By: José Luis Carrillo Aguado and Xavier Bosch


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Five Latin American countries and Spain have agreed to investigate the creation of an Iberoamerican Research Area to boost scientific collaboration between the countries and set a frame of reference for national science policies.

Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain made a commitment to begin preparatory work towards setting up the ‘research area’ at the Second Iberoamerican Parliamentary Summit on Science and Technology, held earlier this month in Pachuca, Mexico.

The ‘research area’ would encourage cooperation between universities in the different countries, and promote scientific exchange both within Latin America and with the European Union.

Jaime Lissavetzky Diez, vice-president of the Spanish parliamentary Science and Technology Committee, told delegates that policy must be a channel for — and not a barrier to — the development of science and technology, and called for increased equality in the education system

A series of preparatory meetings is being planned to discuss the proposed ‘research area’ before the Third Iberoamerican Parliamentary Summit on Science and Technology, to be held in Panama next year.

It is still unclear when the ‘research area’ would be launched, and according to Fátima Rojas, a spokesperson for the Spanish ministry of science, the proposal is more a declaration of intent than a formal commitment.

The preparatory meetings would look at a variety of subjects, including health and distance education, with the aim of encouraging more collaboration and better management of knowledge and information.

The summit meeting also discussed a request from Argentina for financial aid to help bolster its scientific system, which is feeling the strain of the country's current financial crisis (see Argentina's crash brings ill wind for science).

Lilia Puig, president of the Argentinian parliamentary Science and Technology Commission told delegates that the country's scientific system was in a state of collapse, and external assistance was needed to maintain basic research programmes and support postgraduate students.

But the meeting ended without any firm commitment from the other countries present to provide financial assistance to Argentina.

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