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El Presidente or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Collective

San Jose

Regional Actor
Joined
Oct 31, 2006
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7,090
Location
Los Angeles, California
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Palmira
Nick
Jose
Palacio Presidencial, Palmira, Isla de San José, Gran República Archipelágica de San José
12/10/2021, 1400hrs


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The gentle rocking of the chair was timed well with the rhythm of the waves crashing against the shores, a sound that never got old even after many decades of listening to what some Josefinos described as the heartbeat of San José. It could be heard over the merrymaking of tourists and natives alike, it rumbled beneath the din of commuting traffic, it was part of every aspect of the lives of Josefinos and Josefinas everywhere, even those who lived as inland as geographically possible. Even there, in the remote corners of the islands, the waves could still be heard, breathing life into San José.

Presidente José Constanza sipped on his Josefino Libre with a content smile on his face, watching the sun pass from east to west on his private balcony from the Palacio Presidencial. He had just returned from a fantastic celebratory getaway in Würzwald, Eiffelland following a successful peace deal in Chagny of the Holy Frankish Empire. It was safe to say, at least in the humble opinion of El Presidente, that he had single-handedly averted a Second Great War from consuming Gallo-Germania, and the celebration of Oktoberfest in Eiffelland was the least that could be done to thank the Josefino leader for his titanic efforts to forge peace from the blistering hot metal of war. That was the impression his hosts had given him at any rate, and the cheering crowds in Palmira when he finally returned home certainly helped with that self-perception as well.

Still, it wasn't all joyous and pleasant, the Josefino learned as a mild scowl crept across his face, which retreated when he took a light drag from a lit joint. The Archipelagic Congressmen had also greeted him and praised him for his efforts, but it was no thanks to them that San José had accomplished what it did. The Congress had, in fact, made no effort whatsoever to truly contribute to this monumental, prestigious occasion. They had instead bickered and quarreled at home, dragging their feet as much as possible to prevent San José from coming anywhere near war, even if it was forced upon them by a war-hungry Frankish Emperor, because it hurt their bottom lines with the tourist industry. It was unlike them to be so unresponsive to El Presidente and the will of the people, but it wasn't the first time they had shown such stubbornness. Presidente Constanza reflected on the delays in regards to the affordable housing project that the Natalians and Ostmarkers had tried to help with, and how they were stuck in bureaucratic hell for so long in the Archipelagic Congress before the bill finally passed. Officially, it was to ensure that environmental regulations and standardized building codes were followed to letter after agonizing letter. Unofficially, the Congressmen did their damndest to skim off the top as much as they could feasibly get away with, and they had managed to get away with much, much more than Presidente Constanza truly understood until now.

The marijuana did little to keep the scowl from returning at that thought, so a quick sip of Josefino Coffee next to El Presidente completed the infamous Josefino Cocktail of drugs now coursing through his system, which took the edge off his frustration somewhat. It was true that this was simply how business was done in San José. It's how it had always been done even before the Collectivist Revolution of 1950 led by Presidente Constanza's grandfather, which then ushered in the presidency of Constanza's father, and then Constanza himself. Corruption was just an acceptable, normal way to do politics, regardless of ideology, and allow for anything at all to get done in San José and neatly paper over the hypocrisy of a democracy without much actual democratic practice, railing against exploitation from abroad while turning a blind eye to exploitation at home. All in San José professed their undying belief in the Global Exploitation Conspiracy, to varying degrees of passion, but El Presidente was the most aware of its hypocrisy, and recent events at home and abroad had led him to reconsider the rot he had let fester at home for too long.

