Public Release: 

Citing 'human obligation,' AAAS CEO urges U.S.-Cuban collaboration

AAAS Testimony

American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American scientific community has a "human obligation" to "explore ways that science can improve the lives of people everywhere"--including Cuba, Alan I. Leshner, head of the world's largest general scientific organization told U.S. policymakers today.

"The entire world is facing increasingly complex and often devastating problems of poverty, environmental degradation and human disease," Leshner added, in testimony regarding the proposed Bridges to the Cuban People Act of 2001, designed to increase humanitarian aid to Cuba, mostly through the transfer of food and medicines. "Science and technology have a long and fruitful track record in helping to solve many of the most complex problems of humanity."

Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publisher of the weekly journal, Science, noted that the "universal language of science" often helps bridge the political chasms that divide nations. International scientific cooperation may support broader diplomatic discussions in many cases-as during the "cold war" with the Soviet Union, and during difficult times in our relations with Chile, he said.

U.S. and Cuban collaboration, in particular, has resulted in the discovery of new species, an increased awareness about the importance of Caribbean biodiversity, and joint publication and dissemination of other ecological and biological information, according to Leshner.

In summary, Leshner said, "There is no credible reason to limit international collaboration in non-classified research." His statement expanded upon a previous AAAS Board of Directors resolution, emphasizing the need for unfettered information exchange--especially freedom of movement across countries, and the right to travel.

Leshner and others were called to testify before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Narcotics Affairs. The hearing was planned for 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time Wednesday, June 19, 2002, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 419.

The Bridges to the Cuban People Act of 2001 (S. 1017)--sponsored by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), and introduced by Dodd, with Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-RI), Congressman James A. Leach (R-IA), Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY), and others--would make it possible for U.S. farmers and businesses to sell food, medicine, and agricultural equipment to Cuba without annual licenses. Specifically, the purpose of the Act is to "provide Cuban people with access to food and medicines from the United States, to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba, to provide scholarships for certain Cuban nationals."

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For a complete copy of Dr. Leshner's testimony, contact the AAAS Office of Public Programs at (202) 326-6440, or send e-mail to scipak@aaas.org. The testimony is attached here in PDF format.

Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has worked to advance science for human well-being through its projects, programs, and publications, in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation. With over 134,000 members from 130 countries and 272 affiliated societies comprising more than 10 million individual members, AAAS is the world's largest federation of scientists. The association also publishes Science, an editorially independent, multidisciplinary, weekly peer-reviewed journal that ranks as the world's most prestigious scientific journals. AAAS administers EurekAlert! http://www.eurekalert.org, the online news service, featuring the latest discoveries in science and technology.

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