How is this timeline so far?

  • Great

    Votes: 39 48.1%
  • Good

    Votes: 30 37.0%
  • Okay

    Votes: 8 9.9%
  • Bad

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • Implausible

    Votes: 3 3.7%

  • Total voters
    81
Oh boy this is not going to end well. Once this goes public America's reputation is going to get utterly fucked in Europe.

It would be real ironic if this ended up actually causing a Communist Revolution in Italy or at least the long-term domination of Italian politics by the Communists.
 
Oh boy this is not going to end well. Once this goes public America's reputation is going to get utterly fucked in Europe.
It goes over about as well as you’d expect in not only Europe but the world.
It would be real ironic if this ended up actually causing a Communist Revolution in Italy or at least the long-term domination of Italian politics by the Communists.
The OTL Italian Communist Party was actively committed to non-violence, being a fierce opponent of far left terrorism. So Revolution is very unlikely. They’ll certainly get a boost along with the Italian Socialist Party (who never goes down the route of Craxi’s centrist reforms) amongst all Italians. It’ll be a decent amount of time before a center-right coalition takes power in Italy.
 
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Chapter XVI: A World on Fire
Laxalt’s assassination in Latin America was a complicated discussion. Members of the FDN and FSLN cheered the assassination while those who were members of the JNP or lived in Honduras wept at the fact a crucial ally was murdered in cold blood. The OPN simply didn’t care. In the grand scheme of things, the assassination didn’t matter. Latin America was still burning, and things were about to get worse. In Honduras the FSLN continued to push into the country as the FDN renewed their offensive against the Honduras military. By September the FSLN was within forty miles of the capital. Juan Castro begged Cianci and the US government for help as it looked like the FSLN might take the capital and crush the Honduras military. Cianci ramped up airstrikes against the Nicaraguan military by 80% within a month and soon enough a loosely united coalition of right-wing death squads and militias were being taught in the United States about torture techniques and how to conduct guerilla warfare. The Contras as they became known as would launch a brutal and bloody guerrilla campaign. What was intended to be a quick war aimed at crippling the Castro regime turned into another bloody proxy war for the US and Soviet Union. Hundreds were dying each day in a war that was increasingly dominated by jungle and urban warfare.

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Honduras backed militia preparing to engage the FSLN (1983).

Dozens of villages would be slaughtered and burned by the Contras in some of the worst crimes committed during the Latin American Crisis. Hundreds would be killed as Contra forces came out of the jungle to execute any suspected communist and looted the towns for supplies, food, and cash to fund their operations. Tens of thousands would be displaced and retreated to FSLN territory to escape the Contra’s wrath. The FSLN’s response was severely slowed by the flow of refugees from their own country and Honduras as soldiers attempted to care for the tens of thousands who lost everything. Honduras used the Contra’s attacks on the FSLN to go on the offensive and attack FSLN forces near Nacaome. The FSLN forces were caught off guard and forced into a brutal urban battle. The FSLN soldiers were also depleted of manpower due to the Contra insurgency which would prove fatal for the force of 10,000. The Honduras military with the help of the USAAF inflicted a crushing defeat on the FSLN. Trapped in the city they were bombarded with hundreds of artillery batteries and soldiers were incinerated by bombs from the USAAF and Honduras Airforce. Seven thousand people would die in the battle, including four thousand FSLN soldiers.

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Honduras soldiers on the offensive against the FSLN.

As Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua were killing each other with increasing fury, trouble brewed in South America. Chile and Argentina had been clashing over the islands of the Beagle Channel since 1971. The military Junta of Argentina had invited Pope Clement XV to mediate talks between Chile and Argentina in 1979 but a short while later he died. His successor determined both of the nation's futures. When Pope Nicholas VI was elected as pope their fates were sealed. Pope Nicholas VI had no interest in mediating talks between two military dictatorships that ruthlessly violated human rights. Pope Nicholas VI while touring Ecuador in 1980 denounced the Pinochet government. After meeting with indigenous leaders, he called out Pinochet’s regime for murdering dissidents and overthrowing the democratically elected government. He vowed to never recognize the Pinochet regime as a legitimate government but rather a criminal state that murdered thousands. Pinochet’s regime at that point was teetering. Catholics made up a substantial portion of the population and as Chileans lived in poverty the more their anger grew. Pinochet lived in luxury while the majority of Chileans lived in fear and humiliation due to Pinochet’s policies. The military junta of Argentina got the short end of the stick when Pope Nicholas VI visited the nation in 1981. During the tour he met with the poor and desperate. No matter how much dirt they had on themselves he hugged them like they were his brothers and sisters. For two days he talked with them and prayed with the poorest and most abused of Argentina instead of meeting with the junta. When he did, he denounced them to their face for their crimes against the Argentinian people. He called on them to surrender their power or face dire consequences in the afterlife. The threat was hollow to the junta who saw Nicholas VI as a heretic who was unworthy of the title of pope. But his influence was far and wide. The poor, factory workers, small farmers, and priests started to become more brazen in their hatred of the junta. The junta who had come to power in 1976 with the backing of the United States was led by Jorge Vega, a ruthless thug who was later jailed for crimes against humanity and war crimes in 1990. Priests and citizens started to vocally oppose the Vega regime after Nicholas VI’s visit. For using the human right to freedom of speech Vega ramped up his extrajudicial killings and torture program. Priests were safer than a regular citizen due to the high respect they commanded but dozens would still be killed in “accidents” by the Vega regime.

