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The intrepid actionistas set sail
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Monday, 6 March2006Full list of articlesDownload the front page(PDF format)HomeFREE weekly newsletter SubscribeFREE jobs and coursesAbout/ContactRetailersOur sister editionsAdvertiseArchiveShop
A failed coup d’état in Guantanamo Bay
Posted 13 January 2006
Danish artists’ groupParallel Actionattempted to culturallyhijack Guantanamo Baylast month with the aidof a ghettoblaster anda recording of Beethoven’s ThirdSymphony (The ArtNewspaper, September2005, p.37), but theirperformance piece didnot go quite accordingto plan.The leader of thegroup, ThomasAltheimer, 33, a formeractor, flew from his native Denmark to Jamaica on 18 November,from where he hoped to recruit a party of “parallel actionists” tooverthrow Guantanamo, the US-leased territory on the island of Cuba where roughly 510 prisoners of war are held without trial bythe US government, most of them since the war in Afghanistan in2001.The artists hoped a blast of Beethoven’s Eroica from a boatmoored offshore would send the American forces fleeing in terrorand that they and their crew could occupy the military base and “have a great party”. The inspiration for the musical protest wasthe episode when the US military forced Manuel Noriega from hisrefuge in the Vatican embassy in Panama by blasting him with popmusic.Unfortunately, Altheimer was not as successful. First, he could notraise sufficient funds to rent a decent sized boat in which to setsail. Instead, he set out from Jamaica in a 20-foot vessel with acrew of just five sailors: all hired Jamaicans. He then failed torecruit any volunteers, as his attempts to lure backpackers withthe promise of a free adventure proved fruitless; the modernbackpacker is a non-political beast he found.Altheimer and his motley crew set sail at midday from Jamaica,expecting to make Guantanamo in nine hours. He had, however,failed to check the weather forecast and the boat soon ran into thehigh seas and strong winds. One engine broke and the boatdrifted off-course. Their nine-hour passage turned to 28, and theywere forced to dock in mainland Cuba, 60 kilometres from target,tired, weak and seasick.