Phoenix Foundation

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The Phoenix Foundation is a libertarian foundation that has supported numerous attempts, which at times have been violent, to create independent enclaves based on libertarian principles and tax havens. The foundation was started by Nevada-based real estate millionaire Michael Oliver, his friend James Murt KcKeever, and investment advisor Harry D. Schultz.[1]

In 1972 the Foundation began to construct a platform in the South Pacific. Part of a reef, normally a metre below sea level at high tide, was piled high with sand and a small stone platform was erected carrying the flag of the Republic of Minerva, a white torch on a blue background. The 'President of Minerva,' Morris Davis, declared at the time: "People will be free to do as they damn well please. Nothing will be illegal so long it does not infringe on the rights of others. If a citizen wishes to open a tavern, set up gambling or make pornographic films, the government will not interfere." The republic was short lived, as Tonga sent men to take down the Minervan flag and annex the area in June 1972.[1][2]

The Foundation's next attempt was in 1973 on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas. The Bahamas were about to gain independence from the United Kingdom, but a number of white residents did not approve of living under black rule.[3] In June 1973, one month before the intended independence, the Foundation financed Chuck Hall and Bert Williams' Abaco Independence Movement (AIM)[4] which attempted to make Abaco independent from the Bahamas, hoping to create a libertarian region. With the financial support of the Phoenix Foundation the AIM published a newsletter, The Abaco Independent. The plot was foiled by the independent Bahamas government.[1]

The Foundation's most recent attempt happened in 1980 when Vanuatu was about to gain its independence. Oliver allied with Jimmy Stevens of the New Hebrides Autonomy Movement, which had been unsuccessful in elections. NHAM (or MANH) declared an independent Republic of Vemarana in the island of Espiritu Santo. The government of Vanuatu applied for aid from Papua New Guinea that sent a battalion of soldiers to stop the rebellion.[1]

During the attempt in Vanuatu, NPR labelled the Phoenix foundation “a sinister right-wing organization”. According to the Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Third World Institute), "Jimmy Stevens received $250,000, arms and a radio from the Phoenix Foundation, an ultra-right US organization, in return for concessions to install a casino and, allegedly, cover for illicit activities from Stevens’ Republic of Vemarana."[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Mike Parsons in Port Vila (July 1981). "Phoenix: ashes to ashes". New Internationalist. 
  2. ^ "New Foundlands". Cabinet magazine. Summer 2005. 
  3. ^ Keith A. Russell (2009). "Race in The Bahamas: A Dysfunctional Narrative". The College of The Bahamas Research Journal Vol. 15. 
  4. ^ Rick Lowe (2010-11-01). "Forgotten Dreams" (PDF). The Tribune. 
  5. ^ "World Guide: Vanuatu".