But still the junta became increasingly unpopular as the oil shocks and inflation crippled the economy. Much like in Chile the people starved as the government ate like kings with food bought with the money they looted from the people. In 1981 both nations were eager for something that would increase their ever-decreasing popularity. With socialist uprisings in Panama, Columbia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala the people became agitated and were starting to get ideas and all they needed was some motivation to overcome their fears and dismantle the dictatorship. It was with this background that Argentina attempted to assert its dominance over the Picton, Lennox, and Nueva Islands by sending two cruisers two miles off the coast. The Chilean navy ordered the ships to leave and fired three warning shots, one hit the cruiser Cabo and caused substantial damage. The ensuing explosion killed ten soldiers and injured a further thirty. An hour later Jorge Vera declared war on Chile on September 2nd, 1981. Both Chile and Argentina experienced an uptick in nationalism during the war which was a blessing to both regimes. The problem came that when one of the countries lost the war and was thoroughly embarrassed. The embarrassment of a lost would dismantle either of the regimes swiftly and for the tyrants who looted so much money and spilled so much blood it was non-negotiable that they needed a victory for their own survival.

The opening salvo came from Argentina who sought to break the Chilean defenses swiftly so they could snake up the coastline and capture key population centers. Artillery cannons roared to life just as the US-UK delegation arrived in an effort to prevent the conflict from spiraling out of control. In Operation Light Justice the Argentinian military bombarded Chilean soldiers in the mountains. The Argentinian Airforce attacked the Chilean cities in an attempt to take out their industry and strike fear into the hearts of the Chilean people. The bombings only strengthened them. The bombings served only to give Pinochet a rallying cry against the Argentinian invasion and gave a massive boost to the army’s morale. The Argentinian Airforce attempted to gain aerial superiority over the Beagle Strait and Strait of Magellan but were halted by Chile’s attacks on the mainland. One of the advantages of Chile was the long border between them and Argentina. The long border was mountainous and treacherous to pass which made it perfect for the Chilean military to defend. Argentina failed to account for just how bloody the war would be. The first attempt to break through the mountains would come on September 6th, 1981, when 7,000 Argentinian soldiers attempted to scale the Andes mountains to dislodge a Chilean garrison of 6,000. The attack quickly went to hell as machine gun fire consumed the Argentinian soldiers. Within three hours of the offensive, they were fighting tooth and nail against the Chilean military. RPGs and gunfire were all one could hear on the mountain for a week as they inched their way up the mountain with a tenacity that would consume the average citizen with fear and dread. By the end of the week on September 13th the Argentinian force surrendered to Chile after three thousand soldiers were killed. For Chile the victory of Puerto Natales (where the battle was near) came at a heavy price. One thousand soldiers were slaughtered in the fighting and seven hundred where injured.

The second major battle to happen was Operation Triplet which saw the Picton, Lennox, and Nueva Islands invaded by the Argentinian military. The navy quickly assaulted the few warships near the islands and pushed them back to port before a larger fleet could be sent. This left the lightly defended islands wide open. Only fifty Chilean soldiers defended the island of Picton while Argentina sent a total of five hundred-fifty soldiers to claim the island for themselves. The outnumbered and outgunned Chilean soldiers were swiftly crushed with twenty being killed and the rest captured. The Picton Fifty would become martyrs in Chile as Pinochet and the military held them up as ideal heroes Ones who refused to backdown in the face of an invasion force eleven times the size of their own meager garrison. Only ten of the Picton Fifty would survive the war as many were killed in the POW camps of Argentina. The ten survivors would all be worshiped as heroes even as the Pinochet regime was cast into the dustbin of history.

