Cryptocurrency investors say they are building the city of the future, but who is it for?
"The women are the ones who have the vision." - Garifuna women whose families have lived in the Crawfish Rock community in Roatán, Honduras for generations
Próspera, on the island of Roatán, Honduras is being sold by cryptocurrency investors as the private tech city of the future. In September, I traveled to Roatán to interview the local Afro-Indigenous Garifuna community in Crawfish Rock, where Próspera is located. The women I spoke to live in the same houses their families have been in for generations. As they looked out at the sea, they told stories of members of Próspera pressuring locals to sell land for next to nothing or even, in one case, in exchange for a boat motor. Women in the community have begun to organize to protest such actions, including the privatization of water, on the part of Próspera. As cryptocurrency investment increases in Latin America, I’ve become more interested in what that means for equality and inclusion for women and indigenous populations.
The board of Próspera is made up of all men, two of whom are from Mississippi. These are the kinds of details that interest me because 1) Is a board that includes no women and no local Afro-Indigenous representation interested in equality and inclusion 2) What are two men from Mississippi, one of whom is a member of the legislature, doing on the board of a private city in Honduras?
Although some journalists have traveled to Próspera, none have visited Mississippi to find out how a member of the Mississippi legislature is involved in the private city. These are the kinds of story angles that interest me. To confirm an interview with the CEO of Próspera, Erick Brimen, I had to turn in my interview questions weeks beforehand. Here are the questions I prepared:
Could you discuss how the local community – specifically the Garifuna – were informed about the project?
How was the land was acquired?
How will Próspera benefit the local community?
How will Próspera handle issues related to justice and crime? Will the city be guided by Honduran law or will it create a separate system of law?
How will Próspera build an inclusive community that respects the LGBTQ community, locals, low-income community members, and others?
There are no women on the board of Própsera. Why? Does Prospera promote gender equality and what will the community do to support women?
In the coming months, I hope to travel to Mississippi to pursue the story there. Meanwhile, I know the Garifuna women of Crawfish Rock are organizing to protect their land, their way of life.
October 21: Register for my Mountain Workshop 7 pm CST presentation with photographer Liz Sanders on "The Writer-Photographer Relationship"
March 2022: Arizona State University - my first in-person speaking invitation of the pandemic, date TBD
That's an intriguing story. I look forward to reading what you learn.
Excellent reporting! I’m anxious to see more details. Go get ‘em, Alice!