Brazilian scientists given back their decorations

Brazilian scientists given back their decorations

Thursday, July 13th 2023 – 10:15 UTC

Lula restored the distinctions the scientist had been stripped of or renounced under Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Wednesday presented researchers, professors, authorities, and representatives of entities that have made relevant contributions to national scientific and technological development with the National Order of Scientific Merit, Agencia Brasil reported. Joining Lula was Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Luciana Santos.

Among those honored are the sanitary doctor Adele Benzaken and the infectiologist Marcus Vinícius Guimarães de Lacerda, as well as the president of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), Ricardo Galvão. Benzaken and Lacerda had already received the award, which was revoked in the last government, after criticism by the two doctors against the federal management. At the time and in solidarity with them, 21 other scientists renounced their own decorations, which were given back to them Wednesday at the Planalto Palace.

Ricardo Galvão was dismissed from the presidency of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in August 2019, after rebutting Bolsonaro’s statements, which accused the entity of releasing data on the increase in deforestation in the Amazon that the then-president considered “liars”.

Marked by the resumption of the National Council for Science and Technology, whose reformulation and consequent expansion had already been announced, Lula also signed the decree convening the 5th National Conference on Science and Technology, scheduled for June 2024, in Brasilia. In addition, Minister Luciana Santos signed the ordinance that formalizes the appointment of former Minister Sérgio Rezende as secretary of the conference. According to the minister, preparations for the conference are already underway.

Santos celebrated the recomposition of the national council, with the expansion of the number of representatives of civil society and the federal government, and said that this morning’s solemnity was an “act of disgrace to science and of historical reparation to scientists, teachers, doctors and researchers unjustly persecuted and threatened by an anti-science and anti-life government.”

“We can say that the time of denialism, contempt for the instruments of social participation, and threat to democracy is over,” said the minister.

Lula stressed that the resumption of the work of the National Council for Science and Technology and the convening of the 5th National Conference mark the beginning of a new period. “No more obscurantism. Enough of denialism. Enough of throwing scientists into the fire. Enough of witnessing researchers like Ricardo Galvão losing his job for showing what the satellites recorded,” he said.

The president also said that sustainable development and scientific development go hand in hand and advocated more investment in scientific research. Lula promised to build more federal universities and emphasized the importance of reducing social inequalities. “There is no point in looking at GDP growth [Gross Domestic Product, the sum of goods and services produced in the country] if the result is not distributed equitably among the population. If you grow 1% and distribute this 1%, it is worth more than growing 10% and not distributing it […] And there is no way we can think about growing, about resuming industry, about producing more in the countryside, if we do not think about science. There is no way we can think of reducing inequalities without thinking about science.”

Lula then recalled the case of former Federal University of Santa Catarina Rector Luiz Carlos Cancellier. Suspected of embezzling public money, Cancellier was arrested by the Federal Police in September 2017. Removed from office, Cancellier was banned from entering the university where he had worked for years. A few days after the outbreak of Operation Dumb Ears, an offshoot of Operation Lava Jato, the former rector committed suicide. Last week, the Federal Court of Auditors (TCU) dismissed the case because it found no evidence of irregularities committed during Cancellier’s administration.

“At this time when we are meeting with Brazilian intelligence, with our scientists and researchers, we cannot forget our companion, the former rector of UFSC Luiz Carlos Cancellier. Whenever we can, we have to remember the people who are victims of arbitrariness. So that this insanity never happens again in our country”, said Lula.

(Source: Agencia Brasil)

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