After the Battle of Puerto Natales both nations dug in for the winter. Argentina didn’t want to attack mountains while they were covered in ice and snow which would kill thousands of soldiers. Chile used the break in fighting to further dig in and turn the Andes Mountains into a fortress that would claim the lives of thousands. Pinochet would also convince the UK to support Chile to prevent a strong Argentina that could threaten the Falkland Islands. Thatcher was reluctant but agreed as she felt Pinochet was the quote unquote “good guy” in the conflict. This was due to Vera’s threats to take over the Falkland and Sandwich Islands so naturally he got no support. Chile would receive aid from the UK, Mexico, Brazil, and Israel while Argentina received substantially less aid from Peru and Bolivia. Argentina managed to alienate most of the international community with their brash invasion of Chile and aggression towards the United Kingdom. The United States was officially neutral in the Beagle War due to the state department not wanting to anger whichever side won by supporting the losing side. Cianci and Haig were understandably quite angry that two of their allies were now at war with each other over three minor islands in the Atlantic, but they didn’t have the capabilities to negotiate a peace. After the battle of Puerto Natales neither Argentina or Chile was willing to accept anything less than a clear and crushing victory.

The third major land battle was one of the largest of the entire war. The battle is one that’s been portrayed in both Spanish and American films and if you take a South American history class this is one of the most memorable battles from the entire class. The Battle of Torres del Paine was the turning point of the war and one of the bloodiest battles in Latin American history. Argentinian soldiers would attack the Chilean army at the Torres del Paine national park on May 4th, 1982. The attack was meant to break through the mountains and onto the coastline and dozens of islands inhabited past the Andes. If they could break through the mountains the main advantage for Chile would be destroyed. 38,000 Argentinian soldiers attacked 30,000 Chilean soldiers who were stationed in the area. Fighting was chaotic as Chilean soldiers attempted to hold back the numerically superior Argentinian army all while coming under fire from the superior Argentinian air force. Argentina had broken through the first line of defense with breakneck speed by the first week of fighting. The chaotic fighting worked in the favor of the Argentinians who managed to cut off numerous units and capture them. The Argentinian air force would manage to systematically dismantle the organization of the Chilean military allowing the Argentinian military to further push the Chileans closer to the coastline and out of the mountains. By the end of the first week three thousand soldiers were dead.

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Argentinian soldiers preparing for a Chilean attack.

The Chilean military was in a state of panic as it looked like Argentina could win the Battle of Torres del Paine. Pinochet ordered another 10,000 soldiers to Torres del Paine in order to crush the Argentinian forces and by the end of the week their mobilization was complete. The Chilean forces received a boost in morale as they knew they could be rescued if they just held out for another three days. The experience of fighting in the mountains aided them very well as they were able to outmaneuver the Argentinian soldiers and successfully defend their positions. It came at a heavy price though. By the time the 10,000 fresh soldiers arrived another four thousand soldiers died as the Argentinian air force ramped up airstrikes and Vera demanded a swift victory before the 10,000 soldiers could arrive. The end result was a clash of bullets and rock as boulders tumbled and bullets were sprayed at each side. The Chileans held the line though and the Argentinian force suffered heavy casualties, taking 60% of the casualties. When the 10,000 soldiers arrived in Torres del Paine the Argentinian force knew they were in trouble. Vera had ordered another 7,000 soldiers to aid the Argentinian army at Torres del Paine but by the time the 10,000 Chilean soldiers arrived it was too late. The 33,000 Chilean soldiers attacked the 35,000 Argentinian soldiers from the mountains and the valleys on May 13th and managed to dislodge the Argentinians from their positions. With over 10,000 soldiers flanking the right side of the Argentinian army. The assault managed to scramble the unprepared Argentinians whose light defenses allowed the Chilean army to break through on the right and instigate a brutal firefight that killed thousands. Suffering heavy casualties and with the entire invasion force being threatened with encirclement in the mountains forced the Argentinians to retreat. Within two weeks the battle of Torres del Paine killed 23,000 people including 14,000 Argentinians.

