The initially warm relations between Mexico’s academic community and the country’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, have decidedly cooled.
A package of harsh austerity measures implemented on 3 May, has had a deep impact on federally funded laboratories and institutes; it includes a 30% cut to fuel for vehicles and office supplies and a 50% cut to international travel funds and payments to contract workers.
Scientists say the cuts are a serious threat to the future of Mexican research. López Obrador, who promised to support science and technology during his 2018 campaign, alarmed scientists with a proposal—later withdrawn—to personally approve researchers’ travel abroad, including to international conferences, which he called “tourism.”
Meanwhile, many researchers question the new focus on social problems promoted by Elena Álvarez-Buylla, the controversial head of Mexico’s main research granting agency, the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt).
And they fear the agency’s control over research funds and science policy will grow if reforms proposed by the president’s party are enacted.