Mexican science council tells researchers: don’t criticize

MEXICO CITY (AP) – The science council of the newly politicized Mexican government has reportedly ordered researchers not to publicly criticize the organization and said they must delete all public comments through its press office.

The council was already under fire after helping prosecutors attempt to lock 31 academics in a maximum security prison usually reserved for drug lords.

Local media reported on Friday that the National Science and Technology Council issued a new set of rules telling employees and outside researchers to “avoid negative opinions or comments” on the body.

The proposed sanction for such offenses is unclear, but they could apparently be the subject of disciplinary proceedings. The Council has not publicly confirmed the existence of the new rules, a copy of which was published by the newspaper El Universal.

But the union representing workers on the council confirmed that the new rules were sent out on September 30.

Protests were heard by researchers in Mexico and abroad last month after prosecutors accused academics and members of a science advisory board of money laundering, organized crime and embezzlement, for allegedly spending too much money. A judge refused to issue arrest warrants in the case.

Members of the advisory board, created to promote scientific discussion, said the $ 2.5 million had not been badly spent and had been operating by the board’s own rules for more than 15 years. The idea that overspending was the main problem was questioned again on Friday, when the council released a slick and seemingly expensive five-minute video to defend itself.

Critics say the bizarre measures by supporters of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador could threaten academic freedom.

Part of the problem is that the current director of the government’s science council, María Álvarez-Buylla, appears to be trying to inject the politics of López Obrador’s administration – which he calls “the fourth transformation” – into science.

In a letter apparently accompanying the new rules, lvarez-Buylla told board members and researchers that employees “should not only be outstanding professionals, but should also have a commitment to society, the environment, human rights. of man and especially the public ethics promoted by the fourth transformation.

In the past, she has criticized some researchers for reporting in English, despite being the common language in some technical areas, saying they should speak in Spanish. She criticizes “Western science” and “techno-science that commercializes knowledge,” and called for “collective knowledge-generation processes” more closely linked to social concerns.

“Western science has produced the most spectacular and perhaps the most unnecessary breakthroughs, like reaching the moon,” lvarez-Buylla said in 2020.

It doesn’t help that Mexico’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero has decided to bring the most serious charges possible – money laundering, organized crime and embezzlement – against people who did not have criminal records and are respected in their profession, and sought to put them in the country’s most feared prison, which is normally used to house drug lords.

Gertz Manero’s office defended the charges, saying academics “used federal funds for scientific research on a private organization, buying furniture, vehicles, property, and paying salaries and other services. “.

The office said it would re-lay the charges.

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