The success of the Anarchistisch-Kollektivistische Allianz political party in Eiffelland, jumping from three-quarters of a percentage point to nearly seven and a half percent of the vote, with a gain of seventy-six seats in the legislature, showed the true soft power of El Presidente and the ideology he spread to the international world. This on the heels of the revolution he inspired in Socialist Zara, and now with the peace he had crafted in Chagny. It was Presidente Constanza who truly embodied the will of the people, of collectivism, of freedom from the Global Exploitation Conspiracy, not these corrupt Archipelagic Congressmen and bureaucrats of the Grand Archipelagic Republic. He understood all too clearly now that the Collectivist Revolution had been stalled, perhaps for justifiable reasons back when his grandfather and father were in control, but justifiable no longer. And the hypocrisy was eating at him. It was felt in the sneers from people and governments of democratic nations in response to the genuine love El Presidente had for the people. Was it truly inconceivable that agents had not also penetrated the very heart of the Free New World itself, San José, and corrupted its revolution from within? Perhaps it wasn't so inconceivable after all.

With a sigh, Presidente Constanza took a much larger sip of the Josefino Libre, the rum coursing through his veins and enhancing the wonderful buzz from the Josefino Cocktail that took a much stronger hold of his body, bringing a wondrous tingling sensation that few could accurately (or coherently) describe. His mind remained focused though, and though the anger receded, the conclusion had not: the Global Exploitation Conspiracy was within San José, and it threatened everything El Presidente stood for, fought for, worked for throughout his term. This was not acceptable.

He had to reform the revolution, bring true power to the people, and usher in what they had waited for nearly seventy-two years to achieve: peace, prosperity, progress, and paradise which stemmed from it all. He would outshine both his grandfather and father in what he brought to San José, finally expel the Global Exploitation Conspiracy from San José, and be the most popular man on Twatter in the history of mankind. It would be glorious.

The chair rocked with the waves, never missing a beat despite the trip the Josefino leader was going through right now. He would have to begin making plans soon, but that could wait until he sobered up. For now, he rested within the embrace of the sounds of his land, his people, who he would fight so hard for. And they would love him for it.

As it should be.
 

San Jose

Regional Actor
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Los Angeles, California
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Palmira
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Jose
Palacio Presidencial, Palmira, Isla de San José, Gran República Archipelágica de San José
13/10/2021, 0915hrs


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"Is it truly this extensive?" Presidente José Constanza asked incredulously, thumbing through the report assembled by his Foreign Minister and right-hand man Gabriel Morales.

"Si, su Excelencia. The Archipelagic Congressmen have gotten rather lazy with covering their tracks. Your grandfather and father had the foresight to set up a system for monitoring their less than legal transactions and connections to ensure their cooperation when it came to certain bills that needed passing." Ministro Morales responded, adjusting his glasses. "I was just about to use this draft report on their corruption as leverage in the event of war with the Holy Frankish Empire, but as that is no longer necessary, we can use it for more... extreme and long-term goals."

Presidente Constanza nodded as he studied the names and numbers. The report itself was essentially a ledger detailing the paper trail of money meant for various government projects relating to infrastructure, taxable income, and business subsidies that mysteriously vanished from official budgetary reports. Simple numbers and names that, when put together, painted a complex and comprehensive picture of extensive corruption. He knew that, when placed side-by-side with the Josefino Archipelagic Budget, the extent of embezzlement and money laundering would be glaringly obvious and impossible to ignore, even for the most crooked of bureaucratic officials. It included all of the Archipelagic Congressmen, various governors and mayors scattered throughout the archipelagic, many corporate executives and some convenient bureaucratic minions, even some of the Cabinet wasn't immune to this sloppy coverup. Morales was right, they had gotten lazy, complacent and confident in their theft from the Josefino people, given how apparently easy it was to compile this, and for that alone they were deserving punishment. But now they were challenging El Presidente and his will, and therefore by extension the will of the Josefino people.

That was unacceptable.

"Well done, Ministro Morales." Presidente Constanza declared, closing up the report. "I imagine it goes without saying that our own involvement in such repulsive behavior is expunged?"

A blank stare was his reply. "Obviously, su Excelencia, we and our associates know better than to steal from the people."

El Presidente smiled, that was good enough for him. "Excellent. At your convenience, please reach out to those who would be interested in removing this exploitation from our lands, accelerating the collectivization of San José, and who would be better equipped to have a more spotless record going forward."

Morales gave a curt nod and stood, "With pleasure, su Excelencia." He turned and departed the room, one copy of the ledger in tow.

