National council for science and technologyCONASET) made changes in its rules, regulations and regulations, as well as in its policies with the aim of centralizing not only resources, but also scientific knowledge, with guidelines of a political and ideological nature rather than scientific ones.
The researchers agree that these actions have affected practically the entire scientific community, of those who could be fired for, as reported, “lack of trust.” Alexander MadrazoRetired from the Center for Economic Research and Teaching Management (Mr) center area; Even for national scholarship holders experiencing delays in calls or young professors in the Cátedras program who are currently fighting for their labor rights or researchers and the 31 administrative staff in the Advisory Forum on Science and Technology, investigated by the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic.
In the past three years, researchers agree Brenda ValderramaAnd Susanna Quintanela, Alfredo Herrera EstrellaAnd David Romero And Roberto Rodriguez, caused one confusion after another, first occurring during the transitional period, when the direction of Conacyt had not been assumed, Maria Elena Alvarez Bella It ordered a suspension of advocacy for some of its support programs and those contracts that it deemed could jeopardize resources for 2019. Since then, the controversy and dialogue with the scientific community has been broken.
Elimination of credits, changes to the regulations of the National System of Investigators (SNi), create an initiative for humanities, science and technology law introduced by Senator Ana Lilia Rivera, and create a new initiative Consulting forum and its abolition as a civil association, the guidelines for the chairs program, the national strategic programs, the abolition of support for academics from private universities, as well as the narrative being developed since the Presidency of the Republic to link scientific research with the researchers explained that acts of corruption are an example of the search for an element of control that can culminate in the approval of public law For the humanities, sciences, technology and innovation developed by Alvarez Boella, they say, without consulting society. .
Susana Quintanilla, a researcher at Cinvestav and SNI III, explains that all the actions taken by the Conacyt administration have affected the entire community at different levels, but highlights scholarship holders with national and international scholarships directly affecting programs enrolled in the National Quality Program for postgraduate studies (PNPC). “This program has also undergone modifications that we were not alerted to, but we know there are delays in calls and they are important because they are programs that get registration in different categories and students are generally guaranteed scholarships, but by changing the assessment criteria with delays in registration and renewal where they are affected” .
Quintanilla also highlights foreign grants, which have also changed their regulations on their funding. “The regulations on financing changed and when the funds were suspended, the funds were seized, many of them were sectoral and had resources from fiduciaries, such as energy. So they were left hanging in the brush,” he said with regret.
He adds that in terms of scientific publishing, there is no long-term program at the national level that facilitates, coordinates and limits the participation of researchers. For example, activities such as the Olympics for the Academy of Mathematics or programs with the Mexican Academy of Sciences, which, by not giving them the resources, have been frozen. “It is not a matter of everyone publishing materials, a national and international program is needed, but it does not exist. It talks about the formation of a scientific culture, which we have seen in the case of an epidemic this need, and the existence of movements against the vaccine is evidence of false scientific culture, but this mission Not just for researchers.
Roberto Rodriguez, researcher at the Institute for Social Research in One, notes that during these three years there were concerns such as the cancellation of support for academics from private universities, linked to the National Scholars National System (SNI), which caused the Federation of Mexican Private Institutions of Higher Education to file a provisional protection case which it won last July.
“There is a demarcation with the private sector in an almost scandalous way, but the protection is obtained and that is why Conacyt is obligated to hand over the resources; the SNI rules have been amended, a new regulation has been put in place for them and now they have to be brought back to be modified before the protection to give certainty to the triggers,” says Rodriguez. .
Regarding the disappearance of trust funds, Brenda Valderrama, a researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology at UNAM, President of the Morelos Academy of Sciences and a member of the SNI, confirms that they have been inactive since December 2018 and warns: “It could have been that Conacyt trusts disappeared and kept the money, but the intent It was the disappearance of money. We lost funds as an investment vehicle and we lost money as a policy, this is the worst.”
For Quintanilla, the disappearance of the funds “was a critical factor because in practice there was a reduction in resources to develop research programmes.”
Brenda Valderrama also points to Conacyt’s latest and most controversial work, the creation of a code of conduct, which, she says, is troubling because it appears to be aimed at “weakening the freedom of research, education, and expression of a scientific community.”
