Friday, 20 April 2007 01:00
"Conch Republic" AnniversaryWritten by WGCU Newsroom
Monday is the 25th anniversary of a staged secession in Key West, which created the fabled Conch Republic. Beginning Friday the Conch Republic Independence Celebration commemorates the founding of the "island nation.”
The situation began when, back in 1982, the United States Border Patrol erected a roadblock and checkpoint at the top of the Florida Keys’ Overseas Highway. Ostensibly searching for drugs and illegal aliens, the roadblock created a miles long traffic jam on the only road that connects mainland Florida with the island chain.
Former Key West Mayor and first Conch Republic Prime Minister Dennis Wardlow says they felt like foreigners in their own land.
“And that’s how the Conch Republic evolved. If they’re going to treat us as a foreign country, we’ll become a foreign country. And that was what the stand was and that was the true feeling of how they were treating us.”
Key Westers protested by staging a secession, declaring war on the United States, promptly surrendering and applying for foreign aid.
The secession will be re-enacted in Key West Monday. The Celebration continues through the following Sunday.