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US-Cuban Scientific Collaborations Jeopardized By Travel Restrictions

WASHINGTON, DC -- Strained US-Cuban relations and inconsistently-applied travel restrictions are hampering scientific exchanges between the US and Cuba, according to a new report released today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The report, The Effect of Travel Restrictions on Scientific Collaboration Between the United States and Cuban Scientists, calls for the US to ease restrictions on scientists traveling to Cuba and to use consistent criteria when granting or denying visas. The report will be presented at an April 3rd AAAS meeting with US and Cuban government officials, experts on US-Cuba relations, and scientists who will discuss the impact of the restrictions and develop strategies to address the problem.

To address the US policies, the report recommends that licensing requirements be lifted for US scientists traveling to Cuba. Until that occurs, the report calls for a qualified body of scientists to review the legitimacy of requests and an appeals process be created for denials. Denials, the report urges, should be based on clear, consistent, and stated policies. For Cuba, the report recommends that all scientists be allowed to travel, and that decision-making authority be removed from "political party mechanisms where they are likely to be subjected to non-academic criteria."

"Science today knows no borders," said Audrey Chapman, director of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, which published the report. "Scientific progress is being undermined by regulations that are arbitrarily applied that deny researchers the opportunity to share knowledge and resources. The right of scientists to travel is one of the most important ways of furthering that exchange. We need to find solutions to this problem and remove scientific research from the grip of political hostilities."

The report is based on the results of a 1997 AAAS mission to Cu
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Contact: Dave Amber
damber@aaas.org
202-326-6434
American Association for the Advancement of Science
30-Mar-1998


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