The battle of Torres del Paine delivered the decisive victory Pinochet had hoped for had come. With the Argentinian military suffering heavy casualties and having low morale due to the defeat at Torres del Paine the order was given for the Chilean army to go on the offensive. All over the border Chilean soldiers overran Argentinian units with ease. With the lost at Torres del Paine severely decreasing morale the soldiers folded like paper when the offensive started on August 2nd. The Chilean soldiers swiftly made ground against the demoralized Argentinians who retreated thirty miles from the border of Chile in an attempt to regain their footing. But everyone knew it was over. Morale in Argentina collapsed and widespread protests against the government began. Now the Chilean air force began to bomb Buenos Aires, killing dozens but most importantly damaging support for the war. Afraid of another suicidal attack against the encroaching Chileans thousands of soldiers deserted and often towns all Chile had to do was walk into a town and raise their flag over the town hall for them to capture a town. Come April 1983 both countries signed a cease fire and began to negotiate a permanent peace treaty. The Treaty of Miami was signed on October 30th, 1983, by both nations. The Picton, Lennox, and Nueva islands were declared to be Chilean land, the Strait of Magellan ended at the boundry line, Argentina was ordered to pay $50 million in reparations to Chile, and Argentina and Chile would promise to end the Beagle Conflict. The Treaty left the Argentinian population hating both the government and Chile for the humiliation. 40,000 Argentinians had died in the conflict for three useless islands compared to the 25,000 Chileans. The winds of change were blowing in both nations whether either was going to accept it was a different story.

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An unlikely hero to not only Brazil but Latin America.

One ray of light coming from Latin America as most of the nation's dealt with far-right or far-left insurgencies was the nation of Brazil. Ever since the 1964 Coup overthrew the Democratically elected government, Brazil had been under the stranglehold of a military junta. But under the new president Joao Figueiredo the regime started to loosen its restrictions on the public. Soon after becoming president Figueiredo gave amnesty to jailed and exiled dissidents in a sign of change. Still, the dictatorship was ruthless and imposed harsh and unpopular austerity as the country slipped further into recession. With the popularity of the regime collapsing Figueiredo was under further pressure for reforms. Churches organized protests against the dictatorship and not wanting to kill his fellow Catholics, he relented and allowed the protestors to march. Soon enough the Movement for the Liberation of Brazil swelled in numbers as students and workers joined the Christian socialists in their calls for liberation. The uniting of the people against the regime caused Figueiredo to give even more power to opposition parties, decriminalizing the newly formed Christian Liberation Movement, under the pressure of the Vatican and restoring the direct election of governors. Soon after he had a massive heart attack and subsequently passed away. Aureliano Chaves succeeded him as president and invited Pope Nicholas VI to his home country. Nicholas VI was treated as a hero amongst the population for his consistent opposition to the dictatorship, which he denounced in the capital in front of 200,000 spectators. He praised the trade unions and the churches that were at the forefront of the resistance. Chaves would meet with Nicholas VI the next day to discuss the end of the dictatorship. Nicholas VI would represent the opposition and Chaves would represent the dictatorship in the meeting. Both agreed that the dictatorship was immoral but when it came passed restoring democratic rule they fiercely disagreed. Nicholas VI wanted those who perpetuated violence against the people arrested and put on trial for human rights abuses while Chaves sought a meager truth and reconciliation tribunal that would establish what happened and only punish the worst of the worst.

Despite their disagreements Nicholas VI and Chaves managed to hash out a deal that would cast the regime into the dustbin of history. Full democratic rights would be restored to Brazil, a truth a reconciliation commission would be set up, in 1983 the first democratic elections would be held, and austerity would be loosened. The Brasilia Agreement was released on July 4th, 1982, after a week of negotiations. The real test is if a constitutional amendment ratifying the Brasilia Agreement’s demands would pass. The amendment failed to gain traction amongst the pro-dictatorship congressmen and for a little bit the Brasilia Agreement was in jeopardy. Growing agitated churches and labor unions organized to pressure the fence sitting congressman. In the Day of Rebellion, led by Pope Nicholas VI, Luiz Lula da Silva, Clodovis Boff, Fernando Cardoso, Tancredo Neves, and 1,700,000 other people marched for democratic elections and an end to the dictatorship. The soldiers sent to disperse the crowd quickly found out they were outnumbered and either dispersed themselves or joined the protestors. Nicholas VI made sure every Catholic church in Rio supported the protest as all illusion of control by the dictatorship disappeared. Under the watchful eyes of the Catholic Church and a further million people in Brasilia Congress passed a constitutional amendment allowing democratic elections. The military was powerless to fight back as with the pope in the crowd, firing upon the crowd would destroy their support even further.

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Protestors in Rio de Janeiro demanding democracy.

