A phrase that is often attributed to the famous science fiction author, Ray Bradbury, is especially useful to illustrate what is happening right now in our country in terms of science.
Bradbury says that “It is not necessary to burn books if the world begins to fill up with people who do not read, who do not learn, who do not know”, and is that despite everything, people feel a certain horror at the very idea of destroying those books. devices in which it is thought that the knowledge of previous generations is stored, and even the current one, it does not matter that they do not read them, but books must be kept in case someone is ever interested or encouraged to open them.
The progression of Bradbury’s thought is what has been happening in contemporary society, which in this way moved away from the postulate of George Orwell in his novel 1984, it is not necessary to rewrite history to the taste of the group in power, with That the population does not find out, due to their own lack of will, with that is more than enough to manipulate them at their convenience.
During the current six-year term there has been an intentional dismantling of the governmental apparatus in charge of supporting and guiding Mexican scientific and technological development, which today, just a little over two years later, has been at a degree of destruction of which, assuming there was that interest, it would take a long time to recover.
In itself, in Mexico the issue of science has never been a priority for governments, regardless of their political affiliation, neither the PRI, nor the PAN, nor the Morenoite, have seen in science something of importance for the present and future of the Mexican nation.
Yes, until the last six-year term, it was one of many functions of the state, to which a budget had to be allocated, and from which some political benefit, if not also economic, could be obtained. The aspiration to achieve investment in education, science, technology and innovation to represent 3% of the Gross Domestic Product, remained as a campaign promise of many candidates and of each one of those who rose to the top of the public power, but none of them did much to comply.
Yes, at the level of public policy documents, development plans, sector programs and others, there was talk of promoting scientific and technological research, as a measure to stop depending on the developments of other nations, but when it comes to putting money where there were good wishes, the commitment is over, and there are always other priorities over something that is perceived to be too long-term, to see its immediate political or bureaucratic benefits.
Two years ago we discussed in this space the attack that was seen coming against the information necessary for the work of students, teachers and researchers, through the cut in the resources that the National Consortium of Scientific and Technological Information had, established several years ago, and that it was expanding until offering the possibility for those to access the most up-to-date information in the world on the most diverse branches of knowledge.
With the decreed measure, the CONRICyT was taking away the budget for access to databases, and this in turn was limiting them to universities and research centers, leaving, those who were lucky, in a seventh more or less of those that came to have, and those that did not, in zeros. Entire educational systems were deprived of the possibility of having that information on the part of the government, now as in neoliberal times, whoever wants a scientific article, to buy it, with their money, because neither was left a game for them to do so more efficiently.
There is also what happened more recently with the National System of Researchers, where with this lawsuit that the government has with the private initiative, they decided to cut all those researchers who work in private universities, around three thousand.
As if the universities paid them or sponsored the research that each one developed, that was done by the SNI and Conacyt on the official side, and if they got support from a foundation, then what better, but what matters is not so much the money, but the loss of recognition as individuals with the ability to contribute to Mexican science, little less than they were exiled, as once happened with the Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina, who in order to continue his research abroad had to become a US citizen, since that here there was no way to conduct jobs like what he was interested in doing.
Recently it was said that groups of researchers discarded from the official SIN, the one from here, the one from Q4, are already looking abroad for financing for their activity, nothing more will be lacking than if one or several or many manage to advance in their respective fields , the government wants to stand its neck that it was with government support.
Another detail that is not minor, before to support the complex decisions in science, it was used to resort to the Advisory Council of Sciences, which supported the presidency of the Republic and the direction of Conacyt to understand what was necessary and define the course.
Ah, but as this body was conservative, fifi, corrupt and the rest, they relegated it to nothing, and that because they could not disappear it, since its existence is established in the law. Perhaps if they had asked the CCC, they would not have given ridiculousness such as that Conacyt was committed to the design, manufacture and commissioning of fans to care for the Covid-19 pandemic. The Conacyt is not and has never been a factory, because in the 4T they wanted to turn it into that, also without providing the necessary resources, result? They did not deliver such fans, and what they did was a most ineffective device.
The same with the famous Patria vaccine, which President López Obrador presumed, almost certainly who baptized it with that name so out of place. Having serious jobs in Mexican public universities, achieved without support from Conacyt or the Ministry of Health, or the Ministry of Foreign Relations, in charge of the pandemic, or the Sedena that is involved in everything, oh no, they go and buy one Third or fourth level patent in the United States and that is presented as an invention by Mexican scientists. A lie with understandable political justification, but a lie. Meanwhile, Mexican scientists, suffering to complete the clinical phase of their vaccines.
Already the last, the announcement by Undersecretary López Gatell that Conacyt would be participating in the packaging of the Sputnik V vaccine in Mexican territory … not the research, not the production, not the evaluation, not the follow-up, the packaging, putting the liquid that arrives in tanks, in bottles, a job from a factory, from a maquiladora, specialized if you want, but a maquiladora.
That’s what Q4 has reduced science to in Mexico, to the last phase of the intellectual process, putting scientific development in bottles, and it just needs to put scientists to inject.
* Faculty of Economics of the Autonomous University of Coahuila