HAVANA—To celebrate its 80th anniversary, the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK) here is throwing a birthday bash: a conference next week that several U.S. collaborators were planning to attend. All but one has backed out, says IPK virologist María Guadalupe Guzmán. Some, she says, were unsettled by recent claims that U.S. diplomats in Cuba suffered what the Department of State has described as “health attacks.” And two researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told IPK they had to pull out because agency officials forbade them from traveling to Cuba.
Three years after the United States and Cuba announced the restoration of diplomatic relations, the atmosphere for cooperation has grown sharply chillier. In June, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would roll back the rapprochement, and his administration followed through last month with rules that limit travel to Cuba from the United States, and where Americans can spend money on the island. The new regulations don’t explicitly target science and have exemptions for academics. (The CDC referred Science to the State Department; a spokesperson explained that “short-term travel by U.S. government officials to Cuba is currently limited to those involved with the ongoing investigation” into the alleged attacks.) And the closure of the U.S. consulate here in October 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.
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