In DepthScience Diplomacy

Political chill reverses thaw in U.S.-Cuban science

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Science  01 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1115
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6367.1115

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  • RE: Universities Should Not Abandon Cuba
    • Larry McKinney, Executive Director Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University Corpus-Christi

    Larry McKinney, Executive Director Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies Texas A&M University Corpus-Christi
    I traveled to Cuba on November 14, 2017 only a few days after the US State Department released new restriction for travel to Cuba. My purpose was to sign a cooperative research agreement with the University of Havana. My last trip there was in July to host a joint workshop with the Center for Marine Research (CIM). I could tell no difference, either coming or going between the two travels. I did not expect any.
    What was different was university response in the USA. My university system’s risk assessment office put a hold on my travel and required my president to review and sign-off a second time, specifically because it was Cuba. I received all sorts of dire warnings and safety instruction. It was an abundance of caution, appreciated, but annoying and nothing I had to deal with in the previous three Cuba trips of 2017. Any number of colleagues from other universities questioned the safety of going there, understandable because of recent events. I was more disturbed when I heard from a Cuban colleague that a major New England university that had supported student exchanges in Cuba for more than twenty years had just canceled the program. I hope this is not a general trend with US universities.
    The general retreat from improving relations with Cuba is disappointing but fortunately, it has not targeted cooperative science efforts and...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.