I wish to express my thanks to Temas for inviting me to take part in this activity. I say this especially on account of what Temas has represented and meant for Cuban academic and intellectual life for many years. I am honored to be here.
The title of this book, Play Ball, is both suggestive, and perfectly understandable for Cubans and North Americans alike. Everyone knows what Play Ball means. I believe it is a very well-chosen title which hints at the interplay of conflict, contradiction and competition between two actors. It is impossible to think of a game of baseball that does not involve some degree of confrontation. Yet there is a priori an agreement between the players to take part in, and respect the rules of, the game so it is workable. I don’t know if this was the authors’ actual intention but it is what this suggestive title triggers for me.
This book also has several unique features. It is impossible, in the time that we have, to analyze each of the articles, as they should be. I am not too keen on "telling the tale" because in reality a book can be read many different ways, in as many ways as there are readers. Therefore, it is good to let people develop their own imagination, their own understanding.
I think the first thing to highlight is that this book is in digital format, and while e-books are not wholly absent from the Cuban scenario, their diffusion is still very limited compared to other countries. Many of us, as Rafael mentioned, do not even have what is required in order to be able to read them, and perhaps we are even getting a bit old to be able to adapt to and take advantage of the technology, although the format is a very interesting element for young people.
The other important aspect of this book is that it brings together a number of specialists in the areas it covers. We are talking about six Cubans and six foreigners, mostly North Americans, but also Europeans and Canadians. The issues addressed are very relevant to the point that they transcend the context in which the book is published. Many of these contributions can be read as stand-alone studies that explain current realities because ultimately this book analyzes a dynamic that has not, in essence, changed. What I am referring to here is the objective background to the real situation, in other words, the ways of analyzing the objective forces that guide Cuba-US relations in one direction or another. This is dealt with in the book and is as up-to-date as is possible.
This is a book that satisfies a wide range of interests, encompassing political, security, and economic problems, including academic and cultural exchanges, as well as the triangle of relations between Europe and Cuba-US, and emigration issues.
As already mentioned, Play Ball ... is a continuation of an analysis in which the authors go back as far as the eighties, and take us through different periods of time. The 2017 edition includes the same authors as the 2010 edition, providing them with the opportunity to review their own conclusions regarding these issues, which also gives continuity to this analysis, a very important feature, in my opinion. This 2017 edition places us at the time of the shift in Cuba-US relations after December 17, 2014 and explores many of the causes behind these changes, while also including an analysis of some future expectations, at least those the authors had at the time.
The book, in short, could not foresee that Donald Trump would win the elections. I believe very few people in the world were expecting that outcome, and even fewer predicted such a hectic and radical regression in Cuba-US relations as we have seen. In other words, Donald Trump “pooped the party”, both for the authors and their expectations of where we should be heading, and for us when reviewing this book. There are many issues that could explain this situation but obviously this is not the time for that discussion.
What the book does show us is that there is a pattern in Cuba-US relations, which has no alternative but to seek some kind of coexistence between the two countries. This is something that did not come about by the will of one president, however lucid and intelligent he may be. That change has been gestating over sixty years of political conflict that, as even Obama himself said, has not served anybody, not even the United States. Therefore, to close and in recommending this book, I think one of the conclusions we can reach is that Donald Trump is a glitch in a trend and at least we can be optimistic as we move toward the future, not the optimism claimed by Donald Trump in his State of the Union Address which is not grounded in reality, but a real one, that sooner or later the current policy will get back on track and move in the direction that reality demands.
Many thanks, compañeros.