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DR. ROWLAND RESPONDS

We know there is considerable support for the US embargo on Cuba, a view that should be expressed in Neurology Today. I did not discuss specific violations of human rights in Cuba except to mention that Amnesty International believes the embargo provides an excuse for repressive measures. My subject was the state of neurology in Cuba, not the death penalty, a practice I oppose – not only in Cuba, but also in the United States.

The point of any embargo is to bring discomfort right now to people we are trying to help in the long run. Any embargo harms innocent people without regard to their political views. The development of neurology in Cuba has been callously curtailed by the US embargo and by restrictions on travel in both directions, to the detriment of the Cuban people.

The negative effects on neurology lead me to oppose the embargo. Four former Presidents of the AAN spontaneously wrote letters in support of my position and both neurologist-editors of Neurology Today are also former Presidents of the Academy. One current Academy officer wrote that he is trying to send high-tech diagnostic equipment to Cuban neurologists. In contrast, another officer expressed his support of the embargo.

There is no unanimity, but there seems to be a rising tide against the embargo. In the meantime, new international neurology conferences will be held in Cuba in 2004, some under the auspices of the World Federation of Neurology. More American neurologists will be able to see for themselves. I have the utmost admiration for our Cuban colleagues who, while living under relentless adversity, manage to maintain optimism, good will, and determination to advance our profession. Ending the embargo would be a boon to them.

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