HAVANA — A Cuban scientist who helped develop a low-cost synthetic vaccine that prevents meningitis and pneumonia in children says he was offended when the U.S. government denied his request to travel to California to receive an award.
Vicente Verez-Bencomo was to accept the award Wednesday at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. He also was invited to speak Friday at the Society for Glycobiology conference in Boston.
Verez-Bencomo said the State Department denied him a visa because the visit would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States."
"That is really offensive to me," the chemical engineer said.
The State Department would not comment on the visa.
"It's incomprehensible that a civilized nation can confuse someone who has dedicated his life to saving the lives of children with someone who goes against the interests of the United States," the chemical engineer said. "I wasn't going there to talk about politics, I was going to talk about science."
Officials at the San Jose museum were equally disappointed.
"We recognized them for cutting-edge technology and wish he could be here to accept this," spokesman Tony Santos said. "We wish that hadn't been the government's decision."