Kirchner and the Devaluation of Science in Argentina

Anonyme, Saturday, February 4, 2006 - 15:08

Eduardo R. Saguier

No constructive or lasting policy which tries to make us move away from the condition of a failed state could be successfully implemented --even if the CONICET inflates its permanent roll with thousands of new Investigators and the government multiplies by the hundred its budget and the percentages over the PBI (Internal Gross Product)-- if in the spaces of science, research and higher education, institutions and habits are not oxygenated, in a way to drive away from them corruption, simulation, hypocrisy, genuflection, opportunism, moral indifference and, what is more serious and lethal, the self-censorship or fear to express oneself freely.

Buenos Aires, January 18, 2006

To the President of the Argentine Republic
Dr. Néstor Kirchner

ref.: summary investigation, ideological falsehood, academic censorship, continuism, prevarication, collaborationism, frightening acts, scapegoating, brain draining, forged Reports, apocryphal patents, fear to express oneself.

From my highest consideration:

Due to the extremely critical situation reached in the Science and Technical area (SECYT), belonging to the Ministry of Education, a result of decades of improvisations, backward movements and also regrettable illegitimate violence (war booty policies), which has turned the whole National System of Science and Technology unjust, onerous and obsolete, I fulfill my duty in reporting again to you, after a couple of years having elapsed since my last writings, to ask from you to consider the institutional hierarchy of said area, returning it to the presidency jurisdiction, or granting it ministry status; as countries of the European Community did, like Ireland and Finland, which revolutionized the design and the connection of their state chart and threaded a cultural network at a national scale, which is now projected in the whole European continent.

Likewise, due to indulgent editorials with CONICET's balance sheets and statistics which induce to a false idea of progress published in the daily press (La Nación, Wednesday 1-11-2006, p.16); I come to request from you to begin a summary investigation which will draw a line on the legal responsibilities incurred by the aforementioned authorities.

To sustain the institutional claims and the research inquire, I propose to clarify a series of offences which are pointed out as follows: a) denunciation never taken care of; b) degradation of the Consulting Committees of the CONICET; c) simultaneous condition of judge and party; d) democracy fiction in the electoral system of the CONICET; e) voiding, obsoleteness and institutional illegal standing and intelligence drainage; f) forged scientific reports and Balance Sheets; g) devaluation, censorship and corruption in the scientific competitiveness and productivity, and parody in academic output; h) hidden and unpunished factions or cliques and covering up of state terrorism apologysts; i) illegitimate symbolic violence with the resultant of a failed state; j) and refeeding of violence and the consequent institutional devaluation and vulnerability of International Agreements.

a) Denounciations never taken care of.

As well as a group of colleagues, researchers and professors of the country addressed themselves to the previous presidencies (Alfonsín, Menem, De la Rúa, Duhalde), we also had the chance to render to you several writings, dated January 1 and 24, and April 28, 2004.

In those writings, we had reported to you and to public opinion of the existence in the SECYT of neo-corporative shady deals with state subsidies destined to scientific research and to technological transference. Likewise we denounced the continuism with the legislation issued by the Menemismo (PEN decree Nº 1661/1996) and the collaborationism of different officers of the so-called Proceso and we warned of the long devaluation of the area and the absence of a state policy in cultural, scientific and university matters. After not having received any answer, those writings were published in different national and international forums (Voltaire Net, CMAQ, Indymedia, Cambio Cultural, Correo de la Diaspora, Ciudad Politica, La Fogata, Mondo Politico, Megafon, Infoamerica, h-debate, etc.)

b) Degradation of CONICET's Advising Committees.

We also questioned in those writings the degradation of CONICET's subordinate institutions, that due to the devaluation of the Science and Technique area each one of the twenty (20) Consulting Committees, which form part of it, are arbitrarily composed by an uneven and transitory number of Researchers, who totalize in each moment a quarter of a thousand members (or 7% of a total of more than three thousand investigators), headed each one of them by a President, directly and discretionally chosen by the respective Area Coordinator, who at the same time forms part of the Board of Directors together with the Coordinators of the four big Areas of knowledge.

