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> State Department denies visa to a Cuban scientist, "Detrimental to the interests of the US"
English Horn
post Nov 12 2005, 01:42 PM
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A Cuban scientist who led the team which developed a breakthrough vaccine that prevents pneumonia and meningitis in small children was awarded a prize by Museum of Innovation in CA.
However, according to MSNBC:

QUOTE
Vicente Verez-Bencomo was to accept the award recognizing his team's technological achievement during a Wednesday ceremony at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif. He had also been invited to address a gathering of the Society for Glycobiology in Boston on Friday. 
 
Verez-Bencomo said the State Department denied him a visa because the visit would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States."

Verez-Bencomo led a team that developed a vaccine for Haemophilus influenza type B, also known as Hib, a bacteria that causes meningitis and pneumonia. The diseases kill up to 700,000 children worldwide each year.
<snip>
Before the development of a similar vaccine more than a decade ago, Hib was the biggest cause of meningitis among infants in the United States. That earlier vaccine has all but stamped out the disease in the western world, but mass immunizations are too expensive for many poor countries.

The synthetic vaccine created by Verez-Bencomo's team can be produced at a relatively low cost because antigens don't have to be grown in a bacterial culture, making it an attractive alternative for poorer nations.

So far more than 1 million doses have been administered to Cubans. Science Magazine last month said the vaccine "may someday save millions of lives."


That decision left me dumbfound. However, doing a bit of search on the internet, I found that this is generally the policy:

US Denied Visa to Cuban Singer-songwriter Carlos Varela
US blocks Cuban Grammy nominees

What are they thinking? After all, it's not unheard of that people from communist regimes win prestigious awards and then travel to the West to receive it. What is State Dept's logic? The only thing I can think of is that it is somehow "detrimental for the interests of the United States" when american people know that a communist regime can produce outstanding musicians, cutting-edge technology, and world-class scientists.

Questions for debate:


Do you approve or disapprove of actions of the State Department?
How an award ceremony for a medical research scientist (or Grammy Award ceremony) can be detrimental to the interests of the United States? What logic could have been used by the State Department in reaching those decisions?

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NiteGuy
post Dec 3 2005, 02:38 AM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 2 2005, 02:15 PM)
Well let’s face it – the Cuban government exists because its citizens allow it to do so.  And if any members of this unjust society benefits by this it is the “scientific elite” of which this man is a part.  No doubt he gets enough to eat while others starve and lives in nice housing while others live in squalor.  So I say again – Keep him out!
*



Gee, Ted, if that's really the standard we want to uphold, three-quarters of the world would be off limits to us, and us to them.

Think about it. How much easier it would be if we just stopped trading and dealing with Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, hell, the whole Middle East. China, Uzbekistan, and whoever else has a totalitarian form of Government. I mean, their governments exist only because their citizens allow and condone it, right? And their "elite" probably eat well, too, at the expense of those common folk who just allow it all to happen.

So you're right. Absolutely. Keep him out. But, how about a little consistancy, then? Let's keep them all out. Refuse to do business of any kind, with any of these countries until they clean up their acts. Fair enough?
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Ted
post Dec 5 2005, 02:11 PM
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QUOTE(English Horn @ Dec 2 2005, 05:53 PM)
QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 2 2005, 03:15 PM)
Well let’s face it – the Cuban government exists because its citizens allow it to do so.  And if any members of this unjust society benefits by this it is the “scientific elite” of which this man is a part.  No doubt he gets enough to eat while others starve and lives in nice housing while others live in squalor. 

So I say again – Keep him out!
*



Let's keep some perspective here - if a member of a "scientific elite" saves thousands of children worldwide by his work, doesn't he deserve some recognition?
After all, Oscar Schindler was treated as hero in Israel despite being a member of a Nazi Party. Sometimes we need to look past people's associations...
By the way, there's nothing wrong with members of "scientific elite" of any country to live better than the rest of citizenry - that applies to all countries, democratic or not.
*



It matters little if he saves thousands as long as the government he supports and serves starves, kills and deprives millions of freedom. And don’t kid yourself, this man IS part of the Communist elite that run that little hell to our south.

And even though we cannot say that this particular scientist did what some of the Nazi scientists did he is still part of the machine that is one of the most unjust governments in the world.

KEEP this man out of our free country!

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English Horn
post Dec 5 2005, 02:29 PM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 5 2005, 09:11 AM)
It matters little if he saves thousands as long as the government he supports and serves starves, kills and deprives millions of freedom.  And don’t kid yourself, this man IS part of the Communist elite that run that little hell to our south.


