REPORT TO THE NATION:
SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
Secretary General - Sir Peter Anderson
It all began with a FAX from the Citizen in March
of this year.
"President Clinton has announced the "Summit of the
Americas" to be held in Miami in December. Was the Conch Republic going?"
The press release stated that Summit organizers were
seeking countries to participate in the planning process, and in setting
the agenda. The Conch Republic immediately forwarded the White House our
acceptance of the invitation, and our offer of help. As the "Last Bastion
of the Overqualified" we offered an enormous talent pool gleaned from the
entire planet. We stated that strong societies evolve from systems where
each individual has the opportunity to make of themselves what they wish.
We spoke of sensitivity to trans-national pollution sources, and the alleviation
of poverty through creativity, magic, serendipity, hard work, and unlimited
opportunity for self-expression. We were ignored.
In August we began the search for hotel space during
the Summit by conch-tacting the Hotel Inter-Conch-tinental which had been
designated by the United States Department of State as an official delegation
hotel. We were going to the Summit, anyway. Sheryl Sevilla in the hotel’s
sales department informed us that the hotel was completely booked by the
State Department. However, she thought that they might not actually take
the Royal and Presidential suites because they were "unequal accomodations",
and protocols demand that no favoritism be shown. The Presidential rented
for $2200 per night, the Royal for $2500 per night. We offered $1500 per
night for the Royal, leaving the Presidential open for Bill and Hill.
Two weeks later in early September, Ms. Sevilla called
back and informed us that the State Department had released the Royal to
the Conch Republic", and that they would accept our offer!!!
We were stunned. The State Department allowing the
Conch Republic to mingle with the heads of State at the Summit!!?? Was
this a prelude to allowing our participation? Why in a hotel entirely secured
for visiting heads of state were we allowed to be there?
Citizen reporter Sarah Hollander queried the State
Department for her article, "Parties are Made to Crash". Mr. Alexander
Almasov replied that the Conch Republic was not invited, and besides, we
were Florida and the US; not a country. We faxed Mr. Almasov a letter explaining
that we were, indeed, a country under international law governing "adverse
possession" between sovereign nations. We explained that the United States
had never reacted to our Secession in over twelve years, and that by virtue
of holding our sovereignty in a "public and notorious" manner, we had sovereign
rights. We also explained that we had no intention of interfering with
the legitimate interests of the US (as we were intensely loyal Americans),
and that our mission to the Summit involved only our message of "humor
and respect" which we thought the Hemisphere could use a lot more of. We
Despairing of getting anywhere with the State Department,
we faxed a letter to the Co-Chairs of the Florida Steering Committee for
the Summit including Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay, and Miami Herald publisher
David Lawrence, asking them to "help us find our rightful place in this
Mr. Lawrence wrote us back! However, he cautioned
us that this Summit was serious business, and that we were in a position
to do the US serious harm in the Hemisphere by making fun of the Summit.
Appalled, we wrote back explaining that "humor based on derision was not
the kind of humor we found funny in the Conch Republic", and that we had
no intention of making fun of the Summit; and only wished to spread our
message of "humor, and respect."
Mr. Lawrence wrote back applauding "humor and respect",
and told us he was forwarding our entire package to Mr. Mack McLarty at
the White House, and to Amb. Charles Gillespie at the State Department.
We were finally being considered at the very top. The euphoria was short
lived, however, when our calls to Mr. McLarty and Amb. Gillispie went unanswered.
The secretaries in both of their offices thought we were quite funny, but
the bosses wouldn’t play.
We explained to them in faxed transmissions that
as "America’s Own Little Country", as shining examples of a country that
wasn’t afraid to reinvent itself to meet changing times, and our contention
that we represent what is best about America; we could and would be an
asset to America in Hemispheric politics. They still ignored our existence.
Meanwhile, our delegation to the Summit was taking
shape. Mel Fisher’s Maritime Heritage Society agreed to produce an exhibit
of the Lost Treasures of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita.
Mel himself, as our Minister of Underwater Affairs agreed to attend; and
became our first sponsor. The Hog’s Breath, Rick’s Bar, the Green Parrot,
Audio-Video International, Blue Heaven, Emeralds International, Key West
Marine Hardware, and the Key West Shirt Factory graciously agreed to sponsor
our delegation, as well. As the only country going to the Summit by virtue
of the willing consent of the governed (i.e.: voluntary contributions instead
of tax dollars) we were on our way! Reef Relief contributed an exhibit
to our presentation, and we felt we had an effective delegation.
Meanwhile, David Lawrence continued to put pressure
on the White House and State Department to include the Conch Republic by
publishing an article about our exclusion from the Summit as snubbed guests
whose "unarmed, but disarming campaign" to establish sovereignty was being
On Thursday morning, the 8th of December at 8 AM,
we departed the Conch Republic for the Summit. Arriving at the Hotel Inter-Conch-tinental,
we found the place literally swarming with police, military, Secret Service
and State Department Security personnel. Producing my red Diplomatic Passport
from the Conch Republic, we were waved right through to the front of the
hotel portico, and up the red carpet to the lobby.
We were thoroughly dressed for the part. Undersecretary,
Tim Smith was pin striped in blue, Special Attache for Order out of Chaos,
Carol Bentley-Ely was dazzlingly befrocked. And Barbara Cora Gohringer,
Personal Assistant to the Secretary General wore a lovely silk suit. We
cut a swath through the lobby to the amazed looks of the Secret Service,
carrying the sacred Queen Conch.
