The Critical Classroom – “The Anti-Imperialist Geopolitical Suburb? Caimanera as Guantánamo’s Revolutionary Frontier”

Ranu Basu (York University)

Published in May 2022 in Volume 54, Issue 3 of Antipode, this open access article deals with the spatialities of anti-imperialist praxis, drawing from the region of Guantánamo, Cuba, and offers critical insights into the everyday creative resistance of communities living within the shadows of the imperialism. The structural impediments of an economic blockade and US military occupation are genealogically traced and brought to the forefront to explain the conditions of a place often misunderstood. Further, the theoretical insights draw from the radical visions of Fidel Castro’s “Battle of Ideas” weave these into an urban theoretical framework introducing the concept of the anti-imperialist geopolitical suburb.

The article draws extensively from the work of authors/material/texts from the local region—as a mode of radical intervention in decolonial intellectual engagement and alternative modes of knowledge production and citational practice. Finally, and most importantly, the article is critically important in bringing the story of Caimanera and the struggles of the region to a wider international audience invested in the project of solidarity, peace, and anti-imperialism.

Key concepts

anti-imperialist suburb; spatialising the Battle of Ideas; Zone of Peace; internationalism and solidarity; revolutionary cities; socialist cities

Broad themes addressed with these concepts

  • In a global era of continuous war and massive displacement how can we think of alternative paradigms (anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, anti-neoliberal models) in the spatial production of peace?
  • What are the main tenets (ethics, principles, methods) of a revolutionary city? How might it compare to a neoliberal city?
  • What role does internationalism play in presenting anti-hegemonic alternatives today – e.g. socialist international solidarity movements in promoting a paradigm of peace?
  • What is the strategic intent of sanctions or blockades? Who does it effect and how?

Discussion questions

  • What is particularly unique about the Cuban social and economic system? How does it relate to the historical context prior to the 1959 Cuban Revolution?
  • How do the main elements of a socialist system as practised in Cuba differ from a neoliberal capitalist system? Provide examples.
  • How does US imperialism exert its hegemony over Cuba? Why?
  • What are the kind of false myths perpetuated in the case of Cuba?
  • What are the internal and external challenges faced by the Cuban people?
  • The blockade is considered an illegal and unjust economic warfare, affecting the well being of the Cuban people. Discuss.
  • Discuss the territorial and extra-territorial effects of sanctions. How does this influence questions of national sovereignty?
  • How does the military occupation (in places such as Guantanamo, against the will of the people) affect the conditions of the local communities? In what way?
  • What are implications for Caribbean states and the region with US presence in Guantanamo?
  • What are the various civil institutions that build community capacity in Cuba? Why are these critical?
  • In what way is Caimanera an anti-imperialist suburb?
  • What is the Battle of Ideas? How is it spatialised?
  • How is resistance evident in the everyday life and rhythms of Caimanera?
  • What is the Zone of Peace? Why is the Proclamation of Peace so critical to the region?
  • What role does internationalism play? Why was Caimanera an important strategic site for peace activism and solidarity?
  • What role do youth play in the future of the Revolution and of revolutionary consciousness?
  • How does geopolitics impact resistance? What lessons can be learned through the case of Cuba?

Other resources

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States / Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC), “Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace”, 27 January 2014 (last accessed 19 May 2022)

  • The Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace was signed by the heads of state in the region during the second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Havana, January 2014.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR), “CELAC / Zone of Peace: ‘A key step to countering the globalization of militarism’ – UN Expert”, 3 February 2014 (last accessed 19 May 2022)

  • This UN press release discusses the strategic importance of CELAC endorsing the Proclamation.

Resumen Latinoamericano, “Todo Guantánamo es nuestro”, 17 August 2016 (last accessed 19 May 2022)

  • A documentary film (37 minutes), “All Guantanamo is ours”, by Colombian filmmaker Hernando Calvo Ospina. Includes historical footage, maps, and reflections from the residents of Guantanamo and Caimanera.