In reaction to US President-elect Barack Obama’s Sunday’s declaration on CBS ’60 minutes’ on 16.11.2008 (his first sit-down interview since winning the November 4 presidential election) where he has confirmed his intention to close Guantanamo’s Detention Center, zerOgroup made this proposal, called ‘I LOVE GITMO’ to upgrade the American enclave in Cuba into a mass tourism destination.
The ‘I LOVE GITMO’ proposal is one of the works that have been elaborated at the ‘Con Embargo Sin Embargo’ workshop organized by Supersudaca, supported by the Prins Claus Fund, and held at the IaaC Barcelona (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalunya) in September 2008.
The workshop has explored with architects, urbanists and landscape architects the potential shift in tourism and developed territorial speculations in Cuba in a post embargo context. ‘Con Embargo Sin Embargo’ has promoted the production of creative scenarios for a highly specific territory with a strong socio-political identity that would change drastically after the lifting of the economic restraints of the embargo. The topic has been explored in multiple locations and scales promoting studies and proposals that varied from prototypical to the particular, from the abstract to the concrete.
THE I LOVE GITMO PROJECT:
Cuba is a major destination for sex tourism. Cuba is located in the middle of American springbreakers ultimate spots. Cuba is the attractive ‘illegal’ destination for American tourists that love to try to sneak in. Cuba is ‘the’ place of fake cigars, fake rum and other black markets. Cuba is nowadays surrounded by countries rivalizing in casinos, and used to be the major destination for gambling and alcohol in the 50′s when those were illegal in the States.
It would be pure non-sense to try to deny and erase this image linked with vices and prohibition. But the current Cuban political situation doesn’t allow anymore the flourishment of features that are illegal in the US.
Not only the US Army Institutions, but also President Barack Obama, are seriously considering shutting down Guantanamo’s Detention Center. And for the first time since its creation in 2002, the US Army is officially speaking of reconversion of the site.
Guantanamo is the perfect location for a combination of political systems in one place where all vices could simultaneously coexist!
On the country scale, the dual destination Guantanamo-Santiago could counterbalance the other dual destination of the island, Habana-Varadero, which attracts most of the tourism market.
In terms of landscape and nature, Guantanamo is a very scenic place.
But probably one of the major advantages of the place is that the existing Guantanamo already gathers the conditions to receive mass tourism: 3 international airports, naval infrastructure for cruise ships, efficient road system, a golf course and various fast-foods. Guantanamo also has a strong potential for on-land and off-shore territorial development, plus an inherent potential for specific tourism development: bunkers, 6-inch battery, training camps, X-Ray rooms, museums, etc. Another advantageous feature of the naval base is that it has been self-sufficient in terms of energy since 1964, when Castro cut off power and water to the base.
But the main interest is the possibility of combining political systems in one place, which would lead to cultural cohabitations never-seen before.
Nevertheless, the negative image of the place has to be washed away. Therefore, a branding strategy should promote ‘GITMO’ (nickname used by US soldiers). The branding of GITMO is easy in the sense that it gathers all what a certain type of American tourists are looking for: excess, vices, ‘illegality’, etc combined with the more ‘typical’ Cuban tourist features: rum, cigars, prostitution. And the place has an additional strong selling feature: its military history!
zerOgroup is a multidisciplinary structure working in the fields of architecture, culture and urban design. zerOgroup is based in Manaus/Brussels (Brazil/Belgium) and has been founded by the architect Laurent Troost.