Not far from the Mexican mainland, The Principality of New Utopia has claimed the Misteriosa Bank for its territory. The Misteriosa Bank is a submerged reef an average of 20 meters – in some places less than one meter – below the current sea level. It lies in international waters and is situated on the Cayman Ridge stretching west towards Belize and east past the Cayman Islands towards Cuba. The Principality of New Utopia was founded by Lazarus Long (formerly Howard Turney) an investor with a history of using and promoting the human growth hormone for anti-aging purposes. When Prince Lazarus Long was interviewed in May 1998 for the Independent, the construction of the micronation was scheduled to begin later that year. Concrete pillars were to be erected on the reef. Large concrete platforms would be placed on top of them.
On top of these platforms a city were to be built (Hulse 1998). Casinos, shopping malls, banks, hotels, office buildings, convention centers would all be erected around the nations’ centerpiece; the finest hospital in the world dedicated to anti-aging and longevity treatments (New Utopia website). New Utopia’s economy were to rest on three pillars: Medicine, tourism, and finance (Heard 1998). Of the three economies Lazarus Long expected finance to be the most important declaring his intension to “out-Cayman the Caymans” (Long in Hulse 1998). Minimal government expenses would be covered by a planned 15% tax on imported goods, but other than that there would be no taxes and – by implication – no welfare system (ibid.). At the time of the 1998 interview, Prince Lazarus and his, then, Minister of Corporations Ian Sawyer had been looking into applying for a possible membership in the UN. The immediate attraction was however fading (Hulse 1998). While the Principality of New Utopia would need official recognition in order to operate as legitimate financial center, Lazarus was not interested in the UN’s attempt to enforce worldwide banking rules and regulations. Nor was he interested in the UN obligation to receive refugees. With no taxes and welfare system, their state would not be set-up to handle such a task (ibid.). That touched on a delicate point; the principality would not be set up to have a prison system. Felons, he imagined, could be shipped of to nearby nations in return for money. As a last resort, he pondered in an interview in The New York Times, they might be put on deserted islands to fend for themselves (Heard 1998). In 1999 a temporary stop was put to Prince Lazarus plans as he was charged with violating the Securities Act of 1933 due to sale of unregistered bonds (US SEC 2000). The American Securities and Exchange Commission did not agree with Lazarus optimistic promise that investors could expect a 200% return for their purchase of ‘securities’ and proclaiming it a ‘scam’ Lazarus was ordered to stop his sale and pay back the $24,000 he had raised (ibid.). When Prince Lazarus died in 2012 the Principality of New Utopia was still just a webpage and so it is today.
Image: Screenshot, Google Earth.