Autonomy is essential so that research does not become hostage to private interests
At the end of October, we witnessed yet another authoritarian act by the Government of Minas Gerais, showing its lack of commitment and disrespect towards the people of Minas Gerais.
On the 26th of last month, the governor issued a decree changing the rules for choosing the management of the Minas Gerais State Research Support Foundation (Fapemig), a historic institution and one of the most important pillars of education and promotion of cutting-edge scientific production in Minas Gerais.
According to the decree, the presidency of the agency’s Board of Trustees will now be exercised by an employee of the Secretariat of Economic Development (Headquarters), in addition to his functions at the Secretariat itself. Furthermore, the president and director of Science, Technology and Innovation at Fapemig are now appointed directly by the governor, no longer fulfilling a fixed mandate.
Finally, the Board of Trustees will also lose its original function of deliberating on the agency’s manual, the action plan, and the annual budget. In other words, the main research body in Minas Gerais loses its autonomy and starts to be managed by people outside the teaching staff and outside the scientific community, appointed by Romeu Zema.
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We already know that the governor does not know or care about Minas Gerais, and that his policy only aims to privilege his friends and campaign financiers. So there is no doubt that this authoritarian maneuver is linked to Zema’s interest in taking the management of Fapemig out of the hands of the institution’s teaching staff, and the scientific community of Minas Gerais, which historically indicates, in a triple list, the names to manage the main agency state funding for research carried out in our state.
It is another step in the strategy of dismantling autonomous public institutions, which reflects the government’s lack of commitment to the rights of miners to health, education, full employment and any state initiative that aims to promote well-being and dignity . Ultimately, it is an attack on democracy.
The autonomy of Fapemig, as well as the autonomy of universities and all educational and knowledge production institutions, is a fundamental part of ensuring that the financing and development of research carried out with public money is at the service of the people of Minas Gerais, and not hostage of private or electoral interests. This conception is a fundamental part of a democratic and socially referenced perspective on scientific production and knowledge.
This is not the first time we have seen this type of initiative. By seeking to remove Fapemig’s autonomy and control its managers, Zema continues to reproduce the logic of the extreme right, which aims to dismantle and equip our state institutions, which in our opinion must follow their historical function of working for all of society’s interests, for the public and collective good.
Universities, state foundations that promote research, workers and the scientific community have been protesting against the decision, pointing out its authoritarian and centralizing content. Also in repudiation, the deans and deans associated with the Forum of Public Higher Education Institutions of the State of Minas Gerais (Foripes) and the National Association of Postgraduate Students (ANPG) published notes to the political and scientific community against the decree. In chorus, state deputy Beatriz Cerqueira (PT-MG) and I filed, through our mandates, with a representation at the Public Ministry denouncing this political intervention by Zema in Fapemig.
We will not allow the governor to continue attacking education and research in our state, and Brazilian democracy itself.
Ana Pimentel She is a federal deputy for PT-MG. She is a medical advocate for the SUS, a professor at the Department of Medicine at the Federal University of São João del Rei and a public health researcher.
Read other articles by Ana Pimentel in her column in Brasil de Fato MG!
This is an opinion article. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line.
Editing: Elis Almeida