A week later a constitutional amendment was passed allowing democratic elections. On February 10th, 1983, the first democratic elections were held. In the first round Luiz Lula da Silva came first with 25.23% of the vote while Aureliano Chaves came second with 24.23% of the vote. In the second round Chaves would defeat Silva 50.5%-49.5% in the closest election in Brazilian history. Chaves was aided by his reputation as the man who reformed Brazil into a successful democracy and Silva's reputation as a socialist and proponent of liberation theology. Normally the pro-dictatorship vote wouldn't have shown up for Chaves but due to Silva's reputation as a socialist who supported liberation theology. Fear mongering about how a socialist would destroy the economy Chaves managed to eke out a very narrow win. Furthermore, there was a fear that the military would launch a coup if Silva won, and thousands of Brazilians decided to bite the bullet and vote for another four years of Chaves. Despite high hopes his presidency would be less than ideal.

His austerity policies and refusal to punish alleged war criminals earned him few friends and even fewer supporters. His term was like his first year in office. One of crisis but instead of being able to fall on the support of pro-reform and pro-democracy politicians and activists for political support. His legacy as a reformist who managed to peacefully dismantle the military dictatorship has earned him a decent following today, but many socialists, social democrats, and families of torture victims question his legacy and whether he should've been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Nicholas VI (who most historians agree was instrumental in the fall of right-wing dictatorships). While controversial most will remember his reforms more than his second term as that's what makes a good story.
 
Quite absorbing. I like how you shed light on another part of the world. I wonder if, back in the US, Father Drinan is still a Congressman.
 
Quite absorbing. I like how you shed light on another part of the world. I wonder if, back in the US, Father Drinan is still a Congressman.
Thank you! Just focusing on America IMO would devalue the story. Jackson alone had adverse effects on the world that wouldn't go unnoticed. I loved No Southern Strategy for covering a wide array of nations, so I decided to do that here. Each path America takes affects the world at large and decisions other countries make create even more paths which is very fun to write about.

Drinan is still a congressman as Pope Nicholas VI doesn't really care if a priest gets political. I mean he just destroyed a dictatorship and denounced the Soviet Union's massacres in Poland so he doesn't believe he can really tell anyone to stay out of politics. He is very annoyed with Drinan's view on abortion but doesn't view it as more than a letter to his office due to there being much larger problems in the world.
 
Turtledove
Thank you to @hagersalthist and @FlyingSquirrel for nominating the timeline for a Turtledove!

Here's the link if you want to vote for it.

 
Chapter XVII: Crime Town USA
Cianci’s crime ring was ever growing in 1983. Bauman being his loyal puppet was not enough for him though. He was useful but could hardly keep the conservatives in check as they grew more agitated at the failure of busing. But for the time being they were willing to play ball with Cianci. Now that he secured his place in the executive branch with DiPrete and the FBI on his side he needed to extend the crime ring into the Senate and the House. Having a couple of loyal foot soldiers in each chamber would come in handy in making himself even richer. The Senate and the House is what gave Cianci funds in the first place to steal so if he could get some loyal Congresspeople or Senators he would have all but the judicial branch in his grasp.

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Senator Arch Moore explaining his crimes (1986).

The first man he recruited was Senator David Durenberger of Minnesota. Durenberger would be brought into Cianci’s crime ring through a series of bribes that made betraying his constituents so much easier. Durenberger used his stature in the Senate to push for more infrastructure funding fossil fuel subsidies that both he and Cianci would take a cut of. Within a year Durenberger easily made tens of thousands of dollars off the scheme. Subsidies intended for oil companies or natural gas companies went missing and per the orders of Cianci ignored. Out of the billions of dollars in subsidies the missing money could easily be blamed on a small-time government employee. Durenberger and Cianci would then launder the money to an offshore bank account in Chile. As Chile looked like it was winning the Beagle War it became a hotspot for Durenberger’s money laundering scheme. Durenberger seemingly felt little remorse for his actions at the time as it was a small amount of money, he would tell himself. Durenberger’s loyalty to Cianci would also bring him more power in the senate. He had quickly become one of the highest-ranking Republican senators in the country with Cianci favoring him for the position of Majority Whip in 1984. Durenberger would also use the funds he made off of the stolen subsidies to buy more houses in his home state of Minnesota. The condos in Minneapolis in St. Paul would be written off as travel expenses and he made serious money. One condo alone raked in $40,000 in the reimbursements. Now multiply that by ten and this is how Durenberger became one of the richest senators by the time of his arrest. The amount he stole from the subsidies was only around $10,000 compared to the millions stolen by Cianci.

