Many people have asked "why" Francos Spain couped the Pacific, but few ask "how." I wanted to research the details of Francos Spain's coup (August 28 2003) and find out, just how was it done?
(I promised Kazmr IRL that I'd get around to doing this, so here it is! Belatedly.)
This was not the first time that the Pacific had been couped. Over the course of 2003, the Pacific was home to frequent instability. 1 Sudetenland, InfernoIce, and -Ukraine-, all former delegates (indeed it was supposed they might be the same individual), had a reputation for despotism. When -Ukraine- was deposed on May 21 after a short reign of terror, Olongapo and the "Free the Pacific movement" believed they had secured the region's future as an open and independent democracy. TheDoc was the winner of the first elections hosted by Olongapo and rose to office in June. His 'vice,' The Savage Lands took the delegacy on TheDoc's behalf twice in August due to TheDoc's absences, a server error, and to respond to a threat to the delegacy posed by Nextarian. TheDoc's unreliability later became a central theme of the NPO's propaganda to justify the August Revolution.
During this time, a community forum and the Pacific Army, an active defender force, operated.
A careful projection based on the account's population figure, suggests the account, "Francos Spain" was created July 6, 2003 ± 1 day. * It seems likely that this was not the player's main account, but rather a puppet nation stashed in Spain for the time being during July/August - a region that the player controlled. 2 Wayback Archives suggests that the puppet, Francos Spain was not not relocated to the Pacific nor did it trade endorsements there until sometime between August 14-August 19. Unistrut cites a very similar timeframe when he writes Francos Spain "was the founder of the region "Spain"** and was residing there just three weeks before he rose to the delegacy." An additional corroborating voice is a Pacific native at that time who noted Francos Spain began trading endorsements on Aug 18 after a server crash.3 In his own words, Francos Spain said he traded endorsements over the "course of several weeks." During his brief time in the Pacific before his coup, Francos Spain did apparently join the community forum and post once - but only once.
This means that in the span of just a few weeks (2-3), this latest resident was able to tart and swap endorsements to become delegate of the Pacific. The events of August 27, however, decided the fate of the region.
18:00 GMT: Players first note that Francos Spain is encroaching on TheDoc's endorsement levels. At this time, Francos Spain was leading TheDoc, 387-385. A two endorsement margin.
21:39:10 GMT: TheDoc ejects Francos Spain, but later unbanned Francos Spain - which was a crucial mistake on his part.4 5
23:13:46 GMT: Francos Spain leaves the Rejected Realms for the West Pacific. 6
23:32 GMT: The Rejected Realms updates. ***
23:41:29 GMT: Francos Spain moves back to the Rejected Realms from the West Pacific. We call this tactic, "update surfing."
See here, an image of the Pacific - mere moments (fifteen minutes) before the Pacific's democracy is ended forever.
08:00 - 08:14 GMT: Francos Spain probably moved into the Pacific from the Rejected Realms in this short span of time before update.****
08:14 GMT: The Pacific updates. Subsequently, Francos Spain takes the delegacy from TheDoc.
10:20:29 GMT: The Pacific's WFE is updated by Francos Spain. ("Tyranny has been deposed. Let a new era of peace, freedom, and justice for the Pacific be rung in.") The new World Factbook Entry's celebratory tone and the absence of a link to the Pacific's forum is an initial source of concern and frustration with natives. 7
14:36:19 GMT: With the endorsement margin currently sitting at 391-382 for TheDoc, natives widely assumed that TheDoc will retake the delegacy. This proves overly optimistic. 8
Just prior to update in the Pacific, Francos Spain bans three key high endorsers...
08:02:06 GMT: Francos Spain banjects TheDoc just prior to update.
08:11:06 GMT: Francos Spain banjects Amanda Angel just prior to update.
08:14 GMT: Francos Spain banjects Morcoland just prior to update.
08:14 GMT: The Pacific updates.
I think it's worth noting that until this point, the Pacific didn't really seem to appreciate the significance of Francos Spain's rise to power.
At the time of Francos' usurping of the delegacy, the Pacific Army was busy with a deployment in Glen Falls against Empire of Power. They appeared naive to his intentions and slow to respond. Provided he was ruthless (and he was), Francos Spain had all the means he needed to maintain a hold on the Pacific indefinitely after August 28 - there should have been "alarm bells" ringing days prior to and after then, but it's striking to see just how little urgency there was on the RMB regarding the situation until after the first round of ejections of high-profile members began. But by that point, it was mostly too late already.
What we know of the player behind Francos Spain is that prior to the events in August, he was a "mid-level" invader (Farker/Puddist) and an associate of the USSR community. To me, this is consistent with this player's behaviour - his methodical tarting, his 'update surfing', and the anonymity he cultivated - all activity that suggests a professional: someone with considerable experience with game mechanics.
The nation, Poskrebyshev was founded on this date. He quickly amassed a ton of endorsements and served as Francos Spain's second-in-command. Given the timing, this leads a lot of credence to the theory that Poskrebyshev was a real life friend or dorm-mate of the player behind Francos Spain.
Its at this point that Francos Spain begins communicating on the Regional Message Board, mostly to demonize the Pacific Army as meddlers and spammers. Until then, he had been dead silent - never responding to complaints of his action. The recent deletion of the Savage Lands for rules violation added fuel to the propaganda fire, giving Francos Spain something to claim as representative of the Pacific resistance's credibility.
At this point, it appears as though Francos Spain had banned either 103 residents or 4. :P While the Pacific Army claimed a hundred and three, Francos Spain claimed four in a NetworkRadio interview he did on this date.
It was also on this date that [violet] refused to intervene in the crisis in the Pacific. ("If the Pacific leaves Francos Spain in power, that is their choice.")
The New Pacific Order is founded on this date, although the forum does appear to have been linked on the Pacific's WFE till Sept 02. The NPO's earliest members were InfernoIce, Poskrebyshev, and BertramStantrous. 9 I must admit it surprised me to learn how intimately InfernoIce was involved with the August Revolution. He was one of the first players to create an account on the NPO forum, before even Poskrebyshev. Given the association between Francos Spain and Ukraine (a region he later founded) and the supposed association between InfernoIce and -Ukraine-, I often wonder if the player behind -Ukraine- may have been the same player behind Francos Spain.
* I'm confident within 96.8% that Francos Spain was created between July 5-7. Here's the distribution of that population dating analysis:
** I don't think The Angry Spaniard is Francos Spain. I believe The Angry Spaniard refounded Spain, Sept 15 2003. That would be after Francos Spain's time in Spain. The Wayback Archives' records for Spain are spotty, so unfortunately I haven't been able to corroborate Unistrut's statement that Francos Spain was housed in Spain, nor have I been able to identify the founder nation at the time of Francos Spain's residency. Read more about Spain here.
*** Reploid explained that TRR probably updated as late as it did due to server errors.
**** There's gap in the Wayback Archives for both TRR and TP during this time period. What I can say for sure is either Francos joined the Pacific more than two hours in advance of update or less than fifteen minutes. I believe the latter is far more consistent with his methodology which showed considerable knowledge of how update operated.