In an opinion article published by the newspaper Country On July 9, former Minister of Education and Culture Leonardo Guzmán expressed his contradiction with the decision of the Association of Teachers of the University of the Republic (ADUR) not to attend the honorary scientific advisory group (GACH) honorary ceremony organized. By the Executive on July 8. We have no comment on your legitimate contradiction with our decision. However, his text contains both statements and omissions that are worth responding to, in order to outline arguments and provide information that can fuel constructive exchange on the topic.
We will begin by repeating what we have said on numerous occasions these days and which we have conveyed directly to GACH itself: We are very proud of their work, effort, dedication and commitment in such extreme circumstances. Together with many other university colleagues and health professionals, they wrote a beautiful page in the history of the social commitment to knowledge as a public good. Most of them are our colleagues and colleagues, we know them, we will continue to count on them and they will depend on ADUR to promote and defend science, culture and education in our country.
Our decision not to attend the tribute is simply based on an assessment that it was neither the time nor the way, given the state of the pandemic and the need not to send vague messages to the community. Something has unfortunately happened since the government started ignoring the recommendations of the GACH, the University of the Republic (Udelar) and other scientific entities, at the worst moment of the pandemic.
It is good that Guzmán points out that the honoring coincided with the case for the handing over of signatures to call for a referendum against the Urgent Considerations Act (LUC). This state, which had been planned for a long time, had a notorious social significance as an event for the exercise of direct democracy. It also drew the attention of a large part of the citizens who participated in various ways in accomplishing the collection of nearly 800,000 signatures in such adverse circumstances, to demand that a basic public discussion of such a relevant law be conducted by a mechanism that prevents such discussion. . In this context, honoring GACH on the same day was a completely wrong decision, far below the “high stand” that Guzmán claimed. A divisive position on the part of the government, which left the GACH in the middle, and which deserved an honor without doubt was used to divert attention from the mobilization to hand out referendum signatures.
In another passage, Guzmán opens an interesting path to analysis by saying that “even the worst moments of tragedy have led us to turn science into dogmatism.” The scientific spirit, by definition, is anti-dogmatic. Then human experiences and actions take place in the network of social and material relationships that put them and put them in a state of tension. Anti-logism is more than an abstraction, it is a concrete exercise in this web of material, symbolic and political relations. The truth is that during the pandemic we had some notorious examples of dogmatism in applying certain theories. This is what happened in economic matters, with unfortunate results that put the country in the worst international comparisons. According to estimates by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), while the regional average of fiscal effort dedicated to responding to social emergencies was 3.9% of GDP, it was 1.4% in Uruguay, which is among the lowest. on the continent. While the International Monetary Fund itself has proposed increasing taxes on concentrated capital, the Uruguayan government has clung to its “gold net” theory. This was dogmatism, while around the world some basic principles, such as fiscal deficits, were suspended in order to prioritize attention to the social tragedy, in Uruguay, spending was cut in the middle of the pandemic and even introduced through the LUC rule restricting the government itself. The best example of demonstrative dogmatism is missing!
A divisive position on the part of the government, which left the GACH in the middle, and which deserved an honor without doubt was used to divert attention from the mobilization to hand out referendum signatures.
The result was increased unemployment and poverty, which rose from 3% to 5.1% of the population (and grew from 0.1% to 0.3% of the population in extreme poverty, multiplied by three the number of citizens in that state), and an economic scheme that would cause to come Recovery combined with increased focus and inequality.
Finally, we are pleased to agree with Guzmán in our conviction of the urgent need that our country must strengthen its scientific system, for the public exercise of the right to know and to support national sovereignty in various fields. This conviction, in addition to praise, requires policies, planning, procedures, and budgets. In that sense, Guzmán, with us, will have a lot to claim. lets see. From 2020 to this part:
Udelar’s budget was reduced by 5.90% at constant prices, when the increase in student enrollment was 12% in 2021 alone, having exceeded 20,000 new students for the first time in history.
16% of the peso budget of the National Research and Innovation Agency has been reduced by 2021.
Decree 90/2020 of March 2020 made a 15% reduction in the Basic Sciences Development Program, the Clemente Institute for Stable Biological Research, the National Institute for Agricultural Research, the Uruguayan Center for Molecular Imaging and other scientific institutions of the Executive, which had only left its mark in August 2020 After mobilizing students and researchers and accepted by the community as a whole. In that decree, Audelaire was urged to make the same cut.
In other words, while the pandemic was overexposing the scientific and university system, while highlighting its social importance, the government made cuts to it, a situation that was later standardized in the Budget Act.
At the end of his note, Guzmán accuses us of not “understanding and feeling free”. By the way, we do not “feel” the concept of “responsible freedom” on the basis of individuality and itself. But in any perception, anti-logistics and freedom are practiced when we make decisions based on our principles rather than “what are they going to say,” and when we hold to the truth even if it upsets the authorities of the day. And while they bother them, the evidence and arguments we’ve uncovered in this note, here it is.
Hector Cancella is the President of ADUR. Agustín Cano is the Executive Secretary of ADUR.