On December 13, 2022, President López Obrador submitted to Congress a public law initiative on the humanities, science, technology, and innovation. As a result of a process of dialogues and consultations that have taken place since 2019, according to the official version, this initiative seeks to guarantee the right to science and technology based on the reforms of Article 3 of the Constitution ratified on May 15, 2019, whose articles included temporary provisions that set 2020 as the deadline for approving a general law new in this regard.
More than two years after the end of the period set by the reform, the discussion of five different bills that have been submitted so far has not been given priority, two in the Senate and three in the Chamber of Deputies, among which is specifically introduced by Lopez Obrador. Yet everything indicates that it will be at last in this regular session of the Congress when discussing the common law situation on this question; For this reason, and because of the importance of López Obrador’s proposal in the public debate, it is worth dwelling on the salient points of this project.
Characterized by a narrative similar to the official rhetoric, the bill has various weaknesses and causes for concern. Among other things: it is expected that the investigation will be subordinated to the “well-being of the nation”, a concept whose meaning will be nothing other than the national agenda, which in turn is set by the government; The provision that 1 percent of GDP should be earmarked for research has been overturned, leading to a loss of certainty regarding appropriation amounts and budget management; It also provides for amending the regulations of the National Scholars System and amending the employment relationship of public research centers, whose workers will thereby become public servants, with the implicit risk of losing academic freedom; Likewise, a change in the composition of the Board of Directors of the current consit is expected to give participation to representatives of the federal secretariats, as well as to reduce the weight of collegiate bodies, which will become advisory bodies without decision-making power.
A large part of the academic community certainly recognizes the need for new legislation on this issue and that the interest in ensuring the human right to science and technology is reasonable; However, the terms of the project presented by the president created an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety.
The centralization of Conacyt management, the absence of clear criteria for managing the research agenda, the absence of specific mechanisms that guarantee the right to science, the loss of administrative, operational and budgetary autonomy for public research centers and the alignment of academics’ work with the agenda of the national government, far from encouraging the verification of the right to enjoy the benefits of science and technology stipulated In the overhauled Article 3 in 2019, it put her in doubt.
This law raises concerns about the dismantling of independent and specialized organizations, in addition to deepening the marginal role granted by the government to private institutions, which seem not to recognize the diversity of their identities and projects. For this reason, it is appropriate to call for effective open parliamentary exercises around this initiative, which ensure the involvement of the various actors in the matter in all their plurality, so that this situation allows the support of a democratic perspective of access to science and technology, and to claim it as a human right, as the project itself claims.
The recognition and embodiment of this right in a new general law is, of course, reasonable; However, in order for it to be nothing more than a letter of good intentions, this right must be protected, which means that the state and its institutions provide specific and sufficient tools and mechanisms to ensure their enforceability, and this was not fully explained in the document. invoice. So, it is now necessary to carry out the task of collective design and identify the relevant and concrete mechanisms in law to ensure the improvement of educational and academic practices in our country, as well as the improvement of the research ecosystem.
Given the great strategic interest that this issue attaches to the future of the country, it is essential that Mexican society, in particular the actors in the educational and research field, be encouraged to actively participate in the discussions on this issue, within the framework of consultation processes and an open parliament to be done. It is essential that the new law guarantee freedom of research, guarantee an adequate budget for the development of the humanities, science and technology, and include a truly inclusive system of government that respects both federalism and the democratic spirit expressed in representation. Public, private and civil society sectors.