Thursday, April 18, 2024

President not getting factual advice on science issues: scientist

President López Obrador is not getting factual advice on science issues, according to the former chief of an autonomous government scientific agency that is about to be disbanded.

Describing it as “another sticky mess” in the president’s office, López Obrador confirmed yesterday that the Scientific and Technological Advisory Forum (FCCyT) will disappear.

The president said the forum was a waste of money and unnecessary because he receives his advice on science issues from the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt).

In response to the announcement, José Franco, general coordinator of FCCyT between 2014 and 2018 and current head researcher at the National Autonomous University’s Institute of Astronomy, charged that the president is receiving scientific advice based on lies.

In an interview with the newspaper El Economista, the scientist said that López Obrador doesn’t have a clear idea of what the FCCyT is and the work it does.

Álvarez-Buylla of Conacyt and López Obrador.
Álvarez-Buylla of Conacyt and López Obrador.

“By saying that the forum is an irrelevant actor, he’s saying that a large number of institutions are unimportant. The forum isn’t a person but rather 17 institutions that work to build the country; that’s not a minor thing,” Franco said.

He claimed that Conacyt is behind the decision to dissolve the FCCyT, which was established during the Vicente Fox presidency in 2002.

Franco said the forum opposed a proposal presented by Morena party Senator Ana Lilia Rivera for a new federal science and technology law, explaining that its opposition riled Conacyt.

“As they have already cooked up their science and technology law, which is surely going to be an authoritarian thing like the previous one, that annoyed them immensely . . .” he said.

Nevertheless, Franco said the reasons why the president and Conacyt want to get rid of the FCCyT were not entirely clear.

He explained that when he was forum chief, current Conacyt director Elena Álvarez-Buylla visited FCCyT offices and was shown the projects the organization was working on.

“. . . She thought they were marvelous; I told her that they were very much in line with the mission of the new government,” Franco said, explaining that they included social innovation programs for disadvantaged communities.

“After that the curtain came down without us knowing why . . . The forum is accused of wasting money when there is complete evidence of the projects it carries out,” he said.

Citing budget cuts to federally-funded laboratories and scientific institutes, Franco said the move to dissolve the FCCyT fits within the context of a wider effort by the government to dismantle the public scientific sector.

“. . . They’re trying to strangle all the organizations that are representative of the community and the forum is part of all that,” he said.

“Thousands of people are protesting but unfortunately the government isn’t listening . . . and wants to destroy science. The construction of the science system, [which is] still very modest, has taken us more than 50 years and in [just] a few months they want to dismantle it, causing frustration everywhere.”

Source: El Economista (sp) 

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