Any proof of your claim that this man is a part of a communist elite? You can not just pull these things out of the blue sky. The article I quoted says nothing about him being part of the communist elite. If you have any other information, please share.
Or is it your contention that a man can not succeed in a Communist society without being part of a communist elite? Wait, wait... if a person doesn't try to escape from Cuba on a raft, he must be part of a communist elite, too! If this is what you think, you've got some serious de-brainwashing to do, my friend.
By the way, my own dad was a published scientist when he lived in Soviet Union. He must have been a part of the communist elite, too... wacko.gif without even being a communist! smile.gif

This post has been edited by English Horn: Dec 5 2005, 02:35 PM
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Ted
post Dec 5 2005, 08:08 PM
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QUOTE(English Horn @ Dec 5 2005, 10:29 AM)
QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 5 2005, 09:11 AM)
It matters little if he saves thousands as long as the government he supports and serves starves, kills and deprives millions of freedom.  And don’t kid yourself, this man IS part of the Communist elite that run that little hell to our south.


Any proof of your claim that this man is a part of a communist elite? You can not just pull these things out of the blue sky. The article I quoted says nothing about him being part of the communist elite. If you have any other information, please share.
Or is it your contention that a man can not succeed in a Communist society without being part of a communist elite? Wait, wait... if a person doesn't try to escape from Cuba on a raft, he must be part of a communist elite, too! If this is what you think, you've got some serious de-brainwashing to do, my friend.
By the way, my own dad was a published scientist when he lived in Soviet Union. He must have been a part of the communist elite, too... wacko.gif without even being a communist! smile.gif
*


From what I have read Cuba is the same as the old SU. If you were a scientist you supported the Party. If you did you got to keep the nice job, the perks, the prestige, the trips etc. If you did not there are plenty of manual labor jobs you could do or you could defect. Just the fact that this man would be allowed to come to the US should tell you a great deal.

If he were not a loyal Commie he would surely be at risk of defection. Can you show me one statement by this prominent Cuban against the repressive government? These folks truly live well and their countrymen don’t.
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English Horn
post Dec 5 2005, 08:39 PM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 5 2005, 03:08 PM)
From what I have read Cuba is the same as the old SU.  If you were a scientist you supported the Party.  If you did you got to keep the nice job, the perks, the prestige, the trips etc.  If you did not there are plenty of manual labor jobs you could do or you could defect.  Just the fact that this man would be allowed to come to the US should tell you a great deal.


Well, what you have read is incorrect. While working on a scientific project may benefit the regime indirectly (prestige, etc.), scientists were not required to be awowed communists and to confirm their "alligeance" to the party. As long as you were not doing anything against the regime you're fine - and since most great scientists are not interested in anything beside their chosen field (that what makes them great), one can safely say that the science in Soviet Union and a Cuba is pretty much apolitical.

QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 5 2005, 03:08 PM)
If he were not a loyal Commie he would surely be at risk of defection.



I am sorry but this is simply insulting to Cubans. Are you saying that a person can not be a patriot without being a communist? That if person would want to return to his native land, a land where he grew up and lived all his life, makes him a supporter of the regime? If there will be a coup in the United States and a tyrannical dictator will come to power, are you, Ted, going to be the first in line to Logan airport to defect to Canada?
Some people don't defect; people chose to stay in their countries regardless of political regime - just because it is their land.

QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 5 2005, 03:08 PM)
These folks truly live well and their countrymen don’t.



You have no proof of that. You assume that if he doesn't want to defect he lives well, and the assumption is wrong.
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Ted
post Dec 5 2005, 09:42 PM
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[quote=English Horn,Dec 5 2005, 04:39 PM][quote=Ted,Dec 5 2005, 03:08 PM]If he were not a loyal Commie he would surely be at risk of defection.

[/quote]

I am sorry but this is simply insulting to Cubans. Are you saying that a person can not be a patriot without being a communist? That if person would want to return to his native land, a land where he grew up and lived all his life, makes him a supporter of the regime? If there will be a coup in the United States and a tyrannical dictator will come to power, are you, Ted, going to be the first in line to Logan airport to defect to Canada?
Some people don't defect; people chose to stay in their countries regardless of political regime - just because it is their land.

[quote=Ted,Dec 5 2005, 03:08 PM]These folks truly live well and their countrymen don’t.

[/quote]


Well I do not agree and it seems to stand to reason that if you are, as you say, a “patriot” you are either for the regime or against it and if you are against it you do more than enjoy the benefits while your countrymen starve and are murdered. I would not do it.

The list of defectors is long and many were doctors. See http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/cuba-defectors.htm

Read the stories.

Peña stepped off the plane dressed in a black jacket and red bell-bottom pants.
``As a product of the new generations coming out of Cuba, and as a doctor or
professional, I felt like a slave of the Cuban state. I have defected, seeking
freedom, just as the majority of the young professionals in Cuba would like to
enjoy in a free and democratic Cuba.'' http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/cuba/d...ing-doctors.htm

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/cuba/doctors.htm



This post has been edited by Ted: Dec 5 2005, 09:43 PM
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moif
post Dec 14 2005, 11:08 AM
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I saw this today and thought it made an interesting juxtaposition with the debate here. Its not directly related but it does show the other side of the issue.

