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For *All **Nails*, #39-d:   Secretarial Privilege

2 January 1973

Coyoacán, Capital District  [1]

Vincent Mercator was, if not happy, at keast a satisfied man.  The
news itself was not unexpected, even if the details were.  The report
had been given to him not ten minutes previously.  He had immediately
called in the General Staff.

"Has this report been confirmed?" asked Mercator.

"No, sir," replied Colonel Franklin Kress.  "*All* we have is the base
report from our agents in Boricua.  [2]  With your permission, we will
begin overflights from Guantánamo tomorrow."

Mercator nodded.  "Of course."

General Emilio Scott spoke up.  "We night not find anything, sir.  The
report suggests that the Germans are only beginning to unload the
equipment."

Mercator nodded.  "That's right.  But that doesn't matter.  The point
is to let the Germans know that we know what they're doing."

"Is that wise, sir?"  This was from Colonel Christopher Sauri. 
Mercator had never been one to surround himself with yes-men.

"Why not?" asked Mercator.

Sauri was young, and fresh-faced, the kind of man who would be fat
were he not an officer in the Unified Armed Services.  "The Germans
might ?  no.  Sir, if German preparations should become public
somehow, by some other power, they might blame us if they think we
knew first."

"That's true.  Other opinions?"  The Secretary of War looked around
his office.

General Michael Huffington spoke up.  Tall and good-humored, his last
name belied his obviously Mexicano origins.  "We might not want to be
so sanguine about a German  presence so near Continental Mexico. 
Yucatán is within 2500 kilometers, and we have reason to believe that
the Germans have longer-range devices ready for deployment."

General Armand Martillo was the General Staff strategic expert.
Martillo was a short, intense man, his head entirely shaved.  "Allow
me to point out that we are already threatened by Kramer submersibles
and Tory airmobile squadrons.  Until our own deterrent is ready, the
existence of a German threat to the Tory mainland may be in out
interest."

Huffington nodded.  "True.  The Germans are our 'allies.'" Huffington
made the quote marks in the air as he said "allies."  "That said, our
interests may diverge, and we may regret allowing them a strategic
foothold in the hemisphere."

Secretary Mercator spoke up.  "What do our contacts in the Boriqueño
government tell us?"

This was Colonel Anthony Marín's responsibility.  "I'll put in some
discreet inquiries.  It is worrisome that the Boriqueños haven't told
already told us about their intentions."

Mercator nodded.  "We may need to remind the Boriqueños who their real
allies are.  After *all*, Loyalist guerrillas remain active."  The
implied threat was obvious.  Mexico had put the Jeffersonistas in
power in San Juan, and Mexico could remove them.  Marín nodded.

Huffington spoke again.  "I support the overflights.  We need to know
how much time we have before the facilities are operational." 
Martillo nodded.

Sauri spoke up.  "What's the upside of letting the Germans know what
we know, sir?"

"Good question," said Mercator.  "The entire Boricua operation has
been one of subtle quid-pro-quos between us and the Germans.  They
publicly announced support for the independence movement.  That was a
veiled request for us to step up our aid for the rebels.  We complied.
 In return, they forgave our debts and refrained from raising tariffs
when the dólar went down. Their current, uh, activities are their quo
for that last quid.  General Barquera can tell you more."  Mercator
leaned back and steepled his hands.

Barquera was an older man, the foreign relations expert in Mercator's
shadow cabinet.  "Markstein has _always_ put domestic politics ahead
of any other policy considerations.  He is wily, however.  If we
signal that we know about the rockets but do nothing, he'll take it as
a signal that we consider our debt to him for the economic support
paid."

"Objections?" asked Mercator.  "Then it's decided."

Sauri raised a finger.  "Sir?  What about the President?"

Mercator smiled.  "I don't think the President needs to know about
this, do you?"  The uniformed men around the table smiled and nodded. 
"Dismissed.  Sauri, Kress, Barquera, stay here.   I want to talk to
you about the President."

Mercator had been surprised, and was slightly worried, by the new
president.  Immanuel Moctezuma was untelegenic, looked dwonright
uncomfortable on the tube, but his popularity ratings were
unexpectedly high.  Moctezuma had surprised Mercator by using his
popularity to appoint several of his _own_ cabinet members.  Mercator
was using his power to hold several Moctezuma appointees up in the
Senate.  It looked like Moctezuma was going to quietly back down, you
couldn't blame the man for forgetting his place ... but this new
Boricua situation was tailor-made to remind Moctezuma just why his
Secretary of War's knowledge and expertise was so invaluable ?
  


[1]   A southern suburb of Mexico City.  The sprawling War Department
is located in the approximate location of the OTL UNAM campus. 
Chapultepec Castle, the presidential residence, is located in
Chapultapec, Capital District.  Congress meets in the OTL National
Palace building downtown, in Mexico City, Capital District.

[2]  "Boricua" is the politically correct name for Puerto Rico in
Mexico, since the USM has recognized the Republic of Boricua as the
legitimate government of the island.  The "agent" spoken of isn't
really in Boricua (see #39), but Mercator knows that his General Staff
doesn't need to know *all* the details of Mexico's intelligence
operations.