Science under siege | The Economist
Scandals play an important role in democracies. It serves to draw attention to problems in public life. They are an essential part of the immune system’s healthy body policy. His appearance confirms the existence of a vigilant public opinion.
Of course, the press in a democracy tends to overestimate its eagerness to blow out scandals. Not always where there is smoke there is fire. Sometimes, scandals are fabricated with the purpose of serving a categorical interest. But it is also true that there are real scandals suppressed by media manipulation.
The persecution organized by the Office of the Prosecutor General (FGR) against 31 scientists and academics is a real scandal. As such it should only cause indignation and uneasiness. We hope that an independent investigation will be conducted to get to the heart of the matter. But the bodies established for this have lost this ability.
Political scandals often have two components: hateful motive and abuse of power. As for the true motives of the FGR and the National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT) we can only speculate. But the abuse of power appears to be well documented.
The FGR has positioned itself at the service of CONACYT’s ideological agenda for 4T and has begun to criminalize “perversions” of the past, in the name of fighting corruption. According to CONACYT’s new vision, the flag promoted by the state can only serve the state itself. For the fourth quarter, any form of private initiative communication is essentially rotten.
The persecution of 31 scientists and academics began with a complaint about the transfer of budget resources from CONACYT to the Consultative Forum, a civic association set up as an independent body to advise science and technology policy.
It is true that CONACYT, like any public servant, is obligated to report criminal acts of which it may have knowledge to the relevant authorities. However, it is also her duty to evaluate these facts objectively, according to the “appearance of good law”.
They skipped that last part. The presence of the advisory forum is provided for in the legal and regulatory provisions; Likewise, CONACYT is committed to funding it. The new CONACYT opposes this and has already made regulatory changes in this regard. However, this does not make what has been done in the past with a different legal framework illegal.
After the facts were condemned, the FGR carried out political persecution. In addition to diverting resources, members of the advisory forum were charged with operational crimes with illicit source resources and organized crime. Thus, it has enabled itself to use the means of exception provided in the Penal Code against 31 scholars and academics to combat high-risk criminal gangs, such as losing the right to access the research file and freedom under caution.
The probation judge was the first to be surprised by FGR’s abusive behavior. He denied the arrest warrant twice. The first time, he asked the Public Prosecutor to justify his intention to imprison members of the Shura Forum in a maximum security prison. The second told him explicitly that the facts do not constitute a crime.
But the smear campaign continues, and President Lopez Obrador has joined it. He said in his morning lecture: “He who does not owe anything, does not fear anything.” His words should resonate in the ears of the tens of thousands of people in remand, who have spent years serving sentences without being judged by a judge, as alleged culprits.
* Professor at CIDE.
Benito Nassif is a professor in the Department of Political Studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE). He served as electoral advisor at the National Electoral Institute (INE) from 2014 to 2020 and at the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) from 2008 to 2014.
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