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After more than 40 years of active persecution followed by years of government indifference, science and technology (S&T) are making a dramatic return to the development agenda in Argentina.

Seen as a breeding ground for political dissent, academia was targeted for suppression by the Argentinian military government from the 1960s to the 1980s. The field continued to suffer in the 1990s under President Carlos Menem who was uninterested in research, and through a financial crisis.

But now, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has said she sees science as a "key to the nation's economic future".

Following her election in October 2007, Kirchner set up a Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation and hopes to increase the country's investment in S&T from 0.66 per cent in 2007 to one per cent in 2010.

To retain scientists and lure them back from overseas the government plans to increase their monthly salaries by 30 per cent to about US$1,000 a month; increase the 2009 government budget for competitive research grants by 40 per cent and build a US$50 million science complex in Buenos Aires (see Argentina signs yet more science cooperation agreements).

International donors now provide many of the scientific grants. To retain world-class scientists, the government intends to match these grants with equivalent sums.

While many Argentinian scientists are encouraged by these moves, others recall the 'disappearance' of their colleagues and students during the years of military rule. For some academics who have settled comfortably abroad, the incentives are not quite enough for them to uproot and resettle back home.

Link to full article in Nature


Nature 456, 441 (2008)