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

  • April 10, 2020 at 4:28 pm
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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 !!!

  • April 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm
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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.

  • April 10, 2020 at 12:52 pm
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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.

  • April 10, 2020 at 12:49 pm
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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.

  • April 10, 2020 at 10:55 am
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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.

  • April 10, 2020 at 6:44 am
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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 !!

  • April 10, 2020 at 6:39 am
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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 ?

  • April 10, 2020 at 5:05 am
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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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