Recent events have led critics to speculate about whether “everything changed” in the wake of 9/11. Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben, this essay examines current rhetoric and practices in both the United States and Cuba. The U.S.-Cuban relationship, especially as manifested in popular depictions of the contested terrain of Guantánamo Bay, provides a curious case study of how state power is exercised at the margins, in nonspaces that lie beyond the national imaginary. These depictions point to a larger history of disenfranchisement, displacement, and suppression. In the end, I argue that the case of Guantánamo constitutes an example of the underlying interdependence between the state and the suspension of the rule of law. It points to how the rhetoric of safety has been deployed by the current administration in the United States to justify an expansion and intensification of established practices that are fundamentally undemocratic.

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