Cuban researcher visits SIU - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Cuban researcher visits SIU

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CARBONDALE -- A researcher from Cuba met with faculty and staff from Southern Illinois University's Belleville Research Center as part of an innovation and entrepreneurship program on Tuesday afternoon.

“We have different cultures but we have many points of connection," said Pablo Estrada Garcia, director of Agricultural Biotechnology Research at Centro De Ingenieria Genetica y Biotecnologia. “It’s very important to us to have an academic relationship with SIU.”

The university has maintained a working relationship with Cuba since 1999, according to the research department. 

“One of the things we’ve found when we work with other countries, we learn as much if not more than those countries learn from us," said Kyle Harfst, executive director of the Southern Illinois Research Department.

Researchers told News 3 that it’s not just ideas being swapped. They said cultures are too and that goes for anyone looking to travel to Cuba.

But it could be getting tougher for Americans to make the trip.

President Donald Trump unveiled his plans in June to change the United States policy regarding Cuba, wanting to limit travel to more controlled educational groups.

"We will very strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of Castro regime," announced President Donald Trump in Miami. "They will be restricted. We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo."

The president is eliminating people-to-people trips, or self-styled itineraries, and will make it illegal for American to patronize facilities related to the Cuban Military.

But that doesn’t mean American visitors can’t travel to the country at all.

With the tighter travel restrictions, folks like Charles A. Serrano, a Cuban missions, trade and relations expert, said Illinoisans looking to travel should not be discouraged.

“I think more people from the Carbondale area should travel to Cuba,” said Serrano.

And Cuban researchers like Garcia agrees.

“When the American people go to Cuba, they be happy and when the Cuban people come to the U.S., they be happy, too,” said Garcia.

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