One of the issues of great interest on which researchers were consulted is that of the scholars and researchers hired under the Connacht Chair Programs system, who had to set up an independent federation of Connacket Chair research workers to demand better working conditions; In addition, the Academic Staff Regulations were recently created, which defines the academic rights and obligations of employees and notes that in order to remain in the said program, “their integration into employment in the receiving institution or in any other institution will be evaluated”.
“The Cátedras guidelines led to despondency and they had to organize, but Kunassett betrayed them, this is very dangerous. Many of them burned ships abroad and went back to Mexico. What we see is a centralized strategy and control. The young professors were independent and what Kunasset did was to collect their files,” Valderrama warns.
David Romero, a researcher at the UNAM Center for Genomics, agrees: “They are young people who have decided to go back to the country, and the professorship program has been opened up to them, which is of course perfect for perfection, but the director of Conacyt started her management by questioning her existence and said that it involved budget problem, and the virtue of returning 1,500 young men to the country has not been heeded; they are increasingly restricted, the last of which is that as part of the assessments they are asked to look for another job, this is an anomaly.”
Scientists gathered outside the Senate in October 2020. They demanded that the science trust funds be preserved. Photo: Global Archive
Alfredo Herrera Estrella, director of the National Laboratory of Genetics and Biodiversity (Langipio), is most concerned about the cut in the science budget, given that 1% of GDP was promised and is currently 0.29%. “And the most serious is how the support is defined. For example, the National Strategic Programs (Pronaces). The director appointed heads of projects by the finger. They have money, allocated directly. There are no calls but yes there is money.”
The apex of all actions carried out by Konsett would, if carried out, be Public Law for the Humanities, Science, Technology and Innovation. “This is the jewel in the crown. The advisory forum is part of a realignment of forces. This well-organised, very meticulous campaign comes with so many actors, to discredit scholars right before the law is discussed. I can’t get out of my head that what is needed is to reduce the quality of the dialogue. Among the scientists in front of the cameras about the general law of science,” says Valderrama.
Romero agrees: “The project presented by the Director of Conacyt preserves the central vices that already existed in Senator Rivera’s initiative, and adds the intent to focus all resources for science and research at Conacyt. This could lead to very serious structural problems given the existing science resources in the secretariats. Different and although it is dedicated to research, it also supports institutes such as the Mexican Petroleum Institute of the Department of Energy, Cinvestav or the Polytechnic of Public Education. If all these resources were concentrated in Consit, it would leave these institutes unprotected or make them partly subordinate to the council.”
Roberto Rodriguez also points out the polarization that has arisen around scientists. “There was talk about the mafia of science, about corruption, but the fact is that they were able to prove very little or almost nothing. This sector has always been monitored. Let’s think, for example, in Master Sc18, all the information was to what was accessed. To him for reasons of transparency is information drawn from audits.It is true that everything is perfect and that it is not a corruption-free sector, but what happens is that there is a split between those according to government accounts and those of us who see the imposition of a model that has not resulted after three years of operating for clear and satisfactory results, from the Patria vaccine to the Princesses themselves.”
In this sense, Romero adds: “The critical position of scientists is not new, it has been with previous governments, but this government has given us every reason to be more frank. In times that require decisive action in a confrontation on climate change, it has been mistakenly thought of as delaying action.”
Alfredo Herrera remembers that he was one of the first scholars to meet with the director of Conacyt. “I came out of this meeting with the idea that many of his ideas were absurd. Since then, he has thought about making changes in the SNI related, for example, to assessments because he felt there should be other elements such as the social and human impact of the scientific work. I questioned him and he just said It’s going to be a challenge i.e. he hasn’t made a diagnosis yet and was already making up his mind. I also remember his idea was to focus everything in Conacyt. In three years later, what was in the past there was no real dialogue with the Conacyt director and dangerous decisions were made like the disappearance of trust, We don’t know what happened to those resources and it’s the day they didn’t provide proof corruption“.
0.29% DEL START Science budget for now, says Alfredo Herrera, director of the National Laboratory of Genetics and Biodiversity
Effects on society
colleagues Through national and international scholarships that directly affect programs enrolled in the National Quality Graduate Program.
Scholarships abroad which also changed its financing regulations.
Create a code of conduct Supports “weakening the freedom of research, education, and expression of the scientific community.”
the changes in the SNI rules and regulations.
chairs program Affected by the statutes of the academic staff.
“Conacyt could have hidden the funds and kept the money, but the intent was to hide the money.” Brenda Valderrama. Institute of Biotechnology – UNAM.
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