For the appointment of the members of these twenty (20) Committees, the legislation and ruling in force does not ask neither for any qualitative requirement nor sets up the duration of post - a real juridical void - lacking many of the members of said Advising Committees the elementary academic degrees and the work compatible with the evaluating function they hold. As much as its members' mandate is brief it is higher their rotation and higher then the numbers who willingly or unwillingly engage themselves with the corruption set up by a very few, who perpetuate in their posts due to the privilege of belonging to the hundred Institutes owned by CONICET (whose major part was inaugurated during the military dictatorships).

The members of these twenty (20) Committees would distinguish themselves, then, in an unknown proportion, with their client submission and/or complicity with the Coordinator who appointed them and by their urgent zeal in getting prebends and profiting jobs (promotions, travel allowances, leaves of absence, endorsements, rewards, transfers, advising and consulting authorizations, institutional subsidies to journals they manage with accomplice referees, etc.), as well as their interest in covering up or disguise unlawful activities (e.g.: commercialization of pharmacological trade-marks, of indigenous communities' blood plasma and the tracing of mining and geological fields, and sale of fossils of paleonthologic fields and of paleo-botanical reports of pollen grains [Natural Science Museum]).

c) Judge and Interested Party evaluations.

By subordinating and burying SECYT in the bureaucratic network of the Ministry of Education, CONICET's internal levels, specially the Board of Directors, the Consulting Committees and the Qualification Board (this last one being integrated by the Presidents of the mentioned Advising Committees), were at the will of a bureaucratic-authoritarian enclave, circular and inbred, which holding a structurally fraudulent power uses it deceitfully for its own benefit and to perpetuate itself in same, without public proceedings, nor arbitrary internal court, permanent and independent, or parliamentary control, or international external auditing or evaluation to examine it.

In other words profiting from the juridical empty spaces produced by the devaluation of the area, has transformed in a mandarin-type power which manipulates influence: as a simultaneous judge and interested party, as communication instrument of proselytism and self-propaganda, as a corporative weapon, and as moral harassment towards those critical researchers who resist themselves to the academic unicato and to secret and fraudulent practices and documents (acts).

d) Democracy Fiction. Electoral Regime.

It is then unnecessary to clarify that in those said twenty (20) Advising Committees does not exist legal representation of any minority whatsoever, as the electoral regime to choose the members of the Board imposed in the CONICET by the ex Secretary of Science and Technology Bach. Juan Carlos del Bello, during Menem's second presidency (Decree No.1661/96) --which your government has not modified—it is the Lista Completa and a regrettable fiction of democracy.

Said regime is founded in a geographical unconstitutional representation, generation and functional, and does not contemplate at all the right of opposition nor the restraints and counterweights which guarantee in the Board of Directors' core, and consequently at the interior of the Advising Committees, an elementary authentic control (decency, honesty, capacity, seriousness, etc.), and the independence of the qualifying instance which produces promotions. Neither one respects the scientific world unity for as to make access for the condition of candidate to a member of the Board of Directors, it fractures the representation (passive vote) in generational and regional sections, expressed in status requirements (two hierarchy scales) and geographical placing (eight regions); and to use the right of elector or voter (active vote) divides the electoral poll and consequently the researcherrs in four (4) different areas of knowledge, totally incommuniqué and isolated among them, which feeds a disciplinary specializing diaspora.

e) Voiding, Obsolescence and Institutional Unlegitimating and Intelligence drainage.