Another key player in the crime ring was Senator Arch A. Moore of West Virginia. Moore was known for taking heat due to his corrupt practices which included attempting to extort a bank while governor. Cianci seeing Moore’s desperation for wealth proposed he’d come on board which Moore gratefully accepted. Moore used his position in the senate and Cianci’s crime ring to flex his muscle. Not only did he take bribes, commit insider trading by investing in companies Cianci gave subsidies too, but also played a role in expanding the crime ring to the Appalachian Mountains. His old scheme of extorting banks was a failure as he was nearly put in jail for it but now, he had a different idea. Why not just extort coal companies? Instead of fighting with the banks he fought with coal companies who were known for egregious safety violations. For a cool $100,000-$900,000 that could all go away. Moore would also start to start a massive wire fraud campaign which saw him receive bribes from dozens of individuals, including some who took it from charity. Backed by loyal FBI agents and state troopers Moore’s extortion ring-controlled West Virginia until he was caught in Cianci’s impeachment and promptly arrested, jailed, and fined $100 million for stealing millions from the people of West Virginia, the second largest fine in US history for a single individual, only behind Kenneth Lay.

Moore and Durenberger weren’t the only new recruits in Cianci’s crime ring. Cianci found another opportunity from Dan Crane.

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Dan Crane, easily one of the most hated men to serve in Congress.

Like many other Congressman Crane held a secret. He was having an affair with a 17-year-old staff member. Usually this would be exposed by the government and lead to Crane’s downfall. Instead Cianci didn’t want to destroy Crane but use his influence to expand his power. Like Bauman Crane would be blackmailed with photos of his affair being mailed to his office in a package. Crane panicked and called his brother, fellow Congressman Phil Crane. Phil Crane scolded his brother for the affair but promised to swear secrecy. Dan Crane was interrupted by a phone call from Buddy Cianci directly demanding he’d come into his office. Dan Crane was terrified as he just found out about the affair and his fear of being exposed by Cianci was high on his list of fears. He knew if someone had found out about the affair it was the president. He was right but not in the way he thought. His worst fear was being expelled but like Bauman that wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. Instead Cianci gave him a deal. Be expelled from Congress for the affair with an underage staffer or do Cianci’s dirty work. Crane gave a non-answer to buy himself some more time, but Cianci pushed him.

“How would the police react Dan?”

“I-I’m not sure!”

“It’s obvious Dan. Ya with us or are ya down with having your life ruined?”

“Listen you son of a bitch I am not doing whatever dirty work you want me to do. It’s not worth it, it’s not worth violating my contract with God and being damned just to save your failing presidency.”

“Well, Dan you’re already damned. Statutory rape is a big deal from where I come from, and I don’t like people who claim to be Christians yet sin in some of the most fucked up ways possible. I mean you have a wife. Just why Dan?”

“I-I-I’m not sure.”

“Listen Dan. I’ll give you a week to make your decision. Choose wisely.”

Dan Crane would be in a state of panic when he got home. He was visibly angry and sweating like he had just ran a marathon. His wife took note of this and tried to calm him down. Crane didn’t tell her anything that transpired between him, the staffer, and Cianci. Crane rejected his wife’s attempt to console him and began to cry. His home phone went off in the kitchen and he picked it up. “Dan?”

Crane began to panic. It was his mistress. “Don’t call me dumbass!” he whispered to her.

“I’m pregnant.”

Dan Crane’s world was shattered. If he wasn’t screwed before he was now. Cheating on his wife would anger any moral American but impregnating a 17-year-old? He’d be truly lucky if he didn’t go to jail or bankrupted by child support and the divorce. “Meet me tomorrow in my office,” he whispered as the fear of hell was put into him.

The night was a sleepless one. He tossed and turned in between his panic attacks and thoughts about Cianci’s deal. Compared to possible legal issues Cianci’s proposal wasn’t a bad one. But still Dan Crane couldn’t help but have a bad feeling about Cianci. As he later said in an interview “Cianci had an aura around him. One that gave me the feeling he was a morally bankrupt ally of the devil. I wish I had listened to that feeling instead of what my brain said.”

Crane decided that whatever Cianci had in store for him couldn’t be that bad. It was probably just telling him to shut up and stop attempting to push Cianci to the right. How wrong was he. When he took the deal Cianci immediately told him to buy a car wash in Danville Illinois in order to use it as a money laundering scheme. Crane initially refused but Cianci brought up the fact his mistress was pregnant and under 18 years of age. Under DC law Crane would be guilty of statutory rape and he would rather do a crime that harmed no one than be put in a cold jail cell.