Presidente Constanza's copy remained with him, and he looked at it again with a heavy sigh. He was blessed and lucky that Morales was loyal both to El Presidente and the fight against the Global Exploitation Conspiracy. Without Morales, he'd be powerless, and against him... that was a nightmare Presidente Constanza was glad would never become reality.

He could not sit and ponder this, however, he had a plane to catch for Camp Hill, @Natal, to meet with President Olivia Harper Poole and further discuss the alignment of San José and Natal going forward, not just in international affairs but internal affairs as well. From what he had heard, she was thinking about extensive reforms too, and they aligned with his nearly perfectly. Therefore, asking for a little future funding and support for what was to come couldn't hurt at all.
 
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San Jose

Regional Actor
Joined
Oct 31, 2006
Messages
7,090
Location
Los Angeles, California
Capital
Palmira
Nick
Jose
Palacio Presidencial, Palmira, Isla de San José, Gran República Archipelágica de San José
14/10/2021, 1548hrs


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"Congratulations on your successful application for citizenship, General Leone. San José is honored to welcome you to your new home." Presidente José Constanza toasted with his latest glass of El Capitán rum on the rocks, a simple drink for a relatively simple yet important celebration.

The man on the receiving end of the toast and the other side of the table raised his own glass in acknowledgement, and took a sip. Il Generale was an older man than El Presidente by about 10 years, and his features were notably more chiseled, craggy, the face of a man who had seen a hard life and with it much combat. It was in stark contrast to Presidente Constanza's own smooth, youthful face, which was enhanced by the sunburn already present on the Zaran-turned-Josefino. He would tan over time, he had enough Tiburan blood in him for that to eventually happen, but the Occidentian sun near the equator was merciless to all, and always gave those who visited and those who stayed a harsh introduction to its radiance.

"Grazie, signor Presidente." Corrado Leone responded in Zaran, his gravelly voice matching his features, though there was a wistfulness that could not be hidden by the gruffness.

"Homesick, General?" Presidente Constanza inquired, cocking his head to the side with mild curiosity.

"Zara has been my home all my life, Signor Presidente. The generosity of San José in taking me will never be forgotten, and I will grow to love it... but I must first let go of that which I've held most dearly all my life, especially against my will." Leone replied, staring out one of the windows to the east in the direction of the Old World. "And please... just Mr. Leone now. I do not command Josefino soldiers, nor do I feel qualified to do so for the time being."

Clearly the collapse of the Socialist Zaran Republic was hitting the military man hard... El Presidente couldn't blame his grief, regardless of it being admirably contained. The Socialist Republic's collapse was a disaster for Josefino foreign policy and for El Presidente's prestige. It was hard to suppress the "#ZaranFolly" hashtag on Twatter, but fortunately it didn't get far on the social media platform to derail Presidente Constanza's standing too terribly. Still, it too hit the Josefino hard, and so his sympathy for the Zaran General was genuine, albeit slightly selfish.

"My apologies, Señor Leone, old habits. But the people know you as Il Generale for a reason, and that popularity has not abated, at least here in San José. You are a military man, and though a foreigner, an adopted Josefino now, and thus a trusted military man. That is a power that cannot easily be ignored, Señor Leone. I certainly will not." Presidente Constanza began, taking a sip during his pause, "Especially because I may require use of your services in the near future."

The wistfulness evaporated surprisingly quickly, as the Zaran looked to El Presidente with the focused attention of that stereotypical military man the Josefino expected. "My services, Signor Presidente?"

Presidente Constanza smiled softly, "Indeed, Señor Leone. I have come to learn that the same corruption that plagued Socialist Zara despite your best efforts to combat it and eradicate it has begun to fester here, in San José, and it is becoming a problem I can no longer ignore." That got Il Generale's attention. From the Congress of Eugenia to the other generals and military officers underneath Leone, Zara had unfortunately been drowning in corruption from its very birth months ago, and was partly the reason Leone felt compelled to sign away Zaran lands and exile himself, for his safety and the safety of the people. It of course did not work out, and so the grudge the Zaran undoubtedly felt towards those who were not patriotically devoted to their lands was immense.