These anti-democratic mechanisms, (authoritarian, patrimonialists, prebendaries and client wise), of representation and qualification of the national scientific corps, has turned into an institutional voiding and unlegitimate situation, radically opposed to a modern, autonomous, competitive and meritocratic regime. This has happened as they have hurt the excellency, capability and quality patterns; they have suffocated all passion towards the search, discovery and dialogue between knowledges as they have subordinated the interdisciplinary research; and they have extinguished all hope of producing in the different knowledges true epistemological ruptures or innovations.

This increasing deterioration has generated an invisible malaise and deep cultural slowness which feeds and stimulates an unrestrained intelligence drainage (which accounts until now various times the CONICET's present rank and file) which should no doubt geometrically multiply, and which does not obey to economic issues - as sustained by Eng. Tulio Del Bono - but to cultural and symbolic reasons (La Nacion XI-12-2003). I say that they have nourished an ideological and cultural surrender, which undermines the incorporation of forgotten fields of knowledge (e.g. originary languages, missilistic, satellite knowledge, etc.); and a digital regression of advanced methods and techniques (ex. self-archives, electronic free access, video-conference, etc.); all of which has deepened even more the technological, scientific and humanistic gap with first world institutions.

f) Scientific reports and forged annual balance sheets.

All these grievances have turned obsolete the national scientific system, which from another point of view lives isolated, cartel like and seniority scaled, and whose action has been homologated to the public administration practices and to the ritual simulation of periodical scientific Reports. Those periodical Reports as they are neither published nor informed, hinder the local and foreign colleagues to ascertain its scientific honesty and seriousness.

We sustain the conjecture of fraud or ideological falsehood, as it is feasible that said Reports, in an undetermined number of cases, its sources or data had been distorsioned, adulterated or copied, and its methods and conclusions do not fulfil a scientific truth or had been redone, plagiarized and/or produced through evil acts, that means forged with money in between, without its authors being investigated, or prosecuted judicially, when any auditing firm could face them the originality of data against a battery of concepts and hypothesis with the methodology used, with the achievements obtained and with the resulting publications which will reveal easily the quantitative and qualitative differences and frauds.

Corrobarating this fact, there are the CONICET's own balance sheets, which similarly with the periodical Report of the scientists it is a public document, which have been falsified and/or exaggerated by its authorities with the complicity of the SECYT's Science and Technology National Observatory. A simple reading of the 2005 Balance sheet, published and eulogized in a certain daily press (La Nacion, Wednesday 1-11-2006, p.16) could be verified its ideological falsehoods and presumptuous and apologetic statements, which do not resist a modest and objective arbitration which nourish themselves exclusively with quantitative and budgeting measures belonging to the statistical nineteenth century positivism.

These balances, then, totally foreign to true scientific analysis, are motivated by political-publicity interests, as they should have been studied in them the impact within the CONICET of the distress and pathologies such as: a) the state chart devaluation; b) the postponement of the electronic web due innovation; c) the non-communication among separate areas of knowledge; d) the omission of the study of disciplines forbidden by the geopolitical knowledge distribution; and e) the adulteration by some scientists of the Periodical Reports and the authorities' unforeseeable attitude to detect it. Those analysis being performed, would have granted to the 2005 Balance sheet authenticity and credibility. As it does not exist self-criticism nor sincerity from CONICET's highest authorities, those who read said Balance would be induced to believe that said entity is successful and fully satisfying science and community. Regrettably, the annual Balance sheet is an assortment of false, fraudulent and pompous statements (La Nacion, Wednesday 1-11-2006, p.16).

g) Devaluation, censorship and corruption in the scientific competitiveness and productivity, and academic production parody.

This jurisdictional devaluation, this geopolitical censorship of the strategic knowledge and this ethical and bureaucratic corrosion has allowed that - notwithstanding what the CONICET's balance sheets falsely show - Argentine competitiveness in the international ranks has scandalously diminished (Argentina does not figure in the World Competitiveness Evaluation Report, of the Switzerland International Institute for Management Development); has disappeared in an unlikely rank the local scientific productivity (the registered number of patents which offers the CONICET's balance sheet is derisory); has been hidden the patented production abroad (USA); and evaded royalties which would correspond to CONICET.

