UFRJ professors protest against Bolsonaro for excluding honorable scientists

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Forty-four professors emeritus from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) protest in an open letter against President Jair Bolsonaro’s (non-party) attitude of removing the names of two researchers from the list of honorees of the National Order of Scientific Merit. On Saturday (6), another 21 Brazilian scientists, also in repudiation, communicated their resignations to the title.

A CNN contacted the press office of the Presidency, questioned the reason for the exclusion of the researchers’ names and is awaiting answers.

Those excluded were scientist Marcus Vinícius Guimarães de Lacerda, from Fiocruz, who published the first research reporting the ineffectiveness of chloroquine in the treatment against Covid-19, and scientist Adele Benzaken, current director of Fiocruz Amazônia. Consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), she is an exponent in research against HIV/AIDS. Then, in the government, in 2019, Adele produced a booklet aimed at guiding and promoting the health of trans men.

In the document signed by the UFRJ professors, the group emphasizes that the names present in the award were indicated by a joint committee of members of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC) and the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SPBC).

In the manifesto issued on Sunday (7), the group classifies the federal government’s attitude as “unworthy” and says it shows “lack of vision and contempt for science and for the country’s own development”.

In another protest released by scientists on Saturday (6), the day after the publication of the presidential decree, the signatories also highlighted that they did not agree with what was being promoted by the federal government in relation to cuts to science and technology and what they called of “chasing scientists”. In solidarity with the two excluded scientists, the 21 scientists renounced the title.

“We therefore consider our presence on this list gratifying, and we are extremely honored with the possibility of being awarded one of the greatest recognitions that a scientist can receive in our country. However, the tribute offered by a federal government that not only ignores science, but actively boycotts the recommendations of epidemiology and collective health, is not consistent with our scientific trajectories. However, in solidarity with colleagues who were summarily excluded from the list of recipients, and consistent with our ethical stance, we collectively renounce this nomination”, says the letter.

In a decree of November 3, Bolsonaro published the list of recipients of the National Order of Scientific Merit in the Official Diary of the Union. Two days later, there was the publication of the new decree excluding the two scientists mentioned above.

Read the full letter from the professors at UFRJ:

The undersigned Professors Emeritus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro publicly express their indignation and repudiate the unfair exclusion of scientists Adele Schwartz Benzaken and Marcus Vinícius Guimarães de Lacerda from the list of recipients of the National Order of Scientific Merit. Their names were nominated by a joint committee of members of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC) and Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SPBC), which guarantees that their choice is due to its scientific merit, apart from any and all political injunctions.

In a decree of November 3, 2021, the current occupant of Palácio do Planalto published the list of those awarded the honor and, on November 5, 2021, the President of the Republic, surprisingly, published a new decree excluding the two aforementioned scientists , for pure political persecution.

This undignified attitude is a mark of authoritarian governments, consistent with the denial of the current government, which, during the Covid-19 pandemic, took a stand and acted against all the scientific recommendations of public health specialists in the country. Added to this, abusive financial cuts have suffocated the funding of Brazilian universities and research centers, showing their total lack of vision and contempt for science and for the country’s own development.

Thus, we offer our solidarity to the scientists Adele Schwartz Benzaken and Marcus Vinícius Guimarães de Lacerda, excluded from the list of recipients for political reasons, as well as to the 21 (twenty-one) scientists who collectively renounced their nominations.

These 21 colleagues made it very clear that honor is not exchanged for honor.

Rio de Janeiro, November 6, 2021

Adalberto Ramón Vieyra
Alda Judith Alves Mazzotti
Alice Rangel by Paiva Abreu
Ana Ivenicki
Anita Dolly Panek
Antonio Carlos Secchi
Antonio Flavio Barbosa Moreira
Antonio Giannella-Neto
Arthur Octavio de Ávila Kós
Basilio de Bragança Pereira
Erasmo Madureira Ferreira
Francisco Antônio de Moraes Accioli Dória
Francisco Radler de Aquino Neto
Gilberto Barbosa Domont
Helio dos Santos Migon
Henrique Murad
Jayme Luiz Szwarcfiter
João Luiz Maurity Saboia
Jose Mauro Peralta
Krishnaswamy Rajagopal
Liu Hsu
Luiz Davidovich
Luiz Felipe Alvahydo from Ulhoa Canto
Luiz Pereira Caloba
Luiz Pinguelli Rosa
Marcello André Barcinski
Márcio Tavares d’Amaral
Maria Angela Dias
Marieta de Moraes Ferreira
Mario Luiz Possas
Martin Schmal
Muniz Sodre Cabral
Nei Pereira Junior
Nelson Maculan Filho
Nelson Velho de Castro Faria
Nubia Verçosa Figueiredo
Otávio Guilherme Cardoso Alves Velho
Raquel Paiva de Araújo Soares
Ricardo de Andrade Medronho
Sandoval Carneiro Junior
Takeshi Kodama
Vivaldo Moura Neto
Walter Araujo Zin
Yvone Maggie from Leers Costa Ribeiro

Reference: CNN Brasil

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