I left science 14 years ago (Yes, three Governments ago!) because I did
not think the path that the Venezuelan Government was pushing science into made
much sense or had much future for me or for Venezuela. Things have gotten worse, much worse, as
this article by Jaime Requena, infamous for his Requena Files on the
left, tells us in this very good (and sad!) article, which appeared in
El Nacional yesterday.
and auctoritas at IBIC by Jaime Requena
ago in a newspaper interview, the Vice-Minister of Planning and
the Ministry of Science, architect Luis Marcano, delineated the public
that will serve as reference for the scientific research and technology
projects that will be carried out in the country, specially at IVIC.
to his evaluation, that institution does not fulfill a social function,
thus, one has the intuition, it must be reformed. Of special concern
for the high official are the
alarming “privileges” that the researches enjoy, which, one as the
intuition, must be
eliminated. Without any details, the Vice Minister turned into a state
suspicion not only what many have demonstrated are important and
contributions to knowledge, but also to the way and manner in which
knowledge is generated; what sociologists call the ethos of IVIC.
ministerial admonition implies promoting the hiring of new talent and stopping
the loss of brains ; providing labs with equipment and consumption goods;
renovating the wounded and incomplete library; updating salaries at levels of misery; or
establishing a plan for the acquisition of essential goods, like vehicles or
housing using very soft loans like those the Banco Industrial gives the
military, then we welcome the pruning and let’s devote ourselves to rewrite the
Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (DRAE); to endure deficiencies would come to be a synonym to enjoying prerogatives.
if the admonition is directed at eliminating the fundamental characteristics of
the social contract of IVIC, which has been the search, without obstacles nor limitations,
of new knowledge that defy imagination; the free play of ideas without
discrimination for reasons of sex, age, convictions or social origin; or the
evaluation of personnel by his academic peers and on the basis of quantifiable
merits, strictly professional and intellectual, then let’s continue rewriting
the DRAE, because ethical values would be the same as privileges. We should also
then be prepared to write the obituary for science in Venezuela.
straighten out battered IVIC one would require a diagnosis, a plan and
leadership. The diagnose was already made through the dogmatic statements. As for
the plan of reorganization, it must be clandestine since nothing has been made
public, while the auctoritas of the
institutional leadership are open to question. Indeed, besides the legitimacy
of the Director who occupies the position-he was overwhelmingly rejected by his
colleagues during the consultation for his nomination-it is fitting to question
if he, together with his Sub Director, would be disposed to show the way to
the subordinates and immolate fertile scientific careers developed at the
institution during the last forty years.
authorities of IVIC, they would be in charge of ordering the scientific
personnel under their charge, so that they stop researching on what they have
been doing and begin working on subjects chosen by the politburo, to provide
technical support to initiatives which are the object of presidential whim.
They would have to leave aside their studies about the quantum deformation of
Hamiltonian systems (sic) or the molecular structure of the head of the myosin
of the muscles of the tarantula (sic) to devote themselves to explore, elbow to
elbow with their subordinates how to prepare telita cheese for export,
primordial requirement of the Mama Carabobo Mision, the reevaluation of babandi, of
immediate necessity for the dysfunctional beneficiaries of the mission chief
General Cipriano Castro or fantasize about the new applications for malojillo
poultice, advanced party for the magic recipe book of the babalaos
(Santeria priests) of the Mision Orisha (a
the silence of the authorities of the institute about the lucubrations and
opinions of the Vice Minister indicate conformity, to set about the process of
transformation will provide them with the opportunity of showing their
commitment, giving an inescapable example. Regrettably, I fear very much that
so much party discipline and professional largesse, that could even reach
almost quasi heroic levels, will not carry to a happy ending the conversion of
what used to be the best research center south of the Rio Grande, into the
revolutionary Instituto Bolivariano de Investigaciones Cientificas.
I don’t see a future to explore the course of a science like the one the
Vice-Minister encourages: pseudo, given that it is new, parochial, because it
is endogenous, and populist, instead of social.