Thursday, March 18, 2021

Panama in World War III

Wikimedia Commons
After the downfall of Noriega and the return of civilian rule in Panama, the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) were disbanded, and Panama became the second Latin American country after Costa Rica to end a permanent, standing army. Through the start of the war, the Panamanian Public Forces (or Fuerza Pública de la República de Panamá) served a the national police with some level of paramilitary capabilities.

When US President West took office in 1997, he attempted to negotiate a delay to the final implementation of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties. West had always been opposed to the handing over of the Canal Zone to Panama, seeing it as a strategic location to ensure American commerce and project power into Central and South America. With growing Soviet and Chinese influence, a resurgent Sandinista government in Nicaragua (after the rigged elections of 1996), and the beginning of the Second Salvadoran Civil War pitting FMLN against ARENA.

Ernesto Pérez Balladares
González-Revilla (public domain)
The Panamanian civilian government, led by Ernesto Pérez Balladares González-Revilla, refused to negotiate a delay in implementation of the treaties. Frustrated, West had drawn up plans for an invasion of the zone with options for replacing the government with a more pliable version. These plans were shelved as the war in Europe took precedence. However, the US initiated OPERATION CLOSE SHAVE. This involved funding a number of right-wing, paramilitary units in a guerrilla war against the González-Revilla government. The umbrella organization the US funded was called the Movement to Restore Order and Dignity (MROD or Movimiento para restaurar el orden y la dignidad) and led by Dario Riba.

Dario Riba (

The Soviet and Chinese were aware of CLOSE SHAVE and began funding the Federation for the People’s Democracy (FDP, or Federación para la Democracia Popular). An influx of arms and cash into Panama stoked violence, bombings, and armed engagements. González-Revilla and the PPF struggled to match the strength of the opposed groups, but were severely underfunded, outmanned, and outgunned. On 15 August 1998, González-Revilla was killed in a bombing as he attempted to negotiate a peace settlement. As the MROD began to seize key government buildings supported by US forces in the Canal Zone, the Soviet Union conducted tactical nuclear strikes of Panama City, Colon, and other parts of the Canal Zone.
Marta Muñoz (

After the strikes, Panama collapsed in disorder and chaos. Various factions hold towns and clutches of jungle and mountains. While MROD and FDP, currently led by Marta Muñoz, are the primary powers, they are not alone, with many smaller groups and factions ranging for moderate populist groups, narcos, warlords, eschatological groups, and religious fanatics.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Solo Game Locale

The votes are in, and while Western Asia (Middle East), gave the winner a good run, ultimately, Central and South America won out.

The starting point will be Panama. I have not fleshed out all the background for it yet, but my thinking at this time is that the US intended to back out on the Torrijos–Carter Treaties. This prompted a nuclear strike by the USSR on Panama City and Colon to destroy the ability of ships to pass through the canal along with reducing Howard Air Force base and others to rubble.

Now, a team of Force Recon Marines and a local CIA asset were sent in for two primary reasons:
  1. Determine the efficacy of the rumors of a cache of aviation fuel that may still be accessible and viable.
  2. Determine the strength and composition of the factions and groups operating in the canal zone for a potential operation to re-seize it and open the shipping lanes again, while also providing a southern base of operations to the south of Mexico.
The team will get to Panama, but they run into immediate opposition from a large group of decently outfitted troops. The story will begin with our team on the run, heading east of Colon into the mountains. They want to complete the mission and also find out if someone betrayed their mission from the start. 

Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Hell Is the Long Way to Hope -- A Solo Twilight: 2000 Campaign

Years ago, way back in 1984, I ordered via a GDW catalogue the boxed set for Twilight: 2000, a new RPG from the makers of Traveller, which I had discovered in the early 80s.

I'm really excited about the Free League Publishing version coming out this year. I was a late backer and have been really loving the adaptation of the the Year Zero Engine.
1st Edition by GDW

Therefore, I want to start up a solo game using the new ruleset. I'm asking folks where they would like to see it set because I want to put it outside Poland or Sweden. I'll blog the game here. You can vote here.