In accordance with that, the CONICET and the SECYT would have been covering up an academic parody, whose quality has turned in its major part innocuo, trivial and redundant (e.g. the figure of the "investigator in enterprise" mentioned in the Balance sheet makes CONICET look like an employment agency) and even fraud like, such as what happened in the next past with the case of false scientific patents (Crotoxina); and which surely happens at the present time with the falsified Reports hereby mentioned; and it is happening in Higher Education and in the ministry bureaucracy (National Agency of International Cooperation of the University Policies Secretariat) and with false degrees and credentials (Universities of Formosa and La Matanza).

h) Hidden and unpunished factions or cliques and covering up of estate terrorism apologists.

All these miseries: the institutional devaluation, the geopolitical censorship and the academic corruption, also gave room to hidden and unpunished factions or cliques to infiltrate and encyst the SECYT structures and the CONICET's institutes, recalcitrant to any sign of meritocracy and healthy and loyal competition, and inconfessed plotting with praetorian survivals; and to render themselves to a policy of "pulling strings" and of awards, punishments and personal vendettas; and to a hidden discourse of discrimination bounded to divide and silence critical opinions, inherited from different authoritarian regimes (Bastones Largos Dictatorship, 1966-72: Triple A Isabelism, 1974-76; the Proceso Dictatorship, 1976-83; and the Neo-liberal Menem-De la Rua, 1989-2001).

As extreme proof of this assertion, at the beginning of his administration in 2003, SECYT's present Secretary Eng. Tulio Del Bono, with the indifference of the Ethics Committee of SECYT itself, named as Head of the Board a panegyrist of state terrorism and astronomer Dr. Hugo Levato. Due to the article published in the daily newspaper Pagina 12 of November 25, 2003 of a declaration of repulse signed by the State Worker Association (ATE) the aforementioned Dr. Levato was obliged to resign (Pagina 12, 12-16-2003). Dr. Levato had been the one that in 1976, in the journal Nature, denied to some Italian colleagues who were denouncing the atrocities underway in our country, declaring that the half thousand of scientists fired by the Proceso dictatorship were "fired with justification" as they were "subversives", many of whom were kidnapped and then have "disappeared" (Eng. Gustavo Rodolfo Giombini Moser from the INTA; welding technician Dante Guede from the CONICET; agrarian technicians Alfredo Giorgi and Maria del Carmen Judit Artero Navarro de Jurkiewicz from the INTI; and physicists Federico Alvarez Rojas and Daniel Bendersky, two of the fifteen disappeared of the CNEA) (Nature, 8-19-1976).

Nevertheless, it seems to be that the announced resignation was a gross metamorphosis as the Dictatorship excollaborator was protected by the present authorities and is now named President of SECYT's Electronic Library where from he decides which are the journals published internationally which deserve a subscription and consequently consulted.

i) Illegitimate Symbolic Violence which results in a failed estate.

These devaluations, censorships and covering ups, proper from a Gulag, are the ones which have reopened the phantom of an illegitimate symbolic violence, it means an ideological control and the mechanisms of discrimination, prescription, postponement and reprisal (persecution and exclusion), much more harmful than the one experienced recently in Argentine radio journalism (Pepe Eliaschev), and it is intended in the judicial sphere with the reform of the Magistracy Council, that without producing death continues castrating the soul and the mind of what should be an intellectual élite.

