2007. Alonso Gil + Francis Gomila. GUANTANAMERA (published text)

“With torture music, our culture is no longer a means of individual expression, instead, it is an actual weapon”
Moustafa Bayoumi. Professor at Brooklyn College, New York


Guantanamera is a multimedia project that reflects on the use of music as a torture instrument. The piece will be located inside one of the air vents of Madrid’s Subway that leads onto the street and will be audio-visually experienced from outside, i.e., from the street.

Our proposals consists of installing a high-amplification sound system inside one of the metro’s air vents that leads onto the street, blasting all the existing versions of the song la guantanamera, including those of Celia Cruz, Los lobos, Compay Segundo, Tito Puente, Nana MousKouri, The Maveriks, and The Fugees, among many others, as well as versions specifically performed by artists and musicians for this project.

La guantanamera, is the most internationally recognised song of the Cuban song book. This catchy song, which has travelled the world over representing Cubans as an anthem, was adapted by Julián Orbón based on the poem of José Marti. The melody exists since the 19th century and Joseito Fernández employed in his  noticiario cantado (sang news) radio broadcasts during the forties.

Guantánamo is a word of Taino origin, the aborigines of that area of Cuba, meaning “the river of earth”. It is precisely in this geographical area where the USA naval base is located.

Currently, in the war against terror, the United States’ military forces have used pop, rap and heavy metal music as a means of torture against detainees in military prisons. It has specifically been used in sleep deprivation techniques, as a base for systematic disorientation which, in the majority of cases, leads to madness.