“Win-win” (“ganar-ganar”) has reached Cuba. Thanks to the vision of law professor Armando Castanedo Abay of the Universidad de La
Habana, mediation has a Cuban face, and given Prof. Castanedo’s energy and dedication, its Cuban presence should increase exponentially. In
his book Mediaciòn: Alternativa para la resoluciòn de conflictos, Castaneda offers Spanish-speaking readers theory, technique and practical
applications such that the professional and the curious will benefit. For those strictly interested in the growth of mediation worldwide,
awareness of current Cuban practices demonstrates once again the adaptability of mediation and reaffirms its import as a dispute resolution
While a North American book on ADR might begin with the benefits of mediation to the court system (in time and expense) or to the
litigants (in mutual gain), Prof. Castanedo widens the lens, asking readers to focus on its benefit to society. This is not an ideological
opportunity, but rather a straightforward, compelling discussion of the impact of conflict on a society, e.g., conflicts in the workplace disrupt
family and neighborhood relations, which in turn affect the health of the entire community. The book analyzes in some depth the nature of
conflict, its complexities arising from personal histories and individual needs, added to the external factors of co-existence with other human
beings and the demands imposed by rules and laws. At no point does Castanedo portray conflict as social deviancy or, for that matter,
mediation as a social panacea. He seeks instead to have readers reflect on conflict so as to understand how they themselves may better achieve
their own remedies, or, if necessary, seek a third-party neutral to help them accomplish the same goal.
For those wishing to utilize mediation in their professional work or become mediators themselves, the book also presents a step-by-step
plan for conducting a mediation, and techniques to overcome impasses and handle highly charged emotional situations. Castanedo concludes
with a section on language, providing comparative “positive” and “negative” language samples and explaining how each effects conflict
dynamics. His examples and explanations are particularly thoughtful, and provide a very satisfying ending to the book.
Prof. Castanedo began teaching mediation at the Universidad de La Habana law faculty in 1994 and has since established a mediation clinic
at the University. His mediators are not exclusively law students or practicing attorneys — in fact the majority have had mental health training.
The key for Castanedo, as his book demonstrates, is the ability of mediators, whatever their background, to understand the dynamics of
conflict, to restructure communication channels of disputing parties and to prompt an exchange information so that the parties themselves end
their dispute with satisfaction. Castanedo has observed and researched various mediation programs in the United States, and has conducted
mediation trainings in Mexico and Spain. In short, his experience is expansive, and his advice sound.
For those interested, this book may be ordered through The Center for Cuban Studies, (212) 242-0559.
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