CONICET in fight 

Before the Argentinian elections, Milei expressed his intention to privatize the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), a move that sparked widespread criticism. Science, as a pursuit aimed at expanding knowledge across various fields, serves as a cornerstone for addressing societal challenges and generating new avenues of inquiry. It is a collective endeavor, essential for fostering both national sovereignty and individual empowerment. However, the government’s decision at the outset of the year to extend and freeze the 2023 budget coincided with a surge in inflation, resulting in a diminished financial capacity and increased insolvency. 

In addition, the suspension of scholarship grants for the year compounded the financial strain, exacerbating the destabilization and devaluation within the scientific community.

Argentina faces not just an economic crisis but a social one as well, exacerbated by the measures by those in power. Alberto Kornblihtt, a prominent researcher, condemned Milei’s omnibus law, emphasizing that defunding the scientific and technical institutions would effectively condemn it to obsolescence. 

Back in time, during Mauricio Macri presidency, (2015-2019) this sentiment resonated among 1,200 scientists and 11 Nobel Peace Prize who were affected by Macri’s policies, attributing the situation to budget cuts that stifled project funding, suppressed wages, and hindered international collaboration. As it is today, the lack of a clear strategic direction within CONICET underscores the broader uncertainty surrounding the utilization of science and technology. Milei’s ultraliberal agenda poses a formidable threat to the long-term viability of Argentina’s scientific enterprise. 

The lack of representation is a serious matter in the region that exacerbates the urgent need for collaboration. Daniel Filmus, a researcher affiliated with CONICET, warned of Argentina’s precarious position due to the erosion of its science ministry and its diminishing appeal to foreign scholars. Disrupted agreements with France in scientific and academic spheres have left the biotechnology sector in a state of limbo amidst the prevailing uncertainty in Argentina. 

Against the backdrop of the largest dengue epidemic in history, Argentina’s development of its own COVID vaccine stands as a testament to its scientific potential. Despite bipartisan support for science funding legislation three years ago, Argentina’s investment in research and development remains woefully inadequate at 0.39% of GDP, well below the recommended threshold of 1%. This chronic underinvestment exacerbates brain drain and precipitates university closures due to insufficient resources. While CONICET ranks atop Latin America’s scientific institutions, the global scientific community suffers from the setbacks imposed by Argentina’s current trajectory. As Nobel winner Bernardo Alberto Houssay once aptly remarked, “Rich countries are so because they invest in scientific-technological development, and poor countries remain poor because they do not. Science is not expensive; ignorance is.”

In conclusion, CONICET is the best governmental scientific institution in Latin America and is positioned in the twentieth place worldwide. Its defunding leads to a loss of state capacities essential for growth and development.

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