Ushered to the 33rd floor by bemused hotel personnel,
who were well briefed on our delegation, we found the entire floor secured
by State Department Security. The Canadian Prime Minister was down the
hall, and the Secretary Genera of the Organization of American States was
right next door. We moved in and set up our presentation. Blowing the Conch
Horn to warm the cold marble brought State Department Security right away.
They smiled, they laughed, they loved it...
Later we found out we were under a State Department
Having listened to many complaints during television
round table discussions of the abuse of the credentials process by government,
we shouldn’t have been surprised. If government wants something blacked
out, they merely threaten to withdraw an individual’s press credentials
to cover an event. We ran into this immediately when a television crew
wandered into our suite while waiting to interview OAS Secretary General,
Cesar Gaviria of Columbia, our next door neighbor. "Ah!", they said, "this
is exactly the kind of color we would like to cover...can we come right
back and interview you?" Of course... We watched as State Department Security
took them aside for a chat...we never saw them again. Isolated and alone,
we bemoaned the death of the free press...the free exchange and expression
As we sat and pondered how to handle the blackout,
we looked out over Biscayne Bay from 33 floors up. The Florida Marine Patrol
was out on the Bay in force. Thirty boats patrolled back and forth securing
the hotel and its docks. The largest was flying a blue and yellow flag
from its stern. Could it be possible? Was that a Conch Republic flag? It
was worth a look.
Down on the dock, the red passport worked its magic,
and sure enough, the ORION out of Key West was flying our flag! Blowing
a blast on the Conch Horn got their attention, and they motored over. "When
we got here and saw all these flags, we got out our own", said the Skipper!
It was a beautiful sight.
Our spirits restored, we set about the daunting task
of luring summit delegates to our suite. Mel arrived. Wrapping a two pound
gold chain around the neck of our hotel convention service representative,
Cathleen Kenny, Mel convinced her to allow us to display his posters in
the lobby. Our magnificently dressed delegation took one-page flyers, and
our background booklets on the Conch Republic down to the lobby and buttonholed
delegates, heads of state, and even Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
The trickle of visitors to our suite became a flood.
They listened to our story, ogled the treasures, picked up Reef Relief
information; obtained passports, and went away delighted with our Tiny
Meanwhile, the State Department Security guys were
starting to relax and enjoy the Conch Republic. Coming into our suite they
began to ask for passports, laugh with us, and respect the dignity and
decorum we were exhibiting. "Investigation of passport fraud is our other
task," they joked as we took their pictures and validated their Conch Republic
Passports. They left laughing and muttering about their jobs.
Two gentlemen from the Miami Police Department Special
Investigations Section arrived with guns and scowls, asking for the full
names and dates of birth for those staying in the suite. They left with
passports, bumper stickers, and smiles. The Joker was pleased. They were
beginning to appreciate a full deck.
Delegates began to arrive. The Finance Minister from
Trinadad and Tobago, the Minister of Trade and Industry from Belize, members
of the Canadian Delegation, gentlemen from Columbia, several White House
Fellows, the Trade Representative from the Democratic National Commitee,
the head of the Argus Foundation, representatives from the Ocean Bank,
and a small flood of State Department Security people all wanting passports.
We were a hit.
Late Saturday afternoon the heads of state returned
by boat to the hotel dock from their hard day’s work at Viscaya. A dozen
heads of state from the Caribbean were at our hotel; and disembarking with
their delegations. Well loved by State Department Security at this, point,
we were allowed to bring out flag and Conch Horn onto the dock to welcome
them back. Mighty blasts from the elegant Queen brought broad smiles to
the faces of the weary Prime Ministers, Presidents, and delegates. Our
mission was bearing fruit.
The Conch and the flag also attracted the Associated
Press, CNN, the London Financial Times, and a Toronto daily to our delegation.
We were overcoming the blackout. Asked our position on free trade by the
Financial Times we told them we believed in free everything, especially
In the end we were interviewed by all of the above,
plus Reuters News Service worldwide; the Voice of America, WSBH in Miami
(a thirty minute interview), and are interviewing with the Canadian Broadcasting
Company coast to coast and worldwide on shortwave. The world knows that
the Conch Republic exists.
Our open house and reception on Saturday night brought
Conch Republican Tim Wegman of A- 410 Piano service; Michele Hardin, Adrienne
and Marcia of the duo Aye!, Robyn Fear, John Nowell, and Ariella Saks to
the suite. The barge used for setting off the fireworks display positioned
itself just below in Biscayne Bay. At 1:30 AM they began. The shells climbed
and climbed until they were right at eye level from our vantage point 33
floors up, and then... exploded right in our faces. They built and climbed,
ebbed and flowed, went on and on, building to a crescendo that literally
filled the sky in front of our eyes with a magnificence that defied description.
When the President wants to impress a Hemisphere, he can really put on
Perhaps the most exciting outcome of our advent upon
the world stage was an invitation by the old he-coon, himself, Gov. Lawton
Chiles, to attend his Inauguration in Tallahassee on the 3rd of January.
We spoke with his Inaugural Committee, and our arrangements were made.
We were to be blowing a Conch Salute to the Governor...a Governor who also
serves the Conch Republic as our Special Envoy for Mainland Affairs. As
the only foreign country invited to his inauguration, we were proud. We
carried the Flag, we carried the Queen Conch to Tallahassee, we weren’t
blacked out this time... We were welcome!
What follows is the Report to the Nation on this Historic event:
The Governor's Inauguration