To the illegitimacy of the physical violence, the symbolic violence would also uncover, without falling into catastrophism, the existence of a failed state, as paraphrasing Jöel Migdal, the countries which account with pseudo civil strong societies -- for undergoing a corporative structure and a jurisdictional framework of regional fiefs-- it corresponds itself necessarily a modern pseudo-state extremely fragile, due to the weakness of its institutions of symbolic power, specially those linked with scientific research, artistic culture, higher education and memory cult; as it is the case of the Teatro Colon, buried in a municipal bureaucracy; or the one of the Country's General Archive (AGN), postponed in a political secretariat as the Ministry of Interior; or a more serious one the languages of native people, and the advanced knowledge of the missile and satellite industry (Condor Project II), which were sacrificed during Menem's government to an imperial hegemony of knowledge.

j) Refeeding of Violence and the following institutional devaluation and International Agreement Vulnerabilities.

This illegitimate apparatus of violence - which hinders the dispersion of its captive clientele-- falling into covers, censorships, prevaricates and ideological falsehoods of different kinds and stigmatizing and sacrifying in the virtual fire the scapegoats or expiatory victims (sort of lepers who should be avoided for fear of contagion), has contributed to silence the superposition and the antagonism of the entities of the area; ignoring the institutional devaluation of the scientific space (or their descent from Presidency to subordinate Ministry levels); censoring and incommunicating the research and editorial information and production; and silencimg the irrational and irresponsible transfer of institutions highly respected by the Argentine culture (Natural Science Museum [La Nacion 4-20-2005 and 11-20-2005]).

And this violence, devaluation and structural immobilization has been nourished from the SECYT and the CONICET towards the National Universities and viceversa; where the last ones appeal for their inbreeding immunity to a sort of autonomy or sovereignty, as it would be treated as corporative jurisdictions which exclude themselves from the action of justice and parliamentary control. And these illegitimacies, censorships and devaluations have also nourished with other bureaucratic instances (Agency or ANPCYT, National Academies, graduate or professional institutions, conservatoires, museums, archives, libraries, CONEAU, FONTAR, teaching institutions of the Armed Forces, etc.); and they have multiplied as a sick body to the organization of collective scientific and artistic events (congresses, symposiums, forums, meetings, editorial commitees, electronic discussion sites and lists, etc.), to the detriment of a debate and academic leadership, transparent and democratic and consequently, of the cultural web dynamism and unity of the cultural web which - as consequence of it all- suffers one of the lowest rates of reconversion, interconnecting, interoperation and interlinguistic of the world.

For all these reasons, the authorities of the SECYT, CONICET, Secretary of Culture, National Inter-University Council (CIN) and of the Ministry of Education (ME) are immersed in a big internal debt and which would interfere with conditions fundamental in the international cooperation agreements signed with the scientific associations of the central countries (CSIC, CNRS, NSF, DFG, Royal Society, CNPq, etc.), and with Mercosur Ministries of Education.

k) Conclusion.
This memorial of offenses --which I sign in solitude as I do not want to implicate with it none of my colleagues-- tries to evoke in modest homage scientists and technicians "disappeared" aforementioned, who no one can believe, in honest and sound mind, that they have died in vain.

With this non-surrender engagement, this document carries the purpose of requesting from you, Mr. President, as a principle of institutional solution, the re-evaluation of the Science and Technological area, incorporating it again to the the Presidential jurisdiction or giving it a Ministry status; as well as to start a summary investigation to fix the limits of the responsibilities which the present authorities of the SECYT may have for hiding officers who were accomplices of the dictatorship and the covering up of its subordinate entities, not in accordance with the political and intellectual honesty and with the letter and spirit of international cooperation agreements.

Finally, I wish to confirm again that no constructive or lasting policy which tries to make us move away from the condition of failed state could be successfully implemented --even if the CONICET inflates its permanent roll with thousands of new Investigators and the government multiplies by the hundred its budget tariffs and the percentages over the PBI (Internal Gross Product)-- if in the spaces of science, research and higher education, institutions and habits are not oxygenated, in a way to drive away from them corruption, simulation, hypocrisy, genuflection, opportunism, moral indifference and, what is more serious and lethal, the self-censorship or fear to express oneself freely.

I remain again, with all consideration due, very truly yours.

Eduardo R. Saguier

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