Cuban academics denied visas for Puerto Rico conference | india | Hindustan Times
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Cuban academics denied visas for Puerto Rico conference

Cuban academics hoping to attend a gathering of Latin American experts in Puerto Rico, were denied visas by the American Government.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 11:16 IST

Cuban academics hoping to attend a gathering of Latin America experts in Puerto Rico were denied visas by the American Government, marking the latest in the current U.S. administration's trend of shutting out Cubans.

Some 55 philosophers, economists, and historians were told last week they'd be unable to travel to this month's Latin American Studies Association congress in San Juan.

Requests for four others were still pending, academics associated with the congress said.

"These people represent strong scholars who think critically, and who are often experts in their area where there are no others," Sheryl Lutjens, an American political science professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona said.

Academic exchange between Cuba and the United States has diminished over the last two years since the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush started tightening long-standing trade and travel regulations against the island's communist government.

The "Cubans not welcome" message has reached new and broader extremes in recent months, with the U.S. government provoking outrage after denying Cuba participation in this month's World Baseball Classic - a decision that was later reversed, and pressuring a major U.S.-owned hotel in Mexico City to kick out 16 Cuban officials attending a meeting with U.S. oil executives in February.

Fewer American scholars are also traveling to Cuba, wary of complicated U.S. rules that can lead to hefty fines and punishment if broken.

"They have been dissuaded by the new regulations," Lutjens said of other professors and researchers. "People are I think confused and perhaps even frightened by the thought that they might be doing something that's not permitted."