El Presidente continued, "That corruption unfortunately extends to certain senior officers in the military, and I grow increasingly concerned that San José will become less and less able to fight the war against the Global Exploitation Conspiracy when it has these vultures and leeches silently draining its economic lifeblood in the process, for their own gain and the gain of potential outside supporters." He set the glass down and stood to look out one of the windows overlooking Palmira. "This is unacceptable. As you learned all too well, allowing such corruption to take root and not be eliminated immediately can have... disastrous consequences."

There was silence from Il Generale, a silence that seemed to drag on for eternity, but in reality only lasted a minute. Presidente Constanza waited all the while, nonchalantly, allowing the events in Socialist Zara to replay again and again in the Zaran's mind before he finally asked, "What would you have me do, Signor Presidente?"

El Presidente allowed himself a small, unseen smile that was wiped away before he turned back to Leone with a gravely serious gaze, "There is a cleansing coming soon, a purge of those who would hamper the will of the people and steal from them for the agents of the Global Exploitation Conspiracy. I need loyal men by my side to step into the inevitable power vacuums that will appear as a consequence of this, especially in the military so that this cleansing of San José from the exploiters and corrupt can be enforced. With these loyal men, we will be able to bring true, actual socialism to San José, and be better able to take the fight to the Corrupt Old World in the future and liberate those oppressed by their tyranny."

He crossed the distance between himself and
Il Generale to come face to face with the military man. Though he was physically shorter, he could sense the power and confidence emanating from himself that made him seem at least a meter taller. "I promised you that I would help you as best I could in Gonzaga. I did my best to keep that promise, but because of corruption at home and abroad, I failed. I ask for your forgiveness, Il Generale, and hope that you can come to my aid in my time of need." He extended his hand, and waited.

Seconds passed, a stillness settling in the room as the Zaran thought about what was to come.

He grabbed El Presidente's hand and shook it. "I am yours to command, El Presidente." Leone declared, a new iron emerging from the rolling gravel of his voice.

Presidente Constanza nodded, maintaining his grave gaze while inwardly beaming with glee. The people and, more importantly, the soldiers among the rank and file, would flock to this foreign hero-turned Josefino comrade. Along with Morales' efforts to secure the loyalty of certain other general officers, the military was his and, therefore, the people's.

Reform was coming, by the barrel of a gun if needed, and San José would be great again.
 

San Jose

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Jose
Charleroi, The Federation of Westernesse
18/10/2021, 1206hrs


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The applause of Westermen citizens nearly drowned out the steady beat of marching soldiers on the pavement, the military band that was belting out one of many patriotic songs providing what was essentially background noise to the whole affair. It reminded El Presidente as the parade continued, who himself was clapping with dignified enthusiasm by the otherwise outrageous standards of the bombastic Head of State, of some of the military parades San José put on during their own independence day. The difference was, though, most of the time the sun was still shining and the air was warm, lovely, and slightly humid.

In contrast, Charleroi was bitterly cold to the Josefino, who had wrapped himself up in a thick coat to ward off some of the chill. How these Westermen dealt with such cold weather on a daily basis was beyond him, but he nonetheless admired their enthusiasm for the Federation and all it stood for: democracy, liberty, freedom, and a complete rejection of intervention from the Global Exploitation Conspiracy. There were minor quibbles about certain economic thinking, but otherwise San José and the Federation were on the same page when it came to politics. If anything the Federation was more able to actually practice what it preached with its democratic ideals, and that was something Presidente Constanza hoped he would have San José match soon.