The Italian Mafia and P2 were just starting to unload the money made from attacking trade unions and defrauding the nation through Roberto Calvi’s banks was just starting to arrive on the shores of the United States. The amount of money laundered over international seas was ridiculous. Within a year Cianci had pocketed five million dollars and as the violence in Italy increased so did the profits as companies begged mobsters for protection against violent labor strikes. Often times the CIA encouraged P2, neo-fascists, and the Mafia to agitate or cut to the chase and attack peaceful strikes in order to spur more violence. Once the strikes turned violent the Mafia would jack up their prices. Cianci’s allies in the Italian military actively gave information on investigations into key allies in the Mafia and the P2. Using this information Cianci and his allies would sabotage investigations. Furthermore, the CIA smuggled weapons and small explosives to P2 members, usually in the intelligence community.

As investigations were thwarted and a steady stream of money and weapons arrived in the hands of the Unholy Alliance violence exploded. The first major attack was at Stefano’s Bar in Naples. The bar was known for being sympathetic to the PCI due to it being unionized and friendly to gay folks. It had already been a flash point of conflict after neo-fascists started a brawl with a communist and soon enough dozens of people joined in. Soon enough it became a key point of attack for the local far-right who characterized it as a club of degeneracy and communism. When the local P2 members got access to more resources and weapons they quickly began to plan to destroy the bar. They decided that attacking the bar in the day light would get them caught and they’d expose the P2. So, they decided to attack during the nighttime, and they found the perfect opportunity. From 8:00-10:00 PM the Young Communist League, the youth wing of the PCI was meeting at the bar to discuss the upcoming city council elections. At 8:50 PM three men arrived at the bar. One went to the back of the building and another one went to the right side of the building that formed an ally with another restaurant that was closed. The third man entered the bar and planted a small bomb in the garbage can at the front. Then he left the building out the backdoor.

At 8:54 AM all hell broke loose. Two fires were started that quickly spread. As the patrons attempted to leave the building the small bomb exploded, collapsing the doorway and killing several people. They panicked as they attempted to break windows and the walls before the fire could spread. Unfortunately, it spread very quickly and in three minutes the building was wrapped in flames. Within twenty minutes thirty-nine people were dead and forty were injured. It was one of the worst fires in modern Italian history and it didn’t take long for the police to determine it was an act of terror. Unfortunately, they couldn’t catch the killers until the fall of P2 and by that time two of the three terrorists were already dead after being shot to death by a far-left terrorist in 1984. The next terrorist attack was in the historic city of Palermo. There the Mafia attempted to infiltrate local trade unions to engineer their collapse. It failed miserably when the union expelled everyone reasonably suspected of being a member of the Mafia. In retaliation the Mafia ordered the execution of several union leaders. The Palmero Massacre was followed up by retaliatory attacks by left wing militants against alleged members of the Mafia. For three days straight what was essentially a gang war between left wing militants and Mafia members erupted and quickly the body count mounted. The Mafia was aided by P2 members who gave them information about them whereabouts of anti-Mafia politicians. The CIA and Cianci egged on the violence with their strategy of tension aiming to cripple the Berlinguer government's credibility. Several Mafia bosses even received phone calls from P2 members or anonymous "citizens" encouraging their war against the state and anti-Cianci bosses.

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Anti-Mafia protests in Palmero (1983).

Those vocally opposed to the Mafia with real power, like being a prosecutor, judge, community leader, or union leader, could be driving to work and without any warning they’d be filled with bullets. During this time the mayor, Elda Pucci quickly initiated a crackdown with the backing of the federal government. Unfortunately, this earned her the ire of the Mafia. In retaliation for several local leaders being arrested she was killed. On March 5th while driving to work she came under fire from an adjacent vehicle. She tried to evade the gunfire but within ten seconds she was killed from several gunshot wounds. Along with Pucci a further three people were killed from the gunfire and five other people were killed due to a ten-car pileup that was caused due to the shooting.

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The Italian government in retaliation sent two thousand federal agents and police along with five hundred soldiers. General Carlo Alberto Chiesa was given orders by Berlinguer and Minister of the Interior Alessandro Natta to "totally crush" the Mafia in retaliation. The moles in the Italian intelligence agencies of course leaked this to their allies in the Mafia who panicked and figured that Chiesa was their greatest threat. On May 5th, chosen for symbolically being May Day or International Workers Day they attempted to kill Chiesa. While talking to Palmero police officers a sniper caught him in the window of the police headquarters. Chiesa was shot in the chest and collapsed but thanks to the quick actions of the police in the building he survived and was prevented from going into hemorrhagic shock. Chiesa became a hero, a man who served his country and fought the triple terror of anarchism, fascism, and the Mafia. He would later become one of the loudest proponents of extraditing American officials who were complicit in the Unholy Alliance.

