Cuba ban scientists | Miles O'Brien Productions

Cuba travel restrictions hit scientists hard

In June, President Trump stood in the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami, Florida and tore into the Cuban regime.

“For nearly six decades, the Cuban people have suffered under communist domination,” said President Trump to the cheers of the crowd. “To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere, and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores.”

After castigating the Castro regime, President Trump announced his intention to, once again, sever diplomatic ties with the island nation.

“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” President Trump said.

The door for American scientists to collaborate with their Cuban counterparts, opened by President Obama, was rapidly closing.

Accelerating this closure was a mysterious bout of neurological illness that spread through the American consulate in Havana. The incident was branded a deliberate attack, diplomats were evacuated, and the consulate was closed in October.

This development “means that Cubans must travel to a third country to apply for a U.S. visa, all but shutting down visits by Cuban scientists to the United States,” writes Richard Stone in the journal Science.

Stone recounts the chilling effect many U.S. scientists have felt, and have decided to stay home. For example, all but one American scientist invited to an upcoming tropical medicine conference in Havana cancelled, citing either fear over the consulate attacks or their government superiors forbidding travel to Cuba.

Losing access to American collaborators–and their accompanying funds–is a big blow for cash-strapped Cuban scientists. Thankfully, the European Union has stepped in, allowing Cuban researchers to co-apply for grants with European colleagues.

WATCH: Miles meets Cuban scientists and conservationists working in a tumultuous political time.

Banner image credit: Pixabay.

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