Over the weekend he had been making progress alongside Minister Foreign Morales, who was sitting next to him with a blank smile and the mildest of clapping to the festivities around them, in assembling a damning report of all the corruption present in the Josefino government. Most of the focus was on the Archipelagic Congress, where every member was guilty of some form of embezzlement, illegal holdings in non-governmental organizations, and various other crude and despicable acts they used in taking advantage of the system that trusted them to be representatives of the Josefino people. Combined with a select few leaders of large business organizations and a handful of military officers and some mid-level bureaucrats, it was a comprehensive cross-section of Josefino authority that was or had the potential to stymie the will of El Presidente and, through him, the people. Morales had made subtle contact to several mid-level bureaucrats, as well as business and union leaders, who could step into the void created by this purge, while Corrado Leone was spreading his popularity among the rank and file of the Josefino soldiers and drumming up their support of him as a leader. The somewhat exaggerated tales of his time as Il Generale in Socialist Zara and his close friendship with El Presidente did wonders in that regard.

Still, there was always a question of timing: when to break the news of this terrible corruption that Presidente Constanza only just now learned of? It was easy to state that he had secretly suspected it for some time, and with loyal governmental and military aides had done some investigation and took notes of all the corruption that was found, but what would the catalyst be, the event that would set the whole thing in motion? It turned out that it was, fortunately, another Westernesse nation that would providing such an opportunity for this event. Even Morales was impressed by the cleverness of the plan when El Presidente first proposed it.

He looked to his right, and there was the Natalian delegation led by President Olivia Harper Poole, who seemed a bit more at home in the cold weather than he did. She had recently sent a confidential diplomatic message proposing the creation of a formal alliance between Natal and San José: the Westernesse-Occidential Treaty Organization, that would take the brainchild of their foreign minister, Pedro Herrera and El Presidente himself, the Herrera-Constanza Doctrine, and enshrine it into a military alliance that would soon grow to encompass the whole Free New World. It was something Presidente Constanza had been slowly working towards for some time now, seemingly an eternity, and it was almost in his grasp. However, WOTO would need to be ratified by the Archipelagic Congress first, and given they were the catalyst behind this whole effort by him to erase them from relevance in Josefino politics, he knew that they would drag their feet with this potential alliance as well, attempting to extract as much as they could personally from Natalian financial aid to line their pockets before they could sign off on it.

But that would be used to his advantage. He would lay a trap for them to blissfully walk into, too fat and greedy from prior embezzlement and confident from their latest victories to be careful with their intentions. He could record conversations, spy on emails, document every step of the way in their efforts to steal from the Josefino people and stall efforts to bring down their true masters, the Global Exploitation Conspiracy. And then he would expose them for the snakes and rats they were, arrest them, and damn them for eternity with the other evidence he had already collected that would be utterly irrefutable.

The people would be outraged, and they would demand justice, likely through blood. But they would also demand that the one who exposed the corruption be given a mandate to remake the nation as they saw fit: El Presidente. He could then ratify WOTO and secure Josefino international security, which would be needed soon given the impending Sankt Katharina expedition that was put on hold to ensure no further snags in the Bourdignie Confederate peace process. He could reform the electoral system to more closely resemble a direct democracy like the Federation, implement the e-government system Natal was putting together, reform the economy to more closely follow the Cayabocani model of unions and trade organizations, and follow in the footsteps of the Caudillo of Gran-Occidentia in removing prior corruption and showing he was a leader of reform, of true democracy and liberty and freedom.

He would, especially after the awarding of the Queen Louise Peace Prize, be utterly untouchable in popularity at home and abroad.

He couldn't wait to get back home and get the plan rolling, but for now, he had to focus his attention back on the celebration at hand. His would come soon enough.
 

San Jose

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Jose
Palacio Presidencial, Palmira, Isla de San José, Gran República Archipelágica de San José
19/10/2021, 1455hrs


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"Señores, have you seen the headline from Tiempos Archipelágicos today?" Presidente José Constanza asked, casually scrolling through his phone while the twelve Archipelagic Congressmen settled into their seats at the briefing table, the idle chatter between them dying down as they processed his question.

"No, su Excelencia. Is something wrong?" replied one of the Congressmen, Raul Montes, who represented the Costa Ron area and, surely by pure coincidence, happened to have a large stake in the Josefino rum company El Capitán. It helped his brother Juan was the Master Distiller at the distillery there.