If even being a sovereign country wasn’t enough to save Italy from Cianci’s crimes, then imagine how bad it was in Rhode Island. Both the Democratic Party and Republican Party were complicit in Cianci’s crime ring. His goons bribed everyone, from legislators, county attorneys, and even advisors to the governor. Even if Governor Schneider wasn’t corrupt her entire administration pretty much was. The corruption in Rhode Island started to show when the economy, despite the national economy recovering once again grinded to a halt. This was because state and federal projects were filled with fraud (that unsurprisingly went unpunished), theft, and incompetence. Most state projects at this point served as money laundering schemes and when a company did bid on a contract with the government it wasn’t how high the bid was but who paid the most in bribes. Every time the state legislature chose the most corrupt and most likely the most incompetent company. Even better was that the banking industry was on the brink of collapse as embezzlement had somehow become even worse. Politicians would always give more money to banks on the brink of collapse in order to save themselves from jail, which their money would then once again be embezzled. Millions of dollars were defrauded from the people of Rhode Island, a decent chunk of which went to Cianci and DiPrete themselves. Debt for Rhode Islanders worsened as Cianci, the Cianci allied Mob, and most of the government defrauded, stole, and bribed their way to immense wealth off the banks. The poverty rate hit 10% in 1983 in Rhode Island and the public was getting angry. As if things couldn’t get worse the popular corruption investigation was extraordinarily corrupt, with the investigators sitting on their assess and collecting bribes while the bubble only grew larger. During 1983 they expanded their reach into Massachusetts and Connecticut, buying up small banks and bribing local politicians.

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Early victim of the AIDs Epidemic that would kill thousands (1981).

The final crime of the Cianci administration was the lack of funding to fight the AIDs Epidemic. Despite thousands being infected and it being considered a near death sentence the government did not speak out about the harmful effects. The reason for this was because of Cianci and his administration not caring if who they viewed as the criminals of society dying. Homosexuals and drug abusers were some of the most vulnerable of society yet the government’s view of them was inhuman.

Cianci openly refused to fund drug treatment and instead funded more private prisons (who he and several congressmen invested in). Depending on the state if you admitted to having gay sex or abusing drugs, you’d be reported to the police either by your family or even a doctor and arrested. Cianci encouraged the ladder as a tragic necessity to prevent drug abusers from spreading the disease while staying silent on the former. Instead of a campaign of AIDs awareness he campaigned on reporting drug abusers to the police to keep them off the street. The McCarthyite tactics to crack down on drug abuse ended up backfiring as more drug abusers refused to seek help for AIDs or their drug abuse due to a fear of being reported. Furthermore, it led to larger social alienation as the war on drugs increased in its sheer brutality.

Despite the obvious failure of Cianci’s cruel AIDs and drug policy most Republicans didn’t give a damn. Who cared if a few gays or addicts bit the dust? It was less “sinners” to influence their children. The black community was devastated by the AIDs Epidemic and war on drugs due to higher rates of poverty, racism, and worse healthcare. Tens of thousands of mostly black drug users were jailed in Cianci’s first term alone and as more and more were jailed the more money Cianci, and his goons made. Kenneth Lay in Texas alone used thousands of prisoners to work menial jobs such as clean his company's offices for less than a dollar a day.
 
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Jesus this is fucked. Is homophobia in wider society any worse than under Reagan?
No. California is better due to Milk being mayor of San Francisco. The demonization of drug abusers is. Generally drug abusers are linked by politicians with the mentally ill and are considered as dangers to society thanks to a harsher crime crackdown and Cianci’s pseudo populism. Drug users get it way worse ITTL who instead of being helped are demonized, ostracized, and targeted by the police for being viewed as a threat to society and spreaders of AIDs.
 
Also, I'd like to acknowledge a milestone Hell or Highwater just reached. As of today Hell or Highwater has surpassed 10,000 views! So thank you to all who've read it!
 
Driving the aids epidemic underground is going to have big consequences later on. We currently have 76 million people who have been infected since 1981, with more than 22 million deaths.
With less awareness, later development of anti-viral medication, and a concerted effort to have instutions as well as the sick ignore the problem, the number of infections and death toll are going to much higher. HIV may spread more slowly than Covid, but as in any pandemic the opening moves set the stage. They are the most important.
 
Didn't the Reagan Administration ignore AIDs for a significant time in OTL too?
Yes. Actively call on people to report drug abusers? No. Cianci’s actively encouraging people to report drug abusers to stop AIDs (while doing jackshit like Reagan), further demonizing them and causing less to seek treatment as it’ll be assumed you’re a danger to society and demonized by your fellow citizens.
 
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