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 »
MARCIA FUDGE TO PRESIDE
Wasserman Schultz Stripped of Convention Duties
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz "will not have a major speaking role or preside over daily convention proceedings this week," and is under increasing pressure to resign. The DNC Rules Committee on Saturday named Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge as "permanent chair of the convention." At issue: internal DNC emails leaked by Wikileaks that show how "the DNC favored Clinton during the primary and tried to take down Bernie Sanders by questioning his religion."

Source:
EARLY BUMP FOR TRUMP?
New Round of Polls Show a Tight Race
2 days ago
THE LATEST
  • A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, 43%-42%, the fourth week in a row he's led the poll (one of the few poll in which he's led consistently of late).
  • A Reuters/Ipsos survey shows Clinton leading 40%-36%. In a four-way race, she maintains her four-point lead, 39%-35%, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 7% and 3%, respectively.
  • And the LA Times/USC daily tracking poll shows a dead heat, with Trump ahead by about half a percentage point.
BELLWETHER?
Candidates Deadlocked in Ohio
3 days ago
THE LATEST
17-POINT EDGE AMONG MILLENNIALS
Clinton Dominates Among Younger Voters
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

In an election between two candidates around 70 years of age, millennials strongly prefer one over the other. Hillary Clinton has a 47%-30% edge among votes 18 to 29. She also leads 46%-36% among voters aged 30 to 44.

Source:
NEW POLL SHOWS TROUBLE FOR TRUMP
Clinton Leads Trump Among Latinos by Nearly 70 Points
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

According to an online tracking poll released by New Latino Voice, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump among Latino voters, attracting support from 81 percent of Latino voters, to just 12 percent support for Trump. The results of this poll are consistent with those from a series of other surveys conducted by various organizations. With Pew Research predicting the 2016 electorate will be 12 percent Hispanic, which would be the highest ever, Trump could be in serious trouble if he can't close the gap.

Source:
×