El Presidente glanced up from his phone with visible, mild confusion. "'Something wrong?' Why, Congresista Montes, I was hoping you could tell me that today." He placed his phone on the table, and from the right angle one could see a recent headline via Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. "Apparently the mood of the Archipelagic Congress was reported to be... 'hesitant' by the Tiempos Archipelágicos." To their credit, the Congressmen did not squirm at that observation, but their demeanor began to shift from relaxed to slightly on edge. "I must admit I am confused by this. I thought that the potential of a firm alliance with la República Occidental de Natal could only be a good thing for San José. Beyond the military support for our fight against the Global Exploitation Conspiracy, the people could reap economic benefits from the common development aid fund and further spread the prestige of la Gran República Archipelágica. Tell me, am I mistaken in my assessment?"

There was a mild pause, before another Congressman, Manuel Santander of the Puerto Café region, and incidentally someone whose bank account swelled from profits made by the coffee industry in San José, decided to reply. "Su Excelencia, you are not mistaken, far from it! We all agree that stronger relations with Natal is vital to Josefino interests. We simply have... questions regarding some of the details of this treaty."

Presidente Constanza raised an eyebrow, "Questions? Congresista Santander, I believe the draft treaty I have presented you all is rather comprehensive and should be fairly clear from a quick glance."

A third Congressman, Oscar Vargas, the representative of Las Venturas and father of the manager of a prominent chain of Josefino hotels in the area, stepped into the discussion, "It is, su Excelencia, but our questions primarily revolve around the common development aid fund. Given the recent threat of war, which mercifully passed thanks to your superior negotiating skills, income for major industries in San José have unfortunately reported some instability, especially in tourism. The damage could have been much worse, but we've received reports from industry leaders throughout the Archipelago that the scare still caused a hit, and they're not pleased in getting involved in further potential international conflict without securing their assets first. We must take these complaints seriously, and so we are wondering if further negotiations with Natal can take place, ensuring this development aid can be directed towards recouping some of the potential losses these critical industries have suffered."

There was a murmur of general agreement among the Congressmen, and El Presidente paused before responding, "Congresista Vargas, leaving aside your detailed knowledge of the state of business in San José, that developmental aid is for the people, for those who still suffer from homelessness despite our promises, my promise, months earlier to eradicate it from our Grand Archipelagic Republic. They are our constituents, our voters, and it is my understanding that they have recently been favoring increased relations and, thus, economic aid from our richer neighbors. Shouldn't their needs come first?"

Congressman Montes stepped back in, "Of course, su Excelencia, but they are not the only ones who get a say in this discussion. We have to take the industrial leaders into consideration as well as the people in such an important debate, and if the industries as a whole are not doing well, the people will suffer as a result, so it is best to ensure that help to these industries is guaranteed, and prosperity for the people is sure to follow."

"Exactly, su Excelencia!" Congressman Santander interjected. "We must ensure all levels of Josefino society get an equal share of aid. Sure, this will mean less for the people initially, but that is an investment into further personal prosperity in the future when the industries are successful. You understand that we in the Archipelagic Congress must take these other constituencies into account as well..."

"We must indeed, for they are the backbone of our current strength to take on potential international causes." Congressman Vargas concurred. "And furthermore..."

The discussion continued, the Congressmen going on and on about how every constituent needed a voice, how Archipelagic economic security was at stake, how passionate they were about every Josefino regardless of their success or connections in wealth needed a say, all while dancing around the truth of their corruption. Always hinting at it, never quite saying it out loud, but getting closer the longer they droned on and on.

At one point El Presidente sighed and picked up his phone again while yet another Congressman was blathering about his 'concerns,' closing the news app and switching to another, unseen by the Congressmen. He had to check and make sure the phone was still recording, and sure enough, every minute thus far had been captured. He'd review the audio later to make sure the quality was clear, but Presidente Constanza had made sure to have the latest, best phone he possibly could. Not just for ease of Twatting, but also for moments like these when he needed... 'evidence' he could use against potential rivals.

Satisfied with the recording thus far, he switched to Twatter and listened as the Congressmen continued to blissfully dig their own graves.
 

