Diplomatic Impunity

Wouldn't you love to rub shoulders with a man who has been knighted by the Queen of England, honored by the Pope, and appointed our local Liberian ambassador? Of course you would!

Grove also says he gave Boada $10,000 to get the heraldic center rolling. "He has a vital interest in it," the colonel affirms. "Every other day, certainly, he calls me to discuss it."

The Countess is in Europe for the summer and could not be reached. When asked what he intends to do with the $10,000 given to him by Grove, Boada did not respond.

Chinks in the Armor
At New Times's request, Guy Stair Sainty conducted his own "tour" of Tony Boada's chivalric honors.

The Order of Cordon Bleu: "That is a cookery award, for being a good cook."
The Order of Signum Fidei: "It isn't given any more. It's a fantasy, a complete invention. Worthless."

The Order of the Garter: "The annual Whittaker's Almanac, published in London, lists the members of the Order of the Garter, England's highest honor. He is not listed in the almanac. He is not a member. He is lying. You can say that with absolute certainty."

The Royal Order of St. George, for services in Germany: "This is a legitimate order, limited to Bavarians who can prove that their 32 great-grandparents are all noble. And he's not a member, I guarantee it."

The Imperial Hispanic Order of Carlos V, given by the cousin of the King of Spain: "It's given out by somebody who happens to be a distant relation to the King of Spain. It's completely unrecognized. It's worthless. It's like somebody saying, 'I'm the cousin of Bill Clinton' and issuing presidential proclamations or vetoing bills from Congress."

The Order of St. Lazarus from the King of Spain: "That's a lie. That's completely false. I can say it's absolutely 100 percent a lie. First of all, I know the King of Spain perfectly well. Secondly, the Order of St. Lazarus is not given by the King of Spain."

And with that, Sainty concludes his tour. "I love to find these people," he chortles. "I love to expose them, because they are complete fantasists. You might as well call yourself a Knight of the Order of Coca-Cola, you know what I'm saying?"

All Hail the New Ambassador
At a little before eight o'clock, Liberia's newly appointed Ambassador-at-Large and Minister Plenipotentiary with special responsibilities for Maritime Offshore Trade and Finance descends to the basement of his Brickell Key II condo, where the reception in his honor is in full swing. Although a white tent has been erected poolside, heavy rains have temporarily forced everyone into a cramped foyer. A string quartet huddles in a corner near a folding table covered with liquor bottles. A Liberian flag hangs from a bookshelf, anchored by a copy of a hardcover mystery entitled The Silent Salesman.

Boada works the room. He wraps an arm of his dark blue suit around each of the dignitaries. "There's Mr. Charles," he proclaims. "He sells estate jewelry. There is Senator Daryl Jones and his wife. Would you like to meet them? And of course, there is Mr. Blackett and his deputy, Mr. Dunbar, down from Washington. Would you like to meet them?"

Konah Blackett, the highest-ranking Liberian official serving in the United States, is wearing a blue-and-gold Ghanian ceremonial robe called a kinte, and a matching cap. His deputy Abdulah Dunbar's khaki-color kinte is nicely set off by a pith helmet. Both men flew down from our nation's capital especially for the reception.

"[Boada] went through an official in Europe who came to me and said that his buddy asked me to go down to Miami to this party, so I did," explains Blackett, who is officially Liberia's trade minister. A farmer by vocation, he says he accepts virtually every invitation to speak if it means he can educate people about his forlorn country and raise money for its rebirth.

No local consuls are present. Few, if any, of the 200 other guests appear to have a connection to Liberia, though one gentleman, obviously recognizing a rare opportunity, sports a black nehru jacket with a leopard-skin collar and a matching hat.

When the squall stops and the party moves out to the tent, Daryl Jones steps onto a small stage, where a microphone is affixed to a podium draped with the Liberian flag. "This is a very significant day politically, because Liberia has now seen fit to establish diplomatic representation in the Miami area and in the South Florida area," Jones orates. "And Tony is not only the ambassador-at-large, but also a cabinet member plenipotentiary." The state senator from Florida's 40th District stumbles on the word plenipotentiary.

"It is especially significant," Jones plows on bravely, "that Liberia has recognized our position in world trade and has sought first to appoint an ambassador of Antony's caliber. Mr. Boada, I am proud that you landed here. We are pleased that you decided to come back to South Florida and be a part of our community."

("My wife and I met him around at functions like this," the senator had said earlier. "He's a social animal! Everyone says he's a great guy. Definitely.")

Konah Blackett follows with a short speech about his country's ongoing and brutal civil war. Annette Hogan relieves him with an address "on behalf of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines," where she works in the marketing department. "Tony," she says, "I hope we can continue our close relationship. You have our very best wishes."

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