Kirchner Defies the Oligarchy by Promoting Real Science

24 de may de 2007

<body><div id="article"><tr><td height="28" valign="middle" width="184"></td><td valign="middle" width="185"></td></tr><h1>Kirchner Defies the Oligarchy by Promoting Real Science</h1><p>May 24 (LPAC)--As he inaugurated the new Nuclear Diagnostic Center in Buenos Aires May 23, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner charged that the neoliberal policies imposed on his country in the 1990s "not only looted our patrimony as a State, as a nation and a country, but also stripped us of our neurons," referring to the gutting of the science and technology budget at that time that forced thousands of highly-trained scientists to emigrate in search of decent-paying jobs. Things were so bad, he noted, that when he visited one research center in 2002, before he became President, the youngest researchers "were 50 years old!...Our youngsters were emigrating; those neurons so vital for the rebuilding of a country in a strategic direction, were leaving...because no one in this Argentina would give them the space they should have been given!"</p><p>Kirchner caustically pointed out that for "certain sectors of the Argentine intellectual community" and those "supposed thinkers" who claimed to be building a nation in the 1990s, investment in science "was merely an unproductive public expenditure." This was criminal, he said, recalling the remarks of Domingo Cavallo, the Harvard-trained Finance Minister of the Carlos Menem Presidency (1989-1999), who once said that scientists would do better to work as dishwashers rather than researchers. Cavallo, Kirchner said, although he didn't name him openly, "dishonored us, and made us feel ashamed of ourselves.</p><p>The opening of the Nuclear Diagnostic Center "is tremendously important," Kirchner added. "What we have here today, and which doesn't exist elsewhere in South America, must be multiplied." Moreover, he elaborated, here "we also see the participation of a proactive State, and the State must be present. It cannot be absent" in promoting research and development. "Let us not be afraid of the State's active participation," he added. "The State can be good, bad, less good, less bad, but if we continue to fill the State with content and quality, in the end it produces very positive results."</p><p>Kirchner warned that it is time to realize that scientists must be paid the wages they deserve. Even today, scientists' wages "continue to be far from those that encourage the hopes and motivations that all human beings must be paid when they are fully dedicated to certain tasks, not to mention this particular type of work." It's no good to say "we have spectacular human resources, but then treat them as if they were fourth-rate resources. Argentines must understand this."</p></div></body>