San Jose

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Jose
Palacio Presidencial, Palmira, Isla de San José, Gran República Archipelágica de San José
21/10/2021, 1140hrs


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Even in the relative isolation of the Palacio Presidencial, the chants of angry protesters could be heard filling the air, along with the honking of horns from automobiles with a scattering of patriotic songs trying to give some form of rhythm to the chaotic mobs. Sirens of police cars could also be heard as the metropolitan police kept the crowds under control, but otherwise let them express their rage by decree of Presidente José Constanza. He would not let Palmira turn into another Petrovgrad, as that would not only be rather embarrassing, it'd take away from the real story.

Twatter was blowing up on his phone, Josefinos and foreigners were retwatting his own statement surrounding the Palmira Papers, bringing more attention to who was implicated in the ledger and, more importantly, who wasn't. El Presidente was not implicated in this horrendous scandal that was plaguing San José, and to the public he was just as shocked as his people, and was committed to getting to the bottom of things. He was indeed in close contact with Seguridad Interna Josefino as they verified the ledger Foreign Minister Gabriel Morales had put together and anonymously leaked to Tiempos Archipelágicos, but it was also Minister Morales who was actually directing the investigation, alongside Il Generale working alongside Defense Minister Vasquez within the Fuerzas Armadas Archipelágicas, especially after one of the head investigators of the SIJ found himself suspended following his outing in the Palmira Papers and therefore removed as a potential obstacle. The airports and ports were also being watched closely, in case anyone decided to try and escape the trap they had blundered into.

The accused would be arrested, one by one, their assets confiscated, and their bank accounts frozen by orders of Minister Belmonte so that no more Josefino wealth could be funneled away from the treasury. At least, wealth funneled towards those who were caught. The bank accounts of El Presidente and his loyal associates were obviously spotless and not implicated in this ledger, and any of the accused who attempted to drag Presidente Constanza or Minister Morales into the muck of corruption would have no evidence to back up their obviously desperate flailing and deflection.

His phone rang, distracting El Presidente from his thoughts. It was Il Generale, a call he absolutely had to take. "Si?" he asked. Presidente Constanza listened for a minute, then replied, "Bueno." and hung up the phone. Nothing more needed to be said.

The first Congresista Archipelágico had been arrested, and it happened at the airport as he was conveniently going on vacation to Puerto Angeles in Gran-Occidentia. Even better, it was Congresista Raul Montes, who was present in the meeting El Presidente recorded two days ago, a recording that would soon be turned over to SIJ investigators as further damning evidence. The look for the Congresista was embarrassing, to say the least.

The chants outside seemed to be getting louder as the news of the arrests broke. "¡Traidores al colectivismo!" and "¡Agentes de la conspiración!" grew more intense, more passionate. The people were upset, and rightfully so, they were demanding justice.

Justice would soon be granted to them... but on El Presidente's terms.
 

San Jose

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Jose
Palacio Presidencial, Palmira, Isla de San José, Gran República Archipelágica de San José
23/10/2021, 1517hrs


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"Mis amigos, hijos e hijas de San José, I will not lie to you. Although this is a great day in our war against the Conspiración de Explotación Global, where we have exposed systemic and terrible corruption, and have begun to remove it one agent at a time, it is also a tragic day. The corruption was not found abroad in a nation of the Viejo Mundo Corrompido, nor was it found in a neighboring nation in the Nuevo Mundo Libre. It was found here, in San José." Presidente José Constanza began his speech from the balcony of the Palacio Presidencial, the assembled crowd below protesters who had been demonstrating for the past few days demanding justice and answers to the corruption uncovered by the Palmira Papers. After letting the anger simmer, El Presidente decided now was the time to step in.

