Revolutionary Queimada and Pre-1959 Cuba
Peacock feathers


Gillo Pontecorvo
agent provocateur
pre-1959 Cuba


Released in 1969, the Italian-French film Queimada! directed by Gillo Pontecorvo narrates a fictitious Caribbean nation’s quest for self-determination amidst competing imperial interests. Queimada! provides many interesting analytical frameworks for the critic-historian in its portrayal of consistent exploitation of brown bodies in the Caribbean; challenges shared by Caribbean nations as they strove for liberation from European and U.S. imperial agendas; and to evade the defining and evaluating of the West. This paper, however, examines a less discussed historical category in academia––the agent provocateur––that is thoroughly explored in the film through the protagonist William Walker. Specifically, this paper compares Queimada!’s cinematic depiction of Walker, as he fueled revolutionary movements on the island by arming revolutionaries and inciting violence, with the diplomatic policies of the United States for Cuba in the pre-1959 antebellum period.
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