Help Harris Get Back On His Feet
Geron “Harris” Feldman has lived his whole life on Roatan, an idyllic Caribbean Island off the coast of Honduras. He has seen good years and bad, but he always showed up for work with a big smile. His friendly, outgoing personality helped him earn enough to get by, winning him friends from around the world and finally landing him a waiting job at Foster’s West Bay Resort. But Covid-19 changed all of that.
His last day working was March 7, as cruise ships and airplanes full of tourists stopped arriving. Almost every resident on the island depends on tourism to survive, and Harris was not the only one suffering from loss of income.
Two months later, he was sitting on the porch of his aunt’s apartment rolling a joint from a small bud a friend had given him. Suddenly an unmarked red truck pulled up with four police. Two of them came up, aimed a gun at him, and asked him who had sold him the pot. He was then arrested, put in jail, and told that a 17g bag (about a half ounce) of pot had been found in his pocket. Harris knew that this was false and asked to see the evidence. They refused.
In Honduras, it is illegal to possess, smoke, or grow cannabis, but usually cops look the other way. However, the pandemic has cut into government budgets as well, and preying on the locals for bogus fines has become more common. Any amount of cannabis over 5.5g is considered drug trafficking. Harris sat in an unventilated jail cell with a dozen other men waiting for his family to scrape together a $2000 fine to release him.
For the two months that he was in prison, his father came by every day to bring him food and water, and eventually the money was secured to the detriment of each member of his family who were also struggling to survive the economic crisis. At this point, Harris was desperate to get out, and agreed to plead guilty.
“I was appointed a public defender. He didn’t defend me,” said Harris, who was ordered to sign in with the judge every week for two years. If he misses even one week, he faces four years of jail in the mainland of Honduras. “I have to be really responsible because, basically, I’m still in the law’s hands.”
“If I had gotten caught with an illegal weapon or cocaine, it would’ve been 24 hours in jail. Weed is the worst crime in Honduras. If you have money, there is no jail time. If you’re Spanish (from mainland Honduras), you won’t go to jail or have weed planted on you. It’s a corrupt system.”
In the meantime, Harris is still unemployed and anxious to pay his family back. He has a five-year-old son, Kyrie, who means the world to him and depends on him for survival. “I need to start working and earning money again, but who knows when the tourists will return.”
If you can donate to Harris, it would help him return the love and faith in him that his family members and relatives have shown. It would also help them all get by and have enough to eat while Covid-19 decimates the economy of the entire world.