"Thanks to the anonymous whistleblower, a true patriot and loyal comrade of the Collectivist Revolution who leaked the Palmira Papers to Tiempos Archipelágicos, confirming my suspicions that had been growing for months, and to the Seguridad Interna Josefino for arresting and detaining each and every individual accused of embezzlement and corruption before they could escape righteous justice, we have uprooted this plague from our soil and quarantined it before its poisonous roots could spread further, hollowing us from the inside like a cancerous disease, and weakening us, the vanguard of the war against the Conspiración de Explotación Global. It is horrifying and terrible to see, however, just how deep this corruption ran. All twelve of our Congresistas Archipelágicos have turned out to be sleeper agents of the Conspiración de Explotación Global, and their associates in the Fuerzas Armadas Archipelágicas and our industries their fellow agents or willing minions. Rank greed overcame noble patriotism and righteous idealism, and they stole from us, stole from you, to take advantage of the sacrifices we have been willing to make to counter the Conspiración de Explotación Global wherever they extended their influence in the international world."

"But something else troubles me, mis amigos. We have been complacent. And I have been complacent. The Palmira Papers have also shown that this corruption began decades ago, well before my Presidency, or the Presidency of my father, even stemming all the way back to the early days of my grandfather's administration shortly following the Collectivist Revolution of 1950. We have been so focused on the enemy abroad, that we neglected the enemy at home, and it nearly ruined us. We have lost sight of the ideals set forth by those brave revolutionaries over six decades ago, content to believe the work was already done by them and by the generation that came after. We believed our only mandate was to bring the message of paz, prosperidad, y progreso to the exploited masses of Europe, resulting in paraíso for all. That was wrong, and I was wrong for believing that throughout my short, but eventful Presidency thus far."

"With this sobering reflection, though, I find that there is hope in this dark time. No, it is not because of what I said earlier, that we have struck a critical blow against the agents of the Conspiración de Explotación Global, though that is certainly true. It is because the moment you, the people, realized what had happened, you understood we needed to change our mandate. You knew we could no longer rest on our laurels, believe we have achieved paraíso when the work is far from done, and we could no longer fall short of the ideals and expectations of our abuelos y padres. You called for, no, you demanded reform, Revolutionary Reform, to fulfill the promise of the Collectivist Revolution, and you are right to do so! This is why we shall win our war against the Conspiración de Explotación Global, because you will never give up, never submit, and never surrender to their promises, their lies, their greed, and their warmongering. You shall stand strong and be the generation that brought about a Second Collectivist Revolution!"

"Therefore, though I too played a role in neglecting this cancerous corruption until it was nearly too late, although I myself was complacent until now about the work that still needs to be done, I am humbled by your continued faith in me, and resolved as such to not make this mistake again, but learn from it and be better for it. I accept your mandate to reform San José, to prevent this corruption from ever taking root again, and to fulfill the mandate of our ancestors to bring paz, prosperidad, progreso, y paraíso to San José! I will not fail you, because you did not fail San José!"

"Lastly, I hear your righteous cries for justice, to make these criminals, these traitors, these agents of the
Conspiración de Explotación Global pay for the injustice, humiliation, and pain they have caused us. And they will indeed face justice, but a civilized, fair justice, not a brutal, barbaric one. We are not them, we are better than them, and we must always remember that even in our darkest moments. Remember, mis amigos, that it is Christian to forgive, and that we should not stoop to the level of monsters to fight and punish monsters. Remember also, though, that although we may eventually forgive, we will never forget. They will not be able to exploit us ever again regardless of their punishment. They will not fool us again with their lies and their sweet words professing loyalty to San José. We shall never lose vigilance again!"

"So, mis amigos, wipe the tears of sorrow and rage from your eyes, straighten yourselves up and square your shoulders, and prepare to move forward! The task is immense, it shall be long, and it shall be hard, but we shall prevail! By your strength and trust in me and in San José, we shall prevail! By your commitment to paz, prosperidad, progreso, y paraíso, we, shall, prevail!"

The roar of the crowd swept over the Palacio Presidencial like a wave on the shores of Palmira, swallowing him whole in renewed jubilation and excitement over the future. El Presidente had given San José hope again, and in turn, San José had given El Presidente a mandate to do whatever he wished to reform San José. As he beamed with pride and waved to the crowd, he knew his Cabinet was waiting behind him, hidden in the briefing room, arms full of plans and proposals for reforms and ideas.

He had work to do, but it could wait. For the drug that was the love of the people, it could always wait.
 
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