Brazil: 21 scientists refuse medals over dispute with Jair Bolsonaro

These personalities declined one of the highest honors in the country after the Brazilian president removed from the list of recipients two of their colleagues whose work seems to displease the government.

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A new protest against Jair Bolsonaro. Twenty-one scientists who have been awarded one of Brazil’s highest honors refused to be presented with their medals on Saturday, November 7, after President Jair Bolsonaro removed from the list of recipients two of their colleagues whose the work apparently displeases the government.

One of them is Marcus Lacerda, who carried out one of the first studies on the ineffectiveness against Covid-19 of chloroquine, yet long advocated by Jair Bolsonaro to fight 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.

“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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