The Colonel, the Coup, and CONCACAF: Operation Red Dog Revisited

Artwork by Daniel Rubio.
I often joke that the only united passions amongst FIFA contemporaries are their greedy dysfunctions. Although a mere subplot in Sepp Blatter’s recently exposed(but always widely known) chronicle of corruption, the disgraced Patrick John’s backstory is much more deserving of the Hollywood treatment. Let’s take a cinematic approach before our climax. We begin at the end…

Patrick Roland John is probably best known to this generation of football watchers as the former Dominican National Team player turned Dominica Football Association president charged in 2011 with receiving bribes from then FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hamman. Quite a story so far. There’s more. Bin Hamman was president of the Asian Football Confederation throughout the 2000s and president of the Qatar Football Association in the 90s – the same Qatar widely accused of buying votes in order to host the 2022 World Cup. In 2012, he was banned for life from all football activities by FIFA after an investigation found that he bribed Caribbean officials, including our leading man, effectively halting his presidential aspirations. What’s remarkable is that the investigation was opened by none other than Chuck “Fat Cat Fancier” Blazer and his very own opponent to the FIFA throne, Sepp Blatter himself. If his sporting resume isn’t enough to earn him a post in the Mob Museum, a record of P.J.’s political former life surely will. Cue flashback…

A young military career and stints as mayor and legislator in the capital Roseau through the 60s earned the colonel the country’s premiership when the highly popular Edward Oliver LeBlanc mysteriously resigned. In 1978, Dominica achieved full independence from the United Kingdom, but it was previously, under LeBlanc, that many of the socialist reforms that would eventually support the sovereign state were introduced. It wouldn’t be long though until John reached the end of his predecessor’s coattails and mass protests would force him to step down.

Two years and as many prime ministers later, however, the deposed despot resurged, this time as a puppet of American and Canadian white supremacist mercenaries who’d planned to invade the island nation, overthrow his successor Eugenia Charles, reinstall John as a figurehead, and evidently use Dominica as a springboard to annex remaining Caribbean nations as part of an apparent fascist Club Med for all nature of illegal activity. Mike Perdue, a Klansman from Houston and the accused “brains” behind Operation Red Dog, formulated the scheme(with support from a veritable who’s who of North American racists) to travel from New Orleans to Dominica via boat until they were close enough to the island to continue in rubber rafts. After rendezvousing with John’s party, they’d planned on leading an assault using a cache secured from Barbados, fueling rumors that more isles were targeted. Sydney Burnett-Alleyne, the Barbadian smuggler who supplied the group, credits the overthrow’s failure to John’s alleged deviation from the conspirator’s agreement, but it’s been recorded that after the mission’s original boat captain backed out, the men approached another boatman, who in turn alerted U.S. federal authorities. Papers of the day dubbed the botched breach the Bayou of Pigs after the blundered Bay of Pigs fiasco, but the sheer Sunday league-level execution of the former makes the latter look more like the invasion of Normandy. After being found guilty in 1981, seven involved in the plot agreed to a plea bargain and received three years in prison plus fines. Patrick John received 12 years.

Upon leaving the theater, you might ask yourself “Now, why in the world would a bunch of sincere white power enthusiasts want to help an impeached black president get his job back?” The answer is the same reason we still see an aberrant amount of corruption in the region today: greed. On screen, Operation Red Dog was intended to finally realize some novel form of the Golden Circle: an American Civil War era effort by the South to establish a confederation of slave states comprised of an annexed Mexico and Caribbean nations. But this political curtain only cloaked the true economic agenda which included gambling, drugs and weapons smuggling, and probably much worse. There were no ideologies or politics behind the alliance. Operation Red Dog’s perpetrators cared as much about political ideologies as corrupt FIFA officials care about football. Historically, is it any wonder that FIFA colludes with such reprehensible figures? It would seem that we’ve seen this movie before.

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