QUOTE
A group of Cuban women say they have been barred by their government from travelling to Europe to collect a prestigious human rights award.
The group, known as the Ladies in White, are joint winners of this year's Sakharov prize for freedom of thought.

For the last two years the women, who are relatives of jailed dissidents, have staged a weekly protest march.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4527018.stm



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Ted
post Dec 14 2005, 01:28 PM
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QUOTE(moif @ Dec 14 2005, 07:08 AM)
I saw this today and thought it made an interesting juxtaposition with the debate here. Its not directly related but it does show the other side of the issue.

QUOTE
A group of Cuban women say they have been barred by their government from travelling to Europe to collect a prestigious human rights award.
The group, known as the Ladies in White, are joint winners of this year's Sakharov prize for freedom of thought.

For the last two years the women, who are relatives of jailed dissidents, have staged a weekly protest march.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4527018.stm
*



Moif

Thanks, this article goes directly to my point. The “good loyal Communist” scientists that can be trusted not to defect etc. are allowed to travel whereas these woman are not. I am not surprised.
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English Horn
post Dec 14 2005, 02:59 PM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 14 2005, 08:28 AM)

Moif

Thanks, this article goes directly to my point.  The “good loyal Communist”  scientists that can be trusted not to defect etc. are allowed to travel whereas these woman are not.    I am not surprised.
*



Wagner, an influential and groundbreaking German composer, who completely transformed a musical thought of the 20th century, was an antisemite and generally, a nutcase. Who cares? In my mind, we ought to judge people based on what they do, not on who they are. The work of this guy, even if he is a communist, saves the lives of tens of thousands. Would achievements of Louis Pasteur be any less important if he was a socialist or a communist? Once again, who cares??!!!

QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 14 2005, 08:28 AM)

Well I do not agree and it seems to stand to reason that if you are, as you say, a “patriot” you are either for the regime or against it and if you are against it you do more than enjoy the benefits while your countrymen starve and are murdered. I would not do it. 

What would you do? Sit in front of tanks, like Chinese dissidents in Tianianmen Square? Leave the country? Easier said than done. It's easy to promise heroic actions sitting in cushy chair; in reality, only few actually have the guts to do it (I am not saying that you, Ted, is not part of these few) smile.gif .

This post has been edited by English Horn: Dec 14 2005, 03:00 PM
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Ted
post Dec 14 2005, 03:24 PM
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QUOTE(English Horn @ Dec 14 2005, 10:59 AM)
QUOTE(Ted @ Dec 14 2005, 08:28 AM)

Moif

Thanks, this article goes directly to my point.  The “good loyal Communist”  scientists that can be trusted not to defect etc. are allowed to travel whereas these woman are not.    I am not surprised.
*



Wagner, an influential and groundbreaking German composer, who completely transformed a musical thought of the 20th century, was an antisemite and generally, a nutcase. Who cares? In my mind, we ought to judge people based on what they do, not on who they are. The work of this guy, even if he is a communist, saves the lives of tens of thousands. Would achievements of Louis Pasteur be any less important if he was a socialist or a communist? Once again, who cares??!!!



I somewhat agree with you and I have no problem with him getting an award. My problem is in having him get it in the US. Would Wagner, as you describe him, be invited to the US to get an award esp. if he was part of the Nazi regime?

There is no doubt that this man is NOT a protestor, even in a mild way, with the repressive Communist dictatorship in Cuba. As pointed out above those people don’t get to leave the country to get their awards – so why should we let this person into the US? I guess I might be more in the “who cares” camp if that were true but it clearly is not. I do not expect the man “to sit in front of a tank” but as a health care scientist in a country that is far from egalitarian I would expect him to be more concerned with the people and the policies of the government – and if he were we would not be having this debate would we……

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Devils Advocate
post Dec 14 2005, 03:29 PM
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QUOTE(Ted)
Well I do not agree and it seems to stand to reason that if you are, as you say, a “patriot” you are either for the regime or against it and if you are against it you do more than enjoy the benefits while your countrymen starve and are murdered. I would not do it. 


I'm not so sure about this. If I were against a regime, but I was able to do well under it (in this case getting certain benefits) I would probably try to remain under the radar until I was able to get out. It's not about heroic actions, that's 99.9% hollywood (no I can't back that number up), usually it's about survival of yourself or your loved ones and friends. Should he try for social change and fight that which he disagrees with? Yes, but it must be done carefully if it puts one in a situation for being arrested. Perhaps more change could be accomplished elsewhere?
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