Ernesto Limia Díaz’s book Cuba entre tres imperios: perla, llave y antemural [Cuba amid Three Empires: Pearl, Key and Forefront], published by Verde Olivo Publishing House in 2014, was presented at the School of Philosophy, Sociology and History at the University of Havana on November 11, 2014. Here are excerpts from the book presentation by Fernando Martínez Heredia.
In this book Ernesto Limia very successfully confronts a current Cuban paradox: the science of History, which is the most advanced among social sciences in Cuba, achieving great advances in numerous aspects with monographic works of great quality. However, at the same time a very negative change is taking place in society. A people that highly appreciated its history and regarded it as a very important part of its national essence – a feature brought to very high levels since 1959 by great emotion and revolutionary conviction, a people provided with schooling in a colossal leap in educational levels over only 30 years – has reduced its knowledge and interest of its national history to a truly alarming degree.
[. . .] History is one of the fields in which Cuba is dividing itself dangerously into two separate sectors: elite and mass, which is something inherent to capitalist societies and not to the society we have been constructing. It is not for me to analyze here the circumstances in which this occurs, but I do wish to express my happiness with Cuba entre tres imperios because it is a practical demonstration that this is not a fatal destiny, and it is an example of how historical research of extraordinary quality may be presented in a very attractive book for all readers, without losing any of its scientific attributes.
When the process of universalizing the University began here 45 years ago under the direction of Rector Chomi Miyar, the emphasis with regard to textbooks for workers was that their writing should be commissioned precisely to those teachers with the greatest qualification and experience in each subject.
Erudition has dangerous aspects, but it should not be a synonym of boredom, of using a high number of figures and having few ideas, or of well-organized pedantry. The author has masterly succeeded in combining three elements: relevant, scarcely known information and sagacious reading of documents and bibliography; a system of valuations, inferences and calls of attention that never diminish throughout the work; and an extremely entertaining narration that invites the reader to take interest in the theme and to want to learn more.
[. . .] Lima presents his credentials clearly: that which presides over early history is colonialism, and the standpoint of his book is anticolonialist. I wish to emphasize this because from the scientific point of view they appear to me as two essential requirements to attempt an effective understanding of this historical process and for the inevitable relation that exists between intellectual work and its ideological positions and functions, whether or not the author is conscious of it. I also wish to highlight it because celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the first villages are being held during this decade.
[. . .] Cuba entre tres imperios… leads us on a journey that lasts almost three centuries. The theme is clear from the beginning. The island, turned by force into a European colony, was occupied and utilized taking into consideration only the benefits it represented for rulers and businessmen – the profit and power obtained from it. Colonies have no history as long as they are not capable of forging it.
The notion of a power order did not yet exist, and the European world of capitalism in expansion unceasingly combined war and the market. The Spanish metropolis reached its power summit during the 16th century – the first for the colony of Cuba, but at the same time it was fighting a war against its European rivals and the rigid boundaries created by its own performance. Spain’s gold, silver and infantry were leading figures in Europe, but France, England and the newly-born Netherlands challenged Madrid. The power of France became greater in the continent in the 17th century, but England was growing inexorably and it gradually imposed itself in the following century. Meanwhile, Spanish decadence was inevitably growing. [. . .]
For full review (in Spanish), see http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2014/11/27/cuba-entre-tres-imperios/#.VKHCZ14MAY
For English translation, see http://www.cubanow.net/articles/cuba-entre-tres-imperios%E2%80%A61