Cuban scientist cannot travel to the
USA to receive award
BY ORFILIO PELAEZ--Granma daily staff writer
THE San José, California Technical Museum has awarded one of its annual prizes in the health category to the team of specialists who worked on obtaining the Cuban vaccine against Haemophilus infuenzae Type B, the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and other infections in under-fives.
The award ceremony is scheduled for November 9 at the museum itself, but Dr. Vicente Vérez Bencomo, the principal author of this important achievement, cannot attend it because the U.S. government has refused him a visa, arguing that his presence would be prejudicial to that country’s interests.
When Granma asked him about that absurd decision, the likewise director of the University of Havana Synthetic Antigens Center said that it could be an attempt to minimize the impact of the vaccine in the context of U.S. public opinion. Its candidacy for the award dates back to an article in the prestigious magazine Science in July 2004, and an editorial that subsequently appeared in the same publication under the title “The synthetic vaccine is a sweet victory for Cuban science.”
Every year the San José Technical Museum awards prizes for 25 research works of notable benefit to humanity, grouped into five categories. For 2005 there were 580 nominations from 80 countries. Nine nations are to receive prizes.
In addition to Dr. Vérez, the team who developed the vaccine comprises Dr. Violeta Fernández, of the same University Center; Eugenio Hardy, of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center; María Eugenia Toledo, of the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine; and Dr. René Roy, of the University of Montreal, with the support of a wide range of institutions.
The refusal of a visa to travel to the United States also prevents Vicente Pérez from attending a symposium organized by the International Glycobiology Society, scheduled for November in Boston, and from living a master lecture at the University of Harvard.
"...the U.S. government has refused him a visa, arguing that his presence would be prejudicial to that country'’s interests."
Huh? Does this make sense to anyone? No Cuban artist, performer or scientist has been allowed into the US for some time now. Typical BushCo B.S.
The irony is that if Dr. Vérez paddled to the US from Cuba illegally, he would be welcomed with open arms. The real problem is that the Cuban medical community has done major work recently with vaccines and research. This would be beneficial to the US and the world. The only problem is that the Cubans like to give stuff away...for free! Giant pharmaceutical firms get squeamish over things like that.