Brazil’s scientists start street protests against ministry merger

Claudio Angelo – Nature, 06/10/2016

Brazil’s scientists have been taking to the streets to protest against last month’s demotion of their country’s science ministry (MCTI) – but politicians say the demonstrations won’t change the controversial decision.

The protests followed an efficiency drive by interim president Michel Temer, who took office in May after Dilma Rouseff was impeached. He angered researchers by merging the MCTI with a telecommunications ministry. The move was part of a bid to cut public expenses, Temer said: overall, he cut the number of ministries in his cabinet from 32 to 22.

Researchers, already struggling with massive funding cuts, saw the move as weakening the status of science, which has had its own cabinet ministry for most of the past three decades. “The government is signaling that science is unimportant and shall remain so”, says Sergio Rezende, a physicist at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, who was science minister from 2005 to 2010.

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