Can’t the U.S. and Cuba Just Get Along in the Name of Science?

A trio of scientists say collaborating on research is in both countries’ national interests.

Bottled science.
National Journal
Marina Koren
June 5, 2014, 10:36 a.m.

The deep freeze between the United States and Cuba is really put­ting a damper on sci­ence.

Strained polit­ic­al re­la­tions make it dif­fi­cult for sci­ent­ists from both na­tions to col­lab­or­ate on re­search — and the dis­con­nect could have dan­ger­ous pub­lic-health con­sequences, sci­ent­ists say.

Three sci­ent­ists are mak­ing a plea for a change in policy in an ed­it­or­i­al pub­lished Thursday in the journ­al Sci­ence, writ­ten by the heads of the Amer­ic­an As­so­ci­ation for the Ad­vance­ment of Sci­ence: Pres­id­ent Ger­ald Fink, CEO Alan Lesh­ner, and Chief In­ter­na­tion­al Of­ficer Vaughan Tureki­an.

Over a cen­tury ago, in­ter­ac­tions between a Cuban sci­ent­ist, Car­los Fin­lay, and a U.S. sci­ent­ist, Jesse Lazear, led to an un­der­stand­ing of the role of the mos­quito in trans­mit­ting yel­low fever and to the de­vel­op­ment of ef­fect­ive coun­ter­meas­ures. Today, new in­fec­tious dis­eases con­front both Cuba and the United States, but a long­stand­ing dip­lo­mat­ic breach between the two na­tions now makes such valu­able joint re­search more com­plic­ated, if not im­possible.

It is time for both gov­ern­ments to re­con­sider the rules that stand in the way of sci­entif­ic col­lab­or­a­tion, be­fore a po­ten­tially deadly out­break spreads through both coun­tries and bey­ond.

The sci­ent­ists call for ex­pand­ing the lan­guage re­gard­ing li­censes un­der the Treas­ury De­part­ment’s Cuban As­sets Con­trol Reg­u­la­tions. The le­gis­la­tion cur­rently al­lows ci­vil­ian U.S. sci­ent­ists to travel to Cuba to con­duct re­search, but the sci­ent­ists say it does not re­cog­nize joint U.S.-Cuba sci­entif­ic con­fer­ences and work­shops.

Sci­ent­ists from both coun­tries could put their heads to­geth­er to mon­it­or and re­search two highly in­fec­tious dis­eases: dengue, which has been re­por­ted in Cuba, and chikun­gun­ya, which is near­ing the coun­try’s shores via Haiti. Right now, no drugs or vac­cines ex­ist to com­bat them, in Cuba or the U.S. The AAAS sci­ent­ists say that Cuba’s prox­im­ity to the U.S. main­land — just 90 miles south — and the num­ber of Amer­ic­ans that reg­u­larly travel there cre­ate the risk for a stateside out­break.

U.S. and Cuban sci­ent­ists have re­cently tried to bridge the polit­ic­al di­vide. In April, mem­bers from the AAAS and the Cuban Academy of Sci­ences met in Havana, where they signed an agree­ment to co­oper­ate in re­search on in­fec­tious and neur­o­lo­gic­al dis­eases, can­cer, and an­ti­bi­ot­ic-res­ist­ant bac­teria. In May, Sen. Shel­don White­house, D”“R.I., an ad­voc­ate of ocean sci­ence re­search, hos­ted a meet­ing between U.S. and Cuban mar­ine sci­ent­ists. The goal of the gath­er­ing was to make it easi­er for U.S. sci­ent­ists to get gov­ern­ment li­censes to work in Cuba, and for sci­entif­ic equip­ment to be shipped between the two coun­tries.

“Get­ting sci­entif­ic equip­ment to Cuba is very chal­len­ging be­cause of the em­bargo, but also be­cause Cuba is on the [U.S.] list of ter­ror­ist na­tions,” mar­ine sci­ent­ist Dav­id Gug­gen­heim said back then.

What We're Following See More »
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
2 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
2 days ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×