US scientists intending to travel to Cuba for a conference on coma and death this week were informed five days before the opening ceremony that they would not be permitted to attend.

The bureau that enforces restrictions on travel to Cuba – the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – has yet to give its final ruling on the matter, even though the meeting is underway. But last Thursday (March 4) it issued “guidance” that US delegates would most likely not receive authorization for the trip.

Between 75 and 100 US delegates were due to attend the Fourth International Symposium on Coma and Death, which started on 9 March and runs for four days in Havana. US nationals would have accounted for about half the audience.

“This was a high class-scientific conference,” said Stuart Youngner, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Case...

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