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NAFSA protests denial of visas to Cuban scholars who planned to attend the NAFSA

NAFSA strongly protests the denial of visas to two Cuban scholars who had been expected to attend the NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo in Houston next week.

Milagros Martinez and Carmen Castillo, both of the University of Havana, were among eleven Cuban scholars recently notified by the U.S. State Department that their applications for visas to travel to the United States had been denied. The eleven were planning to attend the 30th Conference of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), which is being held this week in San Francisco.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators joins LASA, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), and other like-minded organizations in speaking out against this decision, which is counter to the Obama Administration’s stated policy of promoting academic exchange with Cuba. Educational exchange promotes the free flow of ideas, information, and dialogue. The scholars affected by these visa denials are at the forefront in promoting academic engagement with the United States.

Last year President Obama took an enormously important step in renewing U.S. engagement with Cuba when he directed changes to regulations and policies to “increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities.”

We urge the Administration to continue its commitment to engagement with Cuba and hope the Department of State will review its decision regarding this group of Cuban scholars.

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