In Brazil, twenty-one scientists in opposition to Jair Bolsonaro refuse a medal

The National Order of Scientific Merit was created in Brazil in 1992 to recognize the authors of the most important contributions to science and technology. Receiving this distinction, one of the highest in the country, is an honor.

Twenty-one scientists, however, refused, Saturday, November 6, to receive their prestigious medals. They protest against the choice of Jair Bolsonaro to have made a cut in the list of recipients of this distinction. The far-right president had in fact appointed 25 people, before removing, two days later, two eminent scientists from this list.

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One of them is Marcus Lacerda, who carried out one of the first studies on the ineffectiveness against Covid-19 of chloroquine, however long advocated by Mr. Bolsonaro to fight against the pandemic. The other is Adele Benzaken, who was fired from the head of the HIV / AIDS department of the Brazilian Ministry of Health when Jair Bolsonaro became president in 2019.

An “act of protest that saddens us”

“This is another clear demonstration of the persecution of scientists”, wrote in an open letter the 21 protesters, who also denounced “A strategy of systematic attack on science and technology” from the current Brazilian government.

Through “This act of protest, which saddens us”, these scientists say they express their “Indignation at the destruction of the Brazilian university system and of science and technology in general”.

Jair Bolsonaro has come under severe criticism from the scientific community for his cuts to the research and technology budget, his constant rejection of scientific results and the spread of false information, especially regarding the Covid-19.

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The president, in addition to his call for the use of chloroquine to treat this disease, despite the evidence of its ineffectiveness, also ignored the recommendations of experts concerning the use of protective masks or confinement to contain the pandemic.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Benzaken s’est dite “Extremely honored” by the decision of her colleagues to refuse their medals in the face of what she described as treatment “Not very elegant” of the government towards him and his colleague Marcus Lacerda. “It was the greatest honor of all”, she added.

The World with AFP