!

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  • Stats like the world’s highest homicide rates are on the net Ben if you don’t like them then that’s your issue.
    It makes people nervous.
    I don’t need to go to Antarctica to know icebergs are melting and the world is warming.

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  • The point is you haven’t even been here Brad… So… I suppose I wish you luck in you career as an “arm-chair critic”. Blessings.

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  • Cuthbert, thank you for informing us of the current state of affairs in Bristol! What has happened in England? I don’t suppose that Deliveroo will be providing food and beverage for the ‘welcome back party’… Madness. I couldn’t believe what I read.

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  • Nick,
    That is the finest description that I have read of the British in a long time. I applaud your honesty and intelligent form of explanation. ‘A sense of exceptionalism’ – marvellous. Absolutely, you are completely right about our history of ‘planting the flag’ upon distant soils and then the tacky package holidays so popular with Brits. My brother lives in Marbella, Spain, so he gets to see the ‘joys’ of British mass tourism on a daily basis. One is not far from an ‘egg and chips’ shall we say? We are, if I may say so, a ‘peculiar breed’. The deep mistrust of foreigners (as you say – especially those who do not speak English) is a shameful aspect of our culture.

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  • British Exceptionalism – This was a largely Victorian thing whereby the British believed or were led to believe that they were innately superior and that the rest of the world was innately inferior. It was the kind of thing that the likes of yer Monty Python ripped the p**s out of mercilessly. Weirdly this exceptionalism lingers on to some extent.
    I don’t know if ‘exceptionalism’ is a 100% bad thing.
    Is collective self confidence a bad thing?
    My personal opinion would be that self confidence is fine. As long as it’s mixed with an equal measure of humility…….

    Us British definitely ain’t the only ones to have a sense of exceptionalism. Germany had it big style 75-90 years ago. The USA definitely has it. Israel has it. Obsessive observants of different faiths can have an unhealthy belief in their own innate superiority.
    Cubans can have a form of exceptionalism too. This can apply to those on all sides of the political spectrum.
    Fidel Castro often played the nationalistic and ‘Cuban Exceptionalism’ cards.
    I used to get back home in Havana. Get a beer out of the fridge whilst he was starting on his latest speech. Eat my supper as he was getting stuck into it. Have a coffee and a read of the paper whilst he was still at it. Then maybe drift into bit of a nap with his ramblings as a backdrop. Then a couple of hours later I’d wake up and he’d still be banging on about how exceptional Cubans are. Then I’d have a shower and go out for a late stroll just as he was getting to the end of his big old ramble.
    He’d go banging on for several hours about Cuban Exceptionalism. I kid you not.

    Wish you well Ben. Stay safe bud – in that Big Old Scarey Honduras !!!

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  • Donald Trump is half kangaroo and half human.

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  • I have observed this discussion with interest. The poor stranded tourist story and distrust of the people whose country to which they chose to travel, is not unique to the British. A group of schoolkids with teachers from Canada travelled to Peru on March 12th. (Yes, their parents allowed them to travel on March 12th) Theirs was described as a “mission” – obviously they hoped to enlighten the people of Peru and such missions to Latin America in particular are common in the evangelical portion of Canadian society – reflecting Nick’s view that such people have “an unhealthy belief in their own innate superiority”. However they were caught without means of immediate return and they in Peru and their silly parents in Canada who had not only permitted. but encouraged a bunch of school kids to go on their “mission”, were screaming at the media and the Federal Government for a plane to be sent to take them home. The lack of any sense of responsibility for decisions taken, is self evident. As for humility Nick, how can such people be humble when knowing that God is on their side?
    I can’t let mention of Bristol pass without thinking of Pullen the Bristol Rugby Club hooker, who in that move said to be the finest in history when the Barbarians scored against the All Blacks in 1972, actually handled the ball twice. As one who played that same position for one of England’s top clubs, it remains my belief that he was the best ever. Was Bristol Rugby Club a “gang”? – sure felt like it! Ouch!

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  • I am curious to know where in Honduras this lady was located. By car there are very few places that are 5 hours from either SPS or Tegucigalpa.

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  • Mr MacD,
    My understanding is that pretty much all religious texts include lessons on ‘humility’ but not all adherents take such lessons on board ?

    Speaking of Peru and ‘missions’…..
    Didn’t Francisco Pissarro refer to his murderous conquest as a ‘mission’ ?

    You are correct. Distrust of foreigners is most definitely not a British-only phenomenon.

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  • Clyde Lee, haha -yes indeed. I understand that she was somewhere between Tela and San Pedro Sula.

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  • Nick, very interesting to hear of your time in Cuba. I am sure that if we were to partake in a couple of those Cuban beers, I would wish to hear your stories.
    Thank you very much, take good care yourself and as for me, I shall try not to be gunned down by any gangsters…

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  • If only I could purchase Cuban beer when at home in Cuba! Alas, not a Bucanero or Cristal in sight. Only Heineken, Presidente, Corona, Hollandia and other imported beers. Cuban beer is reserved for the tourist hot-spots. The lack of Cuban beer reflects that inability of the Cuban regime to increase production, to comprehend the marketplace and to encourage employment for Cubans. Far easier for GAESA to buy foreign products – of course corruption could not possibly be a factor?
    If only one could sit down with Nick and Ben Anson – or indeed anyone else, to imbibe a Bucanero!

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  • You made me laugh there Carlyle. From my own short experience in Cuba, I was only able to partake in the consumption of the Presidente beer yet I do believe that I had one or two Bucaneros. Intriguing what you say about their beer market… I prefer a rum as it is, something, Cuba never fails to please with!

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  • Believe it or not Ben, although 3 year old rum can be bought for $5.60 a bottle, I don’t like it. My first choice in Cuba remains Bucanero. But, to get any I have to purchase it at the airports – usually 4 dozen, but on one occasion a gross to fill up our local 1952 Chevy taxi-particular which came to collect me. Nick would I think expect me to prefer Scotch, which I do admit to imbibing when celebrating – indeed I did so today – 15 year old MACALLAN to celebrate my eldest daughter’s 60th birthday! My wife despite being Cuban has developed a soft spot for Drambuie, and I guess that she had a thimbleful or two in celebration today. No doubt you know that Presidente is from Dominicana – but certainly preferable to Heineken.
    I hope you get the opportunity to spend more time in Cuba, although Nick and I have moderate political differences (get that one Nick) we both love the place.

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  • 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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  • 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…..

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  • 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!

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  • 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…

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